T+1 Solutions, an Estonian R&D and technology solution provider has come out with Taxipal - brokerage software for mobile devices which functions like a reverse auction. Its aim is to make the EU's taxi market more competitive and bring down the prices for consumers.
The service makes taxis compete for their business, where the customer can choose between price versus how quickly the taxi arrives to their location (see screen shots below). To be able to do this, the customer must first position herself (or let her mobile device do it by default) by entering necessary details of the trip, including the time window in which the person wants the cab to arrive. Subsequently, the customer will receive a list of bids from the registered taxi companies to her mobile.
Early next month we will go to Tallinn, Estonia to hold our end-of-the-year ArcticEvening in co-operation with OpenCoffee Club Tallinn and Connect Estonia. The event will take place on 3. December and focus on startup marketing. We will hold a panel under the 'What is marketing for startups and how to do it effectively'
Yet again, we have a solid lineup coming: An experienced serial entrepreneur that have a several exits under his belt and two young guns who are on their way to their fist big hits. See our list of panelist below and figure out who's who.
The ticket sales are open and the price is the only right one, the tickets are free. Go get yours while they last! We will announce the venue in due course once we get them confirmed.
If you haven’t been to ArcticEvenings before, we suggest you take a look at videos from previous events.
Norwegian mobile caller ID search startup Mobile Nordic has changed its name to Numo Solutions. Accordingly, the firm's mobile phone number and SMS search products, previously with country-specific localized names, will be branded as Numo Finder and Numo SMS Preview, respectively. The changes preempt new operator deals and handset manufacturer deals in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, said to be announced within a few months. The firm will also open new offices and affiliates in Beijing, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, and Taipei.
Startups are startups and it takes more than consumer web companies to make the world go around. In fact, one of the most ambitious startups in Sweden at the moment, in the hyper competitive fashion industry, is Noko Jeans. The cleverly narrated video on their website tells the story: from an idea to use Sweden's relatively good diplomatic relations with the "hermit kingdom" to get there and make some trousers with a literally inimitable pedigree.
While jeans made in the world's most isolated country may seem like a novelty, using the "Made In" tag as a brand feature is nothing new. "Made In Italy" has been adding cache to consumer goods for decades. More recently, American Apparel has used their vertical integration and "Made In USA" branding to out maneuver competitors with production in more standard East Asian "tiger" countries. However, the real cheekiness of Noko Jeans comes from their flaunting of the "Made In North Korea" label which, in the consumer mind is likely to have only negative connotations. But fashion is very crowded, and even more so in the premium denim category, so does a brand with no track record, no real financial backing, and a brand association with an oppressive regime have a chance to succeed?
During the recent ArcticStartup and AES trip to Silicon Valley, there was an interesting lesson to be learned. It was commonly talked that it is not so much the countries competing for startups, but cities that are wanting to build ecosystems enabling growth startups to be founded and prosper. This is the approach the city of Helsinki is taking towards growth companies with Enterprise Helsinki’s new Startup Acceleration program. Simply put, it's a free advisory service for all high growth oriented entrepreneurs and startups as well for networks of angel investors and experts that want to work on building these growth companies.
Spotify announced yesterday that is has added support for Symbian smartphones. Symbian is used by Nokia, SonyEricsson and Samsung. This has been a long awaited release as Symbian is still the most widespread phone OS around, thus dramatically increasing the potential for new Spotify users. While being a nice update and all, there might be something else in the makes regarding these application platforms. While many companies port their software to multiple platforms, not many are able to take advantage of them to the extent Spotify does. Earlier this month Spotify announced that it has signed a deal with 3 UK to distribute HTC phones with Spotify premium included. This may be the route Spotify is more eagerly going to take in the near future regarding other operators in Europe as well.
Recently, we have seen increasing investor interest in the Finnish cleantech market, which closed a total of €40-50m worth of investments in Q3 including those in companies such as European Batteries, a large scale lithium ion battery manufacturer, Nokia spin-off There Corporation, a sub/smart metering technology provider, and Preseco, a waste-to-energy company. Investments in Finnish clean technologies represented around 50% of cleantech VC investments in the Nordics, which closed a total of €100m worth of investments (source: Cleantech Scandinavia). Examples of Nordic investments are in companies like Danish biomass fuelled engine technology provides Stirling, Swedish nanowire semiconductor LED developer Glo (a link to release), Norwegian solar cell manufacturer Innotech Solar and EV company Think Global.
But will the investments in Finnish clean technologies in 2010 exceed those for 2009? We do not know the final figures for 2009 yet. In 2008, Finnish cleantech companies posted a total of €139.5m in investments, which represented the highest proportion (37%) of total investments (€372m) in all Nordic countries.
