Netcycler announced today that they have closed a 725k€ investment round and while doing so, have also expanded their business to Germany. Investors in this round include the current owners, Cleantech Future Fund and the early stage fund Vera (Avera). Additionally, the company has been accepted into the Tekes YIC program, where Tekes is able to leverage costs up to one million euros.
I've been a huge fan of Steven Blank's Customer Development methodology for a long time. I've also read his book The Four Steps to the Epiphany, where he outlines this in great detail. A few years ago I also started following Alexander Osterwalder in his blog about his Business Model Generation -mantra. Some time ago I thought these guys should meet! Needless to say, I was thrilled to see Alexander Osterwalder post a presentation online combining these two methodologies.
Editorial note: This is a guest post by Christian Arno, the founder and managing director of Lingo24. While the company is not from the Nordics nor Baltics, the story shares experiences on how Christian went on to create a multi-million dollar business internationally.
From having a simple business idea, to running your own international company is a world of difference, but with a good plan and a bit of courage you can take a leap of faith and put your ideas to the test.
When it comes to technology and start-ups Russia can be full of mystery and surprises. First we learned this summer about an attractive Russian spy - Anna Chapman - infiltrating entrepreneurial scene in New York. Now there is a a serial entrepreneur who hides behind a fake indentity while his latest start-up is preparing for an IPO. It's the second story that is of interest here. The entrepreneur in question, who prefers to call himself Andrey Andreev (though some sources claim his real surname is Andrey Ogandzhanyants [Андрей Оганджанянц]) founded four tech start-ups since 1999, his latest one - a dating service named Badoo - is preparing to file for an IPO on London Stock Exchange. The service has about 80 million registered users and company's revenue is estimated to reach $200 million this year. Why is it that Andreev is hiding from the limelight and using a false name?
In July of this year Prince released his latest album, dubbed "20TEN", in the UK using a distribution method that is quite unorthodox for the times that we're living in. He chose to bundle it, for free, with an issue of the Daily Mirror. That decision isn't wasn't what got him attention this past summer all over the internet, instead it was the interview he did with that tabloid where he offered this choice quote:
"The internet's completely over. The internet's like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can't be good for you."
Fantastic news to start the week off. The Finland based Sibesonke, a mobile service company, has been announced the winner of the AfricaCom 2010, Telecom Innovation of the year -category. The competition has now been held for the third consecutive year. In total there were 10 different categories. Other finalists in the same category with Sibesonke were Ericsson (Base Transceiver Station), Helios Towers (Lean Operator Model), Vodafone & Vodacom Tanzania (M-PESA) and Zephyr Corporation (Wind Powered Network).
GigsWiz isn't even a year old and already they have a very solid and impressive track record behind them. I talked to Joonas Pekkanen, the finance guy as their website puts it, about their newly released ticketing service that in all simplicity helps bands sell more tickets. Having had this talk, I finally realised how fundamentally broken the industry has been. One of the main concerns the promoters have had, according to Joonas, is that bands really aren't helping out in promoting their own gigs. Now think about that for a moment, you as an entrepreneur (which artists are, but most probably don't think like it) aren't helping out people to sell your own services that your produce - how crazy is that?
Facebook's grip on Europe is by far not complete. According to the recent analysis from Casual Games Association presented by i-Jet Media (the biggest game publisher in Russia and Eastern Europe), Europeans still prefer local social networks to Facebook. In Poland Nasza Klasa has 8 million users more than Facebook, in Germany VZ has 6 million more and Russia's Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki together have a mighty 104 million users compared with 1,6 million Russians who've joined Facebook. Thus, Europe's 30 social networks altogether boast 180+ million users, which is 24 million more than Facebook has in Europe.
Russia has come a long way in the recent years in terms of establishing itself as an internet superpower. However, it has done it at such a speed that many parts of its legislation have not been up to date, regarding online payments for example. Yesterday, the Russian government approved a bill to clarify and regulate e-payments. The bill has been much awaited, according to Moscow Times, and online payments are expected to increase by 400 million euro this year.
Digital Sky Technologies, a Russian holding company that owns shares in various web properties, is looking at Twitter with a possible investment in mind, according to SFGate. Digital Sky Technologies, or DST, previously spun off Mail.ru from it's holdings into a company of its own and sold 17% of the company at a valuation well above 5 billion USD.
