There is not much daylight in the North, darkness is taking over. Bears are hibernating in their caves, waiting for the spring sun to wake them up again after the long winter. How about the startups of the North? Is everyone sleeping or just hiding in their offices? Just like the bears, hibernating and waiting for that spring sun spread it’s light all over to revive the feeling of excitement? Do we really have to accept the situation and wait many months to get that feeling?
Time to confess. I am a gamer, a hardcore one at that: Counter-Strike, Dota 2, Hearthstone, you name it. When most of my friends were dreaming of owning football or hockey clubs, I always thought that being a part of or managing an e-sports team would be infinitely more fun.
Another day, another multi-million funding round into a Finnish mobile game developer. Helsinki-based PlayRaven has seen good success with the September launch of Spymaster on the iPad, where players act as the supreme Allied spymaster in the second world war to steal info and thwart enemy forces. Its unique gameplay focused on player consequences has popped it up to the top of the iPad game charts in 99 countries, and today they announce they've raised a cool $4.1 million (€3.29 million) round to keep pumping out new franchises.
One thing that we love most about startups, is that very often they do what they do, because they want to make the world a better place. It kind-of comes automatically as it is basically a startup world axiom that you should not be in it for the money.
This gets repeated over and over again, and if you live by it then it must mean that you really do want to change the world.
Latvia/Lithuania based Sellfy launched in 2011 as the easy-to-use platform to sell digital goods through your website or social media. So if you've got an ebook or some digital photography that needs to hit the market, you don't need to worry with tweaking a complicated online shop to sell it - just get the Sellfy link or embed out there and the digital assets can be delivered to your customers after a straightforward payment.
As the Healthtech boom is picking up speed in Finland, there are more and more companies that we are really excited about. Especially when the problems they solve are as fundamental and spread as the one Optomeditech is tackling.
Basically, inserting a catheter is one of the most simple and common procedures in healthcare. Which is especially true when it comes to invasive ones. Yet, the innovation in this department has been more or less stagnant for years.
Paytrail is a curious company. As a payment provider focused on the Nordic and Baltic countries, it was difficult to see how they could grow to compete against the giants like Paypal and others. But at the same time they have deep institutional plugins to payment providers in Finland and the Nordic countries that have helped our region process over €1 billion in payments since it was founded in 2007.
If you take pride in your photos and if you’re creative enough to fill up your instagram feeds with more than just shots of your Cappuccino, then you might as well get paid for it. That’s the idea behind Malmö-founded Foap, sort of a crowdsourced stock photo site that also allows marketers get some of that always-needed brand engagement.
The startup scene is all about finding better, fresher, or more efficient ways to do something, but do we do the same with our bodies? Likely not, we sit at our desks all day, forget to eat lunch, and drink too much coffee or Club Mate if the ArcticStartup office is any indication. Sami Inkinen aside, most of us are thinking about the next checkbox on the to-do list rather than anything practical about our body.
Mobile games can do a lot of things right, but it's rare to find one that nails "live" multiplayer. Fun Run, built by Norway's Dirtybit, grew to a solid international success with over 45 million downloads thanks to how well they pulled off real-time 2D racing. The game's short, quick races made it easy to challenge your friends, allowing the game to grow virally through high schools (hopefully after class let out) to see who would end up on top of your friends' leaderboards.
Reverse Pitching Sparks Interest in the Region - Large Corporations Take First Steps Towards Startups
Recently ArcticStartup organized Reverse Pitching, providing an opportunity for big corporations to reach out to startups. We were very positively surprised by the interest in the idea where we put the big ones on stage pitching, while startups would be listenining and asking questions afterwards. As a proof of that interest, the event gathered more than 200 passionate startup entrepreneurs who, when asked if there were “any startups in the house?”, loudly cheered.
We've probably written enough about getting noticed at startup events in the leadup and takeaway from Slush, but did you see that electronic namebadge that a handful of people were wearing? If you did see it, you probably stopped the person wearing it to ask about it, and you'll be happy to know that Tagsu is now on Indiegogo due to popular demand.
Klarna has been one of the biggest success stories from the region for a while yet. Rightfully so, as the company has revenues of over €178 million a year (2013) and has total funding of close to €250 million. The latest being in March this year from Institutional Venture Partners (IVP),Sequoia Capital, General Atlantic and Atomico.
Many companies use the 'interactive' buzzword in describing their product, while struggling to explain what it means practically. With a growing number of data visualisation solutions on the market, we were not particularly interested when we first heard ZoomCharts pitch 'the world's most interactive data visualisation software'. But stick around - I am about to show why their demo let us and Imprimatur Capital, whose investment in the company now amounts to EUR 700,000, reconsider.
After picking up a massive $60 million from names like Sequoia and Atomico, Truecaller has announced a big update to their android app in order to make dialling and calling more intelligent and useful. The updated app is part of a broader move to make their platform your way to make every call, rather than just a “who the hell was that?” number lookup.
Infogram has gotten their infographic tool used at publications like the Washington Post and other major media houses, but the acquisition looks like it will be used to stay on the forefront of this medium.
For most part of the year, the startup community is hard at work. So hard, in fact that any occasion or an event, social or not, is somehow related to work. This year, we want to break that tradition a little bit and invite everyone for a nice Christmas party together. Get your tickets fast.
We have written previously that Finland was going through the five stages of grief when it comes to Nokia, and I think we have just reached 'acceptance'. People and companies are moving on and looking at what to do next, not surprisingly some are going after the same markets. For instance there is now three companies doing tablets. If this is the right type of acceptance or not - time will tell. Perhaps it's the cold.
I suppose a good music producer is like a good startup mentor - you just might pay to get a good one. With that in mind Oulu, Finland based NetSono has launched a producer finding tool to their beta-launched platform for bands, Band on the Web, that aims to hook you up with an experienced person behind the Soundboard for feedback and potential collaboration.
The producer service is launched with Finnish household names Leri Leskinen, Hiili Hiilesmaa, Riku Pääkkönen and Jussi Jaakonaho who have worked with bands like HIM and Nightwish to the highly popular Vain Elämää (the Finnish version of the TV format The Best Singers).
Tine Thygesen has announced that she is leaving Everplaces. In a post she announced the decision, and also that Everplaces will split into two different startups, one with a B2C focus and one with a B2B focus.