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Four things you should know about Startup Iceland 2018

This week is Startup Iceland week – when Harpa is filled with startup people from all over the world. It also marks the start of summer, which is often a fairly active season for the startup scene in Iceland. To commemorate that, we have 4 things you should know about Startup Iceland 2018.

The founder of WordPress is coming

Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic and probably most known for developing WordPress, the CMS that reportedly powers as much as 25% of the web today (including Northstack). He will be joined on stage by technology journalist Om Malik for a fireside chat.

We have a lot of Americans joining Startup Iceland

A 57 person group from George Mason University in Washington, DC is flying to Iceland to participate in the event. The 2018 version of the conference also marks the first time that US founders are joining the event, which means we’ll have an international day for sure.

Lína and Skúli among others will represent Iceland

Sigurlína Ingvarsdóttir, the senior producer of FIFA at EA Games (yes, that FIFA, where you can play the Icelandic National Team), will fly over to give a talk about diversity. Skúli Mogensen, founder of Wow air, will also give a talk.

Reykjavik is part of AngelHack Global Series

Startup Iceland has partnered with and Angel Hack to bring us the Data Hack Iceland 2018, part of AngelHack Global Series. Between May 29-30, teams will compete in three categories: Using’s data consent platform, hacking for good, or simply something entrepreneurial. Prizes include trips to Slush 2018.

Teatime Games raise $7.5m Series A led by Index Ventures with participation from Atomico

Mobile gaming company Teatime Games just announced a $7.5m Series A round led by Index Ventures. VC fund Atomico also participated in the round. The investment brings total investment in the company to roughly $9m dollars, including a $1.6m seed round in late 2017.

“Games have always been an inherently social and multi-layer experience,” says Thor Fridriksson, CEO, and co-founder of Teatime Games.

“The overwhelming majority of mobile games, however, are single player experiences, while most multiplayer mobile games are turn-based and are played against invisible opponents. We are building Teatime Games on the premise that mobile games players crave a more social and personalized experience than they are currently getting, where communicating with friends and fellow players in real time not only enhances a game but is as important as the game itself. That’s why we’re developing the first real time communication gaming platform for mobile.”

The company will use the investment to double the team in Iceland, with a specific focus on software engineers.

Index Ventures investor Guzman Dias commented: “Like all the best games studios, Thor and the Teatime team have extraordinary pedigree in mobile games, accumulating years of experience of scaling up a gaming platform with over 100 million users. At Index we have been lucky enough to team up with games pioneers such as Supercell and King, and we believe Teatime have a similar size opportunity today – to lead the next wave in mobile games, by building the technology to spark a real time revolution in social games with the social element at its heart.”

The company was co-founded by ex-QuizUp CEO Thor Fridriksson, CFO Ymir Finnbogason, CTO Johann Bergthorsson and COO Gunnar Holmsteinn.

Teatime is currently hiring. Check them out on the Northstack Job Board.

Impact Investing is trending in the Nordics – Glimpse of Rising North’s latest funding round

The Rising North fund has given out over €400 000 in the first application round 2018. This is the largest amount of funding given out so far. The most dominant trend amongst the 10 pan-Nordic projects was the interest towards building a strong impact investment community in the Nordics.

A growing number of people value companies that are working for the greater good. Now, the money is following. Venture capitalists are moving their focus towards companies aiming to change the world for the better. According to The Nordic Web, 2017 was a record year for the number of investments and amount of capital poured into startups with roots in impact. There are already several Nordic startups addressing pressing challenges, such as loneliness (NoIsolation), bringing electricity to the world’s largest refugee camps (M-PAYG), or turning waste into high-value carbon products (Carbo Culture). Only to name a few.

Since 2014 there has been 163 social impact investments in the Nordics, totalling $452.7 million. This means 8 % of the total tech investments in the Nordics are made into impact startups. Norway is currently in the lead, with 14.7% being impact investments of the total amount of investments in the country. (Source: The Nordic Web)

“Impact investing is on the rise! We believe that the Nordics can play an important role in fostering the growing impact ecosystem. We see a new mindset growing among investors, startups and millennials that value intention over pure shareholder maximization. By gathering the rising impact stars at Katapult Future Fest this May and connecting impact investors across the Nordics, we aim to help grow this movement” says Kaja Kirstine Lilleng, from Nordic Impact and Katapult Future Fest the leading gathering for Impact investing, exponential technologies and our future society, in Nordics.

