Listen. Forget "productivity", the real reason why you download apps is to distract yourself when you're bored, or to impress your friends. For these reasons, Stockholm-based FlightRadar24 basically belongs in my iPhone's bottom toolbar.
We covered the company a year and a half ago, but here's a refresher: When you open up the app you're given a map view over your current location sowing the real-time position of the planes above you. Tapping on a plane you're given more info including what type of plane it is, where it's coming from, where it's going, and the path it's taking to get there. Digging deeper, you can also see real-time stats on the plane's altitude, speed, and what squawk they're broadcasting, as well as other stats on the type of aircraft.
Editor's note: Antti Vilpponen, one of the original founders of ArcticStartup, is the GM at UpCloud. ArcticStartup is also hosted through them.
It's cliche to start every article about data security by referencing the Snowden revelations, but in truth, data-sensitive industries are taking a hard look at how their data is treated. Finnish Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provider UpCloud announces they've developed a model where no matter where their data hosted, no customer information is hosted along with it, making it much more difficult to prove who that data belongs to. According to their model, all customers sign agreements with their service under a Finnish company, which guarantees them another layer of safety under the Finnish and European privacy acts.
In October of 2013, Finland's most promising and successful crowdfunding round reached an end when Espoo-based Beddit closed their IndieGoGo campaign with an unseen national achievement of $500,000 in received funds. We covered them, twice, closely following the steps of their success. It's time to check where they're at now.
Competition in the field of photo marketplaces is very high and when we first heard word of PicHit.Me’s investment we were glad for them but at the same time cautious as to whether they could really achieve the high goals set. We have been told that they might do for photos what Spotify did with music and Skype communications. That’s a very high bar to reach in an area where many start-ups have pitched their tents. So what is it about PicHit.Me that has convinced Swedish VC Almi Invest to put its money behind them?
Summit Partners announced that UK Acturis has acquired Copenhagen based Nordic Insurance Software. NIC specializes in insurance for the travel industry, and according to computerworld the sum was around half a billion kroner, around € 65 million.
One under-the-radar Norwegian-American startup has made quite a splash in the digital publishing world. It’s time for us to take a closer look at Texas-born but Oslo-based Katachi Media, the company behind Origami Engine, a new publishing system for the iPad.
RePack is one of those start ups and products that you might go a long time without hearing about, but when you get your hands on what they have made you can’t help but be impressed by their quiet innovation. While you might not have heard of them the simple solution they devised for reducing waste in the area of product shipping has already been receiving recognition. Last year they won the innovation award at Pactec, Finland’s packaging association, and now to kick 2014 off in style they’ve gone and won the Fennia Prize. A competition organized by the design promotion organization Design Forum Finland, the Fennia Group and Elo, which is awarded every other year and one of the biggest design competitions in Finland.
Finnish AppCampus will enter a new era of leadership as former board chairman Mika Okkola becomes head of the prominent mobile accelerator program run by Aalto university and funded by partnership between Microsoft and Nokia.
In less than two years AppCampus has invested more than €6 million in its applicants. This has led to increasing interest in the program, as thousands of application proposals from all around the world have seeked to become AppCampus participants.
Our fingers are getting tired of typing this intro but it's good news for this region's entrepreneurs. In addition to VCs including Creandum, Atomico, Vision+ & Northzone raising money to invest in the regional level, Practica Venture Capital has announced the final close of a €15.7 million Venture Capital fund to invest in Lithuanian growth companies. The funding includes commitments from the European Investment Fund (EIF), which increased its investment to €11 million through the JEREMIE initiative, which was started by the European Commission together with the European Investment Bank and the EIF to put money into funds investing in Baltic SMEs.
Task management has become more and more essential for busy people, which is why the markets have quite a few to-do-lister apps out there you can choose from. Just as with any other type of application, its hard to decide which one available is the best. Though popularity does not always correlate with quality, as we've seen in contemporary ball wrecking pop music, being listed as number one in Forbes’ top 9 to-do list apps has to count for something.
You could say the Fyndiq story started with 800 bamboo vases. Fredrik Norberg, the CMO and co-founder of Fyndiq found some vases he found attractive, and the seller was giving steeper and steeper discounts for buying in bulk. "He bought over 800 and thought he was going to be a millionaire because no one had them. In his first year he sold two," says CEO and co-founder Dinesh Nayar.
