Note: Updated with quote from Uber
With Taxify launching in Oulu two weeks ago, and in Helsinki yesterday, the taxi battles are starting to heat up in Helsinki. Timed with Slush, Uber surprised Finland by announcing they will be launching in Helsinki this morning but riders beware - Uber seems to have no cars are on the road. According to Taxify CEO Markus Villig, they may have had their taxi supply drop out underneath them overnight.
With Slush as the excuse to make some noise, Helsinki-based Upcloud shares they've launched the world’s fastest cloud hosting storage backend at just 20 cents a gigabyte. Looking over the graphs and information sent over by the company you can see that comparing services does get complicated, but as a comparison, similar performance on Amazon Web Services if it were technically possible would cost 87 times more.
Nokia was always extremely important in Finland, so with the Microsoft acquisition, everyone was wondering what they would do next. At the same time, a new player on the market - Jolla was taking a stab at the mobile phone market, and it looked like they could continue where Nokia left off. However with both devices announced at Slush, they will go head to head between each other and the rest of the world in a tablet space.
Since Seriously popped up on our radar last November they've shot up quicker than any Finnish gaming company in recent memory in terms of funding, hype, and polish. With their first title, "Best Fiends" launched this October Seriously has built strong lovable characters and a good storyline that they've plugged into gameplay not dissimilar to Candy Crush Saga. The company announces today at Slush that they've now raised another cool $5 million, bringing their total funding to $10 million (€8.01 million).
With experienced Finnish talent leaving their old jobs to form gaming companies like Supercell, Seriously and Boomlagoon, it's easy to think that the growth of the scene has only lead to new gaming companies but that's not the case. Helsinki and San Francisco based Omniata is branching out from their Digital Chocolate background to provide a better analytics solution for digital industries. What's notable is that despite their gaming background, Omniata isn't only focused on just the gaming industry. While they count local influencers such as Rovio and Playraven as customers, there are plenty of digital industries that could benefit from customizing user experience through data similar to what the gaming industry has done.
With Alibaba in the news for the largest IPO of all time, it's clear that connecting people that need things with people that do things is a powerful position to be in. Alibaba is the clear leader in the "real" world, but what about the public sector?
“The figure is astonishing and difficult to even understand," says Ville Heinonen, Co-Founder & CEO at Oppex. "Every year 10,000 billion dollars of taxpayers’ money is transferred to companies. The public sector, controlled by both local and national governments, buys all kinds of goods and services including everything from multi-billion dollar construction and IT projects to very niche products such as fire engines or swords."
Ever since Holvi co-founder Kristoffer Lawson got pushed out or left Holvi on his own accord, we've been curious where he would end up next. If you're looking for an in-depth article there's really no meat on these bones, but the names, numbers, and ambition level are interesting. Joined by Javier Reyes (with legal, accountancy and HR experience) and Pekka Nikander (a respected voice in secure IT) as a founding team, their new company, Solu, has managed to raise six figures from Taneli Tikka, Kaj Arnö of MySQL and Open Ocean, Edvard Sørgård from ARM, Robin Bade of Activeark and BuildIt, a leading investor and accelerator in hardware startups from Northern Europe.
If you thought last year's event was big, Slush is nearly doubling by welcoming an estimated 12,000+ people into their doors this Tuesday and Wednesday, which should make it an entirely different beast. To get the most out of the event it's clear you've got to hustle to cut through the noise and secure your objectives. To get you thinking, we're republishing our Hacking Conferences: Slush Battleplan to get the most out of your conference experience, which is a good how-to guide to the conference world. A properly updated version can be found in CoFounder Magazine, which you should easily find at Slush.
While the article is full of silly pictures and "Art of War" quotes, CEO of ArcticStartup Dmitri Sarle is a master of his craft. We recently were at Dublin Web Summit, a 22,000 person event, and somehow Sarle managed to hack his way into the speaker lounge to hang out with Bono, Peter Thiel, and a number of other VIPs. More war stories from Dublin include getting the garbage man to open up a gate to get him into a secret speakeasy for Paddy's afterparty, and also somehow getting the wristband to get on stage to help ring the NASDAQ opening bell.
You get out of conferences what you put into it.
Ever since sharing the same office as the Publishzer / TheFashionMag guys (no longer in development) I've been looking for more startup innovation in the fashion world. It's a huge market where money is actually flowing, but is an industry left untackled by the 20 something male startup founder that typically gets in touch with us.
Consumer electronics go through yearly improvements with new releases of Phones, Tablets, and other displays for our eyeballs. Cars on the other hand are not something many people have the luxury to stay current with on a yearly basis. 2014 brought sleeker, quicker, and even more user-friendly automotive experiences. Espoo, Finland based Rightware is a medium sized company helping Audi make their cars have a little bit more of your phone in them.
Finnish ICT service provider Anvia announces it has acquired a 25% stake in Tampere-based Varaani Works, a company specialized in data storage and content sharing. In Finnish varaani means "count on me", but also means "monitor lizard", so take that as you will.
Slush's website features a quote by Accel Partners' Rich Wong that says Slush is totally worth flying 20 hours from San Francisco. Since he and many others are already coming over, we thought it'd make perfect sense for our guests to see some more events happening nearby around the Slush dates. Here's our shortlist.
