THIS MONTH'S TECH HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE NORDICS/BALTICS.
by Fredy-Edwin Esse
Summer is usually the time when most Nordic and Baltic people take time off and enjoy the sun and long summer days. Maybe there wasn't enough sun or maybe there was just too much to do, but the last month has been a very busy time in the Nordic and Baltic startup scene.
Let's start off with great news that affects all European Union countries. European Comission has spearheaded its initiative to get rid of high roaming fees in the EU and starting June 2017 it will become reality. This means that while traveling in Europe consumers will pay the same price for mobile services than they would in their home market.
This has been a great year so far for Swedish startups who just seem to keep on raising more money. Joining the long list of well funded Nordic startups is the mobile social network Fishbrain which managed to raise $8 million led by Northzone with Tokyo-based Recruit Strategic Partners No.6 and New York-based Novel TMT Ventures as new investors, as well as existing investors Industrifonden, Active Venture Partners, GP Bullhound and Edastra Venture Capital.
The social network meant for anglers says it will use the money to expand it's operations in the U.S. as well as launch properly in Japan. So if you've made plans to go on holiday in August and are searching for a great place to fish then check Fishbrain out.
Who doesn't remember the heyday of Angry Birds back in 2010 and 2011, when flying birds and green belching pigs invaded almost every smartphone, be it an iPhone or Android. Those days are now long gone for Rovio, the game's creator, but the Finnish gaming company is looking to make another splash before they release their feature film in 2016.
Though Rovio has created many different versions of the original Angry Birds game (Angry Birds Space, anyone?) the company decided to make an official sequel and released a teaser video for Angry Birds 2. Yes, this might not be a huge deal anymore in 2015, but the Finnish company still has some fire power left to be a contender to snag a top spot in the App Store charts. Angry Birds 2 will launch this Thursday.
Espoo based waste management company Enevo completed an impressive $15.8 million funding round led by Foxconn, Ginko Ventures and Mistletoe, with Earlybird, Lifeline Ventures, Finnish Industry Investment and private individuals joining as existing investors.
Enevo's ONe waste logistics operations management solution puts some knowledge into shared trash bins and dumpsters. According to the company they can save cities up to 50% in direct costs by using analytics and smart routing for waste collection.
The tiny Baltic country saw it's most significant exit after last year's $100 million GrabCAD exit. This time it was Fits.me's turn which was acquired by the Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten. The size of the deal wasn't disclosed, but Fits.me was in the middle of a funding round having already secured $14.3 million from CEO James Gambrell, Conor Venture Partners, Entrepreneurs Fund, SmartCap and a number of others. The virtual fitting room Fits.me will continue to operate as a stand-alone business within Rakuten with offices both in London and Tallinn.
A host of Latvian startups have raised money during the summer. MIITO, the maker of futuristic kettles, was the most impressive one of them all managing to raise €800,000 on Kickstarter. It has to be said that this was five times more than the inital goal of €150,000.
Fabula is being called the Spotify for ebooks and it sure seems to be working for them. The company raised €470,000 from Imprimatur Capital, Vision+ and angels from the US, Sweden, and Latvia. Fabula has been succesful in its home market of Latvia and this new round of capital will help them expand to the Nordics.
On the heels of a $2 million seed round in March, Latvian drone manufacturer AirDog raised an additional €460,000 on AngelList as the company pushes to deliver the first drones to its backers by the end of August.
Probably the most impressive amount of money raised during the last month was by BZT Fashion, the company behind Nordic fashion ecommerce store Boozt. The Nordic startup raised DKK 200 million (€26 million) from investors Sampension, Friheden Invest and a group of current shareholders including Sunstone Capital and Verdane.
The company is under Danish management and operates in the Oresund region with around 250 employees divided between its headquarters in Malmö and warehouse in Ängelholm. The company has witnessed tremendous sales growth during the last few years and hopefully the fresh influx of cash will help it grow faster.
One of the hottest names coming from Lithuania at the moment (and yes, I'm including Pixelmator) is the game creation platform TutoTOONS. The company has managed to double its downloads to 20 million in just three months, having reached 10 million downloads in April this year.
Creating games with TutoTOONS is free and you don't have to know code or even own a computer. You can do it on your smartphone or tablet. The company has published over 120 games to date.
It's well known that Norwegians take it easy when it isn't skii season, but luckily we have a little light news from Norway. First we had those darn glass ketchup and mayo bottles which, though maybe aesthetically pleasing, weren't really convenient to use. Then mankind made a big step forward with plastic bottles one could squeeze and mayo came flying out.
Now mankind has made another leap forward. Norwegian food and consumer goods giant Orkla said it has signed an exclusive partnership with an MIT spin-off called LiquiGlide. This means all Orkla mayo products distributed in the Nordics and Baltics will have a fancy coating that lets the consumer squeeze out every last drop of the good stuff with nothing going to waste. Truly a magnificent time we live in.