Yesterday we covered Deal24, a company doing local discount coupon sales, similar to Groupon's concept, in the Nordics and Baltics. Unfortunately for us, this wasn't an Estonian company and certainly not the largest as our readers rightly commented both in Facebook and in the article comments. The real Groupon of Estonia is Cherry.ee which is the largest by both deals done and amount of business. This time we talked to the investors behind the company and there's some interesting data to back this up.
Finnish gaming industry is thriving with innovation. The latest newcomers are Tribe Studios with a game concept called Stagecraft, which will be specifically targeted for 30+ adults. The idea behind the game is that modern grown-ups like computer games but can no longer play them for hours on end every day. Thus, Tribe Studios are designing a game that can be learned and played within one evening. The action will be centered around a story-telling narrative and allow for simultanious multiplayers, which means that just like in boardgames using the same tools you'd create different games every time you play. Stagecraft creators also want gaming experience to reflect that of watching a movie but in a more interactive way. Thus, the graphics are promised to be staggerring and playing a game would cost you as much as renting a movie or watching one in the movie theaters - between 3-10€ at a time. The game is estimated to be launched around the summer 2011.
The Swedish originated video advertising platform Videoplaza is on fire to say the least. We heard news from the company yesterday and they're doing very well. Back in March we wrote about Videoplaza securing a 3.5 million euro financing round to further grow the company. The company has signed a lot of different broadcasters from Europe as its clients and also moved its headquarters to London.
Groupon has sparked up a lot of similar concepts, if not exactly the same, in many local markets as it has not been able to expand as fast as it should have to satisfy the market demand. In Estonia, Deal24 has taken advantage of this and has launched their own version with a similar concept. The service offers one deal a day and there are no limits to how many people have to purchase it for the offer to become valid.
Angry Birds phenomenon is through the roof again. Yesterday, Rovio released Angry Birds Seasons, which is the new and awaited Christmas edition of the game. It is also available as a free update for those players who bought the Angry Birds Halloween edition. The game is now available in the iTunes store as well as for the Android platform over here.
Start-ups often need to modify their product or change their direction. This September an Estonian start-up Inner Cirlce came out with a secure social network called Posterbee. They even raised an estimated 200 000€ for the project and launched private beta. Things did not go as planned and the company has recently announced a change of directions. From now on Posterbee v.2 will concentrate on helping groups share and discuss web and other content. The idea is that those links and files would be gathered and indexed in one place, making them easily searchable and relieving your inbox from all of that content. Posterbee is charmingly honest in their explanation for the change. In the announcement they admitted that most of the beta users turned out to be indifferent to the service and did not see Posterbee as much different from other solutions on the market. Great to see that the company took the feedback to heart and instead of fighting a loosing battle did a pivot.
CapMan, the private equity investor in the Nordics and Russia, has announced last month that they will "restructure their investment operations" which in essence means they will stop investing. To be more precise, they will focus on their current portfolio companies and not raise any new funds nor do any new investments in the future.
This is a problem that's very real for many companies: keeping your meeting notes in order. I keep them in various places and perhaps for that, they're never too easily to be found. Agrii is an Estonian startup that has developed a web service that helps you keep your meeting notes in order and structure them in a way that they're easy to come back to as well.
Daniil Harik and Kalmer Rautam are the co-founders behind the company. The need to create a solution like Agrii, came from personal needs. It's hard to keep everything in an organised fashion over a long period of time.
Via Venture Partners has announced (PDF) raising of a new fund. The fund is its second, amounting to 134 million euros. In addition to the VC's original fund founded in 2006, this makes Via Venture Partners one of the largest VCs in the Nordic region with a total of EUR 268 million of committed capital. The fund targets Nordic high growth potential ICT firms that have a global market opportunity.
Last week, Open Coffee Club Vilnius together with partnerships from Sunrise Valley and Knowledge Economy Forum, organised a hectic, but fruitful one day event to get startups together with the top mentors in the country. MentoringDay, pulled together some 12 startups and 50 mentors to speed up business development.
A year ago we wrote about a new copy-editing start-up from Denmark - Wordy. Since then Wordy released its product from beta, won Seedcamp this autumn and moved to UK. I talked with Anders Schepelern, founder and CEO, who shared insights from his entrepreneurial journey.
Let us remind you that Wordy offers human copy-editing of any English document at a small price and high speed. They claim to be able to process any text of 400 words in 15-20 min at any time of the day. The service was launched as a commercial product from day one: editing 400 words costs 7-8€. All revenue is split 80/20 between editors and Wordy, which means that an average editor gets an hourly wage of around 23€. Since Wordy's competitive advantage is high-quality human edge to editing (40% of the editors have a Master's degree or higher), offering a decent pay is the key to hiring and retaining the workforce. It seems to be paying off too: customer satisfaction of the service is in the top ten percentiles at the moment.