Jari Ovaskainen is a member of Finnish Business Angels Network and was recently awarded as European Business Angel of the Year 2013. He is truly a super angel who has actively supported Finnish startup companies with his international experience, networks, and investment capacity.
He made his first business deal in 2000 selling Iobox, a web portal he founded with Henry Nilert, for €230 million. Since then, His investment portfolio has increased with Supercell, Next Games, PlayRaven, Booomlagoon, Button, Stylewhile, Miivies, Doremir, and Atacama Labs He made his latest exit as half of Supercell was sold to Japan for €1.1 billion.
The market for fitness apps is becoming more and more specialized, starting with basic GPS trackers to tracking data in disciplines like cycling, surfing, and nearly any other hobby. But potential Internet of Things entrepreneurs beware: the number of activities left untracked by your smartphone is getting smaller and smaller with the Indiegogo launch of LOOP, a fitness system for women. The company hopes to raise $50,000 to get the device onto the market.
"The overall aim of LOOP is to motivate more women to do pelvic floor muscle exercises and to keep doing them daily," says Line Andersen, cofounder and designer of LOOP. "Every design decision has been made with this in mind, to ensure LOOP is as user friendly as possible and facilitates the exercise without any obstacle.”
If you asked me a few years ago I might have told you that mobile games, like a work of art, have something undefinable that connects with a player emotionally which is the main driver of its success. But that view has changed over the years as the industry has gotten better and better with free-to-play. Certainly there needs to be the right "undefinables" behind branding, but now it's clear that a formula of is emerging in regards to what games can become hits.
You don't need an infographic to know that Riga-based startup Infogram has been fleshing out their data visualization service since raising €1.34 million last February. The company recently added team tools to better target media houses and has now announced that they've launched a non-profit arm to help teach data literacy - something that of course benefits Infogram but also has a positive benefit.
Music visualizers seem like something from the past - the glory days of Winamp lit up our screens but our modern media players like iTunes or Spotify don't give us an option for a crazy lightshow or some Matrix-inspired text falling down to the beat. This is not only a serious problem in our personal lives but there's an industry need as well. DJs and bar owners want to keep us rocking and entertained, and a good visualizer adds something to the party.
Finnish VC Inventure has been busy with their seed program so far, this time leading a $600,000 round into Startup Sauna participant and Arctic15 finalist IroFit. Other participants in the round include Solinor, a Finnish payment industry software development company, and Rasheed Olaoluwa, an industry expert.
GenieBelt has launched their mobile-based collaboration app for construction companies world-wide. The app will help workers and managers access construction information, including drawings and schedules, online across any computer or mobile device. Unlike other providers which sometimes offer a free 30-day trial for a basic level of service, the fully-featured GenieBelt service is available from the outset and will be free, forever the company says.
A NEW GENERATION DIGITAL TOOL
GenieBelt is a service developed by the 16-strong team in Copenhagen, and led by Gari Nickson. Gari explains the reasoning behind their product:
“First, current widely-used collaboration platforms were designed primarily for desktop and laptop use, whereas GenieBelt has been expressly developed to work on mobile devices.”
“Second, our competitors tend to target larger businesses and bigger projects. The simpler needs of the smaller contractor, subcontractor and tradespeople working on modest projects are often overlooked, and yet they make up the bulk of the construction industry’s workforce.”
“Third, rival systems are not attractively priced to small- and medium-sized businesses. In an industry notorious for low margins, charging to use collaboration tools reduces profits. GenieBelt is free. It costs nothing to start using it and to keep using it, and the efficiency savings it enables will boost profits. And we are committed to keeping it free forever.”
A feature which further differentiates GenieBelt from other systems is “Beats”. Instead of relying on email notifications, “Beats” provides a transparent, shared discussion space – similar to the conversation features on some social media platforms – so that authorised users are quickly notified and can easily join and track discussions about issues that are directly relevant to them.
GenieBelt provides a high level of functionality at no cost to the contractor or to subcontractors or end-users, which Gari believes will encourage adoption. The web platform is supported across all common smartphones and tablets (there is also a native Apple iOS app, with an Android version coming soon). Accessing GenieBelt via a desktop or laptop will allow easy upload of project information from local hard-drives or network shared folders, so that the information is then available to all authorised project users. Information cannot be accidentally deleted or over-written, and GenieBelt has invested heavily in creating a user interface that is simple, logical and intuitive to use even if working out on-site wearing protective equipment.
The area of B2B focusing on construction companies is getting attention from other startups as well. Just recently Fieldly announced a round of funding as well. GenieBelt itself got a small funding round one year ago. Will be very interesting to see the progress of startups in this area.
This article is in collaboration with Øresund Startups, originally by @Oresundstartups.
Given that Fyndiq's online marketplace is only available in Sweden, today's news that the team has raised a massive $20 million Series A feels like such an anomaly. But clearly there are solid fundamentals behind the company to get investors Northzone and Industrifonden to open their wallet so wide; when we last covered the company this past February their turnover hit €13.8 Million, which is rapid growth for a company launched in 2010. Before this Series A, Fyndiq has raised $5M in funding from private investors including former CEO of SAS, Jan Carlzon.