Category: News (Page 1 of 14)

TripAdvisor acquires Bókun

Bókun Partners were today notified of the acquisition of Bókun by TripAdvisor.  The company sent out an email detailing the acquisition.

“As the industry leader, our opportunity in this space is enormous. We’re committed to taking the experiences sector far beyond its current online penetration of just 20%, and Bokun will play a critical role in this mission,” commented Dermot Halpin, president, TripAdvisor Experiences and Rentals said in a statement.

“We’re thrilled to join the world’s largest attractions, tours and experiences business,” commented Hjalti Baldursson, CEO and co-founder, Bokun. “TripAdvisor gives us the opportunity to serve customers in every corner of the world, and we’re excited about the significant growth that’s to come.”

The following is an excerpt from the email sent to Bókun Partners.

Dear Bokun Partner!

I’m extremely happy to announce to you, our Bokun Partner, that as of today, Bokun has been acquired by TripAdvisor.

We all know TripAdvisor and its global reach and strengths. It’s the world’s largest travel site!

By the acquisition of Bokun, TripAdvisor is expanding its offering for the global tours and activities and attractions sector by providing suppliers with technology in addition to being the industry’s largest distribution channel.

To me, the devotion of TripAdvisor to the industry is obvious, and I’m proud that Bokun will be participating in shaping the industry, along with our partners.

Our joint plan is for Bokun to be a one stop shop for suppliers and resellers of in-destination services (tours & activities and attractions). Our aim is to be the best and the largest software supplier for the industry on a global scale.

In order to achieve our goals, we’ll put more resources into development both for suppliers and resellers, along with integrating with the support and sales team of TripAdvisor for added service and support.

The Bokun headquarters will remain in Iceland and the current management will continue to lead the company, although we’ll work closely with the global team of TripAdvisor.

Bókun was one of the first travel tech startups to embrace the tourism boom in Iceland. Details of the acquisition are still under wraps, but we’ll update with more info.

No VC funds were investors in Bókun.

Kara Connect raises €1.5m led by Crowberry Capital

Kara Connect, the communication and business platform for health and educational professionals, just announced a €1.5m (180m ISK) funding round led by Crowberry Capital, with participation from individuals.

,,Kara plans to revolutionize access to health services and therapy,” says Jenný Ruth Hrafnsdóttir, GP at Crowberry Capital who takes a seat on the board of directors of Kara. “The company has already shown amazing traction and great results with speech therapists who are using the Kara platform. We believe that Kara Connect is on trend and the founding team is passionate about building a global business.”

Kara Connect is a business and communications platform that allows professionals to easily connect with clients, improving access to professional healthcare and extracurricular educational services.

The funding will allow Kara Connect to expand into Scandinavian markets. The company, which is founded in Iceland, has already seen more than 1000 Icelandic clients complete more than 9000 hours of teletherapy sessions with dozens of specialists that use Kara Connect.

“Rapid advancements in technology and increasing work-loads pose great
challenges for specialists providing their clients with therapy and support,” says CEO and founder Thorbjorg Helga Vigfusdottir. “Kara offers them a secure virtual office as well as a state of the art teleservice platform,“

Thorbjorg adds: “Our goal today is to break into sales and marketing in Scandinavia, as well as developing the Kara software even further.“

Kara Connect has previously received grants from the Technology Development Fund.

The featured image is of Crowberry Capital and Kara Connect signing the funding documents.

Introducing: Northstack Job Board

Today we’re very excited to announce our newest venture: The Northstack Job Board.

The Northstack Job Board will be the one stop shop for jobs in startups and tech in Iceland, making entry into the sector hopefully more open and inclusive to Icelanders and foreigners.

The tech sector is international, both in terms of business and human capital. The tech sectors clients are international. The investors are international. And the people building the companies are increasingly international.

Finding jobs in the sector should be as well.

One of our main goals at Northstack has always been to make the tech and startup scenes more accessible, more transparent, and more open to the people outside of it.

We’ve done this by writing about and analysing the ecosystem, hosting open meetups for people to mingle, but the biggest move was probably when we switched completely to English.

With this launch, we’re making another contribution to building a better, more diverse, tech ecosystem.

