Powerkiss have not released much news this year. Apart from a feature in VentureBeat in June and a mention in connection with The Europas competition, we have not heard much about the company. Just this month, however, they've been pushing out news stories like crazy. First we hear that they've partnered with Wayne's Coffee in Sweden and Finland. The coffeeshop chain's guests can now (in limited locations) ask for a Powerkiss wireless ring from the counter, plug it into their phone, put onto the Powerkiss-enabled table and recharge it during their stay. Next we hear that Powerkiss is the official wire-free provider for Santa in China. That's right: Santa Clause foundation has been hosting showrooms in China to promote Santa and other Finnish exports and Powerkiss has been one of those products. Last but not least, Powerkiss' wireless charger has been officially approved as an Apple accessory. Charging an iPhone/iPod next to you soon! Apart from all the glitz, the case of Powerkiss poses some interesting questions.
Swedish Sillens AB has developed a service called ShapeUp Club, which allows you to follow what you eat and also helps you lose weight through constant following of calories and your intake of food. I'm currently reading the new book by Tim Ferriss - 4 Hour Body, which is a great way to cut down on bingeing around Christmas. One of the key messages of the book is that you need to measure certain metrics to be able to improve on them - something many entrepreneurs understand easily regarding online business. ShapeUp Club is a great tool in helping you understand and follow metrics on how your body reacts to what you eat and how you exercise.
It's been an action packed autumn and now it's time for some well earned R&R, but not to worry - we'll return to our regular operations right after Christmas on Monday the 27th. We hope you enjoy your time off and spend it with loved ones, they are among the most important people that enable and both drive entrepreneurs forward.
Happy holidays and we welcome you back on the 27th of December!
Image by Markus YK
HeiaHeia is one year old this December. In the last twelve months, they've also logged about one million exercises. Last night, they were 10 000 exercises short, but the staff expects this milestone to be crossed in a matter of days. While this doesn't naturally tell anything about their userbase, it's definitely somewhere in the tens of thousands.
When we think privacy concerns what usually comes to mind is either Facebook with their messy and ever-changing privacy policies or Google with their vast amounts of user data from the many services they offer. However, a recent study by Wall Street Journal revealed that mobile apps pose a bigger threat than previously thought. Out of 101 most popular mobile apps tested, about half sent unsolicited private data, like your location, email, gender, age, your phones identifiers and in some cases even ethnicity and sexual orientation to outsiders, usually ad networks. Those networks are in the business of passing on that data to advertisers who can target more and more precisely their potential demographic. (Un)surprisingly, the biggest online ad networks are Google, Facebook and Apple - the very same companies that provide platforms for the apps.
Pipedrive is a new Estonian startup that is currently in closed beta, developing their fresh looking sales tool. I had the chance to take a look at the service and I can share some screenshots from it. Since many sales tools are essentially answering the same need, the UI and logic of use plays a very big role in how successful it can become. Pipedrive has in my opinion caught some of that Apple like eyecandy and usability in their product. It's extremely useful to use and I'm seriously thinking of already switching over from our current sales pipeline tool CapsuleCRM.
Editor's note: In August we heard Michael Bodekaer tell about his crazy project of escaping to Bali to live and work, and taking a bunch of entrepreneurs with him. Now in the midst of the Nordic winter we have him back (only via web though), reporting about the experiment.
We came from all over the world: 15 energetic entrepreneurs determined to realize our dream of paradise. We met in Bali, Indonesia, one of the world’s most beautiful places. Over six incredible weeks, we lived together in luxury villas, ate, drank, swam, surfed, played and worked productively together in an unbeatable environment. Sun, sand, surf and cyberspace: this was an experiment in lifestyle design, and we call it Project Getaway.
Russian media has recently been buzzing with news about the Skolkovo project, dubbed Russia’s Silicon Valley. Named after a business school nearby, Skolkovo will be a modern tech-hub for development and commercialization of new technology in the fields of energy, IT, communication, biomedical research and nuclear technology. Russia's president Dmitry Medvedev signed the decree to build Skolkovo already in 2009, building works will start in the second half of 2011 and construction is estimated to take 3-7 years. The overall budget for the project is $4-6 billion. Half of the sum would come from Russia's Federal budget, the other from co-financing agreements. Built on the outskirts of Moscow covering 3.7 km2, Skolkovo will be home for 40,000 people. Although Skolkovo currently exists only on paper, the project has already signed partnership deals with Nokia, Microsoft, Siemens and Rusatom, just to name a few.
Icelandic software startup Transmit has closed funding from a national venture fund - New Business Venture Fund. Transmit is working on a SaaS-product called Brand Regard. Brand Regard allows companies to store their brand materials in a single place and allow access to different parties for them. With the contract, New Business Venture Fund will receive 30,6% of the company.
GrabCAD is an Estonian run startup focusing on helping engineers with CAD drawings. It's a very niche oriented community for people with a certain skill set, therefore it's also one where it's tougher to build traction than in general with consumer services. However, after having a talk with Siim Teller, the Chief Product Officer of GrabCAD, I'm convinced they are onto something great here.
