Category: News (Page 2 of 11)

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The people representing onstage Iceland at Slush 2016

Helsinki. Minus 5 celsius. Six and a half hours sunlight. Thousands of startups, founders, investors, journalists and more. It’s Slush time, with all that follows.

Today marks the beginning of the official conference program. This includes a fireside chat with Lowercase Capital’s Chris Sacca (prediction: it’ll be packed) and a keynote by Daniel Ek.

Iceland has its share of representatives participating in the conference schedule, below is a complete list (if we’re forgetting anything let us know so we can quickly fix it!).

Davíð Helgason

The founder of Unity and Iceland’s first member of the unicorn club participates in several events at Slush:

  • The tool-powered productivity against the winner-takes-all dynamics of tech (Thu. 10:20-10:40, Founder Stage) – Davíð will talk about the democratization of an industry and the race of tool-powered productivity against the winner-takes-all dynamics of tech.
  • Speaker studio Q&A –  following his talk. (Thu. 11:40-12:00, Speaker studio)
  • The rise of the angels (Thu. 13:45-14:10, Founder Stage) – Panel discussion introducing Nordic Makers.
  • Founder to parent: Scaling teams and the human factor (Thu. 14:30-14:55, Black Stage) – A discussion about the changing responsibilities and priorities when there’s a baby in the house.

Ben Bohn (RVX) and Stefán Gunnarsson (Solid Clouds)

CEO’s Ben Bohn, of VR company RVX, and Stefán Gunnarsson, of gaming company Solid Clouds, will represent Iceland at the Nordic Showcase panel  (Wed. 17:10-18:00, Founder Stage)

Björn E. Jónsson

Björn, previously QuizUp and Mure VR, will pitch his new VR / Gaming startup Procelain Fortress at the Slush 100 pitching competition, with an investment prize. Last year’s investment was €650,000. (Wed. 10:40, Pitch Stage)

Ólafur Bogason of Genki

The co-founder of Genki Instruments will host a workshop about motion detectors and other tools for music creation. Genki is developing a motion controller for musicians. (Wed. 10:45-11:45, Room 3, Slush Music)

Salóme Gunnarsdóttir

The CEO of Icelandic Startups will participate in a panel at the #NordicMade Afterwork.

Sigurður Ásgeir Árnason

Co-founder of Drexler – a music driven MMORPG – gives the talk Music Needs Me at the Drop Stage on Slush Music. (Wed. 15:20-15:30, Drop Stage, Slush Music)

Ringing the Nasdaq bell – Helga Valfells’ speech

On Tuesday, a Nordic delegation of startups, investors and ecosystem organisations, rang the Nasdaq bell in New York City. This was part of the second #NordicMade delegation to New York. Helga Valfess, CEO of NSA Ventures gave a speech for the occation, and announced Rising North – a €1.5m fund to finance projects that work towards the internationalisation of the Nordic Startup Scene.

nordicmade_helgavalfells

I would like to begin by thanking NASDAQ for hosting us here today.

We are here as delegation from the Nordic startup scene and we are truly excited to be here at NASDAQ and in New York City, one of the most vibrant and successful startup ecosystems in the world. 

In the Nordics we work hard, we are extremely loyal to our company and our cause and we love technology. It is therefore no surprise that the Nordics have produced a string of very successful technology companies.  Spotify, Skype, Supercell, Zendesk and Unity have all come from the Nordics.  

In fact over the last five years, the Nordics, which account for only 4% of the European population, have produced over 25% of all European exits.  If we look at this past decade, 1 in 10 technology companies globally valued at 1 billion dollars or more have come from the Nordics. 

In the Nordics, collaboration is an important part of our culture. The five Nordic countries not only share the midnight sun, but we work together, across countries and across organizations to support entrepreneurs building the next generation of billion dollar companies. 

Today, it is my honor to launch an initiative called the Rising North. The Rising North is a €1.5 million fund to support the internationalization of the Nordic startup ecosystem, to be allocated over the next three years to joint Nordic projects to accelerate the region.

Finally I would like to thank NASDAQ for building a bridge between the Nordics and America.  This truly Iinternational exchange has provided the capital to bring so many great Nordic companies to the global market.

