Nordic Venture Forum 2008 is over and the winners have been announced. Just when I wrote (here) about how skeptical I was about Concilio Networks, they land among the top three companies out of the 50 firms that participated in the Nordic Venture Forum.

Nothing delights me as much as company proving me wrong when I’ve been critical of them. Here’s the top 3:

  • Concilio Networks (Finland) – Mobilizes and monetizes VoIP and internet community services
  • NsGene (Denmark) – Developes novel cell and gene based products for the treatment of neurological diseases.
  • Inmold Biosystems (Denmark) – Develops sterile polymere products with biomolecules immobilised into the plastic surfaces.

ArcticStartup congratulates the winners!

While talking to Concilio Networks’s CEO, Kristian Järnefelt, in Copenhagen he showed me exactly how the company allows users of normal existing handsets to import their internet contacts from social networks. The user experience is much smoother than I’d expected -I could start chatting with a friend with two clicks: First I chose my contacts and then I just jumped into the relevant contact name as I do with any Nokia phone and I was ready to start chatting. Whenever I have my phone on it shows as ‘active’ in all the networks I choose to use, for example Google Chat or Skype. As soon as one of my contacts decides to start chatting with me I receive a SMS for every comment. Easy and simple.

I actually pulled out my Nokia N95 and fired up Fring to show Kristian that such a solution already exists, but just as Kristian told me, it takes ‘forever’ to wait the Fring to load and connect via WiFi or 3G. That said, I still believe it’s an up hill battle to sell this solution to the telcos. This Kristian also admits.

All in all, I have to give this round to Concilio Networks. Kristian showed me how easy and effortless their product is to use. Not only that, It makes the world of difference where there are no 3G or WiFi networks in place, which would make it an ideal for South American market or even for Africa. Kristian told me that this might be the case, but that Concilio Networks has found out that to win the telcos’ trust they need to find the proof of concept closer to home.

I still believe that iPhone might give them a run for their money, but even if that happens in some markets there are still nearly 3 billion other mobile phones to work with. ArcticStartup 0 – Concilio Networks 1.

I’ll be writing more extensively on all the companies that I saw presenting in the conference in the coming days. Keep on the lookout for some interesting startups!