Tattletech has a story on a new 150 million euro fund to be launched in Finland during Q2 of 2011. According to the article, there are three individuals behind the initiative - 2 telco pioneers and a Finn working in the European Investment Bank. I got in touch with the people behind the article and they confirmed this, working in PR, but were unable to give out anymore information just yet.
A few weeks ago we published an article where Fortune hinted at possible talks between Nokia and Google with regards to Android. Today Mobile-Review has written about Nokia's potential talks with Microsoft about extending their alliance. In the talks, according to Eldar Murtazin, the writer behind the Mobile-Review article, Nokia's new leadership has had talks with Microsoft for about 2 months now regarding the possibilities to further extend their partnership. The talks are not only around exchange of technology, but possibly creating an entire line of Windows phones.
Since the dawn of man, when we first started walking upright, humans have been curious about the world around them. This desire to understand, to learn, drove explorers to visit new lands, the invention of novel ways to communicate across vast distances, and more recently, during the past few centuries, it gave birth to the news industry. Before the internet the only way to find out about what was going on in your little town was to ask around or pick up a copy of the local newspaper. Then radio and television came along, and that too helped people make better use of the city that they called home. With the internet however, we broke all that. The "global village" was created, was then hyped in the late 90s, crashed miserably, and from the ashes rose the "web 2.0" culture where everyone was told that what they have to say is important, critical in fact, to the future success of the medium. That unhealthy attitude ruined the way we consume and create news.
Editorial note: This is a guest post by Teemu Lang from Papula Nevinpat, a company focusing on industrial property rights - patents, trademarks and designs.
I have now worked for about a decade with high-tech startups that are heavily dependent on protecting their core technology with the tools provided by the global Intellectual Property system. I must say that I am more and more intrigued about the eagerness of some companies to file a great number of patent applications in proportion to their revenue at the outset. Admittedly, the companies in question are operating in such special fields of high technology where patenting is key to the company’s survival. I cannot nevertheless help thinking that this filing frenzy may be more related to the fact that the company is at a startup phase than to the field in which the company operates.
Earlier this week we broke the 400 000 euro investment round that Valkee managed to close from some of the top tier angels around. Talouselämä, a Finnish weekly publication, has stated that the investment event that took place this week into Valkee has valued the company at 4 million euros. Esther Dyson, Anssi Vanjoki, Jyri Engeström and Lifeline Ventures received 10% of the company for their 400 000 euro investment. In total, there were six individuals and organisations who invested into the company.
Last night lots of updates came in through Twitter and Facebook that the latter may have enabled its places service here in Finland and Sweden. Facebook Places is a similar location based service like Foursquare and Gowalla, but it doesn't have any game mechanics built into it. The venues are also better integrated into Facebook's own platform. The service was announced earlier this year available in the US, UK and Japan. It also works in many European countries currently. Last night some users on iPhones and Androids were able to check in to venues in Finland and Sweden. The situation has changed for some in Finland, but reportedly still works.
The Kinetik, a Danish StartupBootCamp company, is offering cross promotion advertising on mobile apps. The concept is very much similar to that of Applifier's. The Kinetik offers tools for developers to attract new users to their apps for free. The company is able to offer free visitors as developers also advertise other apps in their own. For each installed app through the advertising, developers will receive credits minus the commision by The Kinetik.
Last night I came home to read some news that Finland is considering adding a copyright tariff on external hard drives. A similar tariff is added to all different empty media, in this case empty CDs, DVDs, cassette tapes and so on. Now, the Finnish parliament is discussing the possibility of adding this tariff to all external hard drives. It's plain stupidity that will offer artists comfort for a year or so, before it begins to both hurt them and businesses selling hard disks.
Jenkatehdas is a music start-up from Finland that's been operating in stealth mode for about nine months but publicly released their service this September. The company describes itself as a Finland's first online rock venue: they host exclusive live concerts in a rented studio and stream it in real time. The audience needs to purchase tickets to be able to view the show (4-5€) and can interact with the band by signing into the chat room on the website using Facebook credentials. Yesterday Jenkatehdas streamed their second third concert ever with Jukka Poika & Sound Explosion Band. Antti Eronen, founder and CEO, did not disclose the number of people watching the show but said he was "really happy with the number of tickets sold, since they were in triple digits". Most of the viewers stayed for over 50% of the show. All the more impressive given that the show was targeted primarily for the Finnish audience (all ads were in Finnish and the band is best known in Finland) and that the start-up is mere months old.
Cherry.ee, the largest Estonian Groupon-kind site, had a big offer on earlier this week. They were selling Estonian Air travel vouchers worth 1000 EEK (64,30 euro) for 600 EEK (38,60 euro). They sold over 6500 vouchers, before they had to stop as it was a little bit too much for Estonian Air. Despite the early stop in sales, they plan to do another flash sale next year.