Q3 2016 Funding & Exit report


This quarter’s funding report is the fourth we do, which means we now have a full year to compare to. This is exciting news, because we can now start plotting trends and reading more into the data and where we’re heading. That, in addition to our data gathering project, will help the Icelandic startup community and stakeholders back up (or refute) their opinions with data. You can find older reports here.

Summary
  • 6 investments, $20.4m total (disclosed)
  • Average round was $4.08m, four times the Q2/’16 average round, and the highest average since we started doing these reports
  • Iceland accounted for 4% of deployed capital in the Nordics
  • 81% of the capital was from foreign sources
  • 3 of 4 Icelandic VC’s invested in the quarter
  • No exits, which means two quarters in a row without an exit.

Overview

This quarter we recorded six investments, and no exits. The biggest investment was Meniga’s $8.2m round, which we record in Q3 because that’s when it was announced (although it closed in Q1).

Funding rounds

(millions of US dollars)


An interesting development is that all the investments were at least $1m. Four investments were into fairly old companies (Meniga, Mint, Greenqloud, Oculis Pharma), and two into younger companies (Datadwell, Takumi). We didn’t pick up any angel or early seed stage investments.

Investments, by size and quarter


We also see a small increase in investments quarter-over-quarter, up to six investments. This implies that the low of four investments last quarter was a seasonal thing (although we won’t assert that, yet).

In regards to the smaller rounds, it’s important to remember that Icelandic angel investors are secretive (or just don’t proactively share their investment data). The fact we didn’t track any doesn’t mean no investments happened.

Number of investments per quarter



This next chart reveals a big positive: We haven’t seen this amount of capital deployed in the Icelandic startup scene for three quarters, and if you don’t count CCP’s $30m round, even longer. The average round is almost double the size of the highest average we’ve had. This is obviously impacted by the age of the companies that were raising funds – maybe we should start tracking that as well.

Capital deployed and average round sizes

(millions of US dollars)


*The average for Q4/2015 doesn’t include the $30m CCP investment

Comparison with the Nordics

As we saw in the last report, recorded investments in the Nordics have grown steadily quarter over quarter. The dataset behind investments in Iceland, and the timeframe we’re looking at, is too small to plot any real trend, but it’s positive to see the number rising.

Number of investments compared to the Nordics


This quarter, Iceland’s $20.4m accounted for ~4% of deployed capital (total $516.2m) in the Nordics, as per The Nordic Web’s funding report.

Funding sources

Bigger rounds, older companies, higher averages. This all leads up to a (fairly) obvious assumption: The money is coming from outside of Iceland. And, it is. Around 81% of deployed (and disclosed) capital in the quarter is from outside of Iceland.

Funding sources



However, three of the four VC funds were active. Brunnur invested in Oculis Pharma, Frumtak in Datadwell, and NSA Ventures participated in Mint‘s round.

Northstack is mapping the Icelandic startup scene

Since we started Northstack, we’ve tracked and published data on the Icelandic startup and tech scene. In fact, it is one of the reasons we started doing what we’re doing to begin with. The reason is simple: Iceland has long been a black box when it comes to data on startups and tech companies.

That’s why we decided start mapping the Icelandic startup and tech scene. We’re going to collect data from 2012 through 2016 (and hopefully going forward) on startups, funding events, people and organisations. This data will be published on industry databases like Crunchbase, Pitchbook and Dealroom. We want the data to be accessible to investors, reporters, analysts, and researchers.

We’re very lucky to have the backing of leading stakeholders in the Icelandic ecosystem. We’re partnering with Invest in Iceland, Federation of Icelandic Industries, NSA Ventures, Frumtak Ventures, and SA Framtak (Brunnur VC) to make this happen. In addition, we’ll get help with the data from the likes of Icelandic Startups and the Technology Development Fund.

The work will take a couple of months, and we see the value to the ecosystem as follows:

a) We’ll have detailed historical data so we can plot the development of trends and key numbers. This means institutions and the government will finally have data to show, and base their decisions on. Collaborative projects (like the University of Reykjavik/MIT project) will have more accurate data.

b) We’ll be able to more accurately compare Iceland to other ecosystems.

c) The data will be accessible on startup databases. This means Iceland will be more accurately represented in these important places.

d) Northstack will be better equipped to analyse and report on the Icelandic startup scene.

