THIS MONTH'S TECH HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE NORDICS/BALTICS
by Fredy-Edwin Esse
There's no slowing down the Nordic entrepreneurial spirit and the past month has been a great example of that. Deals and news came flying in on a daily basis, so let's take a look back at the action from the Nordics and Baltics.
The space industry may soon be the next huge thing that every engineer, entrepreneur and venture capitalist will want to be apart. Lithuania's Practica Capital is trying to get a head start and has invested ?200,000 in one of the first space startups in Europe - NanoAvionics. The company was founded as a spin-off of Vilnius University in 2014 with their founder members being apart of the LituanicaSAT-1 project.
Place I Live is definitely a company that people should start paying attention to. The Lithuanian startup expanded its services at the end of April to New York, London, San Francisco, Chicago and Berlin. They help people who move within or to these cities to make more informed decisions and allow property owners access to a quality driven channel for selling or renting their properties. Place I Live is currently raising a follow-up round of $600,000 with soft commitment of $300,000 from previous backers.
Although not so active during the first half of spring, the Swedish startup scene has been on fire during the last month. Incentive announced a few weeks back that they have raised ?1.5 million in investments from previous and new investors, bringing the total tally of raised money to ?3 million. The company is developing a kind of work related Facebook for individual companies.
Two companies were able to raise $5 million during the past month. One of them, Automile, closed a $5 million Series A round, led by Dawn Capital and Point Nine Capital. Automile, which offers a device and platform that connects your car to the cloud to track various kinds of data, will use the money to expand globally and continue developing new services for car owners.
The other company to raise $5 million was the eye-tracking startup Sticky which too closed a Series A round that was also led by Dawn Capital. Previously known as EyeTrackShop, Sticky offers analytics tools that allow online advertisers and publishers to track where you're looking. Sticky has now raised a total of $11 million.
Bitcoin has not gone the way of the dodo and is still very much alive. Danish startup Coinify is doing its best to capitalize on the success of bitcoin and at the same time helping to popularize the crypto currency. The digital currency provider expanded to all of the 34 European SEPA countries, where people can now buy and sell bitcoins through Coinify.
The Danish government has decided to increase its government support for startups. The Market Development Funds announced late April that they'll be giving funding to 19 innovations totaling over ?6.5 million. The aim is to help startups and enterprises bring new products to the market faster. The best part for the startups is that the funding will come in the form of grants, meaning no dilution of ownership.
Big news coming from Estonia where Pipedrive announced it raised $9 million in Series A funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners. Pipedrive, which offers customer resource management software to manage and increase sales, has witnessed great growth by having more than 10,000 paying small business customers and a team of nearly 80 people based in Tallinn, Estonia and Palo Alto, California. With the latest round the company has now raised a total of $13.4 million.
Estonian taxi ordering app Taxify is making a hard push to stay in competition with Uber. After launching in-app payments with debit and credit cards in the Baltics, Finland and Netherlands, Taxify has now rolled out mobile carrier billing in Estonia, which makes it the first in the world to offer mobile carrier billing for taxis. On a side note, last week Uber finally launched its service in Tallinn, giving Taxify a legitimate competitor in its home market.
The biggest news from Latvia came at the start of May when IAC-owned and Latvian born social network Ask.fm acquired the entire team behind recipe network Foodily. According to the companies these nine team members will now be tasked with the continued development of Ask.fm's Q&A platform, while Foodily website and mobile app will be maintained by a separate division within IAC. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but Foodily had raised $7.7 million in outside funding since founding back in 2010. The new team members will join Ask.fm in both its Oakland, California and Riga, Latvia locations.
MyNextRun, a service that helps runners discover and sign up for running events, announced just last week that it has raised ?1 million in the latest financing round. A total of 70% of the rounds investments were made by private investors. MyNextRun.com lists a total of 14,000 events and has currently 600 partner events around Europe.
Finland looks extremely competitive in the startup health scene where we hear more and more success stories. The latest is MeeDoc, which announced a ?3.5 million investment from XLHEALTH, a digital health VC. MeeDoc allows users to connect with a doctor via chat or video call, which cuts down costs compared to visiting a normal doctor. The startup will use the money to launch their service across Europe.
Since we didn't really hear much news from Norway (let me know if I missed something important!), let's take a look ahead. A very peculiar event is taking place in Norway June 17-19 called Startup Extreme. Only 300 attendees will be selected by a panel, so hurry to apply for an invitation. Held in the mountains of Voss, the event will take entrepreneurs outside for small group sessions, talks, different outdoor activities and will offer plenty of good Norwegian food.