With a cryptic company name and a very solid founding team, many have wondered what's going on within Seriously Games. I recently sat down at the company's Kaisaniemi, Helsinki headquarters and got a peek into what the company was working on, their Best Fiends (link should be live today) franchise, announced today.
On the weekend of August 22-24 TechHub Riga will host 10 most promising teams of startup and digital media enthusiasts from Northern Europe and Poland for an intensive 3-day bootcamp - The Digital Media Startup Academy . The organising team promises a vibrant, fast-paced, extremely practical event with digital industry professional presentations, 1-on-1 advice and tailored mentorship combined with product development and socialising with similarly thinking founders and investors.
Big news for authentic Finnish big data and Internet of Things sector: CyberLightning, the Oulu-based IoT development startup, has announced the closing of a major funding round of €3.2 million. We recently covered the startup here.
Thanks to means of transportation becoming more widely affordable, travelling is turning from the once-in-a-year-weekend-holiday-to-Paris to become more of a hobby people can choose to do more often.
And wherever there is an increasingly popular activity emerging, applications that make that activity easier and more interesting are never far behind.
We were loving Jolla in the press about a year ago for being the mobile phone comeback story that Finland needed. But after launching their phone last November, they've been quiet in Europe, with the only recent news that Jolla has partnered with mobile operator Elisa in Estonia.
Classified sites are extremely local, making it that much more remarkable that Gothenburg-based Saltside Techologies has been on a roll with creating a listing sites in Bangladesh, Ghana, and Sri Lanka. The company has been growing at 300% per year, and have beaten out local and international competitors in auto, property, and general classifieds. Saltside is led by CEO Nils Hammar, who one of the first employees at Skype who also founded networking site Kindo which sold to MyHeritage in 2008. Saltside is backed by Investment AB Kinnevik, a Swedish investment house with some expertise in emerging markets, and has already raised $25 million in equity funding.
As Finnish residents, we've heard rumours of Finland’s massive consumption of energy per person, but while our climate conditions might be harsh, it would be outrageous exaggeration to say we have it worse than Iceland does (at least down here in Helsinki).That in mind, it might not surprise you that Iceland consumes the most electricity per capita in the world.
In comparison, according to data collected in 2012, Finland used approximately 55 000 kWh/year/capita, whereas Iceland used a threefold of that amount, roughly 165 000 kWh/year/capita!
I never really liked the idea of young kids using Facebook: I feel like there's plenty of other things children could/should be doing then stupefying their minds with superficial ego-fishing. And as if the attention-driven environment wasn't enough of a reason to keep the young'uns out of social media, there's plenty of discussion going on about cyberbullying, the online version of old-school bullying, which has driven many youngsters face to face with serious emotional distress, and in some cases, even suicide.
Worried parents can now cease to fear for the online safety of their children, all thanks to Kuddle, the Norwegian picture sharing app especially designed for kids.
Gone are the days of faded texts, chunky edges and impossible-to-read small print: since the birth of the e-book, reading at the beach has never been easier. Storytel, the Swedish audiobook provider, promises that it can be even easier with their new app combining audio and e-book.
Audio-books may not be a novel idea, but Storytel’s new feature which allows you, the reader, to seamlessly switch between reading and listening, and remembers exactly where you left off, is entirely unique.
If you've ever worked on a construction site, you’ll know management inefficiency leads to a generally slower workpace filled with constant coffee and cigarette breaks while workers wait for delegations from the site HQ. There’s quite a bit of paperwork to be done when it comes to field reports, invoice anottations and customer to client communications, that is, if you do all of those things the conventional way.
The Swedish construction industry is now given the opportunity oil up their site management machinery, and get the workflow moving faster with the help of Fieldly, the fresh SaaS that turns construction sites smarter and more dynamic.
Inventure Announces Increased €68 million Fund To Assist Nordic & Baltic Startups in Soft Landing to US
If you by any chance happen to have an investment hungry startup within the Nordic and Baltic region, you’ll be pleased to know there’s a fresh increase of €68 million waiting to get pumped into your veins.
Finland-based VC firm, Inventure, has just announced the closing of its second Inventure Fund II at €68 million. The round will lead to an US expansion where the VC will build presence for future local support of its Nordic and Baltic protégées. The funding was led by pension-insurance company Ilmarinen, with strong backing from existing investors.
The team of Swedes behind Berlin-based Vamos have been quiet in recent months but today announce they’ve released a nicely designed 3.0 version of their app as well as raising a “six digit” seed round led by a group of angels including Erik Wahlforss, co-founder of Soundcloud; Daniel Bornstein, VP of Global Advertising for deviantART; Jan-Åke Classon, board member of the Atlant Fund; and Karl Sandstedt from Google.
Update: This article incorrectly stated Urakkamaailma was acquired by Alma Media. It has now been corrected to Alma Mediapartners
Renovations are a fact of life all over the world, but Finland is weird when it comes to their plumbing. It's bewildering to foreigners living here that that it's so common to be kicked out of your apartment for a month or two so they can fix the pipes while in the meantime, great cities like London are still using plumbing built by the Romans.
What's clear is renovations are big business in the Nordics, and Finnish startup Urakkamaailma has been able to tap into the business by providing a meeting point between renovators and renovatees. Seeing this growth, Alma Media has purchased an undisclosed 15% stake in the company, which co-founder Kalle Koivuniemi and the press release have been calling an acquisition, suggesting a closer relationship between the two companies than just an investment round.
