Category: News (Page 1 of 11)

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TripCreator raises $2m, shuts down B2C product

TripCreator, maker of the AI-driven travel planning solution, just announced a $2m funding round. Investors are undisclosed. Previous investors include Míó, the investment company of Magnús Ingi Óskarsson, founder of Calidris, and Salting ehf.

The company also announced that it will shut down its B2C product to focus solely on developing and selling its B2B whitelabel software.

Head of marketing Bragi Antoniusson says:

“It’s simply a better business model to leverage the technology we’ve already built and get a steady income from our customers.We decided to shut down the consumer site so that we’re not seen as competitors to our current and potential customers and to focus our marketing and development efforts on what is now our main product.

“We decided to shut down the consumer site so that we’re not seen as competitors to our current and potential customers and to focus our marketing and development efforts on what is now our main product.”

According to the statement, Icelandair will be the first carrier to integrate the platform, and other travel companies are expected to start using it soon.

This makes the second funding announcement in a couple of weeks, which could signal an active Q2 in the Icelandic scene.

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Meniga raises €7.5m led by Industrifonden

Fintech company Meniga just announced a €7.5m funding round led by Nordic investment fund Industrifonden. Previous investors – Velocity Capital, Frumtak Ventures and Kjölfesta – also participated in the round.

From TechCrunch:

“Today’s banks are under pressure to innovate and improve their customer experiences online and yet they are beholden to legacy processes and legacy systems and are usually ill equipped to provide their customers with world class user experience in digital banking,” Meniga co-founder and CEO Georg Ludviksson tells me.

“Meniga has built a reputation as a strong innovation partner to banks and its software solutions help some of the world’s largest banks utilise their data to make their online and mobile banking more personalised and inspiring”.

Ludviksson’s coining of Meniga as an “innovation partner” to banks isn’t simply startup speak, nor is it bluster (the Meniga founder talks in soft, considered Icelandic tones). The company holds five-day onsite design sprints with its banking clients, and last year it conducted more than 80 user testing sessions in four countries — again, many of them in partnership with the banks.

NSA ventures

Huld Magnúsdóttir announced as new CEO of NSA Ventures

Huld Magnúsdóttir

Huld Magnúsdóttir

The board of NSA Ventures has hired Huld Magnúsdóttir as the new CEO of the investment fund. She’ll replace Helga Valfells, who left NSA Ventures to found Crowberry Capital last January. She’ll start at NSA Ventures on May 1st.

The board sent the following in a statement:

Huld is an experienced manager with a diverse background from both the private and the public sector. From 2009 she was the Director General of the National Institute for the Blind, Visually Impaired and Deafblind and was the acting director of the Social Insurance Administration between 2015 and 2016. Between 1993-2008 she worked at Össur in Iceland and abroad in various management positions, including as director of production and distribution for North America, account manager, communication manager and quality control manager. Alongside her work at Össur she was a project manager in Bosnia-Herzegovina in a developmental project in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry.

Huld holds a BA degree in International Communication from the University of Sussex in the UK, MIB in International Business from Bifröst University and a diploma in public administration from the University of Iceland.

According to Almar Guðmundsson, chairman of the board of NSA Ventures, Huld is a great catch for the fund. “Huld has extensive business knowledge and experience in innovation, strategy and international operations after working world wide. She has the experience we’re looking for now that the next steps of the fund will be formulated.”

 

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CCP posts record revenues, announces new game

CCP just released its financials for 2016. The company grew revenues by 31% and posted a record year of roughly $86 million in revenues with EBIDTA of $39 million and profits of $20.7 million. This means the company has around $260,000 in revenue per each of their 330 employees.

This suggests that the now 20 year old gaming company has been able to rebound from its two years in the red in 2013 and 2014, after the notoriously expensive write-off of the Werewolf gaming franchise.

Hilmar Veigar, CEO of CCP, credits these numbers to three things, in a recent interview with GamesIndustry.biz:

It was the opening up of skill trading at the beginning of the year, then the release of Citadel, and the transition to open access, all of which were phenomenally successful.

CCP’s main title, Eve Online, is now a free-to-play game, with in-game purchases (skill trading). Hilmar Veigar has also said previously, that the CCP’s venture into VR is “on path to break even.”

CCP’s spokesman didn’t comment on how the revenue is split between sources, that is, how much is Eve and how much is VR. This comes to no surprise, as the VR industry as a whole has been mostly silent about revenue and sales numbers.

Sparc: Full Body Virtual Sport

CCP also announced their next VR game: Sparc. The game, which has been under development under the name Project Arena and available to test at last year’s Fanfest, is a two player, full-body VR game, with gameplay similar to the classic Pong. 

