While Finland has been one of the countries publicly to be noted for its gracious innovation support systems, many have wondered how all these investments and expenditures can be afforded. The simple truth is - we can't. The private Research Institute Of The Finnish Economy, Etla, has published a set of essays from the sharpest economists Finland has, that demand drastic changes to the way innovation is currently financed. While it is the lifeline of startups and growth companies, I'd argue many if not almost all would agree.
Editorial note: This is a guest post by Ville Peltola the Innovation Director of IBM Finland. They are developing a lot of interesting things that startups and entrepreneurs should know. This post has not been paid for.
Not many people think about IBM and startups in the same sentence. We want to change this and that is why we launched the IBM Global Entrepreneur program earlier this year. IBM has also several internal startups operating inside IBM. We'll explain this later in the post.
I wanted to talk to Nexit Ventures, as the year is about to come to an end, about the differences between angel investors and venture capital - how should the entrepreneur view the changing financial market, as well as what are some of the basic rules in deciding which of the alternatives in financing should the entrepreneur go for. We came up with five basic rules that differentiate angels from venture capital. Naturally these are simply generalisations and there are exceptions as always.
For those of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s, watching how new technologies enabled us to do things that people only dreamed about half a century ago, and then having a front row seat to the transformation that the web has gone through during the 00s, we're now beginning to witness a regression in progress that isn't brought about by what the machines and infrastructure of today are capable of achieving, but instead by the increasing complexity of doing business on the internet and defining what actually has value and what's painfully worthless.
As far as web conferences go, French LeWeb is the biggest happening in Europe so far. With an average ticket price hovering around 1700 EUR, it attracted 3000 participants this year. The guests ranged from Google, Facebook and Twittter executives to latest start-ups from around the world to investors to students and loads of press. Apart from hosting presentations and discussions with dot.com gurus, the conference is known for being a great place to network. How to justify this exquisite but costly experience for a Nordic or Baltic start-up? Depends on what you’re looking for. If it’s publicity you’re after but you’re not part of the Startup Competition, I’d recommend against going to Le Web. The size of the conference is so big that chances of being noticed are quite low. Not impossible but low.
Nordic Game Program has last week granted 3 million Danish Kronor (about 400 000 euros) to seven gaming companies. 136 applications were received and the jury awarded seven companies with the no strings attached grants. The companies also represented the Nordics in a good way, they came from Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Finland and Denmark.
Rovio, the makers of the Angry Bird game, have just announced Bad Piggy Bank - among a ton of other interesting things. Let's get to it then. Bad Piggy Bank is a new solution to one-touch in app mobile purchasing. Furthermore, the PC Version of the Angry Birds will be showcased at a press event beginning 4pm EET (we will update this post with info later). Finally, Rovio has updated the figures on their game downloads - Angry Birds has been downloaded now more than 50 million times.
I bumped into ge.tt a few weeks back and immediately fell in love with it. It's file sharing done right, simple, non-intrusive and extremely intuitive. Also, having ge.tt as a domain name does help people remember it. I had a chance to talk to Tobias Baunbæk, the CEO and co-founder behind this Danish based company. He shared the path they've taken and how ge.tt became to be what it is today, not to forget where it will go.
Futureful is a Finnish, research based startup that is developing a predictive discovery engine. In essence, they want to help you discover more interesting content on the internet, based on your behaviour and liking. The company was founded by Marko Anderson and Jarno Koponen and they pitch themselves as "imagine if Hunch and Flipboard bootstrapped a lovechild."
Oslo based startup Majoobi has published their application which helps anyone create an iPhone, iPad or an Android app - online. Majoobi makes use of HTML5 and users are essentially creating websites that are optimized for the iOS and Android operating platforms. The service is extremely simple to use and will have you up and running in minutes. It took me about a minute to understand it and create a simple site for ArcticStartup as a demo.
Every now and then I boast about the next big thing coming from the Nordics and now I believe I have found a seed for one of those monsters.
Social Shopping is one of the fastest growing online consumer markets and there’s a Finnish startup right in the middle. DealDash, a Finnish startup, is making $200k+ a month and has currently 130k+ users, and its growing fast. Their annual revenue run-rate is approaching the $3m mark and sales have doubled in the last 6 months.
We've heard from trusted sources that Rovio will be announcing the PC version of their Angry Birds game tomorrow at an invite-only press event with Elisa, a Finnish operator. Few invites have been sent, but the event will be webcasted internationally as well. It is unclear at the moment if it will be a public webcast, but most unlikely.
Guidewire Group has announced on 3rd of December the Innovate!100 list. The list features, according to the blog post, the 100 most innovative and fastest growing startups from around the world. The participants have been chosen based on the 30 or so Pitch Slam contests which were held on five continents over a duration of 10 months.
Editorial note: This is a guest post by Kristoffer Lawson, the Travelling Salesman. He's on a 10 000 kilometre drive to meet Nordic startups. ArcticStartup is supporting the project, by covering his travels and findings. This post was originally posted in the Travelling Salesman blog.
When pondering my travel plan I was told by a number of people, even Swedes, that there would be very little in places like Karlskrona. That I should stick to the big centers: Stockholm, Lund, Göteborg, etc. They were wrong, but proving that was to be a challenge.
Mediatonic, the "revenue based investor" from Finland, has made a 300 000 euro investment into Housemarque's upcoming game. Mediatonic invests in a project oriented way, meaning they do not take any equity from the company, but only invest in the hope of retaining a share of the future revenues against the investment.
Marko Ahtisaari, the director in charge of Nokia's Industrial design, was just on stage at LeWeb and talking to Loïc Le Meur at a fire side chat afterwards. Ahtisaari talked through many different aspects of Nokia's business and most importantly to us, at least, he opened up and shared his thinking on Nokia and its future. Below are our notes and key takeaways from the talk.
Ahtisaari began his talk about two issues on his mind, the state of the smartphone market as well as the collective intelligence, how platforms get better as more people use them. He's key point was, that while the smartphone market is hyped a lot in media, there is a ton of action elsewhere in the mobile space that is seldomly reported on. But he did say that Nokia is now on very impressive growth curve with its Ovi Store. Daily downloads are around 3.5 million, when they were around 3 million just 3 weeks ago and around 2 million in September. Furthermore, 250 000 people sign up each day.
When filing for an IPO Mail.ru Group disclosed some interesting financial indicators for the different platforms they own. At the moment Mail.ru Group itself is mostly owned by Digital Sky Technologies, a Russian investment fund. Mail.ru Group's fixed assests include 10% of Mail.ru portal, 100% of a social network Odnoklassniki, 91% of recruitment portal Headhunter.ru, 100% of ICQ LLC, 24,99% of Russia's biggest social network Vkontakte.ru, 25,09% of QIWI Investments, 2,38% of Facebook, 1,47% of online-game developer Zynga Inc. and 5,13% of Groupon. On top of that Mail.ru owns minority shares in a plethora of Russian and Ukrainian Internet companies.
While watching the LeWeb live stream, a Eathen Beard from Facebook just disclosed in an interview with Michael Arrington that Facebook is the largest source of referrals for Spotify. Spotify launched the social side of its service earlier this year, and we covered it in detail, but not a lot of buzz has been written about the results of this new service.
This is the second part of the video interview with Niklas Zennström of Atomico. In this part we continue discussion on how Atomico sees certain industries regarding their investments as well as at what stage startups should contact Atomico and how. Zennström also goes on to tell that entrepreneurs in the Nordics and Baltics should be braver - we are by nature perhaps a little too timid.