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.
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.