To kick off this week I want to take things to the macro level regarding entrepreneurship, politics and media. It is a topic we seldom talk about as we promote entrepreneurship here at ArcticStartup from the bottom of our hearts each and every day. I want to stress the importance of growth companies in our economies, as it is something that isn't given too much column space in the more traditional media. This is also one of the reasons ArcticStartup was founded - to give more coverage to growth companies and help them achieve more.
The topic in itself is very simple so we don't need to back it up with passion, all we need to do is look at the statistics. I've gathered some statistics from the Swedish statistics bureau (SCB) and the Confederation of Finnish Industries (CFI). While these only represent the systems in Finland and Sweden, I'm sure this can be extrapolated to other regions in Northern Europe with some adjustments. In this economic era, I'm focussing on the employment contribution these companies make to our economies since it is usually thought to be the most effective form of social welfare available.
It was a rollercoaster of a week, with some companies going up, some down, and some upside-down. Take Sopima, the Finnish online contract "bank," this week they took €1m to the actual bank. Or Voddler, the Swedish "Spotify for movies" company that got 35 million kronor from a mysterious uncle.
Not everyone did so well. Like a certain moderately well known Finnish mobile phone manufacturer, that announced Symbian will be executed in 2012.
But, don't waste time shedding any tears for Nokia, their future will be bright. So many new tools are there to help them, like Tietoset, a SaaS where industrial buyers are better able to source from the manufacturing field. They could learn a thing or too from Eric Ries about lean startupsas well, since every big company needs some intrapreneurs.
Sometimes, a distraction like some online gaming is all it takes to get the creative juices flowing again. There are plenty around whether your tastes are more intense, like the new MMORPG Hours of War, or casual social gaming like Planteo.
Cars are so 20th century. Use Me Mover, they're so hot right now.
Google is so 5 minutes ago. Use Azouk, they're so hot right now.
All you need to know about MetGen and their "enzymatic technologies in industrial processes" is that it's a $2,000,000,000 a year market. I bet you're interested now that you've finished counting all those zeros.
Bringing you the latest in cleantech, we look today to Denmark, where in less than three weeks the United Nations Climate Change Conference aka "Hopenhagen" will start. But instead of letting our incompetent politicians decide about our future, lets take matters into our own hands - or in this case, feet. Cloudbikes hails from Valby in Denmark, a mere 55 km from Copenhagen, and aims to eliminate the daily need for a car and making our lives more safe, comfortable and sustainable.
Every Friday we will feature an Investment and aim to break it down as closely as we can so our audience will get an idea of where the money comes from.
Sopima, a Finnish company building an online contract bank that aims to enable productivity improvements into the way organizations manage their contracts secured a €1m funding just a while ago.
Sopima is developed for all sizes of companies to keep their contracts in order, be able to manage all commitments made. As a web service Sopima enables you to do this together with your business partners, regardless where they are located. With Sopima every party has the entire contract constantly at arms length, and thus the contract becomes integral part of the daily business.
We dug a bit deeper to see where a web startup like Sopima would get its funding in Finland.
Last night a hundred of Stockholm's brightest and best in mobile services got together to talk about future challenges, opportunities, hopes, dreams, and tearing down the old order to build it again. The event got started with a short presentation by Jaycut CEO Jonas Hombert, who just might be the nicest guy in the Swedish tech scene, which would put him high in the running for nicest worldwide. He talked about the future of the Jaycut service on mobile devices and his partnership with Intel and Moblin, classifying it as advantageous and door-opening.
Next up was the main panel, featuring no less than Rebtel founder Hjalmar Winbladh, Traveas founder Jack Melcher-Claësson, and Cloudo evangelist Viktor Björk. Hjalmar talked about Rebtel's dual targeting strategy, focusing on immigrants and expats around the world as customers and entrenched operators around the world as enemies. He slyly added, about his enemies pricing strategy, that "50 öre for an sms is a fantasy price." Of course facing down operators is no easy challenge, especially when companies like AT&T are constantly whispering in Apple's ear about which applications should be approved and which should not.
Viktor, with his trademark zeal, discussed the clear mobile future of Cloudo, and made very sure not to use the term "OS," since Cloudo is a horizontal platform, and won't try to make you give up your gmail. Ever. He promised. Lastly, by virtue of sitting on the right of the panel, Jack illuminated the ways in which Traveas tries to make travelling print-out free, on everyone's mobile, EVEN people without iPhones. Shocking.
Miikka then wrapped up the panel, and I passed out more drink tickets, as handshakes, back slaps, light hearted insults, and heavily considered strategies were discussed into the night.
Tietoset is a fascinating Finnish company, some 4 years old, building a SaaS-based service where industrial buyers are able to do better sourcing from the manufacturing field. They currently work with the metal industry and have been thinking of taking the model to other industries as well. I know the CEO, Antti Siiskonen, a good friend from university and he stated that the biggest challenges they face are related to the aging owners of the companies - they don't see the value in doing better sourcing for their business.
