October 2015

There is a wealth of knowledge available to you through Silicon Vikings' blog and newsletters about the startup/tech cultures in...and interesting news from...Silicon Valley & the Nordics.  

Our website also has a wide variety of useful links about everything from practical issues...to business resources...in both the Nordics and Silicon Valley.  For example, have you seen our:

And this is just the tip of the iceberg!
With four events during the month of October, there is something for everyone!  See you at an upcoming event!


Charlotte Danielsson
Executive Director

email:  charlotte.danielsson@siliconvikings.com
social media:   https://koik.me/siliconvikings 


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by Fredy-Edwin Esse

Another month has passed and the startup community in the Nordics and Baltics just keeps on getting bigger, better and more active. Here's what we learned in September.
Sweden's startup scene is absolutely on fire and with Stockholm being considered one of the best tech-hubs in the worlds it's hardly a surprise. After all, without the Swedish entrepreneurial spirit we wouldn't have companies we've come to love like IKEA, Volvo or Spotify.
Swedish payment service Klarna is on its way to join those companies in the coming years. In the first six months of 2015 the company increased its operating profit sixfold from last year, reaching $19.8 million. At the same time Klarna's revenue increased by $37 million to $158 million. Very strong numbers and considering the company recently launched in the US we are waiting for even stronger second half figures.
It is great to see companies coming out of the small island of Gotland. One of those companies is Pichit, which raised $3 million and hopes to create for images what Spotify has for music. The company is working closely with Microsoft and aims to reach at least 250,000 registered users within the next 18 months.
Danish startup Linkfire is really firing on all cylinders and the company announced in September they closed a large seed investment round of €2.3 million. The investment was led by Northcap followed by a group of business angels who undoubtedly will help Linkfire with their expertise. The company plans to open its first office outside of Denmark in Williamsburg, New York.
Big news from Finland where advertising technology platform Kiosked received a €15 million loan from the European Investment Bank. Kiosked will use the money to develop new online and mobile advertising platforms as well as build on its expansion over the next three years by increasing its staff fourfold.
Lately it seems every industry has it's own 'Uber-like'app or company. One of those companies is SportSetter from Finland, which raised a $1 million seed round early September. Currently the app is live in Finland and New York and the company plans to use the money to expand into the U.K. market, as well as build out its app reach from iOS to Android.
What could be more of a clichéthan a skiing app from Norway and Switzerland? A St. Bernard with a gold Rolex on a pair of Madshus skis? Maybe not...So it comes as no surprise that Skioo is such a tremendous success having increased its userbase fivefold last winter season and now the company announced raising CHF 1.5 million and bringing in investors like Olympic gold medalist Aksel Lund Svindal. Skioo is a mobile app solution where a skier adds a credit card to any ski pass and gets immediate access to the slopes.
Jobbatical is becoming one of the hottest names in the Baltic startup scene and the company now has the money to back it up. At the start of september Jobbatical, an online marketplace for connecting businesses and working talent, announced it raised €510,000 from a slew of investors.
Estonia's largest business newspaper Äripäev released it's annual list of the richest people in Estonia, which is basically an Estonian version of the Forbes richest list. Times are changing in Estonia and after years of the top of the list being dominated by people involved in realty, construction and transportation industry, the richest person in Estonia is officially from a startup.
Äripäev estimated that with a fortune of €234 million Kristo Käärmann, co-founder of TransferWise, is now Estonia's richest person. The second co-founder of TransferWise, Taavet Hinrikus, is third on the list with a fortune of €211 million.
Last month Latvian edtech company Edurio made a splash with a €230,000 investment round from Imprimatur and an Australian angel. Edurio aims to help schools make data-driven continuous improvement decisions by offering feedback surveys for students, parents and teachers. The company will use the money to roll out now versions of its product and expand it's school network.
As a heads up to people in Latvia or nearby interested in founding their very own startup there's an event in Riga that helps you do just that. At the end of November there's a three day startup crash course, where designers, developers, entrepreneurs and experts meet to find out what are the best ideas out there and act upon them. Check the event out by Google'ing Startup Weekend Riga.
Lithuanian startup Dropbyke is entering the crowded field of bike-sharing apps, aiming to take on local taxis and help cyclists share their bikes. Basically Dropbyke lets you search for a bike, get access and enjoy the ride. It runs on existing bike infrastructure so customers can use any public parking space. They launched at the start of August and already have a few thousand registered users.

