Note: This article has been edited to make it clear GreenQloud is a cloud services company, and with more recent data on Seattle City Light's fuel mix.
We’ve written about Iceland being some sort of mecca of green energy for data centers thanks to it’s abundance of hydroelectric and geothermal energy. On top of that, it’s location is conveniently between Europe and North America can potentially give it some advantages for hosting data. Thanks to these factors, data centers and cloud services companies like GreenQloud have popped up on Iceland, targeting consumers who are looking for cloud services with less carbon involved.
Sometime ago, me and a friend of mine were joking that once I get pitched in an airplane, it would mean that ArcticStartup is actually famous. Well, I got pitched on an airplane whilst on my way to the Dublin Web Summit. Too bad that the guy had no idea what ArcticStartup was, but it still counts, right?
The whole situation showed how the startup community is evolving in the region. When Paulius Paskevicius, COO of Stylegrid, took a seat next to me, the first thing he asked was: “Are you going to the Web Summit?”.
SomePitching returns for a fifth time. The crowd sourced online business idea competition that mixes feedback on pitches from the public and a professional jury is all set and ready to go. Registration begins on November 1st and video submissions need to be in by November 22nd.
The competition is open to both early-stage startups and individuals who have a great idea but need the feedback of a group of experienced professionals to begin to turn that idea into a viable business. For those not interested in applying to the competition they can still take part in the public voting by checking out the video submissions from November 25th and giving opinions on them. To entice people to take part there’s a raffle of product prizes as well, which helps move me at least from curious to willing participant.
Editor's Note: This is a sponsored post for the DNA Engine Blog by Jarkko Utriainen
In late August of this fall, we took part to Midnight Pitch Fest event as a sponsor and as a member of the pitching jury. The event was laidback and the crowd of over a thousand peers was visibly enjoying the atmosphere. In an event as such, where some 70 companies are pitching their varying business ideas and concepts, one is given a good opportunity to see and feel what the Finnish startup-scene is like and especially to the points where we still have room for improvement.
In Finland selling is not appreciated. A Finnish entrepreneur is a humble, unpretentious and almost asking for forgiveness when she/he is talking about how the product of their beloved company has potential in both the American and the Asian markets. As I recall Alf Rehn stating in his pitch that it should be taught that selling is ok and should not be ashamed to do, at Finnish elementary schools.
According to a recent article in Bloomberg, there’s a new investor in town in the Baltics. Newly announced Livonia Partners is still being registered (they still don’t seem to have a website), but says it already has significant commitments for its €85 million fund. The firm plans to invest in eight to 12 companies in the next five years, starting as soon as the first half of 2014.
The investment company partly owned by LHV Bank, and much of the team is coming from LHV Capital. Looking at their past investments, which include event ticket distribution, physical and digital records storage, and medical services, this won’t transfer its full €85 million directly into the types of sexy digital companies we like to cover. Despite that, more funds and competition over companies is a development the region could use.
Today in ArcticStartup Sports we’re catching up again with Paul Bragiel, founding partner at i/o ventures to talk about how he’ll actually shoot to qualify for the Olympics in Sochi. He’ll have to push it, despite having no competition from other Colombian traditional cross country skiers, the qualifications are structured to still make it difficult to participate without any real skills or endurance.
AS: A big question on everyone’s mind is, how do you actually qualify for the Olympics?
Boomlagoon, the team of veteran game developers that came out of Rovio, have announced the release of their new game LINE Nutlings Tournament. A direct follow-up to their first successful release, Noble Nutlings, this outing see the Nutlings return in a form that puts social competitive gaming at the forefront and partners with a communications app that brings their game straight to the attention of over 200 million users.
The other week it was announced that seven members of The Astonishing Tribe have left BlackBerry to start TOPP, a new digital design studio in Malmö. The team has had an interesting history, starting TAT in 2003 after getting to know each other in the demo scene. Initially they focused on movie production for music videos and animations before they realized that money was in software and mobile software. After designing for a number of companies, three years ago TAT was acquired by Blackberry where they became Blackberry Sweden. There they focused on innovative design and UX, such as the PlayBook document sharing and other cool innovations for BlackBerry.
It's undoubtable after Supercell's $1.5 billion raise that Finland is a country of mobile gaming. We have the big players, like your Supercells and Rovios, but attending any gaming event in Finland your realize there's an amazing long tail of smaller studios kicking out innovative titles. With that in mind, it's somewhat surprising there isn't a Finnish game publisher to rule them all.
The logic behind a games publisher is that game developers are great at building games, but the act of publishing, marketing, and fine-tuning after a release is an entirely different beast where it's easy to lose momentum. So instead of sending your game to the app store yourself, going through a publisher you can take advantage of some cross-promotion benefits, mentoring, and expert handling.
Are you the curious type that likes to know all the latest information? What’s happening in your city, wherever it may be, at whatever time you check? There’s an app for that, of course there is.
Whereabts is a social geomessaging service about to launch this Friday for people on the move, travelling or just those who love to share everything happening around them as it happens in a way that shows exactly where things are going on. I suspect such an innocent description hides a possibly explosive app.
Based around a map instead of an updating wall of text you can see what people are commenting about in any area. Interesting art, a traffic accident, great street musician, protest, picnic spot… the list is as long as your imagination; the thing that ties all these shared updates together is that they are geolocated and time centric so you can see exactly when and where something is going on easily on the app’s central map.
