Category: News (Page 1 of 18)

Avo becomes first Icelandic company to be selected for Y Combinator

Avo, the SaaS company preventing human error when implementing analytics, is the first Icelandic company to be accepted into Y Combinator, widely regarded as the world’s best accelerator. As part of the program, Y Combinator invests $150,000 in the company. Avo (then as Viska Learning), previously raised a $1.2m seed round from local investors Brunnur and Investa.

The company was founded by several former employees of QuizUp, which raised more than $40m in venture financing from investors including Sequoia Capital and amassed 100m users before being acquired by Glu Mobile.

“Every company is already or will soon be using analytics through tools like Amplitude, Segment, Looker, Google Analytics or even their custom pipeline,” comments Stefania Olafsdottir, co-founder and CEO of Avo. “The problem is, humans suck at implementing analytics.”

According to Stefania, the team ran into this problem at their previous workplace QuizUp. “We ended up building our own, in-house analytics validation tool to help us alleviate that.”

The Avo team: Stefanía, Sölvi, Þóra, Árni Hermann

Later, when the team had founded another company they ran into this problem again. They couldn’t believe they would need to build internal tools for this again, so they started investigating what friends and colleagues were doing.

“We found that a surprising amount either had this problem and hated it, or fixed it by building similar tooling to what we had done at QuizUp,” Stefania adds. “To us that meant we had something.”

And seemingly, the partners at Y Combinator think they have something as well.

“I always wanted something like this at Airbnb,” Gustaf Alströmer, former growth lead at Airbnb and currently partner at YC commented in a statement.

“The constant problems we had was analytics implementation being mistakenly removed while refactoring or launching new flows, misspelled event-names leading to incorrect funnels that took until next release to fix, and poor knowledge of where you look up the meaning of events for other teams. Avo solves all this!”

While Avo is the first company from Iceland to be accepted into Y Combinator, they’re not the first Icelanders. Ari Helgason, currently principal at Index Ventures, participated in YC with his company World on a Hanger (Winter 2012), and Ingvar Helgason was at YC recently with VitroLabs (Spring 2017)

Avo was recently featured on Product Hunt.

Nordic Web Ventures announces Fund II

The Nordic Web, just announced that it has raised its second investment fund. The company, founded and led by Neil S W Murray, has been investing out of its first fund, and has already (if you count a not-yet-announced investment out of the second fund) invested in all Nordic countries (including Iceland).

The fund invests in pre-seed and seed stages, with 14 investments to date, and has invested alongside other notable investors like Y Combinator, Point Nine Capital, Seedcamp and Founders Fund.

The Nordic Web Ventures goes to the community for financing, having people active in the startup communities as LP’s (investors). For Iceland, this includes Georg Lúðvíksson (of Meniga), Crowberry Capital, and Kristinn Hróbjartsson (Norsthack).

Founding Partner Neil S W Murray commented in a press release: ​“The Nordic Web Ventures is already well positioned to write the first cheques into the next billion dollar companies from the Nordics, however I believe the opportunity is even bigger than that, it’s not just about funding entrepreneurs, it’s about nurturing and improving the conditions of an ecosystem that make this possible.”

Drone startup Flygildi raises angel funding

Drone startup Flygildi, which is creating a drone that is disguised as a bird, flies flapping wings, and is undetectable by radar, has raised an angel round. The amount is undisclosed. Flygildi was founded by the two engineers Hjalti Harðarson and Dr. Leifur Þór Leifsson.

In a press release, Helga Viðarsdóttir, CEO of Spakur, and chairman of Flygildi, commented that the drone has already garnered significant interest from Tom Moss of the drone company Skydio; Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus; and the defense company Lockheed Martin, which has shown an interest in participating in further financing of the company.

More about the company on MBL.is.

 

Iceland Venture Studio announces new fund

Last week, Dattaca Labs announced Iceland Venture Studio, a new “growth solution for entrepreneurs and startup founders.” The Studio has raised a $1m fund, working towards a total size of $5m, to invest in early stage companies.