If you have any questions, reach out to Guðbjörg Rist Jónsdóttir who is leading the project. You can reach her at gudbjorg@northstack.is

Influencer marketing platform Takumi announces $1.4m (£1.1m) funding round

Influencer marketing platform Takumi just announced a $1.4m (£1.1m) funding round from a number of UK angel investors. This brings total investment in the company to $3.3m (£2.6m) in three rounds.

“We’re excited to bring the Takumi offering to new markets,” said CEO Mats Stigzelius in a written statement. “We have seen an incredible 60% MoM sales increase in Q2 and Q3 this year and our list of 4,000 actively engaged users is growing every week.”

The investment will be used to fuel the companies international expansion. Takumi, which until now has only been available in the UK, is planning on expanding to Germany later this fall and the U.S. early next year. According to the statement, the company has $130k (£100k) in monthly revenue, and clients including Domino’s, Nickolodeon and Socialyse.

Takumi, product

The company has operations in both Iceland and the UK. The Iceland office is responsible for product development, and sales are located in the UK. Jökull Sólberg, co-founder of Takumi, said in the statement: “The funding will allow us to further innovate and continue to drive forward the influencer marketing industry.” Jökull has previously written a post on their experience starting Takumi here on Northstack.

Takumi allows brands to connect with micro-influencers (anyone with more than 1,000 followers) on Instagram. The companies post campaigns on the platform, that influencers can choose to work on, by posting pictures to Instagram, and then get paid by the brand. The app is available on iOS and Android, currently only in the UK.

Seven companies chosen for Startup Energy Reykjavik

The third batch of Startup Energy Reykjavik companies has been announced. The companies will receive $40,000 in seed funding from backers Arion Bank, Landsvirkjun, Innovation Center Iceland, and GEORG. The accelerator is operated by Icelandic Startups and The Geothermal Cluster (Gekon).

The following companies will participate:

  • Arctic Sea Minerals: Salt that is healthier and includes less sodium.
  • Health Snacks: Makes snacks from fishskin.
  • Ískristallar: Are working towards marketing proteins that reduce the formation of ice crystals, leading to longer shelf life for frozen foods.
  • Kjarni: Utilising insects for waste removal.
  • ELF Tech: Develops technology that makes it possible to look under the surface of the earth and listen to the northern lights.
  • Mýsköpun: Using geothermal energy to grow and utilise algae in Mývatn.
  • Zeto: Soap and skincare procuts where algae extract is used instead of water, without filling or added chemicals.

Two previous Startup Energy Reykjavik companies have received further equity funding: DTEquipment and Key Natura.

 

Plain Vanilla to wind down as TV show is canceled

Following the cancelation of planned TV show QuizUp America, Plain Vanilla will wind down most of operations in the coming months. QuizUp will still be operated.

The company has gone from no revenue to almost break even since the beginning of the year, and while that wasn’t enough to cover costs, hopes were that the QuizUp America TV show in partnership with NBC would increase usage and make the company sustainable.

When the TV show was canceled, raising funds became next to impossible, and a decision was made to wind down operations.

According to Thor Fridriksson, CEO of QuizUp, the plan was always to “go big or go home. This time around, we put too many eggs in the same basket.” He’s grateful to all staffmembers that participated in the journey, and is certain that many good things will “come of this adventure.”

Tempo’s earnings, restructuring, and possible sale

This post was originally sent out as part of The Memo, our weekly newsletter with updates and commentary on the Icelandic startup and tech scene. You can sign up here.

As expected, Tempo continues its double-digit year-on-year sales growth this quarter. Announced by Finnur Oddsson, Nýherji CEO (Tempo parent company), at the company’s quarterly earnings call, Tempo had 40% revenue growth in Q2 2016, compared to Q2 2015. Based on back-of-the napkin calculations, this would mean that YTD revenues stand at around $6.4m, compared to last year’s $4.6m, and Q2 at $3.4m compared to $3m last year. That, however, wasn’t the most interesting news from that day.

