ArcticStartup keeps an optimistic tone with Nordic and Baltic startups, but still I try to keep some distance with the startups I’m covering. That being said, I’ve been a fan of Helsinki-based Sofanatics since learning about their virtual sports stadium that allows fans to chat with other fans, and talk trash to fans of opposing teams. It was such a cool concept that we were surprised to read on the company’s blog yesterday that Sofanatics is shutting down, citing that they weren’t able to build a successful business behind the product.

“Our ambition level was high, so we did not want to Sofanatics become nothing else than big,” co-founder and CEO Toni Laturi tells us by email. “That is why the decision was pretty straight forward. It is bit too early to say anything else. Except the team already knows that we will not regret that we started the journey.”

We last covered Sofanatics just in June when Sofanatics provided a co-branded Facebook app for the NBA during the NBA finals. This was the company’s first real push into the U.S. market.

Shutting down a product that was building a strong community is painful, but bouncing back is a lot easier than it used to be in Northern Europe.

In case anyone is looking to pick up some talent, here are the contact details and descriptions I requested from Co-founder Toni Laturi. A copy/paste of their blogpost can be found below.

Elmo Saukko – Senior Developer – @elmo_sthome pageLinkedIn

Elmo Saukko has 10 years experience building web services. Operates 1.5M+ pageview sites in Finland. Previously partner at Kuvake.net and Mikseri.net. Co-founded Emotionr.com micro blogging site (sold in 2009).

Kai Hannonen – CTO – @kaihannonenLinkedIn

Kai is an engineer with more than ten years in the industry and twenty years of programming experience. During his career he has led projects for high profile clients in Finland and abroad. Kai worked as the CTO and PO of Sofanatics from 2/2010.

Sami Kuusela – Creative Director, Cofounder – @deepsamiLinkedIn

Sami is a media man with strong background in both traditional and digital media. He founded his first company in -97. Among other things, Sami has been working as a love columnist for multiple magazines since 2002. Sami loves Facebook.

Simo Santavirta – Senior Developer – @simppafiLinkedInhomepage

Simo is an UI/UX man with over a decade of work experience. He has a passion for realtime graphics and user experience. He makes things look, feel and smell good in digital environments.

Toni Laturi – CEO, Cofounder – @tlaturiLinkedIn

Toni is an internet nerd and tech exec. Before co-founding Sofanatics, he was the CEO of the best Finnish internet agency, Valve.

Here’s what they announced on their blog:

It is not easy to be a pioneer. It is risky and hard.

Sofanatics has been the pioneer of Social TV. Three years ago, when we started, no one was talking about social TV.

We started with an idea of a virtual living room, and ended with a virtual stadium. The stadium is an outstanding product. Our users love it, and so do sports professionals. The next step would have been the launch of the mobile stadium. The app is just amazing – and almost ready.

Despite of all the success, we failed to create sustainable business. We never succeeded to reach sport fans in large numbers, and tell them how fantastic Sofanatics is.

Perhaps we weretoo early. Perhaps there was no real market or the product just wasn’t fitting. We don’t know it.

After three eventful years, we decided to close down Sofanatics. It wasn’t an easy decision, but financially it was the only thing we could do.

No matter what the outcome is, the ride has been extraordinary. We have got a tremendous amount of support from our friends, families and the Sofanatics community.

Thank you all for your trust and support. We will miss you!

On behalf of Sofanatics team
.toni