Co-founder, CEO of Iceland Venture Studio

“We’re very committed to our investment thesis,” CEO and co-founder Bala Kamallakharan told Northstack. Their focus will be companies that focus on that provide services around decentralization of private data, algorithms, privacy, process and data security.

The venture studio has already unveiled the first investments: Retina Risk and FlowVR.

“We had the opportunity to work with several potential investors, but we found Bala and Iceland Venture Studios to have the best possible mix of capital, connections and capabilities to meet our very specific needs,” said Prof. Einar Stefansson, co-founder of Retina Risk. “They have committed to partner with us for the long-haul and we are very impressed with Bala and his team as they help us grow to the next level.”

Freyr Hólm Ketilsson, co-founder Iceland Venture Studio

“As part of the team here at Iceland Venture Studios, my job is to provide expertise and guidance” Bala commented in a statement. “We have the industry relationships, technical know-how and business development experience to bring the best opportunities to our portfolio partners.”

Bala previously invested in Icelandic startup CLARA (acquired by Jive in 2013), and served as the executive chairman of Guide to Iceland and Travelshift, which recently raised $20m.

Silicon Valley Internship Program opens for Icelandic Applications

Silicon Valley Internship Program, founded in 2013 with the goal of closing the talent gap whilst giving international engineers the skills they need to become successful entrepreneurs in their home countries, is partnering with Reykjavik University to offer internship positions to Icelandic developers.

From the press release:

The tech industry desperately needs great talent, and is under pressure to build a diverse workforce. The SVIP brings top engineers from all over the world  with 50% of the engineers being female – to work at Bay Area technology companies, making the whole process as frictionless as possible. With partnerships with top engineering institutions across 35 countries, the platform attracts the best engineers from universities such as Oxford and Cambridge to universities in Taiwan and most recently SVIP partnered with Reykjavik University, forming the strongest international network of entrepreneurial engineers.

The program has two tracks which bring newly graduating Software Engineering students from 35 countries around the world to work at a startup in Silicon Valley.  The first track accepts male and female software engineers with a STEM  degree (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) from any accredited European, Scandinavian, EEA University.  The second track, in partnership with GBx-x, accepts female engineers with a STEM degree from outside of Europe.

SVIP interns are paid a salary of $75K+ for the year. The program also facilitates the hiring process for companies by arranging all the immigration and legal documentation, taking care of interns flights and accommodation for the first month. Roam Analytics, an SVIP company that has hired engineers through the program  notes that “in a world of ever-more complex recruiting programs, SVIP is a blessing. They helped introduce us to some exceptional candidates and have always made the process a breeze”, says Carter Wilkinson, Head of Finance and Operations of Roam Analytics.

Find out more and apply on the Northstack Job Board. Application deadline is February 8th.

geoSilica raises $425,000 Series A round from pension fund Lífsverk

geoSilica, just announced a $425,000 Series A round led by pension fund Lífsverk, with earlier investors participating. This funding round follows a $330,000 angel round in September 2018. After the round, Lífsverk owns a 6,7% share of GeoSilica, valuing the company at roughly $6.2m. Spakur finance assisted with the funding round.

The company was founded by CEO Fida Abu Libdeh and Burkni Pálsson in 2012, with the idea of create silica based health products from the excess water from Hellisheiðarvirkjun power plant. Three years later they introduced the first products to market.

“We are thrilled that Lífsverk joined geoSilica as a shareholder,” commented Fifa Abu Libdeh, co-founder and CEO. “For geoSilica it is a huge mark where the involvement of Lífsverk is an approval that we are maturing in the right direction. Now we have the financial support needed to achieve our goals.”

On the topic of pension funds investing directly in startups, Fifa adds: “In my mind, it is time for our pension funds to start investing directly in startups and fill the gap of capital shortage for companies in rapid growth.”

The investment will among other things be used to market the product abroad.

“geoSilica is a very interesting innovative company, with a clear vision and strong leaders,” commented Jón L. Árnason, CEO of Lífsverk, to MBL.is. “We believe this is a good long-term investment for the fund.”

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.

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Nortstack – Reporting and analysis of the Icelandic startup scene