Players stand face to face in a long corridor, armed with the ability to throw projectiles try to score points by landing shots on their competitors. At the same time, they have shields they can use to deflect shots. Apart from that the game offers single player training and other multiplayer game modes, as per the announcement.

This is the first VR game by CCP outside of the Eve franchise. The game is due later this year – no definite release date has been given.

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Nordic startup organisations announce strategic partnership

Late last week, a group of seventeen startup organisations in the Nordics announced they signed a manifesto to form a strategic partnership.

The partnership, which according to a statement is to “creat[e] a channel for strategic cooperation and decision making,” has not been formalised yet, and exactly what shape it will take hasn’t been decided.

The group, collectively known as the Founding Partners of #Nordic Made, includes Icelandic Startups, SUP 46 and other similar organisations from around the Nordics, media like the Nordic Web and Arctic Startups, conferences like Slush, and more.

What are they committing to?

The manifesto states several things:

We agree to make strategic and collective decisions about:

  • International presence
  • Key marketing messages
  • Tangible measurements of success

Founding Partners of #NordicMade commit to:

  • Formalizing a #NordicMade organization.
  • Exploring opportunities for fundraising for a #NordicMade organization.
  • Establish a #NordicMade committee consisting of representatives from every Nordic countries.
  • To maintain transparency in all aspects of operation.
  • Create an open and inclusive community platform.

While not completely clear in the announcement what this means in practical terms, based on a conversation with Salóme Guðmundsdóttir, CEO of Icelandic Startups, I can say it’s the following:

  • The group will look into whether they should formally create an organisation, that has a CEO, a board / committee and more.
  • One of their long-term objectives is to market the Nordics as a collective region. Basically wrapping the activity in the many ecosystems in Scandinavian and Nordic cities under one Nordic brand, to the benefit of all.

This follows a collaboration that has been ongoing between many of these organisations already.

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SidekickHealth maker Goodlifeme raises $1.5m round led by Frumtak Ventures

Frumtak Ventures just announced a $1.5m investment into Goodlifeme AB, maker of Sidekick Health. Other participants in the round include Tennin ehf. and other investors.

This investment gives our team of physicians, psychologists, public health professionals and game developers the opportunity to deepen SidekickHealth’s global reach, particularly in the United States,” said Tryggvi Thorgeirsson, co-founder and CEO of Goodlifeme said in a statement.

sidekickhealth_banner

Sidekick Health is a lifestyle companion app, utilizing insights from behavioral economics, artificial intelligence, and evidence based guidelines from the US CDC, to enhance the effectiveness of lifestyle education and coaching.

According to the statement, the app has shown great benefit to its users:

To date, companies and health organizations that have augmented in-person Diabetes Prevention Programs (DPPs) and employee fitness initiatives with SidekickHealth have seen an 82% retention rate among participants over a 4-month period, 76% increase in participant weight loss, and a 65% reduction in soda consumption.

Eggert Claessen, managing partner of Frumtak Ventures: “SidekickHealth’s solution … presents a significant opportunity to positively impact the wellbeing of employees and patients, while also reducing health-related overhead costs for enterprise companies and organizations globally.”

Picture is of Sidekick Health co-founders Tryggvi Þorgeirsson and Sæmundur Oddsson.

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Paula Gould joins Frumtak Ventures as Principal

Paula Gould, who has worked with startup companies in the US, Israel, and Iceland on marketing, branding, and business development, will join Frumtak Ventures as a Principal to spearhead international brand and marketing initiatives.

paula-gould

Paula Gould

“I’m thrilled to be joining Frumtak’s team and looking forward to working with their exceptional portfolio companies to help deepen their international network and strategize growth opportunities,” said Paula in a written statement.

Paula previously led marketing at Greenqloud, Dohop, and Oz, as well as serving on the board of directors at Clara.

“Paula’s experience working with startups on brand and market growth as well as her passion and advocacy for the Icelandic innovation and startup community fit well with our objective to create a role on our team that brings international awareness to our portfolio of companies,” said Eggert Claessen, Managing Partner of Frumtak Ventures in a statement.

This hire marks a first for the Icelandic VC business, following in the footsteps of the world’s best VC funds that routinely have specialist support on staff to help portfolio companies. Icelandic VC has until now solely had full-time employees in the form of investment managers or administrative staff, so this is what

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The companies funded by the Technology Development Fund

Mid-December is an important time for the Icelandic startup community, because the biggest financial supporter of startups announces what companies receive funding. 25 projects will be offered a grant, for a total of 450m ISK (~3.75m). The grants come in several types, Company grants, which can range from 20-70m ISK (~$160K-$580K) over two years, and Marketing grants, up to 10m ISK (~$85k) for marketing purposes.

