Category: News (Page 1 of 16)

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.

Investment in Swedish Elsa Science marks first international investment for Crowberry Capital

Elsa Science, a Swedish life science company that helps people with chronic illnesses make better lifestyle choices, announced on October 16 a $700,000 seed round from investors Inventure, Crowberry Capital, and several angels. Hekla Arnardóttir of Crowberry will join the board.

This investment marks the first time Crowberry Capital invests in a startup outside of Iceland, and the first time our current group of VC’s do that as well. (note: Sidekick Health, backed by Frumtak, is a Swedish company, but with very tight Icelandic connections (founders are Icelandic, and at least parts of development are in Iceland)).

“We are positioning us as a Nordic fund based in Reykjavik,” Hekla, General Partner at Crowberry told Northstack, “and we are looking actively at deals in the Nordics.” She mentions that VC’s commonly co-invest with other VC’s. “[Co-investing] has been our goal with Crowberry, both to attract international investors into Icelandic companies as well as co-investing in good opportunities outside of Iceland.”

Interestingly, Crowberry’s investment also marks the milestone that now Icelandic VC have made more investments in Sweden than Swedish have in Iceland, which is interesting, considering the imbalance in population and venture capital between the two countries.

“We’re investing in born global companies, so we too need to have an international mindset,” Hekla adds. She says that Crowberry will compare founders that have the ambition to build successful tech companies to other founders across the world. “In order for us to become an established VC firm, we need to be up for the same comparison.”

While Crowberry Capital will continue to follow international dealflow and participate in good deals, the team foresees the majority of investments to happen in Iceland.

StartupDocs bring legal templates for startups to Iceland

Startup Docs, a project by entrepreneur and angel investor Erik Byrenius, just launched in Iceland. The website, which hosts legal templates for startups, follows in the footsteps of StartupDocs websites for the other Nordic countries. The documents were adapted for Icelandic law by lawyers Daði Bjarnason and Jóhann Tómas Sigurðsson, partners at Lagahvoll.

Erik Byrenius

“The idea came from my own need when I became an angel investor four years ago. When I started investing it was difficult to know what were good, normal terms that both entrepreneurs and investors could agree on. There were no standards. So I decided to make my own and published that on StartupDocs,” says Erik Byrenius about the origins of the project. Erik founded OnlinePizza which sold to DeliveryHero, and more recently was a founding member of angel investment group Nordic Makers, which also includes Icelander Davíð Helgason.

“After launching StartupDocs in Sweden it became very popular. Norway and Denmark followed, and now Iceland”

Erik relies on pro bono work from local lawyers to help bring StartupDocs to new markets, which are based on the original Swedish documents, and adopted to local law for each new edition. Entrepreneurs can find investment documents, founder’s agreements, shareholder agreements, and other important legal documents to use in their startup.

“Founders sometimes forget the importance of having the legal aspect well thought out from the beginning,” commented Daði Bjarnason, partner at Lagahvoll, who adopted the documents. “And although we always recommend having a lawyer read over things, these templates provide a very good starting point.”

You can see all the templates and download them for free at StartupDocs.is

Guide to Iceland raises $20m valuing the company at $100m

Davíð Ólafur Ingimarsson, Deputy CEO of Guide to Iceland

Traveltech startup Guide to Iceland, which connects travel operators with travelers, and whitelabels such marketplaces through the subsidiary Travelshift, has announced a $20m funding round. State Street Global Advisors, in its capacity as an advisor and manager of private equity, invested in the company. State Street receive a 20% share of the company and a board seat for the investment.

“This allows us to continue marketing Iceland as a travel destination internationally,” deputy CEO Davíð Ólafur Ingimarsson said in a statement. “Aided by this investment, and Icelandic innovation that has resulted in a world-class software, it will be particularly exciting to pursue scaling to international markets.”

Guide to Iceland was founded in 2012, and this is the first investment in the company from abroad. On the companies travel platform, 500 travel operators are connected to travellers looking for experiences in Iceland.

“Our company growth targets are ambitious, but we’ve proven time and time again that we are a company that achieves formidable goals,” Davíð Ólafur adds. “We believe that the size of our company will increase substantially in the coming years.“

 

TripCreator raises $3m from a range of VC funds and business angels

Note: This article has been updated to correctly reflect the amount raised to be $3m, rather than $8m (which is the total the company has raised)

Icelandic travel tech company TripCreator just announced a $3m fundraise from various VC funds and business angels, bringing the total raised by the company to roughly $8m.

“We are very excited to be launching the TripCreator platform to everyone in the travel industry, including bloggers,” said Hilmar Halldórsson, CEO of TripCreator.io. “Our disruptive new model of ‘free forever’, combined with our platform that is capable of both incredible speed and analysis options (in numbers that require a Google search to comprehend the magnitude) means we are poised to shake up the itinerary planning industry. We are simultaneously opening sales offices in both London and New York City and plan to move the company to the latter city by the end of the year.”

TripCreator provides white-label as well as branded solutions that can seamlessly integrate with existing platforms through dedicated APIs. The company is also pioneering a new business model for the travel industry – ‘Free Forever’. Taking a cut of the transaction fee ensures there are no out-of-pocket costs to customers for using the platform.

CCP Acquired by Pearl Abyss for $425m

Korean Pearl Abyss, maker of Black Desert Online, just announced it had acquired Icelandic CCP, maker of Eve Online. CCP will continue to operate as an independent studio with operations in Reykjavik, Shanghai, and London. The sale price is $425m.

Pearl Abyss CEO Robin Jung stated, “We are thrilled to have CCP Games join our team as Black Desert Online continues to branch out globally. CCP is a seasoned publisher with over 15 years of digital distribution experience and know-how.”

Rumours around the inevitable sale of CCP have regularly surfaced, with the most recent and public rumour being when someone leaked to (or placed) Bloomberg news that the company was eyeing a sale.

“I have been seriously impressed with what Pearl Abyss has achieved ever since I first visited their website for Black Desert Onlineand subsequently became an avid player of the game,” said CCP Games CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson.

“Pearl Abyss is a fast-growing company with lots to offer in terms of technology, capability and vision. I believe our two companies have a lot to learn from each other. We are very excited to join forces with them and achieve great new heights for our companies, our games and – above all – our players.”

This acquisition is, in nominal value at least, the biggest acquisition in Iceland’s tech history. The next one in line would be Amgen’s $415m purchase of Decode in 2012.

1939 Games raises $2m led by Tencent

1939 Games, maker of World War II digitally collectible card game Kards, just announced a $2m fundraise. The investment was led by Tencent, with participation from Finnish Sisu Game Ventures and Crowberry Capital. Viðskiptablaðið reports.

“It’s a great acknowledgement of what we’ve done so far to have as experienced investors as these participate in the round,” said Ívar Kristjánsson, co-founder of 1939 Games. “The financing should allow us to release the game, and we’re growing the team to support that.”

Their debut game, Kards, is currently in Alpha testing mode, and according to the company, more than 20 thousand have applied to become testers.

1939 Games previously raised an undisclosed seed round from various investors, and has received grants from the Technology Development Fund.

Tempo to sell 30% to HPE Growth Capital at $62.5 million valuation

The Origo Board of Directors yesterday signed an agreement with HPE Growth Partners on an exclusive negotiation with the objective selling 30% of Tempo (subsidiary of Origo) to the investment fund. The valuation will be $62.5m

This marks the end of a long sale cycle for Tempo, which we wrote about back in 2016. Whether or not the sale comes with additional capital to support the growth of Tempo remains to be seen.

More details in the press release.

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Nortstack – Reporting and analysis of the Icelandic startup scene