We’re honored by the companies that joined as first advertisers, which range from established companies to fledgling startups. We hope that Northstack Job Board becomes the place where people outside tech find their entry into tech, or where people outside Iceland find their entry into Iceland, or people simply find a good job (and companies great people).

Check out Northstack Job Board now (we recommend signing up for the job alerts!)

P.s. to celebrate we’re hosting a party with TeqHire (Facebook link)

Genki Instruments just launched an Indiegogo campaign for their first device, Wave

Genki Instruments officially launched an Indiegogo campaign for its new device, Wave, today. Wave is a ring that lets musicians control sound, shape effects and send commands with the motion of their hands. Genki Instruments, who are on a mission to make technology and music feel more natura, was founded by electrical engineers Ólafur Bjarki Bogason and Daníel Grétarsson, with designer Jón Helgi Hólmgeirsson and COO Haraldur Hugosson joining later. Genki went through the Startup Reykjavik accelerator in 2015

“Wave adds a new dimension to musical creativity,” says Bergur Þórisson, recording engineer and producer for musicians like Björk, Sigur Rós, Damian Rice and Jóhann Jóhannsson. “It took me a while to realize that the best thing about Wave is not only that it can replace some of the tools you already have to control stuff when you are making music, but that it can make you control stuff in a completely different way, therefore making decisions that you would have never made without it.”

Bergur is one of the musicians that the Genki team has collaborated with closely during the development of their product. “It’s a cool tool for all creatives and I can definitely recommend adding it to your workflow, whether you use it to replace your old techniques or invent new ones.”

Another is David Mash, a former Senior Vice President at Berklee College of Music, who commented: “Wave is an innovative new way to add expression and nuance to electronic performances! Wave is simple to use, and gives me powerful control right from my fingers without having to take them away from my instrument.”

You can read more about their device, the Wave, at their Indiegogo campaign page.

Three new employees at NSA Ventures

NSA Ventures, the government owned evergreen venture fund, has hired three new people – a director of finance and two investment managers. These hires follow big changes at the fund, when Helga Valfells (then CEO), Hekla Arnardóttir and Jenný Ruth Hrafnsdóttir (investment managers), left NSA Ventures to found Crowberry Capital. Following their departure, the board hired Huld Magnúsdóttir as the new CEO of the fund, who has now built up her team.

Ólöf Vigdís Ragnarsdóttir

Ólöf Vigdís Ragnarsdóttir joins NSA Ventures as an investment manager. She graduated with a law degree in 2001 and since then added a MS degree in marketing and international business. She worked at the Icelandic Patent Office for eight years, and since 2012 she’s been at the University of Iceland as a lawyer at the science and innovation department, chairing the Intellectual Property committee and taking part in the forming of startups coming out of the University.

Örn Viðar Skúlason

Örn Viðar Skúlason also joins NSA Ventures as an investment manager. For the last nine years he’s been the CEO of Proact, a wholesale company in Iceland. Before that he was a director at the corporate banking department of SPRON bank, and held various management positions at SÍF and Icelandic Seafood.

Friðrik Friðriksson

Friðrik Friðriksson joins the fund as director of finance. He has a long history in the telecom industry, as a director at Síminn between 1997-2005, and then director and later CEO of Skjárinn, which merged into Síminn in 2015. He’s served on various borads, including as chairman of the board at CCP in 2001-2002, Matís from 2007, and recently joined the board of Vaðlaheiðargöng hf.

Florealis closes $3.8m funding round led by NSA Ventures

Pharmaceutical company Florealis just announced it had closes a $3.9m funding round, led by NSA Ventures. Former investors, Einvala, and other private investors also took part in the funding round.

“Exciting times ahead for us, following the addition to our investor group,” said Kolbrún Hrafnkelsdóttir, CEO of Florealis, in a statement. “Our first products have been received very well in Iceland, and we’re ramping up marketing and sales efforts in the Nordics.”

The company, which produces herbal medicines, recently closed a deal with leading pharmaceutical chains in Sweden, that will carry Florealis’ products. The funding will be used to support marketing and sales efforts, as well as developing more products later in the year.

Huld Magnúsdóttir, CEO of NSA Ventures, said in a statement: “Florealis falls well in line with the fund’s investment strategy and are excited to lead a group of investors to this deal.”