Maventa is a relatively young Finnish e-invoicing operator, but during its little over two years in operation - it has grown to become the third largest e-invoicing provider in Finland. They are ambitious and something that speaks of this is their slogan: "the world deserves a free electronic invoicing infrastructure". In essence, they want to do to e-invoicing what Skype did to the telco industry. In a recent tweet (they're actually the third largest behind Nordea and Itella), they announced that they have surpassed Basware in the amount of clients. Basware is a publicly listed company. At the time of writing this, Basware is now the fourth largest e-invoicing provider with 3809 clients, Maventa has 3913 clients, while Itella has 5413 clients and Nordea is the largest with 10178 clients.
Russia's biggest search engine Yandex is planning to file for a $1,5 billion IPO early 2011. The company will most likely choose London Stock Exchange for its listings, though New York's Nasdaq was also mentioned as an alternative.Yandex was planning to file for an IPO already in 2008 but world financial crisis got in the way and plans for an IPO were postponed. Sources close to the company shared that Yandex was valued at maximum $3M back then. The company was founded in 1997 and is today 7th biggest search engine in the world by the number of processed queries. More than 61% of the company belongs to investment funds like ru-Net Holdings, Baring Vostok Capital Partners and Tiger Technologies, 24% is owned by the company's managers and other stuff, 10% belongs to private investors and 5% to holders of stock options.
It's only a few days before we have our event in Tampere and we've made available a small batch of extra tickets and will share the program in this post as well. In short, the event will roll around the theme of angel investing. We'll be having three companies pitch in the event and afterwards have a panel discussion with three angel investors on their personal investment philosophy, what they're looking for in a startup and in general their experiences in angel investing. Lots of interesting stories to be told for sure!
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.
There are very few countries I would consider living in permanently. Places that I feel I could end up calling a home. Iceland is now one of them. The arrival by Smyril Line ferry was immediately majestic with those eery misty cliffs rising gently above the sea as I approached bohemian Seyðisfjörður along that 20km fjord to eastern Iceland. It set the mood perfectly. This was to be followed by travel through boiling earth and volcanos to the heart of the Icelandic startup scene, Reykjavik, where my fiancée also had flown for an all-too-short visit to experience this mystical location.
Internet Apps And Native Apps: Why Neither Is Going Away, But The Coming Years Will See A Tremendous Power Shift
People love a good story, no matter what form of content it is they're consuming. Journalists, especially those who cover the technology industry, like to apply the same elements that make up an attractive narrative to their writing, so what most people get today is a tale of two or three competitors, the hurdles they have to overcome to deliver the solution they've envisioned and marketed, and then the demise of the one who couldn't execute properly. No matter how enticing it may be to remove the complexity of the battle for consumer's hearts, minds and wallets in order to make the story easily digestible, reality is often quite different. Take for instance the current obsession with mobile applications and how they're going to eclipse the internet as the delivery platform of choice for services and software.
Last week we promised to return to the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 competition to share some more interesting data. For example, the study shows what industries and countries were able to produce more growth companies. The companies are split into 8 different industries, which are telecommunications/networking, computers/peripherals, software, internet, greentech, media/entertainment, biotech/pharmaceuticals/medical equipment and semiconductors/components/electronics. Although the competition was EMEA wide, most of the companies come from Central and Western Europe.
The Finnish radio station YleX has published some new images of the Angry Birds X-Mas edition on their website. By the looks of the pics, they've been taken off a large screen and by the look of them, there doesn't seem to be anything too new - except for new levels naturally. Rovio also confirms that the X-Mas edition of the game will be downloadable from the iTunes Store by the 1st of December. Also 11th of December will be the official Angry Birds day around the world. The main event will be held in Helsinki, Finland and it will be streamed live.
This internet app story is going to be a little different. We're going to be covering our own little analytics app called Funneld that we've been working on behind the curtains this autumn. The origins of this app go back to problem we've had with understanding visitors coming to ArcticStartup. A lot of our readers come to the site from Twitter and Facebook for example, but the currently available tools fail to show us which stories are the ones that attract visitors. So, we went about and created a little app for that. In doing so, we realised that others might have the same problem and we decided to set it up as an app of its own and develop it like any other startup out there works on a product or a service of theirs.
Deloitte has released their EMEA Technology Fast 500 list this morning. It's a larger competition where companies are ranked on an EMEA-level. We covered Finland's results a while back, but this is naturally more interesting - how did the Nordic and Baltic companies do on a larger scale. Listing Nordic and Baltic companies from the 500 list is a bit time consuming (as I wanted to get the story out asap), but below they are from the first 100.