Issuu, the Danish e-zine startup that serves billions of pageviews monthly through its content, has faced the wrath of Apple for the third time. They've tried to get their app approved to the AppStore, so people would be able to browse about 2 million publications for free on their mobile devices. Apple has constantly disapproved their app, 3 times in total and today they've taken the step to stop trying. Why does Apple care? I see it crossing their strategy a bit too much.
DIY genetic testing lived through a lot of buzz in the States in the recent years as one of the pioneers and most well known companies 23AndMe has just earlier this month raised $22 million in series C financing. Now, this industry has set foot in Finland with Geenitesti.fi opening shop earlier this week. The company has two DNA based tests available.
Fortumo, the Estonian wonder startup continues its amazing growth. They have now opened up business in their 48th country, Thailand according to a recent blog post. Thailand is one of the large markets in South-East Asia with its 66 million mobile users. Interestingly enough, only 2% of the population is subscribed to broadband connections and while 12 million of the 66 million mobile users are also mobile internet users. Going head on with a growing, but still very immature market cna be flourishing for Fortumo. As internet usage grows, so does the requirement to monetise it - this is where Fortumo comes in. Furthermore, the huge mobile market presents numerous opportunities for Fortumo and its clients.
Garage48 is a boot camp style iniative to build new web services in just 48 hours. The concept has been a roaring success in Estonia, where it was started last year. This week, Garage48 announced that they'll be opening a co-working space in Tallinn in December for all entrepreneurs to use. Not only is Garage48 opening a co-working space in Tallinn, they are also organising one of their boot camp style weekend events in Helsinki in January in co-operation with AaltoES. I talked to Ragnar Sass, one of the people behind the concept and what Garage48 HUB will be like when it opens.
In this series, supported by Nexit Ventures, we today take a look at investment criteria that venture capitalists use to grade startups. While these are sure to slightly differ from company to company, you'll be very well off understanding the implications and criteria Nexit Ventures uses to grade their potential investments. There are six points that investors usually look at and we'll take a look at each of these in detail. The criteria are management, market potential, exit potential, business model, technology and finance.
Balancion, the Finnish personal finance management tool, has launched a new 1.5 version of their service. Jussi Muurikainen, CEO, states that this is the biggest release since coming out and with this service they aim to target the larger masses in Finland. With the new version comes a ton of new features as well as a security certificate from Nixu.
Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, said in a recent interview on stage at Web 2.0 Summit that NFC technology will see 500 startups working with it in the coming years. While doing so, he gave a strong hint that Google will be very interested in the findings of this space. NFC, or near field communication, is a short range wireless communication technology that enables the exchange of data between objects at around 10 cm in distance. While it seems this is new technology, now that Google has begun to talk about it openly as well as RIMM, it has actually been around for quite a while. Nokia has been testing out with this technology for quite some time, but all big companies to date still lack any high scale consumer applications for the technology.
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.
Well, the previous week started off even more interesting than the last for the Travelling Salesman tour.
After my capers with the Russian embassy I had quite a pleasant day in Oslo, meeting several people with a Trolltech background. Trolltech was the developer behind the now famous Qt GUI library and toolkit, which Nokia bought and which is currently being made into the next thing for Nokia phone development (whether it is on Symbian or Meego). As someone who has spent a while inside Nokia, it was interesting to see the level of independency that the Qt office in Oslo has. For instance, several of the people there were running Macs. I actually think this is extremely important to keep the identity of the teams intact, and motivated to continue with innovation.
Finnish entrepreneurs, just like their peers from the whole of Europe, can now benefit from a new instrument to fund their ventures - Openfund. Openfund is a pan-European early-stage seed fund based in Greece focused on mobile apps, Internet and software industries. Ideally the cases should be positioned at the intersection of those three industries, without any restictions in terms of B2C or B2B services or products. Openfund invests 30 000 - 50 000€ for 15% equity into teams of 2-4 passionate entrepreneurs. The deadline for this year's applications is coming up next week on Novermber 30th so hurry up if you'd like to participate in their five-month programme!
Anil Hansjee, the director in charge of Google's acquisitions, has given an interview to Swedish Dagens Industri about their recent acquisitions. In the interview Hansjee says that they've gone through their 70 recent acquisitions and how they've been able to integrate the business into Google's. One of the takeaways from the interview is that, they failed to integrate Jaiku into Google's strategy.