Sproti (20m ISK / ~$160K over two years)

  • Blásúra  – We don’t know of this project, but the contact is for Sigríður Suman, a chemistry professor at the University of Iceland, which suggests it’s related to research.
  • e1 – Marketplace for electric car charging stations. It allows people and organisations that have charging stations to register their station, to allow other car owners to charge their car and the station owners to make some extra money. More here.
  • Travable – travel companion for those with special accessibility needs More here.
  • Yellow beetroot snacks – Founder of Crowbar Protein (Búi Bjarmar) wants to create snacks from yellow beetroots.
  • Platome – One of two Startup Reykjavik 2016 companies receiving a grant. Platome creates nourishment for stemcells.
  • Snakerobots – No info on this company.
  • Travelade – Former Linkedin Product Lead, Andri Heiðar, and his travel startup. More here. 
  • Chess-app – to train the mind.
  • Wasabi Iceland – Previously raised $380k from private investors, growing Wasabi in the east of Iceland.

Vöxtur (50m ISK / ~$420K over two years)

  • Omega Algae – Optimizing EPA-rich algae-oil.
  • Lauf Forks – The company behind the Lauf Forks bicyle forks is continuing development on their product.
  • Flow VR – Meditation in VR, Startup Reykjavik alum.
  • Aldin Dynamics – VR analytics, to analyse user behavior in virtual reality apps.
  • Frostmark – Creating refrigeration products for fishing boats.
  • IceWind – Developing wind turbines for communication masts.
  • InfoMentor – The company behind edtech solution Mentor receives a grant for what they call IM Insights.
  • Gagarín – Developer of exhibitions and shows, for a project they call Mapexplorer.
  • Sæplast – Creating new transportation vessels for fresh foods.
  • Oculis Pharma – The pharmacompany that raised 500m ISK earlier this year from Brunnur.
  • Valka – Fishing-tech company Valka receives a grant to develop their fish processing automation products.
  • SnapStudy – A team of ex-QuizUp people, including former CRO Vala Halldórsdóttir, receive a grant for SnapStudy.
  • asco Harvester – A “street-sweeper” for the oceans. More here (Icelandic).
  • GeoSilica – Creating health-supplements from silica. More here.

Marketing grants (10m ISK / ~$420K over two years)

  • Handpoint – maker of POS software for mobile devices receives a grant to expand to the USA.
  • TARAMAR – Maker of skincare products from algae, Taramar is expanding to the US.
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Former NSA Ventures investors raising new early stage fund: Crowberry Capital

CEO of NSA Ventures Helga Valfells, and two investment managers – Hekla Arnardóttir and Jenný Ruth Hrafnsdóttir – just announced that they will be leaving NSA Ventures to found a new VC fund: Crowberry Capital. They’re currently raising the fund.

“There’s a need for an early stage investor right now and we believe that our experience from working in this environment for a long time will help us with this project, Helga Valfells, departing CEO of NSA Ventures said in a statement.

NSA Ventures and the Ministry for Industry an Innovation have during the past several years discussed internally how to increase capital available to early stage companies. At some point there were ideas about raising an early stage fund – codenamed Silfra – as part of NSA to address this. Rather than following that route, the strategy set forth is to develop NSA Ventures into a fund of funds, that invests in venture funds, rather than directly in startups.

Crowberry Capital hasn’t finished fundraising, but according to Helga, the trio have several commitments and aim to raise 5bn ISK (~$45m). The fund will focus on smaller, earlier checks, to come after grants from the Technology Development Fund, but have the ability to follow on into later stages.

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Icelandic/Dutch fintech startup Five Degrees raises €10 million

Five Degrees, the Icelandic / Dutch Fintech startup, recently announced a €10m funding round from new investors Karmijn Kapitaal. Previous investors 5square and Velocity Capital (also an investor in Meniga) also participated.

“For us, Karmijn Kapitaal is more than just a new shareholder. Their investment is a sign of trust in our belief that delivering top technology is about people and creating an environment that is about unconventional thinking brought to perfection,” Martijn Hohman, CEO of Five Degrees said in a statement.

The company’s connection to Iceland (and the reason we’re writing about it) is deep. The CTO, and only listed co-founder in the management team, is Björn Hólmþórsson, and the company has offices in Iceland.

According to a statement, this new capital will allow Five Degrees to focus on product development and international expansion. The company develops the banking platform Matrix, which they say “offers an agile customer centric architecture that supports banking operations in a future proof manner, ready for the bank 3.0 paradigm where real, virtual and social meet.”

 

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Nortstack – Reporting and analysis of the Icelandic startup scene