Until today the Finnish Sisu and some rather big sunk costs has prevented the world biggest mobile phone manufacturer Nokia to admit they have been going down a wrong path already for a while. This wrong path is called Symbian. It seems that Nokia has started to use their own Nokia Maps and turned finally around.
Ben Smith of TheReallyMobileProject reports that Nokia will let Symbian go in 2012 and focus on Maemo. All high-end N series multimedia devices will be running the Linux OS by 2012, even though X series and E series devices will continue to run Symbian OS. That is, until Nokia will decides Symbian should be banned altogether.
By chance, I have met recently several Finnish companies operating in the new but growing cleantech segment of industrial enzymes for biowaste-to-energy applications. Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions and that can be used as new materials for renewable energy solutions. The global industrial enzyme market is currently valued at $2bn with an annual growth rate of 3-5%, which is fairly moderate. However, the large M&A transactions increase the attractiveness of this segment. Examples of transactions in this area include, for instance, the buy-out of Indian Biocon's food industry enzymes unit by Novozymes for $115m in 2007 (story) and also the merger of US-based Celunol and Diversa in 2007 (story).
"Planeto takes quiz gaming to new heights. Now you can experience unprecedented quiz fun together with millions of players around the globe."
Swedish startup Planeto is going after the wealth waiting in virtual goods and social gaming, besides from the modest goal of world domination in gaming. Planeto Quiz claims to be the world’s first Massively Multiplayer Online Quiz (MMOQ). The game is first to combine elements of online role-playing games such as World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online with the accessibility and instant thrill of traditional quiz games.
Planeto's been all hush hush from the beginning, even the names of the private investors of the company are still to be kept secret. But, as of today, we've got a little preview of what's in the making!
Yesterday, Swedish streaming movie startup Voddler announced 35 million kronor in new funding to help "develop the service." It was also announced that Bertil Villard of lawfirm Vinge would be taking a board position at the company. It was not announced who the money came from. So, how about some entirely rational speculation on whos handing out cash like that to companies with a very uncertain business model and and even more uncertain technical capability, shall we?
First, lets look at the facts. 35 million kr is not a lot of money. Especcially not when you consider that Spotify's A-round was over €15 million, and arguably, both the licensing costs and infrastructure required to stream movies are much, much higher. Second, no venture firm is claiming credit for the investment, and a lawyer is taking a board position and not a "VC-guy." This is potentially worrying since even the best connected corporate lawyers fall short of being considered "smart money." Since thier connections are usually with other corporate lawyers, politicians, and finance types, not the tech and media masters that Voddler will need if they intend to scale and, you know, BE SUCCESSFUL. So, where did that secret money come from, and why aren't they talking?
Exactly a week ago we had a privilege to have Eric Ries here in Helsinki to discuss The Lean Startup and what it means for startups. In short, The Lean Startup is a way to get product/market fit fast and agile.
More particularly, The Lean Startup is a practical approach for creating and managing a new breed of company that excels in low-cost experimentation, rapid iteration, and true customer insight. It uses principles of agile software development, open source and web 2.0, and lean manufacturing to guide the creation of technology businesses that create disruptive innovation.
As Ries explained, contrary to the general belief, The Lean Startup does not only work for consumer facing Web 2.0 companies. It works just as well for B2B software companies and in fact for any company that is facing a market risk instead of technology risk.
This is probably the one presentation that I would not miss as a startup out all the presentations ever made. Real gold dust! You can watch Eric's video presentation below.
Tomorrow we'll be having another ArcticEvening event in Tampere. The event will revolve around some interesting startup pitches and a panel with some very interesting industry heavy weights. Last week we went through our procedure to pick three companies available for pitching at the event and the chosen ones are (in random order): Tagregator, Tribe Flame and There Corporation. On the panel we'll have Jussi Harvela, Otto Chrons and Heikki Halme.
Google is our answer to everything be it writing a Master's thesis, looking for a new car, a new job, doing your homework or putting together an analysis on a fortune 500 stock. I, for one, use Google every single day to get to the bottom of which ever startup I'm writing about. Yet, Google is not perfect and its job is getting harder by day when the amount of information on the web grows. And it grows very very rapidly.
This is something that Kristofer Kimbler, CEO of Azouk, has also recognized when he started working on his latest venture. Azouk is a Swedish online service for professionals that provides an alternative way to reach the best content and information and to ‘meet’ top experts. The company's HQ is in Malmö, Sweden, but marketing and sales in UK and R&D in Poland. Kimbler who was previously at Appium Technologies that was acquired by Aepona Ltd. In June 2007. Appium Technologies developed telecom application servers based on the Parlay OSA and VoIP standards.