Silicon Real, the video podcast, did an interview with Max Niederhoffer of Sunstone Capital, which is worth checking out if you're interested in his move from Accel Partners or if you're generally interested in an inside scoop on the European VC landscape. We've attached the video below the fold, but if you don't have time for a video, you can read more about Niederhoffer in our coverage of his move.
When you're working heavily with visual files, sometimes amazing utilities like Dropbox or Box aren't all they could be. Visual files display a lot of information by being visual, and problems can arise because they're heavy. If you're sending heavy visual files to a client by sharing through Dropbox, It's not impossible that your recipient needs to pay for a pro account to have the space to receive the files. And in general these competing file storage and sharing services are targeting every type of file, potentially forgoing features that really add value to people primarily sharing visual content.
Enter Västerås, Sweden-based Promobucket, which is focusing on helping companies and individuals share visual content: anything from .PSDs to .PNGs to .PDFs. We've covered the company in the past, but they've just redesigned the service, taking away features and getting down to their core product: making it easy to store and share visual assets, a move they say has really helped increase traction.
If you think that you have a great startup idea, then one of the best ways to go forward is to actually tell people about it or better yet - pitch it to a professional and get some valuable feedback.
Often this requires going to events or hunting for experts, which can be a hassle. So to make life easier, ArcticStartup together with The Founder Institute, is organizing an online ArcticStartup Founder Hotseat Webinar next Wednesday night, October 16th at 07:15PM EEST, which will take place on this very page.
HolidayPhone announces it has appointed Emma Heimonen as CEO of the Swedish solution to mobile roaming. Heimonen has replaced Joacim Boivie, founder of HolidayPhone, who has served as CEO since the start of the company in 2010. Joacim Boivie will stay in the company as part of the board of directors.
Epidemic Sound brings together Sweden's Music, TV, and Internet Entrepreneurs for new type of Music Library
Despite starting up in 2009 and having names like legendary music producer Peer Åström and Wrapp CEO Hjalmar Winbladh as cofounders, Stockholm-based Epidemic Sound has managed to keep a low profile within the startup scene. Their product, which could come across as an unremarkable stock music site, has managed to build a library of 25,000 tracks within 170 genres, and is now the source of 70-80% of all music used on television in Northern Europe. Now that they feel they've gotten the traditional background music consumers locked down, they're bringing in the massive long-tail of independent filmmakers and startup video creators who need some jams in the background of their videos.
You can tell entrepreneurial buzz is picking up in Helsinki when Finland's top design hotels are catering to local entrepreneurs, much like the new Klaus K Entrepreneurial Innovation Award that will be given out at Slush this year. It makes sense for the family run hotel as more startups are looking for beds when flying in partners and to host events, much like Jolla's Sailfish launch party, which was held at the hotel.
Yesterday we did a call for Nordic and Baltic entrepreneurs to show off there startup pads, and we've already gotten hit by Helsinki-based guitar teaching startup Ovelin, maker of the guitar teaching apps, Wildchords and GuitarBots.
In the above picture, Thür says, "You can see our fun room featuring a drum kit, piano, Ramses the weird synthesizer, grass floor, Carsten the crocodile, a tribute to super mario on the wall, and furniture in Tetris block style, a flamingo hat and plenty of other weird things to be discovered."
Startup pitching events have become sort-of a cliche, they are all alike and there really needs to be an improvement to the whole process. Investors want to get a better understanding if the startup would be a good fit for them, the audience is interested to know if people are actually going to use it and the founders want to get quality feedback from the audience, the judges (if any) and investors.
This seems like a very straightforward problem and for the most part it is solved by de facto. However as we have seen with Catchbox, small additions to events can make them a lot more exciting.
So when we heard about the Estonian based Funderbeam, it caught our eye. Their current plan is to provide an app for pitch-feedback that collects votes & ratings from the audience, generates leader boards and statistics. However they plan to do a lot more with it.
Got an old Android phone or iPhone laying around? Espoo-based security app BiiSafe allows you to take advantage of all of your old phone's sensors to use as a remote monitoring solution, sending updates to your main phone if it hears an alarm going off at your home, or if you want to be sent photo or video of what's going on in the office.
It makes a huge amount of sense considering how a smartphone gives you a near full-package of security features, like motion sensing, audio sensing, a camera, and can tell if the power is connected to the device or not. Additionally, an old Android smartphone is cheap compared to the up-front cost of installing a hardwired security system, and much more flexible. If you want a hacked together security system on your boat for the summer, you could throw a phone onboard and take advantage of all the sensing and tracking powers.
A new coworking space officially opened its doors late last week in Stockholm. Dubbed SUP46, or Start-Up People 46, the 1272 square meter space is handsomely located in the very center of Stockholm on Reringsgaten 29. To open up the space, last Friday over 300 people threw down with Daniel Ek, the CEO and co-founder of Spotify.
"Our vision is to make Stockholm the number one startup city in the world," says Jessica Stark, CEO and co-founder of SUP46. "Though Stockholm is one of the world’s leading startup hotspots, the lack of a centrally located meeting & co-working space for the startup community has been obvious."
We've been lucky at ArcticStartup to be able to visit a number of startup offices across the Nordics and Baltics, and it's always interesting to see what the vibe is in each one. From crazy analytics dashboards taking over a wall, to clean nordic design, to early 90's furniture, it's always interesting to check out.