Holiday time is seen as a chance to get away from thinking about business ideas, but for Kai Lemmetty, his time spent traveling in Southeast Asia turned into Tutor Tigers, a new edutech company now getting off the ground. As the story goes, after a lot of time spent in Vietnam he realized that the locals know plenty of complex words and grammar, but many have trouble pronouncing the words.
This has real-world problems. For example, Southeast Asians looking to use their language skills to get employment, pronunciation can play a big roll in how a person comes across. As an example he shares these videos of two heads of state you normally don't hear speaking English - Vladimir Putin and His Majesty The King Carl XCI Gustav of Sweden, which paints them in a different light than what they are on paper.
Oslo’s MESH is the undisputed pin-up for Norwegian co-working, but this past year has seen a flurry of activity elsewhere in the country. Each new space takes inspiration from the success of MESH and combines that with what’s needed in the local community. Arctic Startup takes a whistle-stop tour around Norway to bring you bang up to date.
Hardware hacking over coffee in Trondheim
So well in fact, that they’re about to expand the 60-member co-working space into a ground-floor cafe and event space, and a basement makerspace for Trondheim’s emerging maker movement.
Digs was originally designed to stem a major “brain drain" in Trondheim. where each year thousands of talented graduates from Norway’s main technical university move away, taking their skills with them. Digs provides a place for those talents to flourish and remain in Trondheim. The expansion takes things a step further, aiming to connect the new group of entrepreneurs and innovators with the general public. Co-founder Arnstein Johannes Syltern explains:
“The makerspace will give anyone who wants it access to tools and gear, and a meeting place for makers. We think if you give people a place to meet then things will happen. The cafe is intended to be a public meeting ground for people interested in innovation. We’re already hosting events such as TEDx, IxDA, and other tech and hardware meetups. This new facility will enable us to do much more.”
Finding your flow in Tromsø
The trend for four-letter co-working names continues high up in Arctic Norway thanks to Flow.
Tromsø may be small, but it’s long punched above its weight in cultural circles, with a busy calendar of events all year round. It’s much the same in the technology world, with the newly-renamed Arctic University of Norway at the centre of a hi-tech environment including a Microsoft Development Center and a biotech cluster. The university runs a Business Creation and Entrepreneurship masters degree that seems designed, at least in part, to help them commercialise their research.
Much like Trondheim, there was a gap between the university, private sector, and budding entrepreneurs, something that co-founder Kim Daniel Arthur wants to address:
“We were inspired by Digs and Mesh, how they both provide a more informal place for startups to meet and work, with all services included. Beyond some specific incubators there was nothing available in Tromsø with a low barrier to entry. We have been open for 3 months we already host over 20 people across 17 businesses. Because Tromsø is small we have to provide a broad offering. The biggest proportion of our membership is in creative tech, but there’s even an artist who paints in the corner!”
Arthur cut his entrepreneurial teeth as co-founder of Playfish, a Tromsø-based social gaming company bought by Electronic Arts for $400m five years ago. The gaming spirit is still alive and well in the town, with four companies specialising in games and initiatives such as a Design Thinking lab at the University opening up.
Could Tromsø be the new Oulu? Watch this space.
An alternative to oil in Stavanger
A mere three-hour flight away from Tromsø, Stavanger's Mess & Order opens this week with a waiting list of 20 members raring to go. Much like Flow, the owners are keeping things broad to begin with, as co-founder Osman Amith explains:
“At launch, we will aim at entrepreneurs within innovative and creative fields. Our founder members include IT developers, graphic designers, photographers, architects, sales & marketing people that target startups, and a gaming crew that tests and blog about games.”
Mess & Order has captured the imagination of the local media, chiefly because not many organisations are in place to support people and businesses outside of the city’s oil & gas based economy. As first movers they are well placed to make their mark in Stavanger.
Whether talented entrepreneurs choose their own path instead of the moneybags on offer from the black gold remains to be seen, but places like Mess & Order are a necessary step in getting there.
It’s generally accepted Norway lags behind the rest of the Nordics when it comes to entrepreneurship. With developments like these, the right building blocks are finally being put in place.
David Nikel is a freelance journalist living in Trondheim. He writes about Norwegian startups and entrepreneurship and helps Norwegian companies market themselves in English.
Do you have a need for more mindless "quantified self" hardware and push notifications in your life? If so, here's an invention. This Helsinki and California based team invented a motion sensor that straps to your water bottle and connects to your phone, just to bug you to drink more water.
Walt Disney once said: “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
Cheesily true as it may be, Finland-based online dream service Dreamdo has always known that most of us also need a bit of help and support to muster up that courage to truly chase our dreams.
Here's an article I haven't written in a while. Oulu, Finland startup Mekiwi is shooting to raise $50,000 though a rewards-based crowdfunding round preceding the launch of their product, Wimble, a time management platform. According to the company, the Android version will be coming out in Autumn one way or another, but this further funding will help speed up Wimble coming to iOS and Windows Phone.
The heat is still cranked up outside, but we can all feel it in our bones that soon this summer is coming to a close. With a few precious weekends left to crack open a book at the cottage or beach, it'd be good to share any business books we read over the summer that has gotten you thinking about your company.
So! If there are any books you read this summer (or ever) that you want to share with the community, let us know in this form right here. We'll package up all the responses into a nice clean article on Friday.
Home-printing is growing bigger with every passing day: Anyone with a couple of thousands of euros to spend can buy a decent 3D printing machine capable of printing anything from toys to spare parts for your weapon.
Now to add up to the list of stuff you can get 3D printed from the comfort of your living room, Finnish startup Versoteq has launched a £3000 kickstarter campaign to create 3D printed lampshades called PicShade.