Editor's note: This post topic was sponsored by UKTI
When thinking expansion, it’s clear many Nordic startups find themselves gazing at the UK, which many consider the first major stop before a full blown global (or U.S.) roll-out. However, startups need cash to keep their machinery on the move, and getting funded in the UK is a whole different story than in the Nordics. Or is it?
We had our own suspicions, so we decided to do some investigation on the topic: we conducted several interviews with London-based VC’s to get our finger on the pulse of UK venture funding.
There are a few companies out there producing and maintaining walls with plants on them for interior design purposes, but Finnish startup NaturVention has taken a more scientific approach to indoor plants with the purpose of cleaning out the air. According to the company, their patented Freshwall has the air purification capacity of 6300 ordinary houseplants. Growth seems to be good for the company and as we mentioned from last week's article on Butterfly Ventures' H1 2014 activity, NaturVention has raised a €1.1 million round led by Sitra, with participation by Butterfly Ventures, Oy Hammaren & Co Ab, D. Med. Leena Niemistö, LL.M. with court training Olof Rehn and partners and employees of NaturVention.
It’s been a while since we wrapped up the open positions available in our startup region, so we figured it’s about time we straightened that out.
If you’re interested in being part of the ever growing infogr.am team in Riga, Latvia, now’s your chance to do so (we've heard they’re going to open a fully equipped new office in downtown so you’ll be working in the hottest locale available as well):
Social apps should have the hooks built right in for that viral growth, but how should you introduce yourself into a new market? Norway's Wonderloop, a video profile app, has seen some success in the Norwegian markets, but to properly introduce themselves to America's youth the company pulled together 17 trendsetters together for a type of promotion we haven't seen Nordic social apps leverage before.
As commonly reminded to us by popular culture, Scandinavians used to make a serious living out of piratism. Vikings, as the Nordic version of pirates were called, left a trail of countless of burned villages wherever they set sail, pushing nations to rethink their defences largely. Indeed, the Vikings’ bloody adventures went as far as to define the very existence of the country we today call the United Kingdom.
Today, roughly a thousand years later, the Scandic civilizations are still fond of piratism, though luckily for the rest of us, the piratism they do now is of less aggressive nature.
Holidays are clearly over: our email is bursting with new investment announcements and expansion roll-out press releases. The latest news among this lot comes from Oulu, where the rather secretive telecommunication startup Kyynel has rounded a major investment from Butterfly Ventures, who also shares with us some statistics from the first half of 2014.
“The investment we made is so far the single largest capital investment made by Butterfly”, said Juho Risku of Butterfly Ventures.
Other participants of the funding round include Inventure, as well as private investors; the share of venture investors in the funding round amounts to €2 million, with more soft money from Tekes added on.
Earlier this year we gave a second look at the Estonian startup Taxify, which was doing some serious changes into the Estonian way of ordering a taxi. At the time of the article, Taxify’s statistical growth had been impressive to say the least, amassing 5,600 new users in a span of three weeks, including 100 new drivers. This prompted them to launch the service in Latvia and plans to expand across all the Baltic countries were under no secrecy.
However, back then I dared not ask Taxify founder Markus Villig whether we’d see the application in Finland, where the taxi culture has for long dwelled under a nasty stigma of monopoly, high cost and taxi queue cock-fights, because I feared he’d say "we'll see" accompanied by a polite laughter.
Maybe I should’ve asked after all: Taxify has now, in fact, arrived in Finland, and it hasn't wasted time creating a fuss about it.
Startup Wiseguys changed it up this past Spring, focusing on Business Tech instead of doing the standard wide open accelerator. BusinessTech seemed to have been a good focus, and the Wiseguys have embezzled ten teams together for their Fall '14 batch who have temporarily relocated from South Africa, Argentina, India, Serbia, Greece, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, with the remaining two already from Estonia.
A couple of months ago we found ourselves at the PG Connects conference in Helsinki, where got a first hand glimpse at who are the newcomers in the local mobile games scene. In the showcase room, there were several new, cool games we summed up in this article, but now, months later, only PAKO remains in our phones (geared with decent high-scores if I might add).
Late last night Stockholm-based Spotify updated its desktop client to integrate BandPage, allowing musicians to sell merch right within the Spotify player. It's clearly all part of steps to help monetize Spotify's 40 million active users for the company itself, as well as provide musicians for an additional revenue stream.
Today #cphftw evolved. It not just got a more functional website, www.cphftw.dk, but also important basic details sorted out, as well as further commitments at creating a world-class startup ecosystem.
Riga-based Infogr.am, an online data visualisation service that is often seen as the company that finally put Latvia on the global startup map, has added a new member to its team. Mikko Jarvenpaa is now Infogr.am’s Chief Operating Officer responsible for company’s daily operations, sales and business development, and will be based out of Infogr.am's San Francisco office.
Mikko is Finnish and has been serving as Product Marketing Manager for AdWords at Google, worked with tech startups in both Silicon Valley and Europe and recently been the Chief Marketing Geek for HackFwd. He has experience founding several companies of his own and is besides that also well acquainted with Infogr.am, as he has been company’s advisor for round two years prior to taking up the COO role.
It's been since the dot-com boom that Stockholm's Projectplace was called a startup, but it's interesting to note the company has been acquired by Austin, Texas based Planview, a cloud-based portfolio and resource management company. Projectplace provides a collaboration tool used by enterprise companies like ABB, Sony, Volvo, and others, counting close to 1,000,000 users in 150,000 projects.
Pint Please, the social app that allows users to discover new beers, track their locations, give ratings; get/hand out recommendations on what beers to enjoy and where, was warmly welcomed by the Finnish amateur beer enthusiast community, and with their recent expansion, we hope the same reception will await the app in the UK.
It’s been roughly three months and half since Holvi had the Financial Supervisory Authority ratify its EU-wide permission to expand across Europe; once the approval passed, Holvi was quick to announce their next country of destination, which was also the source of their latest investment, Austria.
As of yesterday, Austria will be joined by 18 other countries.
Lithuanians are getting more and more serious about spreading the word about their startup activities. The next thing they have come up with is declaring today, August 13, International Startup Day. On this day, Startup Lithuania encourages every startup enthusiast around the globe to celebrate the new holiday online.
Nonstop Games has taken a few big bets in their past, but it seems it's all worked out for them with the news this morning that King has acquired the company for what others are writing as €70 million, but I only calculate as $90 million (€67.3 million)
According to King's earnings call, King acquired 100% of Nonstop's equity for $6 million upfront and "up to $84 million of contingent consideration based upon criteria linked to revenues from games developed," meaning that Nonstop now has a new #1 priority of extracting cash from their games.
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.