Solid Clouds raises $2.5m from Kjölur fjárfestingarfélag

Solid Clouds, the game developer working on Space MMO game Starborne, just announced a $2.5m (270m ISK) funding round led by Kjölur fjárfestingarfélag. Other previous investors also participated in the round. In addition, the company received a $475.000 (50m ISK) growth grant from the Technology Development Fund.

“We’re happy to have closed this financing, and being joined by as experienced an investor as Kjölur,” CEO and co-founder Stefán Gunnarsson said in a statement. “The investment will be used to fund marketing and growth, as well as a mobile version of the game.”

Starborne is a real-time, massively multiplayer strategy game played by thousands of players at a time. “We’ve been watching Solid Clouds for some time because of their revolutionary game that looks very promising,” says Guðmundur Ingi Jónsson Manager of Kjölur fjárfestingafélag. “We’re excited to share our experience with the team on building a tech company.” Guðmundur takes a seat on the board of directors following the funding.

Kjölur is known in tech circles for being one of the lead investors in Greenqloud, that was sold to NetApp last year.

 

Medical fish skin company Kerecis closes $3m convertible note

Ísafjörður based Kerecis, that creates fish skin based products to help with healing of wounds, recently announced it had sold a $3m convertible note to its current investors. All the largest investors in the company participated, and the note was oversubscribed.

Kerecis was in NSA Ventures portfolio until 2014 when the fund sold its 26% stake to a group of investors that included the founder. The purchase price was undisclosed.

Oculis raises $20.3m Series B round to advance treatment for Ophthalmic Diseases

Oculis, an Icelandic life sciences company, just announced a $20.3m (20m CHF) series B round led by a syndicate of leading life science venture funds including Bay City Capital, Novartis Venture Fund and Pivotal bioVenture Partners. Existing investors, including Brunnur Ventures and Silfurberg, also participated in the financing.

“I am extremely pleased to be joining such a great team to develop what could be the next generation of ophthalmic treatments,” said Dr. Riad Sherif, who has been appointed CEO of the company. “Oculis founders have meticulously developed the novel SNP technology that improves both the ability to formulate drugs as eye drops and their bioavailability in eye tissues including the posterior segment.”

The funds will be used to advance the clinical development of the Company’s lead program OC-118, a proprietary topical product currently in a clinical trial for the treatment of Diabetic Macular Edema (DME), the leading cause of blindness in young adults in developed countries.

Following the financing, the company will relocate its headquarters to Switzerland, while its R&D will remain in Iceland.

The company previously raised an undisclosed round from Brunnur Ventures and Silfurberg.

Travel tech startup Travelade raises $1.6m led by Crowberry Capital

Travelade, a travel platform that helps millennials discover and book travel activities tailored to their tastes, just announced a $1.6m financing round led by Iceland’s newest venture capital fund, Crowberry Capital. Other participating investors are angel group Investa and several individuals. Hekla Arnardóttir from Crowberry and Hjálmar Gíslason from Investa will join the company’s board of directors.

“Our mission is to make it as easy to find activities for your dream vacation as it is to listen to music on Spotify,” says Andri Heiðar Kristinsson, CEO and co-founder of Travelade. “Flights and hotels are already easy to find, compare and book online, but finding unique experiences tailored to your personal taste is hard. We help people collect ideas and design their dream vacation.”

Travelade wants to provide users with a beautiful and easy to use interface, to help them plan their vacation. On Travelade, users can plan activities, both based on tips from travel bloggers and professional tour operators. The company recently received a grant from the Technology Development Fund to develop AI that will tailor suggestions based on each individual’s travel style. The technology will be developed with Cadia, the AI research center at the University of Reykjavik.

“We at Crowberry Capital are thrilled to announce Travelade as the fund’s first investment,” says Hekla Arnardóttir of Crowberry Capital. “Travelade has an experienced, driven and ambitious founding team and it’s great to see that the tourist boom in Iceland is begetting born-global travel tech companies. We believe that Travelade is well timed to participate in the phenomenal growth in international travel and Travelade is set to lead the way when it comes to helping independent travelers plan and dream their next adventure.”

Travelade has launched it’s product in Iceland and Bosnia and plans on growing further in the coming months.

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Nortstack – Reporting and analysis of the Icelandic startup scene