Category: News (Page 1 of 17)

EpiEndo Pharmaceuticals raise €800k to advance their treatments for respiratory diseases

EpiEndo Pharmaceuticals announced yesterday a fundraise of €800k from a syndicate of local funds and angels including Brunnur Ventures, with participation from existing shareholders.

The funds will be used to advance the pre-clinical development of their lead program of proprietary products called “Barriolides” for the treatment of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

That disease is the leading respiratory disease with over 70 million patients worldwide that has significant unmet medical need and is an increasing burden globally.

“I am extremely pleased to be joining such a great team to develop what could be the next generation of treatments for a number of important respiratory disease,” commented Fredrik Lehmann, CEO of EpiEndo. “[The] scientific team has meticulously developed the novel Barriolide technology over a number of years, and with this recent funding we will be able to advance this important program of work to choose our first clinical candidate (CD) in 2019.”

Identity Verification startup Authenteq raises $5m led by Draper Associates and capital300

Reykjavik and Berlin based identity verification startup Authenteq, announced today a $5m first close in a Series A round. The round is led by Draper Associates and capital300. The company raised a $1.3m seed round a little over a year ago. In a statment, Kári Thor Rúnarsson co-founder and CEO comments that the company closed the round in just two weeks. He notes that the company is in discussions with a few investors that will take the second closing of the round.

“The reason we decided to do two closings, is we were introduced to an investor with a startup mindset of getting things done and felt it was a great challenge to try to finish all due diligence and paperwork in 2 weeks after the term sheet was approved,” comments Kári. “It was sort of a field test for us to see if they really were as agile and dynamic as they claimed to be during our discussions. We were honestly surprised how smoothly it went, despite a very thorough due diligence and legal process. ”

The company describes its product as the fastest onboarding process of an identity verification solution on the market and caters to companies that need to comply with KYC (know your customer) and AML (anti-money laundering) regulations. They launched their service in late 2018 and report signing up more than a dozen clients in the first months.

“I believe that Authenteq is the beginning of the solution to true and pure identity, which may eliminate many of the security concerns in the market today,” commented investor Tim Draper, known for seed investments in Skype, Tesla, SpaceX, Baidu, and Twitch to name a few. “Their product is simple and elegant.”

Authenteq has 21 employees working in their Berlin and Reykjavik offices and the new funding will in part go towards hiring for a range of new positions currently being filled. “We are lucky enough to have our offices in two of the coolest cities in Europe at the moment! So convincing talent from all over Europe and the USA to move to either Berlin or Reykjavik hasn’t been that difficult.”

“We are excited that Authenteq’s unique technology is disrupting the existing [identity verification] process,” Peter Lasinger, founder of Capital300, said, “and enables an affordable and fully automated identity verification, at the same time ensuring the privacy of users.”

Authenteq is hiring. See what they’re looking for on Northstack Job Board. 

Crypto Fintech Startup Monerium raises $2m seed round led by Crowberry Capital

Icelandic Crypto Fintech startup Monerium just announced a $2m seed round led by Icelandic VC fund Crowberry Capital. Also participating in the round were blockchain company ConsenSys and Hof Holdings. Tech EU reports.

In addition to a new funding round, the company announced that it had applied to become a licensed financial services company in the EEA.

Monerium, founded in 2016, aims to offer fiat money services and issue e-money. As Tech.eu mentions, more details haven’t been announced.

Oculis raises $15.7m in extension to B round, licenses new antibody

In two press releases today, Iceland founded Oculis Pharma announces an extension to their Series B round amounting to $15.7m (15.5m CHF), and an expansion to its portfolio through the licensing a novel antibody from Novartis. No financials are disclosed in relation to the licensing.

“Oculis is evolving and advancing rapidly,” CEO of Oculis, Dr. Riad Sherif said in a statement. “With this new fundraising, adding to the CHF20 million we raised a year ago, we have a strong financial position from which to drive our clinical development programs”

The extension of the round brings total raised to $36m (35.5 CHF) with new investors Tekla Capital Management and Nan Fung Life Sciences, and participation from earlier investors. Previously the company had raised $5m from Icelandic VC firm Brunnur Ventures, which holds 19% of the share capital after this financing round.

The funds will be used to expand the company’s portfolio through strategic in-licensing, and to advance its development of novel eye-drop treatment for major ophthalmic diseases.

“I, and the team at Nan Fung Life Sciences, have been extremely impressed with vision and progress made by Oculis in building a company with the potential to significantly improve the treatment of ophthalmic diseases,” commented Peter Bisgaard, Managing Director at Nan Fung Life Sciences.

Ankeri Solutions raise $500k seed round from NSA Ventures

Ankeri Solutions, the startup creating a shipping marketplace that rewards efficient, low-emissions vessels, just announced a $500k seed round led by NSA Ventures. The investment gives NSA Ventures a 12% ownership stake in the company.

“We’ve been following Leifur and Kristinn for a long time and know of their knowledge and experience with the international maritime sector,” Huld Magnúsdóttir, CEO of NSA Ventures said in a statement.