Some go above and beyond the call of duty, for instance, ArcticStartup co-founder Antti Vilpponen moved up in the world to Upcloud, where those jerks have Sega Rally, a pool table, and a champagne bar in their office. Supercell's office was fun to check out as well, with big SUPERCELL letters down the hallway, and a ball pit. It's been a while since I've been in Tictail's, but it's what you would expect from trendy Swedish hackers.
Editor's note: This is a sponsored post to alert you to the crowdfunding options in the region. Research before investing - early stage companies are high risk.
With the jobs act hitting the switch earlier this month, equity crowdfunding has been a rather hot topic of discussion and we have some great news from our local equity crowdfunding partners - Invesdor and FundedByMe.
Wired UK's next issue focuses on the top ten startup capitals in Europe, and lists ten of the hottest startups from each city. Helsinki and Stockholm were selected out of our region, and we feel they've done a fair enough job.
Here's their list, with links to our (AS) coverage of the startups. Pick up the issue when it hits stores!
In Helsinki, they list:
Last morning after a few stories fell through, we were desperate enough to notice a "I love Tekes" t-shirt webshop being passed around on Facebook. Obviously it was time for some tough investigative journalism, and this dogged reporter was prepared to ask the tough questions. Why? How? and… is that really a 'I love Tekes' thong?
For those unfamiliar with the Finnish funding ecosystem, Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, is a major player in Finland's funding rounds by essentially doubling or tripling the amount of private money put into a company with non-dilutive grants or cheap loans. It's basically free money, but like all free money coming from taxpayers, people have the right to complain about efficiency and processes.
Were these shirts made out of raging Tekes passion, or in an ironic manner? Digging through the comments I realized my Finnish is just as poor as the Bing-powered translations on Facebook, but progressed forward for facts, undaunted by western governments' growing crackdown on whistleblowers and journalists.
The Swedish Kickstarter Sweetheart, Memoto, announces it has picked up €2.21 ($3 million) in investment from True Ventures, and is rebranding the company.
"We start out on this new journey under a new brand," says CEO Martin Källström on the Memoto website. "Memoto as a name has been very dear to us, but after being adamantly notified that it conflicts with similar trademarks in the market we have no choice but to change name. This has made us ask ourselves who we really are and what we stand for. The new name we have selected is Narrative."
A team leader's job is to make sure people get things done, and you can't improve what you don't measure. Enter Weekdone, the Estonian productivity and task completion application that now announces it has launched on iOS and a major new web version. The app, and now mobile app, helps managers use popular management methods, such as PPP and OKR (or to the uninitiated, "Plans, Progress, Problems", and "Objectives & Key Results") to keep track of all the moving pieces.
Uppsala based Freespee is going after a bigger target market thank just click-to-call advertising. They write in their latest email that they want to to one big thing: make display advertising as efficiently, if not better than search.
When we first came across Freespee it took my brain way too long to figure out what calls had to do with banner ads, but there are a few angles Freespee is going after. For instance, if you're searching for a plumber in your hometown you might google around on your phone until you see an ad for a plumber that looks trustworthy. Instead of then driving the user to a website to then copy a phone number, it make sense to lead everyone straight to the end-game. While local search is a huge target market, big ticket items like real estate or boat sales also need to lead someone on the other end of the phone.
Has the peer lending revolution finally started taking off in Europe? IsePankur, the Estonian based peer to peer lending network has announced last year that they started to allow anyone within the EU to invest on the platform, however it was still only the Estonians who could actually look for a loan. Recently, however they opened up the platform to Finnish residents.
This means that now anyone in Finland can request a loan using Isepankur.fi and many are doing just that. In the first 9 weeks of operations, IsePankur reported 13 million euro of loan applications in Finland. Combined with Estonia, they are now hitting over €800 000 of issued loans monthly. The month of September, for example, reached €859 500 and IsePankur reports a 20% month to month growth of this figure.
Helsinki-based Playmysong is seeing some traction in the US after partnering with NSM music to bring paid song requests to bars and other venues around the states.
The NSN app is a little different than what Playmysong has been doing in Europe with their own app and commercial music supplier, Mood Media, which locations pay for in exchange for patron enjoyment and sharing options for advertising. With the NSM partnership, customers get a limited number of free songs for checking in with Facebook, Foursquare, or tweeting about the place on Twitter. After that, customers have to pay for each song request.
"Venture capital in Norway is dead," is how Brain Weisberg of betaFUND the new Norwegian seed fund, started by the founders of Trolltech and Kelkoo, starts off our call. "Despite an obsession with disrupting other industries, VC's haven't changed their own business model since before the dot-com boom of the 90s. And their poor investment performance and lack of support of modern entrepreneurs are two symptoms of a larger problem."
Weisberg points to few big problems with the investment scene in Norway. For instance, the average initial investment in a company is around 10 mNOK (€1.23 million) which is a pretty high average, no matter if a beer in an Oslo pub will set you back €10. Additionally there isn't a lot of smart money. If you were to run profiles on the average VC in Norway, most would come from the financial or government support scene, not the technical or startup scene, which somewhat limits their creativity, or mentoring opportunities.
As a result, Weisberg can quote crazy sounding facts, such as since 2010, no Norwegian investor invested in a Norwegian company's seed round according to the Norwegian Venture Capital Association. The NVCA's data is spotty, and there is no data out for 2013, but realistically if there were a perfectly active ecosystem there should be a number of blindingly obvious seed rounds to include in their data.