Venture Bonsai is a new crowdfunding platform that is in private "invitation stage" as the co-founder of the company, Antti Hannula, states. Venture Bonsai enters the increasingly active market of enabling new methods to fund startups. The company is a little over six months old, but the idea originates back to Summer 2009 when Antti Hannula and Marko Lehtimäki talked about the difficulties startups face in getting funded.
A Nokia research lab team in Tampere, Finland has built a touchscreen out of ice. While this never probably makes it into "full production", it is a nice experiment by the team to see how people behave and use the interactive device. The setup involves lots of ice, near infrared cameras, a projector and a personal computer. The cameras followed hand movements on the ice, while the projector projected whatever the program on the PC was running.
On Friday night, The Europas, a startup award ceremony put together by TechCrunch was held in London. While there were many European companies in the nominations, Nordic and Baltic companies in general did well. Quite many made it to the finalists and in some cases they were able to win their categories. Below are the companies from the Nordics and Baltics and their performance in the competition.
Just a quick reminder before you run away from your computer to enjoy those after work drinks. We're organising an ArcticEvening in Tampere on the 2nd of December in New Factory Demola, located at Väinö Linnan Aukio 15, 3rd floor. We'll be showcasing a panel with angel investors and also some startup pitches (you can still apply here for a chance to pitch). The show will kick off at 5pm and will continue until 8pm. To take part, register your ticket below.
At the end of October we wrote about Blyk opening office in Singapore. Today they've announced that they will begin to offer the Blyk platform through Aircel in India. India has one of the largest mobile markets globally. With Blyk's focus on the youth segment, India is a dream market - 51% of the total population is young and potentially interesting for Blyk. Aircel is a Pan-Indian operator with a subscriber base of 48 million customers.
Soothing music in the hotel lounge, hip tunes in a bar or a cafe - music in service industry is something we're all used to without paying much attention to it. Providing music seamlessly for hotels, bars and restaurants is not as painless, however. That's something DJ Online discovered and decided to solve by creating a new solution for online media distribution. I talked with Jani Tolonen, CEO and one of the investors, who told me that what their company offers for a service industry is a way to easily manage high-quality music, unify it across customer's chains, offer karaoke and songs on-demand as well as discreetly show audio-visual ads. DJ Online deploys a client machine to connect with their own server over the Internet, where all customer data and artificial intelligence is stored. The music used is licensed through record labels (their cost is included in the price of the service). The service works online and requires a connection with a minimum transfer rate of 2Mb/s. DJ Online downloads the music to be played and stores them on the computer, so any disturbances in Internet connections will not compromise functioning.
Editorial note: This post is a guest post written by Ossi Marko, a lawyer who jumped ships and founded Signom, a company working with electronic signatures. Full disclosure as well - Signom is a current advertiser at ArcticStartup, but this post was in no way paid for.
I've heard and read a lot of comments about startups being afraid to launch their products. Or to put it another way, having a lot of problems determining when the product is good enough for launch. We usually tend to think that the product needs to be somewhat spectacular from the very beginning. Otherwise someone big comes and steals it and we don't have a competitive edge OR we make fools of ourselves and hang our heads in shame.
Angry Birds 2 may very well be told from the pigs point of view, if there's believing what Peter Vesterbacka has disclosed about Rovio's future plans in Virtual Goods Summit in London. Pocket Lint wrote that the Mighty Eagle, aka Peter Vesterbacka, stated that they want to be able to surprise people. David Selle, a participant in the event tweeted Vesterbacka saying "We are not going to do a sequel, we want to surprise people - no one has told the story from the pigs point of view".
I participated in the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Finland awards ceremony last night to see who the 50 fastest growing technology companies in Finland were. Before the awards ceremony though, there were two talks by Kaija Pöysti, the founder of Trantex, a translation company that grew to about 200 people before she sold it, and Petteri Koponen the co-founder of Jaiku and partner in Lifeline Ventures among many others.
Reading and writing are the basics that we often take for granted. However, according to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, there are 800 million illiterate adults and 130,5 million illiterate youths in the world, most of them living in the developing countries. At the same time, more and more people use mobile phones to access Internet and broadband providers are expanding to the developing markets. Ympyra is taking advantage of those circumstances by delivering basic educational services through mobile handsets. Their technology is patented and their educational methods are based on the Finnish basic elementary curriculum, which is ranked number one by OECD's educational assessment benchmarker PISA.