Almaz Capital is not the biggest venture capital fund in Russia but it is definitely aiming there. It has just announced that it raised an extra $40M of funding, making up a total of almost $100M. Alexander Galitsky, CEO, shared that Almaz Capital planned to expand the fund already in 2009 but had to postpone the process due to the recession. The additional funding came mostly from one of the fund's partners - the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The resulting sum is planned to be spent on 8-10 projects, which is double of its current portfolio. Almaz Capital invests in small and medium-sized business with high growth potential in IT, media and telecommunications. The fund recently reported making a nice profit by selling it's 20% share of Qik to Skype.
Rebtel is a very interesting Swedish telephony company. This year, the Rebtel is expecting to make $75 million through VoIP telephony. The company has seen immense growth and it's been a fantastic company to follow. Last Friday, the company released their Blackberry app to further fuel the growth. The reason, or at least one of the, why Rebtel has become so successful is their concept of VoIP calls - they don't require the user to have a working internet connection, but instead transmit the calls through local numbers. This way, it sort of falls in between the likes of Skype and companies offering calling cards. It's pretty much a perfect approach for the mobile generation.
In the interview Andreas Bernström sheds some light on how the company has grown and where they're headed. With $75 million in expected revenues for this year, they want to remain independent and further grow the company.
Editorial note: This post is sponsored by the Finnish Software Entrepreneurs Association as part of their competition on ArcticStartup from last year. In the future, we won't publish sponsored posts, but only series of posts supported by companies.
People don't get Facebook. People don't get social media.
Social media is not - and should not be - just another news flow site. Social media is also not just a place to meet your friends and colleagues online. Then what really makes social media such a hot topic?
We reviewed PremiumFanPage earlier and found the service to be pretty useful, given the fact how the Internet transforms our approach from local to global. The problem, as already mentioned is approaching the global audience in a language they speak in. It limits understanding what a particular consumer requires or how exactly you should deliver your world changing idea in order to have it achieve its target. We did a review ourselves and thought having a quick chat with Jani Penttinen, the CEO and Co Founder of Xiha Life, the first multilingual social network as well the founder and CEO of PremiumFanPage.
Many businesses are keen on making tourist and other guides for mobile. Fully customizable, based on peer reviews, suggestions by locals or existing tourist guides - you name it. A new addition to the field is a recently created start-up called Zonear from Tampere, Finland. Rather than bringing an all-encompassing travel guide directly to the consumer, Zonear provides mobile apps with customizable maps for service providers like travel destinations, museums and event organizers. The idea is that for each customer Zonear would create a unique map that would point the end user in the right direction, provide additional information and let them interact with the location or object. The app can be viewed directly from the web or be used offline if it's been downloaded in the browser once. It works across many platforms, can be fully customized for the brand and includes a simple analytics tool. Four years ago another Finnish start-up Whatamap tried to do exactly the same thing, so how is Zonear different?
Garage48 Helsinki will take place this weekend in the Aalto Venture Garage, where about a hundred enthusiasts will compete in a friendly manner to build the best business/product -combination in only 48 hours. We'll be bringing you updates through out the weekend and they will be added to this post. Garage48 has originated from Estonia and already two such events have been organised. The reason why Garage48 is worth following so widely, is the cross border effect it has - Estonians, Finns, Latvians, Lithuanians as well as some from the US and UK, all coming together for a weekend to build something great.
Rebtel, the world’s leading independent mobile VoIP company that provides users with local phone numbers in their country of residence to enable to them easily communicate with friends and family across the globe. The idea is to rid consumers of the lengthened International phone numbers, PIN and an access number to dial prior making a call. Rebtel was launched back on May 17, 2006 at Innovate Europe and was named Europe’s top 3 startups.
Everyone wants a fanpage, don’t they? At least a few might wish to have one but with artists and celebrities, it is absolutely essential. Which is why almost every artist already has one or two [official and unofficial alike], but that’s old now and mobile is the new path to walk. FansMagnet, a Santa Clara, CA based mobile tech startup headed by Sami Inkiläinen as their CEO, is taking the artists a step forward. The company, Fountainment Oy, is registered to Finland.
There are mixed reports on the communication platform provider, Skype showing willingness to acquire Qik, the video streaming service for an undisclosed amount. The indications of this first sprung when Skype’s CEO, Tony Bates agreed on Skype having intentions to do so. Though the price is undisclosed, it is reported to be in the $100 Million range with the deal expected to close by the end of January.