It's exciting to hear more money and resources are going to be flowing into Finnish fashion and design brands - Royal Majestics, the Finnish accelerator with a focus on Finnish fashion and design, announces it is expanding its venture capital arm with the announcement of a new €5 million fund coming from private investors and the state-owned investment company Finnvera. The fund's investment time is three years, and will operate over eight years.
Some funding round news coming out of California: the Finnish team behind BetterDoctor announces they've raised a €1.9 million ($2.6 million) round led by SoftTechVC and Burrill & Co. Perhaps more importantly, they also announce they've helped four million Americans find doctors in their first year of operation, suggesting good growth on their web and mobile platform that helps Americans find doctors in their city.
I was surprised myself with the number of people that are using the web to look for doctors," says BetterDoctor CEO Ari Tulla. "But if you think about it, it's understandable." Today when people are looking for doctors they might type in the specialty they're looking for, and then their city. BetterDoctor has positioned their platform for this type of search and has been seeing a lot of volume coming through Google. "People go there and they don't see advertising - they get exactly what they want," says Tulla, which helps drive further Google traction.
Have you ever tried to create a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book? I have, twice. The first time left me with a whirlwind of paper strewn across the floor and my childish patience broken; I decided to go play football instead. The second time I was older, wiser and more patient. I tried using PowerPoint and then OneNote to create a great branching adventure narrative. I ended up with so many broken links, mixed up slides and a terrible headache that I ditched it and went out to watch a movie.
BranchTrack has come along to help me realise my dream. Alright, maybe their vision is a little bigger than that. They’ve come to rock the world of e-learning and are creating a service that helps businesses train staff with a strong, flexible and fun program.
So what exactly do they do? That is a tough one, unless you understand the intricacies of MySQL, relationship databases and forks. Not the ones you eat with, but the software development kind. Basically MariaDB is an independent copy of MySQL (fork) that was started by ex-MySQL execs over concerns that Oracle, who acquired MySQL, might take unexpected directions with the development.
MariaDB was started by Monty Program AB from Sweden but they later merged with SkySQL in April 2013, and by doing so - reunited the key members of the original MySQL AB team.
Every once in a while a product startup comes along that puts a smile on my face.
Whether it's due to the funky design, the clever copywriting (strong as an ant, smart as an elephant), the successful $20,000 crowdfunding project, its sheer simplicity, or the fact the inventor spent months researching the idea in public restrooms around Europe, I'm not too sure.
If you are going to be in Helsinki this Thursday, do stop by our co-working space - The Minimum Viable Office at 7pm local time. We are organizing a get together for those that are either going to the Dublin Web Summit or are just interested in hanging out with startupers. There is no particular schedule or a plan for the event. We are just going to enjoy our "bar area" and network. We will share our knowledge about the event and will encourage everyone to provide some strategies about going to a conference of this size. After all, the idea is to get as much value as possible from the it.
We have also requested some pretty cool interviews with attendees and speakers, and we would love to know what you want us to ask them. Some people we are hopefully going to have a chance to talk to are: Tony Hawk, Drew Houston, Phil Libin, Dave McClure, Shane Smith, Kevin Rose, Tim Armstrong, David Carr and others.
Beddit, the sleep pattern and wellness tracker Indiegogo campaign came to an end last week, when they announced that they have raised a whopping $503 472. This makes them the most successful reward-based crowdfunding campaign coming out of Finland.
The concept is simple, you put a thin film of sensors between your bed sheet and the bed and it does the rest. It is so sensitive that it can detect your heartbeat, breathing patterns, movements and then use the data to display it all in the app.
Two things prompted this post. First, our interview with Lifeline Ventures' Timo Ahopelto, who recently published his fictionalized account of his experiences growing startups, and the fact that I just picked up a Kindle. With books on our mind, now we're hunting for startup books every entrepreneur should read, from the old classics to any sort of new and quirky book. So spin around on your swivel chair, eye your bookshelf and let us know:
What books should every entrepreneur read? What books have positively impacted your business? Since we're focused on the Nordic and Baltic countries, are there any written in your native tongue that stand out? List away in the comments below, and we'll put it all together for a post later.
Lifeline Ventures' Timo Ahopelto recently published a book in Finnish, titled Sand Hill Road, which captures the journey of an international entrepreneur. We got in touch with him with a few questions.
AS: What's the elevator pitch… or uhh back cover synopsis?
Ahopelto: The story is 70% true. In 2000, straight out of school, I founded CRF Health with two of my friends. It was quite a story: three guys want to become the best in the world in electronic data capture in clinical trials, willing to risk and sacrifice everything for that goal. It is an action story with great depth in how we all should understand that no-one -- even the strongest entrepreneur -- cannot survive without other people's love, caring and help. It tells company's story from founding to Silicon Valley. Today, CRF Health is doing great: it is #1 in its industry, making some €60 million in revenues, and very healthy 15% profits on that revenue, with 20-30% annual growth.
Now, a lot of our readers are either working on their apps or are active app consumers, so are able to judge one rather quickly. However when you are in the process of creating one, it is not quite as easy to make the right decisions in order to optimize the user experience.
To solve the issue, a lot of startups focus on analytics, numbers and formulas. However very few of them actually try to see the real deal, complete with thought processes, emotions and visuals.