You may want to speed up your planning — there might not be a third application round in 2018

2018 is the last year Rising North is funding pan-Nordic projects that help the Nordic startups internationalize. If there is another round like this in Q2 this year (deadline May 21st), there might not be a third application deadline. So, you might want to speed up your schedule and apply on May 21st!

One of Rising North’s requirements is that each project need to have at least three organizers, from three different Nordic countries. This is a challenge, but also a great opportunity to reach new levels. Therefore, the Rising North team is working close with the applicants around their ideas and also making sure they hand in a kickass application. To make the process easy for the applicants, they can send in their ideas for feedback here: .

All of our applicants have been hugely thankful for the opportunity to bounce their idea with us before sending it in. This both saves the applicant time and we get more quality applications! says Eva Fogdell, Marketing Manager at Rising North

Check out who received funding in our latest application round. All of the projects will be carried out during 2018:

Game Plan Asia — a delegation trip showcasing Nordic Gaming companies in Asia. The Nordic initiative connects game companies with East Asian stakeholders, widen their network in the region, and learn more about market practices and other business acumen. The projects is organized by Spelplan-association Swedish Game Developers, Neogames Finland and Nordic Game Institute.

The #NordicMade Capital Market — a report that presents the Nordic VC industry as a powerful whole. This project aims to be the first initiative on a quest of finding a united industry-level voice for region’s private capital investors, that all focus on the very same thing: providing financing and active support for founders to accelerate the growth of the region’s startups.The report done in collaboration with Finnish Venture Capital Association, Swedish Private Equity Venture Capital Association and Danish Venture Capital and Private Equity Association.

Nordic Startups conquering Global Meetings —the project aims to make it easier for Nordic entrepreneurs to tackle the chaos of the biggest global tech conferences. A lot of resources are spent on producing content and for entrepreneurs it takes a lot of time to understand how to make an impact. The project will build a both tangible and intangible toolbox for Nordic founders for how to increase the impact for entrepreneurs at global events and at the same time build the value of the Nordic brand. The project is organized by Business Sweden, Oslo Business Region and TechSavvy Media.

CANUTE Startup Program — the CANUTE Startup program aim is to provide Nordic startups entering the UK with a network it would take them five months to build themselves. When starting in a new market, having the right network is the key. The Canute program will provide the Nordic startups with with valuable contacts on their mission to scale in the UK. The program is organized by The Danish Trade Council of UK and Ireland, Innovation Norway and Business Sweden.

NIIN — Nordic Impact Investing Network — NIIN’s goal is to collaborate with and engage in the ongoing initiatives in the space of impact investing and impact tech. To further facilitate and grow the network, the network will co-host meetings and events for investors and startups in the Nordics. NIIN is initiated by the investor collective at Nordic Impact and events such as Impact
for Breakfast and Katapult Future Fest. The project is organized by Nordic Impact, Wave Ventures and The Shared Value Company.

Nordicmade Impact Investment — Facilitated workshops and pitching competition connecting the Nordic impact investment ecosystem with the international audience. Nordicmade Impact Investment will be used to show and develop solutions for Impact Investing ecosystem especially led by startups while also connecting them with networks not just from Nordics but also globally. The project is organized by The Nordic Frugal Innovation Society, Intersection Point Social Business Association and Sjalfsbjorg landssamb fatladra.

State of Impact in the Nordics — The State of Impact in the Nordics showcases the region as an impact investing and impact tech hub to the world through a physical booklet and online platform. Highlighting the mental shift in the investing space towards for-profit and positive impact investment. The overview showcases Nordic impact startups, investors and initiatives in a globally distributed report and online site including a Nordic impact investing network map. The report is done by Katapult Future Fest , The Upright project and The Nordic Web.