Co-founders Kristinn Aspelund and Leifur A. Kristjánsson, previously worked at Marorka, a tech company that specialises in marine energy management.

“We’re excited to have NSA Ventures join us on our journey to change the communication between shipowners and charterers,” CEO and co-founder Kristinn Aspelund commented. “The initial market response has been beyond our expectations, and since we’ve launched we’ve seen a lot of growth in its use.”

Northstack previously covered Ankeri in a short interview with the founding team.

Ghostlamp secures $800k in new funding

Influencer marketing marketplace Ghostlamp has secured an additional $800,000 in funding from local and international investors. The funding round is led by Brunnur Ventures, which previously invested in the company, with participation from angel investors. This brings total investment in the company to roughly $1.6m (200m ISK) over the last two years. In addition, Ghostlamp received a $400,000 grant from the Technology Development Fund last December.

Jón Bragi Gíslason, co-founder and CEO of Ghostlamp says in a statement the funding is a key factor in the continued growth and development of the company.

“Over the last months, Ghostlamp has been a leading provider of influencer marketing world wide,” Jón Bragi said in a statement. “We’ve been lucky to work with customers across twelve countries and have done campaigns for brands like Nissan, Subaru, Hamley’s, KFC, and more.”

Andri (left) CTO, and Jón Bragi, CEO, co-founders of Ghostlamp.

Up until now the company has been providing influencer marketing as a full service, taking care of finding, hiring, and paying influencers as well as measuring effectiveness and managing the content. “In the coming months, both customers and influencers will be able to use the Ghostlamp marketplace in many new ways,” said Jón Bragi.

The company recently opened an office in Brazil. “We’ve created strong connections with key people in Brazil and we have a strong team there working on development and the management of campaigns,” comments Andri Birgisson, co-founder and CTO of Ghostlamp.

Private Equity firm Diversis Capital acquires majority stake in Tempo at $62.5m valuation

Origo, parent company of Tempo Software, announced that it had reached an agreement to sell 55% of Tempo to Diversis Capital. Tempo is valued at $62.5m in the transaction, and Diversis will pay Origo $34.5m in cash for the share. Following the transaction, the owners (Origo and Diversis) will inject $2m into the business pro rata.

Finnur Oddsson, CEO of Origo

In a press release, Finnur Oddsson, CEO of Origo, comments that the sale is “great news, both for Origo and Tempo.” It’s a “recognition of the great work that has been ongoing at both Tempo and Origo” and that it shows the value of R&D work in Iceland. He also notes that it’s very much in the interest of Origo to maintain ownership of a sizable part of Tempo, eyeing further growth of the company.

The price tag ranks Tempo highly on the list of Icelandic tech exits – and adds an important item to a small but growing list of international tech success stories stemming from here: the fourth exit with a valuation of more than $50m since 2015.

Company Exit valuation Date
CCP $425m September 2018
Nextcode $65m January 2015
Tempo $62.5m November 2018
Greenqloud $51m August 2017

Several years in the making

Tempo is a spinoff from TM Software, one of Origo’s (then Nýherji) subsidiaries. A team of developers were solving their own problem: creating timesheets connected to the Jira project management tool to send to clients. It has since early days been a top seller at Jira’s marketplace and fueled consistent double-digit YoY growth in revenue.

The sale of Tempo has been in the works in some form for several years. Origo first announced that Tempo was for sale in 2015, when the plan was to sell 25% of the company. That plan didn’t go through, and the next movement in the process was in 2016, when Origo announced it had reached an agreement with AGC Partners regarding a possible sale of Tempo. It was then roughly a year ago, October 2017, that Origo formally asked AGC Partners to sell the company.

Ágúst Einarsson, CEO of Tempo

That led to an exclusive agreement with HPE Partners in August this year, where the plan was to sell a third of the company at a valuation of $62.5m following due diligence. Those talks fell through in the process. In conversation with Northstack, Ágúst Einarsson, CEO of Tempo, said the main reason was a different view on vision and strategy for Tempo following the sale between Origo and HPE. Then came Diversis, ready to buy a majority stake at the same valuation as HPE with a vision for next steps more aligned with Origo’s and Tempo’s leadership.

“Diversis are buying into a well operating company” Ágúst adds when asked about what changes we should expect, “so we don’t foresee any major changes in operations or staffing.” The plan is to use the fund to accelerate growth with more emphasis on sales and marketing, continued investment in R&D, improved customer service and additional product diversification.

From product to platform

“Tempo started out as a plugin for a popular project management tool,” says Viðar Svansson, Chief Product Officer at Tempo. “It’s now a suite of tools, and the next step for us is to widen our support base across workplace applications.”

Tempo officially integrates with Slack and support for Quickbooks Online was recently introduced. Other integrations are in development with a new Google Calendar integration expected to be rolled out before the holidays. According to Viðar, Third party developers have also shown interest in the platform with plugins and integrations ranging from business intelligence to asset management available.