A Nordic to US Comparative
by Jennifer Vessels (Guest Author)

Successful global growth of ICT, Medtech, green tech/sustainability and consumer product innovations (as a result of great creative minds, research, academia and public support) can be the future for the Nordic economies (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Norway).
However, sustainable growth requires more than a product idea.  It demands skillful commercialization to drive customer adoption and revenue generation. Funding ultimately comes from profitability but during the 'startup period', investment is needed to build the solution and acquire initial customers.  The source of the funding, process for attainment of customer commitments and time to market is often quite different for Nordic compared to US companies and entrepreneurs.
Nordic Innovation Path to Market

In Nordic Region, having a great innovative idea is often followed by a lengthy 'fund raising' period. The entrepreneur spends time (the most important and ir-replaceable resource) building, refining and delivering investor pitches and completing applications for initial public funding.
If attained, the first seed capital is used to finance product development. Since perfecting the product before it is 'customer ready' may take more time than expected, many entrepreneurs need more funding before beta customers (and revenue) are secured.
Each fundraising round can deflect the innovator's focus from market development and potential customer, channel and team acquisition. Therefore, for many Nordic companies, three or more years may be required to move from idea to beta customer acquisition. 
Path to Market (Nordic Region):

1.        An entrepreneur or innovator within a company has a great idea

2.       Fundraising - investor presentation developed, pitched, discussed

3.       Product development

4.       Additional fundraising for finalization of product and customer acquisition

5.       Beta customers and product refinements

6.       Fundraising for market entry

7.       Revenue generation

8.       Profitability from sales / operations or additional fund raising to support growth

After completion of beta, (depending on the level of seed capital previously raised), additional funds may be needed to address the initial customer feedback and for market entry.   When the product is deemed 'ready', marketing activities and customer acquisition begins.  For most technology solutions, a 6 - 12 month 'sales cycle' then leads to closed 'paying' business.
With the time required for fundraising, product refinements and the sales process, many Nordic companies actually generate revenue four or more years after the idea is conceived. 

.....read full article on our blog

by Eilif Trondsen 

Eilif Trondsen is a frequent contributor to Silicon Vikings Blog.  To view this complete blog post and other blogs by Eilif, visit Silicon Vikings Blog.  

Time off from writing on Silicon Valley Innovation Outposts-at least for a little while! (But perhaps not for long-as a friend and I are exploring writing another piece on the topic). But right now, at least, I want to explore some issues around a theme that has been a passion of mine for at least the last 15-20 years: Education, learning, competencies, and the role of technology-especially in a corporate learning context, but also vis-à-vis emerging changes in universities and colleges.

One event in particular triggered my decision to write at least a blog post on this topic: The reaction of a friend of mine (an academic) to an article I sent him about a recent "pivot" of Udacity (more on this below), one of the major Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) providers. His reaction was (to what Udacity is now doing with nano-degrees to meet fast changing corporate skill needs) was along the lines of: Oh no! I was afraid this was coming! I was a bit surprised, at least at first, but after reflecting a bit on it, I guess his reaction-especially from where he sits-was not so surprising after all. I then decided that I had to sit down and write a blog post that would describe some of the interesting changes going on around corporate learning, especially around MOOCs, or MOOC-like offerings, and what this might mean for companies, both large and small, as well as institutions of higher learning.

.....read full article on our blog

by Eilif Trondsen 

My last blog post on corporate learning focused mostly on some emerging developments, illustrated by examples of what Udacity, Microsoft and Northeastern University have been doing recently.
 In this blog post I will argue that we are entering a new era of corporate learning-one where learning and skills/competences acquisition will be more learner/worker- and demand-driven ("pull model") rather than the more traditional approach ("push model"). The corollary of this type of development is that learning, even in corporate/work environments, will be most effective when it is more like the informal learning that has always accounted for most of the learning that adults engage in.

.....read full article on our blog

Eilif-a transplanted Norwegian who has spent his whole professional life in Silicon Valley-has led and participated in a number of syndicated research programs and numerous consulting projects during his 35 years at SRI International (formerly Stanford Research Institute) and Strategic Business Insights (a spin-out from SRI, located on the Menlo Park campus of SRI). He has also been Adjunct Professor of Economics at a number of Bay Area universities. Most of his work has focused on eCommerce, Learning, Innovation, and Virtual Technologies, and in recent years much of his work has focused on the Nordic region, especially Finland and Norway, including projects for Tekes and the Norwegian Research Council, and two projects funded by Nordic Innovation. He has been a Board member of Silicon Vikings for the last 5 years, and has been the Chair of the Special Interest Group on Entrepreneurship and Learning since its beginning.


Silicon Vikings is a 20,000+ network headquartered in Silicon Valley with nodes throughout the Nordic and Baltic regions in Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn, Vilnius and Riga.  Our node in Reykjavik will open this year...and we are contemplating opening nodes in Gothenburg and London as well.  We offer events at each local node plus our new NODEconnections series will provide real-time collaborative events between Silicon Valley and the Nordic and Baltic nodes.

If you are interested in joining any of Silicon Vikings' Nodes, please click on the link below to register (no cost):