Last spring we wrote about SongHi Entertainment and their launch of a closed beta product that helped easily create music with virtual instruments in a collaborative environment. Six months later, SongHi is a social music service that allows anyone to start playing and sharing their own music with a game-like interface in the browser. SongHi is live in the Nordics and Baltics, has partnership deals with Sony Music Finland and Universal. Also, it already started generating its first modest revenue this October. The point of the game is to create your own music and become famous among other users. SongHi's artificial intelligence is used to make sense of the amateur's music, making any mediocre player sound great. If you've been an active user, the game rewards you with stars to up your rankings, but you'd need to buy SongHi coins to purchase virtual items like intruments or fancy decorations for your virtual studio. You can't buy your way into fame but you can make it substantially easier by being a good consumer!
A new Finnish iPhone game called Shadow Cities developed by Grey Area launched today with a whopping success. The game was available in the Finnish App Store in the morning and by 1.30pm, it was already the third most grossing app in terms of sales. Mind you, the app is free itself. Later last night the game was already the most grossing app in the App Store. The last time it happened, the game in question was Angry Birds.
The Finnish restaurant site Eat.fi has partnered with Offerium, a Finnish Groupon-kind flash sales site, to offer diners cheaper meals. People looking for places to go out for dinner/lunch on Eat.fi will be now able to spot those restaurants with offers with a little "deal"-icon next to their name. I haven't bought yet anything on Offerium, but putting the restaurant deals into a need based context fits in perfectly and I'm guessing will result in more people finding Offerium as well.
A Pan European private equity firm IK Investment Partners has agreed to acquire EPiServer Group shares from Amadeus Capital, Martin Bjäringer, Monterro Holdings, Northzone Ventures, Michael Runhem and families as well as employees. EPiServer is a growing Sweden based CMS provider with revenues in 2009 around 192M SEK (20,6M EUR). According to Swedish authorities, the company made 24M SEK (2,6M EUR) profit in 2009.
Flowdock, which claims to be the best team messenger out there, has gone into production and paid mode as of this morning. We covered Flowdock back in October 2009 when they were just coming out with their product. They've come a long way since and it makes for an interesting story to cover, especially from a go-to-market point of view. I had a brief chat with Otto Hilska, one of the founders and CTO of Flowdock. During the last year, more or less the whole time of their beta program, they have managed to gather interest from 6000 teams who have used their product.
Writing this directly from back seats of the Kasvufoorumi event organised by the Finnish Software Entrepreneurs Association while it's still going. While there are a lot of traditional presentations from companies and organisations involved in this ecosystem, there was also a presentation by Pasi Sorvisto, Juha Ruohonen and Pekka Roine that really caught my eye.
The study titled The Value Creation For The Research-Based Ideas revealed very interesting numbers and the honest true state of the Finnish so called "innovation system". Based on the executive summary of the presentation it has managed to coin the state of our innovation ecosystem the best I've seen so far.
If you are a tech geek with an idea for a B2C web service living somewhere in Finland, there are few funding options at your disposal. Most probably you'd apply for public funding from Tekes, but that needs to be supported with additional private funds. You might take a loan or raise capital from other sources or, like most tech geeks currently, you'd raise the money by subcontracting or free-lancing. However, there is a new pre-seed funding that has recently come to Finland - HackFwd. The fund was started by tech geeks for tech geeks. The term 'geek' is used in this context very proudly because it portrays how passionate the people in question are about hacking and programming.
On December 2nd, we'll be organising an ArcticEvening in Tampere to get all the entrepreneurially minded people together to talk about angel investing. We'll be putting together a show where we'll have startups pitch (3 startups) at the event and also have a few angel investors at the venue to give quick feedback. We'll also have a panel discussion with the angels to talk about the activity of angel investing in Finland. In this post, you'll be able to register for the event free of charge and also submit your application to the pitching part. We'll be choosing 3 companies from the pool of applicants later on.
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.
With another week on the road, I have to say that the exhaustion is slightly getting the better of me. While it has been a joy to visit this beautiful country, so many things have also gone wrong, from missed meetups to losing a fuel cap, that the stress is beginning to show. Oslo thankfully gave me a chance to recuperate a bit, for a couple of nights, but it also added stress of its own, as I will mention a bit later.
Editor's Note: The guest blog is by Oscar Santolalla Obenhausen. Oscar holds M.Sc in Computer Science at the Helsinki University of Technology, with the specialization in Mobile Computing and Security and currently works for Tuxera.
Music CDs are becoming obsolete in digital music’s favor (especially MP3 files). Today it is very easy to find free streaming, to buy lots of music for a comparatively small price (Spotify, Nokia comes with Music), or to pay only ten Euros per album (iTunes store, Amazon.com). Music seems to inevitably become free, or nearly free. What’s more, online music sites are full of integration capabilities with social media. This creates a delightful environment millions of listeners.