You can see the story in two blogposts by going to Swedish game developer FEO Media's website. January ninth, they're celebrating five million users on QuizClash. And today, just over three weeks later, they're celebrating a solid 15 million users.
We don't cover too many consumer apps or products in the "commodity" space. Companies like Supercell or Holvi basically require users to hear about their product through advertising or a friend. No one is searching for "Social warrior themed game" in the app store, or googling for "new type of banking system" when looking to open up an account.
People are, however, just searching blindly for a basic guitar tuning app when they need one, and it just so happens the top downloaded iOS guitar tuner and third most downloaded Android tuner is coming right out of Helsinki - a product called GuitarTuna by Ovelin, the producer of much deeper guitar apps, WildChords and GuitarBots.
That blind searching is how I found out about Guitar Tuna. My cousin got a guitar over Christmas and we needed to get that ax in tune so we could rock out to some crunchy jams. I plugged in "guitar tuner" into the app store, selected the first one, saw the Ovelin guys were behind it, and said, "Huh. I know these guys." That Christmas was Guitar Tuna's most downloaded day ever, but the Ovelin guys are humble about it, despite Guitar Tuna having 2.4 million total downloads on iOS and 1.1 million on Android.
"It was a product we didn't want to build in the first place," says Chris Thür, CEO of Ovelin tells us.
Mojn is a Copenhagen based startup that is focusing on sending out e-commerce and business e-mails that are highly personalized. So it is kinda like Mailchimp, but focuses on a more specific sector as well as on a higher degree of personalization.
E-takeaway, a Danish takeaway ordering and delivery service operating in Denmark, Lithuania and Spain already, just launched e-takeaway.lv in Latvia and is launching in Sweden in the beginning of March. The company also told ArcticStartup that they have plans to go after Hong Kong, South Africa, Pakistan, Guatemala and Moldova amongst others.
Edward Snowden’s sensational revelations regarding US National Security Agency’s global monitoring of the Internet made very clear how insecure our ‘private communication’ actually is, especially as it’s very unlikely that the US are the only country doing such monitoring. Big Brother is, it seems, always watching.
In this situation more and more people are looking for ways to secure their personal communication online - for government officials and businessmen it is essential, while many ordinary individuals are also turning to secure services to protect their privacy.
You may have read about Holvi before, the modern Finnish banking company that do things quite differently to your ordinary bank. Today they are launching a new, fun tool for startup companies, an Apple Template. This will allow startups to compare their budgets and finance with that of Apple circa 1976, their first year in business. So what does that look like? Come and see.
Editor's note: This article incorrectly stated Vinted had eight million users. The article now correctly states Vinted's three million users.
VC's are betting there's big money in those old clothes in your closet. Lithuanian news sites are reporting that Vinted has just signed a €20 million Series B with Insight Venture Partners at a roughly €100 million post valuation. Accel also participated pro rata - previously Vinted raised $6.5 million from Accel Partners.
Alan Martinson at Baltic Startup Watch points out the 80m pre-money valuation makes Vinted the highest-valued startup in the Baltics. Vinted is still HQed in Vilnius, but is currently growing their team in San Francisco, where they are targeting the U.S. market. The company reportedly has three million users across all its sites.
Faroe Islands and Copenhagen-based GreenSteam is sailing through clear waters after now raising $2 million from Castrol Innoventures, with an additional $1 million option open for Castrol to invest in the next 18 months. The company provides advanced fuel savings for ships through a number of sensors that can reduce fuel consumption of a ship up to 5%, which is huge savings for these shipping companies Finnish company Eniram also provides a similar solution, however GreenSteam claims to provide data of a much higher frequency and quality than their competitors. Previous investors are Faroese funds Framtak, Royndin, and Birting. The company has raised a total of $3 million with this investment.
These days most Finnish startup's limited sales force is focused on the whales: big corporate customers that pull in a lot of money, instead of cold calling the long-tail of SMEs in Finland. But there could be a way to plug into the flower shop down the corner. Finnish mobile operator Elisa tells us that they're launching a new app and service store for startups called Taitawa (Editor's Note: This is a working name) through Appelsiini, a company they acquired in 2010.