Assuming you’re in need of a new insurance, credit card or a personal loan for example, would you know straight away where to find the most cost-efficient alternative for you? Price comparison is probably what you’ll want to do, but how and where to do that?
For a long time apps have been brushing up on the edges of psychology, like your to-do apps and other motivational trackers. But somewhat recently we're seeing startups, like Hoa's Tool Shop and now Norway's Mindfit trying to solve grander problems, such as working as your in-pocket psychologist or therapist to help adjust your emotions and day-to-day life. Two sisters have recently launched an app out of Trondheim, Norway that attempts to act like a mini psychologist in your pocket to help you become more aware of the positive things happening in your life.
Talking to Norwegian entrepreneurs over the years we've heard two things about the state of their early-stage funding. We've heard that there are no investors, or if there are, they're government backed funds managed by people with backgrounds in Finance or the Norwegian government - not exactly smart money. Every nation's entrepreneurs cry loudly about how little money is available, but the data backs it up. According to the Norwegian Venture Capital Association, in 2013 only €2.2 million was invested by Norwegian PE firms into Norwegian companies. Finland, a roughly equally sized country, had double that.
Now we've received word that Alliance Venture Capital, an Oslo based firm, is bringing in a network of former IT entrepreneurs and managers as a network and has announced a NOK 510 million (€60.63 million) fund to focus on early-stage investments in IT called Alliance Venture Spring which will invest 2-5 million NOK (€240,000- €600,000) into companies primarily in Norway.
It’s not every day we see Tekes being approached with a €10 million investment request, not to mention seeing that requests being approved. However, big money is needed to run complex systems, and since it’s airport management software in question, the large investment makes more sense.
In acquisition news, Denmark had a busy weekend after two companies announced acquisition - Libratone, a maker of high-end wireless speakers, and Assemblage, a startup making real-time collaboration apps.
In nice news for a Swedish company, yesterday music-tech startup Soundtrap created by Playwerk was up on stage at Google I/O to make an announcement of their updated music collaboration site. We haven't covered the company yet, so this affirmation by Google gives us a good excuse to dig into what they're doing - a polished cloud-based platform that allows musicians to collaborate and jam together on the web.
Big news from Templafy: the template management startup from Denmark is leaping up the early stage business stairs with a recent $2.5 million investment led by SEED Capital and Sunstone. Though still in its early form, the ambitious startup is looking go global as soon as possible, an optimism largely shared by the backing VC’s.
I've been hearing a common theme from bureaucrats and economic development folks at Helsinki's startup events - that we need to make Helsinki the hub for the East-meets-west startup scene. We can talk about our closeness to St. Petersburg, or our that Helsinki has "access to western markets" or whatever, but while those are nice-to-haves, what really motivates startups from Russia and Eastern Europe to pick up and start in a new place is access to cash.
A new Vigo accelerator and investor, Helsinki Ventures, is now seeking out the new wave of Russian and CIS startups that are highly educated and skilled, but sometimes lack the commercial know-how for western markets. Their plan is to take early stage startups, get them set up as Finnish companies therefore giving them access to the fast Tekes cash available through their Vigo accelerator connections.
Seriously, a Helsinki-based game and entertainment studio that has yet to release what they're working on, sent us a different press release than most. In it, they describe that they've made a few more key hires, fleshing out their team to 12 people (and one intern) and buried in there they mention that they've raised €1.9 million from Sunstone Capital and Upfront Ventures, also adding Daher Capital as a new investor. Seriously’s total seed raise stands at €3.7 million before getting anything on the market.
Without knowing their idea or roadmap, all I can say is such is life these days if you're basically an ex-Rovio team looking to build off of what made Angry Birds pop.
There’s probably not too many Finns who’ve seen the world as much as CreateTrips founder Juha-Petteri Kukkonen has. He began his travels at a very young age, accompanying his father in his business trips ever since he was child. As he grew older, travelling became a lifestyle of his, and he found himself travelling first with friends, then with a girlfriend who soon turned into a wife and son. The nature of his travelling also changed from a hobby into a business that provided food to the table, similarly to his father all those years ago.
Today, his company CreateTrips announced that it has closed a $600,000 seed round led by Butterfly Ventures, Frontier and Rkapital.
The name behind Finland's next hyped gaming company comes from a classification of Champagne. Like all fine champagne, Grand Cru needed to age a few years before it's ready.
Late last night Grand Cru released their first title, Supernauts internationally. Our Finnish and Canadian readers have had access to the game since before Christmas, but that's not all the waiting we've had to do. The first news about Grand Cru coming together came way back in May of 2011 when they received an initial round of investment from Lifeline Ventures, with the game title released back in 2012.
Did you know that those phone chargers you have plugged into your wall all around your house are eating up energy? It's dumb but true - those mobile phone chargers converting AC current to DC use energy, even if no device is pugged into it. You can test this yourself by touching your average wall charger, it might be a little warm to the touch even without anything in it.
Who's making the games that the game industry playing? That's one question I had at PG Connects Helsinki - PocketGamer's satellite conference that brought together Helsinki's startup scene. Many of these gamers are making games where they aren't necessarily the target audience - I don't think anyone was going around the conference saying "dude, did you see that game where you shoot birds at some pigs' castle." Instead I was expecting to see more hardcore games, or something innovating that got gamers thinking.
This could be a much more exhaustive list, but here's the responses I got after a quick walk:
Sydsvenskan reports that startup Newshubby, started recently by Alexandra Bylund, former co-founder at Foap, announced that they have landed a first investment. The investment is an early investment from the London-based business angel Russell Glenister, who previously has invested in amongst other Tweetdeck. Russell Glenister is investing € 33 000 in Newshubby.
Imagine you’re a kid, your friend is building a brick house made of Legos. You join in and decide to build an extension to his house. It would be only logical you use Legos just like he did, but what if he wouldn't share his Legos? You’d have to come up with another solution to build the extension. This will prove to be time consuming, expensive and worst of all, the result will most likely be less efficient than what it could've been had your friend shared his Lego bricks in the first place.
In all its playfulness, the above described situation is an analogy of real corporate competition. But it is not, however, how things work in the world of open source.
The title says it all - a Quartz source leaks that the Stockholm-based company is so close to an IPO that the management have started preparing for quarterly earnings calls by going through the motions in practice. Lots of hints have come out of Spotify that the company is preparing for an IPO, such as hiring an External Reporting Specialist in February, and gaining a recent $200 million line of credit from a group of bankers including Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and Deutsche Bank.
Identity software company ForgeRock has been through what you could call a turbulent quest for treasure. Today based in Silicon Valley, ForgeRock roots its origins in mountainous Norway, where the company first saw daylight under the leadership of current CTO Lasse Andersen. The now all-American tech firm is challenging its big market competitors with a new type of open source Information Rights Management (IRM).
In recent news, Stockholm-based Pingdom has been acquired by Austin, Texas-bases SolarWinds. Pingdom provides website monitoring, making sure your ops team or developer is the first to know about any downtime through a text message, instead of getting tweets, emails, or even worse - silence - about your downtime. Pingdom has been killing it with over 500,000 customers including giants like Instagram, Twitter, Ebay, GetHub, MailChimp, and more.
Over the years, as initially free apps reach the point where they need to monetize, many have gone the simplest path of in-app advertisements. For users to continue using the app this means either paying for the add-free version or viewing the ads for free. However, with the rising negative user sentiment about disturbing advertisements and no apparent signs from developer side of fixing the issue, ads have eventually become a tool of converting free users into paid ones.