Viðar Svansson, CPO of Tempo

“Investing in our platform to create connected experiences is key to our strategy,” Viðar adds. “We see new plugins from the ecosystem almost every month now, and we expect more of that in the future.“

Becoming a platform is the dream of most B2B software companies, making money both off their own product, and taking a cut of sales of plugins built to extend their core offering.

“Both owners have expressed the continued financial support in the case of M&A activity in the future,” Finnur, CEO of Origo mentions when discussing the platform play. “If Tempo sees technology or products that would fit into the product range, both Origo and Diversis will support acquisitions, should that be the best way forward for Tempo.”

November Art Exhibition marks launch of the Icelandic Art Association, helping living artists tokenize their work

“The first test of our platform will be on November 18, at the opening of my art exhibition in the Reykjavik City Hall,” Brandur Bjarnason Karlsson, co-founder and CEO of Icelandic Art Association (IAA) tells Northstack. Brandur and Geoffrey Stekelenburg, co-founder and CTO, got this idea the idea this summer, and subsequently decided to start a company.
“We believe this will make it easier for artists to find buyers for their work and create a stronger connection between artists and their patrons,” Brandur adds.

The platform, which focuses on enabling living artists to tokenize their own work, and selling parts of their paintings, is Iceland’s first venture in the space of blockchain and art – something that has garnered a good amount of hype in both the art and tech media in recent months. Auction house Christie’s used art registry service Artory in a recent auction, and blockchain based auction platform Maecenas recently sold a 31.5% stake in a Warhol painting.

“We saw that most of the intersection between blockchain and art is focused on very high value artworks,” Brandur explains. “We wanted to focus on living artists, and I believe we’re the first to offer that service.”

“Total art assets world-wide are estimated at $3 trillion,” Brandur adds, “but the annual sales are only around $60-70 billion. We think that one of the reason for this low turnover is how complex and timeconsuming it is to sell art. We’re trying to fix that problem.”

Icelandic Art Association promises to build a platform where investors can easily find new artwork made by current, living artists. Using their technology, people can buy and sell pieces of the artwork, increasing liquidity in the market.

Chris McClure, marketing advisor to IAA commented: “There’s a massive liquidity problem with many physical assets. Art, as an asset class, is a prime example of this pervasiveness. Yet, very few people talk about it. We can buy fractions of a company, gold and silver, and on and on, but we can’t buy fractions of physical art?”

Brandur’s exhibition will be at Reykjavik City Hall, where works will be offered both in the traditional way, as well as through the platform, where 20 tokens will be available for each work.

The addition of IAA also raises awareness of the growing blockchain scene in Iceland, being one of several startups utilising the technology to solve a variety of problems.

 

Íslandsbanki invests €3m in Meniga in strategic round

Íslandsbanki, one of Iceland’s “big three” banks invested €3m in Meniga, roughly ten years after Íslandsbanki became the fintech startup’s first customer.

“We’re very happy to have Íslandsbanki join us as an investor and look forward to working closely with the bank,” CEO and cofounder Georg Lúðvíksson commented.

The funding round marks the third strategic funding round Meniga has raised this year, with other’s coming from Swedbank and Unicredit, totalling over €9m.

“At Íslandsbanki, we’re constantly offering our customers better service. This investment in Meniga strengthens our relationship with the company, and is a part of our digital journey, where we’re improving the development of financial technology even more,” Birna Einarsdóttir, CEO of Íslandsbanki commented.

GRID, the SaaS startup here to free the spreadsheet, raises $1m angel round

GRID, the software company here to “Free the Spreadsheet,” closed a $1M angel round of funding this Monday.

“We are thrilled that the international investment community joins us in our enthusiastic mission,” said Hjálmar Gíslason, founder and CEO. “We look forward to partnering with these investors to expand GRID’s network and strength.”

Hjálmar recently returned to Iceland, after several years at Qlik, the data company that earlier acquired DataMarket which Hjálmar co-founded. Not moving far away from earlier, data visualisation projects, GRID’s user-friendly software empowers people to turn any spreadsheet into a beautiful web report, dashboard or interactive application.” Hjálmar has written about his deep-dive into spreadsheets on Medium.

“This funding will give us the runway we need to build the initial commercial version of the GRID product and fuel our go-to-market initiatives.”

Investors were both local and international, institutions and private individuals. Investors include Denmark’s Futuristic.vc; Iceland’s Brunnur Ventures; Index Ventures Principal Ari Helgason, Icelandic early stage fund Investa; Anthony Deighton, CMO of Celonis and former CTO of Qlik; Kristín Pétursdóttir, Chair at Kvika bank; and America’s 1/0 Capital investment fund.

GRID’s founding team includes both repeat team members and Silicon Valley expertise, bringing together the strength of legacy teamwork with U.S.-based go-to-market experience. The founding team consists of: Hjálmar Gíslason CEO and founder; Laura Edwards, VP of Revenue; Þorsteinn Yngvi Guðmundsson, VP of Operations; Borgar Þorsteinsson, lead client developer; and Steinn Eldjárn Sigurðarson lead cloud and server developer.

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Nortstack – Reporting and analysis of the Icelandic startup scene