As a blogger, I have to give kudos to Jyri Engeström for the way he launched Ditto. You see, as a blogger we're contacted by many companies on their product launches and other activities. Some e-mail you once and almost call you back to ask why you haven't written about their company. Then there are people like Jyri who work to build up the relationship and explain in detail what the thinking behind the service is - over the period of couple of months before the launch. I had a chat with Jyri about the things that took place behind the scenes and how the run up to the launch went. This is one of the best company launches and I think it's worthwhile sharing with others.
In the previous post we introduced the latter half of the top ten Runet's movers and shakers. Now is the time to talk about the top five. But first a few words about the rest of the high-flyers on the Forbes top 30. The types of companies top executes belonged to varied: from social networks, game-developers and e-commerce sites to recruitment website HeadHunter (owns up to 50% of marketshare and earned $1.7 in first half of last year) and antivirus software Kaspersky Labs (4th largest in the world with income of over $500M last year alone). Founders of internationally known services like Evernote (Stepan Pachikov) and Chatroulette (Andrey Ternovsky) were placed 13th and 15th respectively. Evernote attracted $20M from Sequoia Capital in 2010 and Chatroulette was one of the most talked-about services that year.
TechCrunch just released the story that creators of Angry Birds, Rovio, has raised an astonishing $42 million round in funding. The funding has been raised from Accel Partners, Atomico Ventures as well as Felicis Ventures. The round was co-led by Accel Partners as well as Atomico Ventures. Niklas Zennström, the co-founder of Skype will be joining Rovio's board.
Bob Helsinki, a Helsinki based advertising agency, has disclosed some interesting figures regarding Valkee in their application to Grand One, a Helsinki based annual gala for ad agencies. In the application, the agency states, that Valkee sold 691 devices during the two month campaign period from October 11th to December 12th last year. 691 devices at 185€ a piece yields a nice 127 835 euros. However, the agency later discloses that they sold a lot more by early January.
Denmark based 23Video that helps users build full featured video sites has making a lift. 23Video has announced the coming of the Lift Release. The update will help users with more advanced options to make video sites a better and more efficient. The Lift Release brings quite a lot of features making the service a lot more usable for companies requiring video sites.
Forbes.ru has recently published a list of 30 most notable web players in Russia. Judging by the results, the most influential people in Runet have been in the business for decades. There are some young talents there too, though very few. Internet market is clearly dominated by local businesses: the only person working in a foreign company, placed 25th, was Vladimir Dolgov, the head of Google Russia. One-quarter of all the people on the list belonged to Mail.ru Group, clearly the most prominent player of all. Investors ranked much higher than founders of recent services and unsurprisingly the list included only two women. In the first part of presenting the list, we looked at the latter half of the top 10 movers and shakers of Runet.
We've just opened registrations for Arctic15, both the startup competition as well as the tickets. While doing so, we've also announced our first speakers to the event. We'll be constantly updating the site during the run up to the event, so there are bound to me continuous announcements of new speakers and partners. We're very excited to be working on this and hope you will enjoy attending it!
Startupbootcamp is expanding in all directions, the camp announced expanding to Madrid back in January and plans on adding London and Berlin to its list by 2012. This week the bootcamp announced it will add Dublin to its network, making it the third city in the list. The concept has initiated from Denmark and is also listed as a global affiliate for the Techstars program.
Aalto Venture Garage is launching Startup Sauna, which includes a month long tour around the Baltic rim to promote a new kind of startup acceleration program called Startup Sauna. Startup Sauna is direct continuum to the Summer of Startups program as well as the Bootcamp initiatives the venue organised last year. The program has been put in place to help pre-seed startups succeed through better mentorship of serial entrepreneurs as well as investors. What's best, it's open to all startups from the region.
Microsoft has partnered with Rovio's Angry Birds to promote their search engine Bing. The promotion is done in a four part mini video series. It features characters from the popular game taking advantage of Bing to steal some eggs. Just on Monday we reported that Angry Birds is easily doing over $50 million in revenues this year and further distributing the sources of revenue over deals like this with Microsoft easily increases the overall return on the game.
If you can pay your bills via mobile phones why not stamps? Looks as if this is going to see implementation both in Denmark and in Sweden, beginning with Denmark in April.
The system would work by letting users pay for the postage via a text message using their mobile phones instead of stamps. With the message sent and payment made, users receive a code that they can write on the letter or the envelope, which then serves as a proof that the payment has been made. While this is coming to Denmark in April, Anders Åsberg, heard of marketing and development with Swedish postal service stated for TheLocal.se that Sweden isn’t seeing this any time before the summers.