Finnur told investors about an agreement that has been reached with AGC Partners LLC – a M&A consultant from Boston – about the possible sale of Tempo. Finnur stressed that no decision had been made whether to sell, and if, when. However, this obviously sends signs that Nýherji is interested in selling. The question remains who are more interested – Nýherji, to cash out on their goldmine, or Tempo to be spun out.

Tempo would likely be interested in being spun out to operate on its own. The difference in perspective and market is massive. Tempo has zero interest in the Icelandic market and is going through hypergrowth. Nýherji, at the same time, is an old Icelandic IT company focused on the local Icelandic market and hardly growing at all – numbers even suggest they might be in decline. After all, one of the company’s main business has been providing on-premise servers, which we all know, isn’t the most future proof business to be in.

Nýherji has already attempted, and bailed on, a sale of Tempo. They announced that sale a year ago, at the 2015 Q2 earnings call. The plan was to sell 25% of the company, but investors weren’t interested. Surely, it wasn’t lack of growth or opportunity, but probably terms from Nýherji – too high a price, too small a stake, or requirement of additional investment in Tempo, all possibly played a role.

One year later, I’d guess that the board would be open to a bigger sale. A majority is probably needed for investors to be interested, and I doubt the buyer will be Icelandic.

Also included in the earnings call, was a mention of a restructuring of the company,that included eight layoffs. At the same time the company is opening offices in Montreal and San Francisco. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone – as Finnur all-but said they were planning this in the last earnings call. The question is, will they continue moving operations overseas? Companies that can afford moving need a really good reason to stay in Iceland – which often is just the sentamentalism of the founders.

It’s obvious that the Icelandic tech ecosystem benefits greatly from a company like Tempo operating heavily in Iceland. Let’s hope the financials also make sense.

Northzone VC on Startup Reykjavik companies: “I will have at least two follow-up calls immediately”

“Absolutely. From the pitches, I will have at least two follow-up calls immediately,” said Marta Sjögren, Principal at Northzone Ventures, when Norðurskautið asked if she was planning on taking meetings with any of the companies that were pitching today.

Marta Sjögren

Marta Sjögren

“Their ability to communicate their bigger vision was great, and also not to oversell where they are. And that’s really rare, so I had a great time,” she added.

Today was Startup Reykjavik Investor Day, where the participants of Startup Reykjavik 2016 pitched their companies to a room of investors and startup people. This time around, the Arion bank conference room was almost completely full. Marta Sjögerd, Principal at Northzone Ventures, gave a talk on the Nordic startup scene.

Marta’s comments, as well as a general consensus on that the pitches this year around have never been better, strongly suggest that experience and know-how is being built up at Startup Reykjavik. The fact that an international VC is reaching out to companies after the pitches is a massive improvement, especially considering that last year’s guest didn’t think the companies were optimal VC cases.

If Northzone invests in any of the companies, it would be the first company in Iceland that Northzone invests in. “My mission is, while I’m here in Iceland, to make sure I understand the market, and make Northzone visible,” Marta said. “We want people to know when to reach out to us, and that we’re fairly easily reachable. Our interest is to support ecosystems around the Nordics and Europe.”

Also, just for fun, a video of a man pouring 1300°C hot lava onto ice, courtesy of Icelandic Lava Show (they were pitching).

Mint Solutions raise €5m Series B

Mint Solutions, developer of the medication safety system MedEye, just announced a €5m Series B round led by Brabant Development Partners and LSP (Life Sciences Partners), and Seventure Partners. Other shareholders, including Icelandic NSA Ventures, and smaller private shareholders, also participated in the round.

“This investment comes at a crucial time for our MedEye product,” Gauti Reynisson, CEO of Mint Solutions said in a written statement. “We are experiencing strong demand from Dutch hospitals and we see ample growth opportunity in other care segments, including long-term care, as well as international markets.”

Mint Solutions is an Dutch-Icelandic company that was established to improve medication safety. It’s main product, MedEye, uses computer vision to ensure that patients get the right medication, in the right dosage, at the right time.

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Nortstack – Reporting and analysis of the Icelandic startup scene