One of the reasons we like working with companies such as Nexit Ventures is that they offer a ton of quality material to us that would previously be available for only the selected few. This time, we'll be taking a closer look at the M&A activity geographically on a more closer level. You should also read our articles in this series Why Being Sold To The US Is A Big Deal and So Who's Doing The Shopping In The US? The Big Eleven.
Groupon has just raised like, a billion dollars in investment money. It's clear some of this money will be used to acquire companies and build market share. In Europe, Groupon has acquired Citydeal, which is the biggest single operator that also has some business in the Nordics at least. However, there are lots of smaller and more active companies in the Nordics and Baltics.
Estonian entrepreneurial hype is clearly on the rise. The new start-up we're bringing to your attention today is MyHistro - a social network centered around stories. Now, you might be sceptical as to whether the world really needs another social network but hear this out. The start-ups founder, Jaanus Vihand, claims MyHistro is not a competitor of Facebook, MySpace or any other social network out there but it's a complementary service that knows no comparison for now. The point of MyHistro is to create multiple stories from your life by placing events on a map and a timeline. If your friends were part of those events, they can add their own impressions to your stories and thus create joint narratives. You and your friends can later replay the stories and reminisce about old times.
What’s the worst nightmare of publishing a magazine or a book? In my opinion everything. From curating content, keeping an eye on articles, managing submissions and all the way to the very last page. You have options to outsource this, hire a publishing house to take care of all such stuff, but is it feasible? Easy? Effective or better still, efficient? Not exactly and with the world moving towards a more digital dimension, this traditional method seems a bit too outdated.
Applifier is making the move to the valley, as soon as Jussi Laakkonen, the CEO can get his visa from the US embassy. He has basically packed his bags and his waiting for that one document to arrive before boarding the plane. Applifier isn't completely shifting focus to the valley, although they're putting a lot of effort into it. Jussi Laakkonen will be the first to go for now and he'll be focusing on business development and building the US side of sales and relationships for Applifier. They've also hired a person to help out with business development on the valley side.
Death Rally is a legend. The game can be argued to have made the Finnish game developer Remedy Games famous well before Max Payne, not to mention Alan Wake. The game was a huge hit in the 90s and has been played by many. Recently, Remedy Games have announced that they will be releasing the game for the iOS - iPhone and iPad in March 2011.
TruthFeed is a new social startup emerging from Helsinki, Finland that provides users with a platform to share their experiences with a global audience. The idea is to help people take informed decisions based on the overall experience others have had. Think for a minute, you are planning a trip to Helsinki, Finland and you have absolutely no idea what places to visit, what startups operate in the region or who are the top tech bloggers [other than those at ArcticStartup..] you can head over to TruthFeed and learn about all that. How?
Amid recent news of Groupon closing a $950M funding round, it might be easy to miss that Digital Sky Technologies was one of the main investors. The Russian super VC is on a serious shopping spree. Apart from the Groupon deal it recently invested $50M in Facebook and is said to be eyeing a stake in Twitter, who is likely to be the next web darling to close an investment round soon. Add that to DST's stakes in Zynga, Vkontakte, Nasza-klasa.pl (leading Polish social network), HeadHunter.ru (Russia's largest jobs website) and a complete ownership of ICQ, Mail.ru and Odnoklassniki and you'd see a meer part of DST's might.
iPad, iPhone that’s where the folks are rushing in and so must I. That is what Wesley Snipes must have had in mind when he signed up for Julius Styles: The International. The game comes from Lapland Studios, a Finnish game developer in association with Elstree Studio Productions and Red 27 Films. The release is set for June 2011 release but with Wesley Snipes as Julius Styles, expect nothing short of kicking and bullet riddled action. Oh there is some puzzle too.
Spotify has had its sets of issues with its launch in the US thanks to the demands of the leading record labels, but the free music streaming service is growing leaps and bounds in Europe. Of course it's pointless for Spotify to boast about European success, they are at least able to leverage their lead in Europe.
Quora has become a great source of information for entrepreneurs, and pretty much anyone interested in a specific topic. In short, Quora is a well executed question and answer service that is currently in beta. WIth this, they've been able to choose who they want to let in while this in turn has helped them keep the quality of the answers very high. Another interesting aspect of the service that startups should take notice of, is the people they've managed to get on board. You can find lots of famous startup CEOs there answering questions and helping people understand more about their companies. Enough about Quora though. There was an interesting question in Quora regarding which Nordic companies make more than $10 million annually and Saul Klein had answered it. He answered a similar question about companies based in London that interested a lot of people, so it's definitely interesting to look into this as well.