Thinglink today announced that they have partnered with the Berlin based SoundCloud to enable embedding of sound files to images. Thinglink has grown its clientele over previous months and hired new people on board. At the same time, SoundCloud has become one of the most interesting music startups in Europe with its growing user base and service offering.
Thinglink's technology enables users to create more meaningful images. Thinglinked images are tagged with links and information a user is able to see when they hover their mouse over the image itself. The technology is in use by Finnish media companies such as Nelonen and Aller Media.
Spotify has announced today that they have reached the point of one million simultaneous customers. This is huge. The company launched its service just some two years ago and they now have million simultaneous customers and over 10 million registered users altogether. However, Peter Kafka from AllThingsD states that Spotify has some 7 million active users in its service, yielding a whopping 15% conversion rate for their service.
Zokem, the market leader in mobile analytics, has taken a step further to expand into the Nordics, UK and US. The company has recently announced a partnership with the Denmark's leading market research company Wilke. As part of the agreement, Wilke would run a research panel among 1000 smartphone users utilizing Zokem's on-device solutions. Let us remind you that Zokem's software monitors and measures virtually all aspects of mobile phone use. Wilke is a well-established player in the field and it has operations in other Nordic countries, which brings Zokem's analytics to a whole new level.
On top of that, Zokem announced opening new offices in New York and London. According to Meri Kupiainen, CMO, most of Zokem's users come from those markets and being close to their customers is very important when growing and establishing the company's operations.
How or why do you expand into new markets? There is one simple word that justifies all this; opportunities. Emerging markets might have the uncertainty of ensuring a successful startup or a business venture but they have all the room for growth over time. India, for example has become one of the fastest growing economies and in my opinion a hub to be of all innovation. Guess this is exactly what has been identified by the Estonian Development Fund when they announced a call upon entrepreneurs, universities and investors to explore business opportunities in the worlds second most populous country.
Rovio is well on its way to stardom with Angry Birds. Business Insider reported last week that Rovio has sold more than 2 million toys already since October. In mere five months, the company has essentially generated at least 20 million euros worth of revenue through its toys (if we hypothetically agree on a 10€ average price per toy sold - they actually sell for $11.99 and $14.99). Plush toys are just one source of revenue for the company, other major sources include iOS apps, advertising on the Android platform as well as the Mighty Eagle add on.
The Skolkovo Foundation, established last year in Russia, is the country's biggest project to enhance tech and business development. At the end of last year, Skolkovo was boasting about the high-tech innovation hub they are planning to build and turn the whole project into the Russian equivalent of Silicon Valley. While building work has not yet begun, the foundation has already started developing the ecosystem around itself. Most notably, Skolkovo Foundation assisted in choosing and funding the first start-up to be part of Skolkovo project - Pirate Pay. Pirate Pay is based in Perm and it has developed technology to block illegal downloads through peer-to-peer torrent sites. The seed funding was provided by Mircrosoft BizSpark programme in Russia and it amounted to $100 000, reports The Moscow Times. Head of Microsoft Russia Nikolai Pryanishnikov was reported to claim that Microsoft would fund 100 IT startups in the next 10 years, issuing grants ranging between $30,000 and $500,000.
I know who to follow religiously when it comes to getting the latest news, a really nice video or an upcoming event on the web. But often it gets a bit monotonous as the same person usually ends up giving the same bit of news. Likewise, following all your friends’ recommendation (individually) is a near impossible task and thus we rely on services that help us filter the most happening stuff from the plethora of friends we all have on numerous social networks and forums. Utopic is one such service emerging in the startup scene to help you with finding the hottest topics among your circle of friends.
In App payments seem to be catching the flare off late. While we have seen its implementation on certain apps but Google seems to be finally taking steps to initiate web based in-app-payments. This is great of course for developers on the Android platform, but will also enable better apps for consumers over time as capitalisation isn't a problem anymore.
Voxtrot is building a free mobile network. The Switzerland based company is headed by Taavet Hinrikus, who happens to be Skype's first employee. There seems to be a lot of activity in the mobile space, not only in gaming but on a deeper level to the way the whole infrastructure works. Earlier this week wrote on Blaast, who is working in a slightly similar space and now Voxtrot is pushing to be your free alternative to traditional operators (though you still need an operator agreement to access the free calls).