In the past Finnish directory service Fonecta has acted more as an acquirer than an investor, but that seems to be changing as the company announced it has made their second recent investment with Taputa, a startup in the feedback area. Neither company shared any numbers or the terms of the investment, but it's good news to see traditional Finnish companies starting to interact and invest in the startup space.
We've been live from Web Summit this week, gathering stories and hopefully chasing down a few cool speakers for this year's Arctic15.
With 20,000 attendees it's no surprise that Arctic companies are everywhere. The first thing I saw walking through the door yesterday was the Detectify guys, this morning I accidentally bumped into Mendor, and Norway is well represented through Oslo Business Region. For those of you not here in Dublin and feel like catching some great speakers, you can follow the best of what's happening in the livestream below:
When studying economics, one issue I came up against was finding a good dataset to run of regressions on. For professionals and more serious researchers it's still the same story; despite this being the era of big data, it's still tough to dig through the web to find a quality dataset that fits your needs. We've covered Iceland's Datamarket a few times in the past, who are solving this "home for datasets" problem, and have been successful in pulling in, maintaining, and normalizing data from public and private sources like World Bank, Eurostat, and the Economist Intelligence Unit.
After starting in 1997, Futurmark is one of the grey beards in the Helsinki tech. With roots in Helsinki's storied demo scene, the company launched with a leading PC graphics benchmarking software which it expanded into different niches. After riding that wave for about ten years, the company then explored their own gaming path with Futuremark Studio, which it later spun off their mobile and embedded unit to form new company Rightware (which now makes graphic displays for the auto industry). Futuremark Studios, was then acquired by Rovio in 2012, and focused its efforts on benchmarking for PC and later for Android with 3Dmark, launched in 2013.
Back in 2010 as the ebook adoption rate was increasing in the Nordics, Danish e-book platform Riidr started making some noise with their marketplace for digital books and audio books. Today the company announces it has been acquired by JP/Politikens Hus, the owners of popular media houses Jyllands-Posten and POLITIKEN.
With 22 hours left in their funding drive on IndieGoGo, Norway's Future Home is so close, yet so far away with raising their minimum $200,000 goal. With 22 hours left at time of publishing, they'll need to raise just under $50,000 in this last minute push. This isn't one of those soft funding goals, they need to hit that minimum otherwise the project doesn't get funded.
Riga startup scene is booming and demand for co-working spaces is on the rise. As a result, Latvia’s oldest and most established co-working space, TechHub Riga is moving to a new building, which we have covered here. To fund the expansion TechHub has launched a fundraising campaign in collaboration with one of their startups, Funderful, with the goal of making TechHub a better place.
There comes a point in every app's teenage years where you need testers to refine your product, but where do you go? You can bug your friends and family for their "oh, it's really nice" advice, but for many app makers need someone professional to dig through your product to test usability and find bugs and quirks you may have looked over.
Stockholm-based Beta Family was built to solve this problem by building something like a 99designs meets Yelp for testers. Digging through their directory you can find 14,000 testers from 142 different countries, and if the tester has worked with a product before, you can read reviews from previous developers about how useful they were. With the new iOS 8 features released by Apple for testing, it's good news for Beta Family that the friction has been lowered.
You might think it would be tough for a messaging newcomer to break into the ranks of Whatsapp, Viber, WeChat, and all the other competitors. But cross-platform messaging app Jongla has had no problem raising money, today announcing a €3.4 million round, bringing their total funding to €7.3 million. Investors in this newest round include JSH Capital Oy, Ingman Finance Oy, Kontino Invest Oy and Holdington Ltd Oy.
The folks working on AMC's The Walking Dead official game, Next Games is strengthening its team size as today it announces it has acquired Helsinki Gameworks, a fairly new studio with no titles released yet, but boasts 130 years of experience in the gaming field.
If the winter blues are already starting to drag you down, then you should probably stop reading right here. This morning Chris Thür, CEO of Yousician (the new name for Ovelin) rang me up to essentially brag about how they rented Greece's largest villa for a month, and have taken their entire team and families down there. He was nicer about it than that, but that's how I took it.
Many of us are spoiled to have our phones do a lot of things for us, like telling us public transport route information when commuting or traveling. However, this is still not as easy in developing countries. Landing there and finding out that there is no way to plan your route electronically is unpleasantly sorbering but luckily, this is exactly what Lithuanian public transport app TRAFI is set out to solve with their next funding round.
Today FIBAN, the Finnish Business Angels Network and Inventure have announced a strategic partnership to enhance their Seed program for the Nordics and Baltics, which we wrote about earlier here. What this means in practice is likely sharing dealflow and running events together, but entrepreneurs only benefit between better links between institutional and private seed funders.
We look at Helsinki as Finland's hub of gaming, but that isn't to say that other studios in the country aren't making some noise. Today it was announced that Tampere, Finland's Traplight Games has raised a $500,000 round led by Sunstone Capital, Finnvera Venture Capital, East Wings, and Henric Suuronen among other angel investors.
This weekend Startup Weekend Oresund was held on the high seas.
As is common at startup events like this, the energy was buzzing – teams where evaluating business ideas, researching competitors, designing prototypes. Unusual was the setting – being arranged on board the ferry between Sweden and Denmark – between Helsingborg and Elsingor. The ferry departs every 20 minutes, which makes for a setting where you every hour are both in Denmark and Sweden – and gives a sense of time passing that a normal event space cannot really create.
Yesterday I was shopping around Helsinki, looking for a dimmer I could put on a power plug to make a new string of lights for the apartment less blinding. One hardware store I found had one, but only if you bought the €20 remote control to control it. In the back of my mind I was thinking "Well, let's just look on Amazon" but in practice that means exercising my German skills or ending up with a UK shaped plug.
Our last post on Kahoot was about the company hitting a milestone 150,000 users per week, but that seems like small change with this year's school season underway. Today Oslo/London-based Kahoot is seeing more than 900,000 unique new players per week now reaching more than 12 million unique students. These are huge EdTech numbers considering Kahoot is an in-classroom tool, meaning their product is able to hit this traction during precious classroom time.
Editor's note: This is a sponsored post for UKTI
Let’s agree that at one point or other, you are going to the UK. If you are in the tech business, it is more or less unavoidable and for most - very favorable, to end up there whether that is for a business trip, a conference visit or perhaps to set-up a second base for your company.
With Reverse Pitching right around the corner, we talk with Tieto, the largest IT services company in the Nordics that provides services to both the public and private sector, to get a preview of what they're looking for. In recent months Finland's entrepreneurs have been paying more attention to the consulting company after the news that Taneli Tikka, popular Finnish serial entrepreneur with positions including CEO of IRC-gallery, COO and owner of Dopplr, and founder and chairman of a Chinese TLD Registry, has joined the company to focus on Tieto's internal growth plans focusing on the industrial internet.
Big news this week – it was announced that Unity, the game engine startup, gets a new CEO – none other then John Riccitiello, formerly at EA. With the move David Helgason, current CEO and founder, will be stepping down to an EVP role.