Editor’s note: This was an unsolicited post by Johanna Eiramo, one of our residents at the Minimum Viable Office, cross-posted from her blog. We need a fresh influx of new startups, so come join us!
Working at the MVO has a hidden advantage that is hard to sell. You’re here and opportunities materialize. Today, I can verify that this is very much the case.
I came to work, found a free desk, open my computer and in walks an old friend, Ismo Rantala of Nest New York fame. He was looking for Will Cardwell (in charge of strategic university partnerships for Aalto University) and Bruce Oreck (US Ambassador to Finland). I haven’t seen either of these two gentlemen in donkey’s years, so I follow Ismo to say Hi! On the way, I find out there’s a pitching session about to start at the Loft, with Will and Bruce doing the sparring. So I grab my computer and here is what I heard:
Technology has infiltrated nearly every aspect of our live, but the salad buffet? Fazer FoodServices, Metos, Mikkeli’s university of applied sciences and AgentIT have innovated a complete system that will turn healthy eating from a hassle into a quick lifestyle. The Hackman Nutrime Smart Buffet is a computerized self-service food counter which displays the nutritional values of you food, and by doing so, can lead diners to healthier food choices in a less judging tone than a personal trainer.
Inbuilt scales will measure the weight of the desired dish and turn that digit into a calorie value. A personal smart card on your food tray will wirelessly communicate with the food counter, and together they will execute the cunning plot to silently murder your unnecessary body fat by grease deprivation.
I had a chance to write two blog posts about crowdfunding last year, published on 23 October and 26 November 2012. There were no plans for a sequel but this third blog post came up rather spontaneously in an effort to give some advice and guidance to companies thinking of (equity) crowdfunding themselves, how equity crowdfunding affects your company, and what you need to consider when running a company with a lot of shareholders located in different jurisdictions.
Is it too early to start thinking about Christmas? Yes. Is it too early to start thinking about the ArcticStartup and Future Female little Christmas party? Hell no. Get excited because we're going big this year, taking over Helsinki hotspot Kaiku to let our hair down and dance away the stress of working in the startup scene.
Click this link here to get sent to the Facebook page, which is the best way to stay on top of the event. But just know that you’ll be having a good time at Kaiku on Thursday November 21 from 18:00 onwards.
How many people read press releases for fun? There can’t be many I’d think. How many people want to read five from one company in a single sitting? That’s got to thin the already small crowd hasn’t it. Five press releases from a single company in one day seems intense but it also tells you they’re active and possibly doing something important. But who will read all that text to find out what’s going on? I will gentle reader, I will, just for you.
Have you heard of mCASH? It’s a Norwegian mobile payment platform that connects all your funding sources (credit card, debit card, loyalty card, etc) in one payment app, and enables you to pay to anyone, anywhere. Well if you hadn’t heard of them before then get prepared for that to change. They’ve just signed some significant deals with major Nordic banking service providers, as well as Nordic retailers and restaurants.
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Conrad Rasmussen, concept designer and copywriter at Tenfour, a creative communications agency based in Töölö.
I recently met Tag of Joy – the Lithuanian gaming startup –at AppCampus here in Finland. They had come to Espoo to improve their new geo-fighting game, Monster Buster, and join dozens of other developers in the hunt for some accelerator funding.
In Monster Buster, players search for monsters in their real-world environment – from the streets outside their home, to the park down the road. The goal: find, fight and capture these monsters on their mobile devices.
Despite all the potential interactivity we could be seeing on the video files embedded across the web, they’re basically still just moving pictures that you can pause and mute. What’s keeping interactive video from getting bigger and faster? Essentially it comes down to a lack of business models and scalability, says Johanna Virttanen, Head of New Business Development at Kiosked.
The Espoo-based company has just released their “shoppable videos” solution to the public, allowing brands, content producers, and publishers to put webshops into any video content - something they say is the first completely agnostic solution on the market.
Tech giant Google has made a €450 million investment into their datacenter in eastern coastal city of Hamina, Finland.
The company has announced the current datacenter is to triple in size. This means it will provide work for over 800 Finnish engineers and construction workers, as well as being a motor to reinvigorate the sleepy industrial region surrounding it.
Ever wanted to book your own rave but haven’t known any DJs to call on? Tried to organise a party and that friend of a friend who swore he could DJ for you has just cancelled and you don’t know what to do? Head on over to Beatsy, a brave new startup that’s looking to connect fans and artists directly, making booking a new or popular DJ easy for the fans and making earning money from gigging straightforward and safe for the artist.
This isn’t the first we’ve heard of Beatsy, you might remember that earlier this month we covered an interesting store that popped up out of nowhere. The ‘I Love Tekes’ webstore, created by Anssi Uimonen, was built to help raise funds to launch Beatsy, and it looks like it’s helped!
Since around 2007 there has been a huge outburst of accelerators around the world, especially so in Europe. Yet, since the whole concept is fairly new, there are a lot of questions surrounding the practice. Are accelerators successful? Will it be easier to raise money after an accelerator? How much value can an accelerator program add to your company?
These and many other questions, are difficult to answer. Especially so, when there is very little data available on them. Sure there is some public data, that accelerators must submit, but it is very hard to get a hold of real hard-core statistics. Unless of course an accelerator comes up to you and passes on all of their “books” to you. This is what Accelerace from Denmark basically did and there is a lot to learn from what was inside.
In the beginning of September, a loved one to near every Finn died: Nokia was acquired by Microsoft. In truth the company represented a lot to Finns. In the early ‘90s an asset bubble burst around the same time that trade with the Soviet Union collapsed. From that recession Nokia suddenly became the sign of recovery, and Finnish self-confidence grew as Nokia grew on the world stage.
It’s been an experience watching the Nokia acquisition in Finland without the same hangups as the rest of the population - I moved here four years ago, and my coming-to-age in the business scene was long after Nokia’s talent started jumping ship. To me, Nokia’s glory days are just legends passed around in the sauna, told by old timers in the Helsinki startup scene. After the acquisition, I wrote an article, Microsoft gives Finland a Chance to Move On, because that’s what Finland should do. It’s not healthy, mentally or economically, to be a one-company town.
Even casual observers can probably notice Finland’s economy is turning more and more mobile game focused. Sure, the headlines are all about Supercell these days, and it’s tough to go outside without seeing an angry bird. But you’ll notice more and more people starting up companies in the broader Finnish gaming industry, such as help with licensing, cross promotion, and now it’s very own PR agency.
Stockholm’s MAG Interactive have hit some numbers that boggle the mind. Since launching in March of 2012, Ruzzle announces it has hit 45 million downloads with 12 million rounds of the game played. The game is one of those four-by-four word grids that challenge the player to find as many words possible in a given amount of time, like a Words with Friends, for example.
Players swipe their finger across the letters to find words, and adding up the length of all those little swipes within Ruzzle has equaled to roughly the distance of the moon and back 26 times. And I don’t know if you know this, but the moon is really far away. That’s gamification for you. Since launching, the game has hit the top 10 list in 148 countries, with around 40 million players. The highest level players average 180 words per round, or 1.5 words per second.
Helsinki-based VC firm Vision+ announces it has raised a fresh €50 million to pump into more companies. In addition, they’ve announced ten new companies they’ve invested in, in sectors like search, ecommerce, loyalty programs, health and fitness, music distribution and even a Samuel L. Jackson movie.
The firm has a non-typical financing model. Rather than taking equity, they take a share of the royalties from the cash flow their portfolio companies are generating. With this strategy, they call themselves a product investment fund, and have a portfolio in a number of games and services on the web and mobile. The value to developers is that they can still retain ownership, and investors into Vision+ see a steady cash-flow, rather than waiting for a big exit years down the road.
Summer might be becoming only a lingering memory in the Nordics now that the clocks have gone back. We’re confronted by so much darkness in the evenings, with the knowledge that more is to come, but Rovio obviously want to try and keep summer alive in our hearts. With lots of bright colours and cute characters modelled on delicious fruits Juice Cubes, developed by PocketPlay Lab based in Bangkok, Thailand, intend to bring us some entertainment to get through the winter.
Say you're an ambitious young person, or a stay at home mom, or a titan of industry. How would you find new people to connect to in order to help, or be helped achieve your goals? Norwegian and New York-based Wonderloop thinks they have an ambitious new startup that will do just that, by being a platform for video profiles of people. "We think everyone in the world should have one," says Wonderloop CEO and co-founder Hanna Aase. "When it comes down to it, theres no better way to get an accurate picture of a person than through video. Once you see a video of someone, you feel like you know them."
Russian startup Displair came on to the scene with a fascinating product, they designed and developed the world’s first interactive air display with a MultiTouch gesture recognition system. A hugely interesting concept that really did look like something from Minority Report. Picture a sheet of blown humidified air capturing the display of a small discreet projector to show you an image floating in the air. Ethereal in its feeling the moving air gently brushed the projected image creating the impression that you were looking at, and interacting with, something that was almost alive. As you might be able to tell, I liked it. Well Displair have just announced something new and there’s not a new piece of hardware in sight.
Displair have instead developed a new mobile app and brought us Airlike. Designed to let users transfer photos and videos between friends quickly and easily, once both parties have the app installed they can simply point their phones at one another and swipe content from one phone over onto the other. It’s got a few more features than that, but at it’s core that’s what the app is, a way to make sharing your photos and videos painless.
The founders of Finland's SportSetter were the size of Godzilla in New York yesterday, getting their faces slashed across a billboard after ringing the opening bell to the NASDAQ exchange. Sportsetter has been growing steadily in New York after launching their service in Helsinki, allowing gyms, yoga studios, and other players in the Fitness space to get new customers through a network of people interested in trying new sports. After signing up through SportSetter, users select the types of activities they’re interested in, and then get access to a few curated activities a month. The value for fitness centers is that after trying out a yoga gym, for example, a user might decide they really like it and then stick around for a membership.
A certain type or startups is easy to write about. Anybody can understand what they do and it is not difficult to explain those that let you let you take cool pictures, play new games or interact with the TV in a new and social way.
However, occasionally, we come across startups that are from much more serious and difficult to grasp industries. What is a major annoyance is that these startups are often overlooked and I personally believe that they deserve just as much hype as all those social apps and perhaps in many cases - more.
Let’s run an experiment. If there was a social startup that in less than a year generated over €400 000 revenue and employed 17 new people, you would probably be very impressed. What is more, this startup would be very hot in the news and you would most likely know the name.
The bleed of talent from Nokia continues to be a sad testament of a company that has fallen on hard times recently, but Nokia’s loss has been the startup scene’s gain. We continue to see exciting new companies pop up as they reveal the interesting things they have been working on. In this case it’s a company spun-off from Nokia and founded just around a year ago (give or take a few weeks) in November 2012. Based in Finland and with only 13 employees they might sound small but they believe their product could end up having a big impact in its intended market.