Talk the Talk — is an initiative to make the Nordic startup founders 10x better pitchers and public speakers. The project develops the performing abilities of the Nordic startup/scaleup founders. Firstly, by facilitating coaching for the founders in the Nordic capitals and, secondly, by hosting an annual training program. The organizers include Slush, Mesh Oslo and The Park.

Nordic Roadshows — helps Nordic companies raise funding, develop their businesses and get international investor coaching. The roadshows are organised three times a year in cooperation with the entrepreneurship societies around the whole Nordics. They gather the most promising startups and leading investors both from the Nordics as well as international. The aim is to make fundraising as easy and fast as possible. The organizers include Aalto Entrepreneurship Society, Excitera and Stardust-DTU.

Secretsauce — is an international invite-only forum that gathers 250+ of the leaders within the Creative Industry in the Nordics under one umbrella, to facilitate knowledge-sharing and strengthen the cooperation across borders and across industries. Secretsauce unifies the Creative Industries in the Nordic Region as a global Creative Cluster. The organizers include Tame, 657 Oslo and Malmö Ground.

This is a guest post from Eva Fogdell, the Marketing Manager of Rising North. Rising North is a fund that aims to help Nordic startups by financing unique projects and initiatives organised by Nordic organisations.

Arctic Green Energy complete $150m equity and debt financing

Icelandic-Chinese Arctic Green Energy, developer of geothermal district heating projects in China, has completed a $150 million equity and debt funding with Chinese investors. Included in this funding round is a loan from the Chinese Development Bank. The investors were CITIC Capital and China Everbright Limited in addition to the bank.

“We have been working with Arctic Green Energy for three years now, and this milestone in the company‘s development confirms all of the accomplishments it has achieved so far in implementing geothermal technology in China and abroad.“ says Mr. Fanglu Wang, Senior Managing Partner for CITIC Capital.

Cities consume 70% of energy globally, and Arctic Green Energy’s plan is to create zero emission cities through renewable resources, technology and infrastructure. Most of their current projects are based on geothermal energy.

“The completion of this USD 150 million financing round is a significant step for Arctic Green Energy,” says Haukur Harðarson, Founder and Chairman of Arctic Green Energy in a statement.

“We welcome China Everbright to broaden the investor group to strengthen its ties with China, and build on this success in other markets. CITIC Capital and China Everbright are two global investment firms with strong roots in Asia that have special focus on clean energy and will now take part in our mission to create zero emission cities with clean, profitable renewables.“

Kúla 3D closes $300k seed round and releases lens for smartphones

Kúla 3D, maker of 3D lenses for cameras, just announced it closed a $300,000 seed round. This is the first fundraise for the company, which has previously received financing from the Technology Development Fund.

“My daughter was two years old when I started experimenting with a prototype of 3D lenses,” says Íris Ólafsdóttir, founder and CEO of Kúla. “When I look at the pictures it’s like stepping into a time machine. I still get this wow feeling, but people really need to experience it to understand.”

Kúla is releasing Kúla Bebe, a 3D lens for smartphones. The device enables people to take 3D photos and videos on their smartphones, and comes with simple software to view their creations. Kúla had previously released Kúla Deeper, a lens for DSLR cameras. Kúla Bebe was financed through a Kickstarter campaign.

Kúla Bebe is produced in Iceland, and packaged at Kúla’s Headquarters at Innovation House in Eiðistorg. People will be able to buy it at Vodafone stores in Iceland, with global availability to follow shortly.

Meniga raises $3.7m from Swedbank

Nordic bank Swedbank today announced it had invested $3.7m (€3m) in Meniga in a strategic financing round which includes other key customers of the company.

“We see Meniga as an innovation partner to give our customers a digital experience that includes a better overview and insights of all their finances both from Swedbank and external parties. We are very pleased with the agreed partnership,” says Lotta Lovén, Head of Digital Banking at Swedbank in a statement.

Georg Ludviksson, Co-founder and CEO of Meniga commented: “We are delighted to welcome Swedbank as a strategic investor and look forward to playing our part in their digital transformation.”

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.

AirServer creator App Dynamic signs deal with Intel

Intel has started a collaboration with Icelandic tech company App Dynamic, the creators of screen mirroring software AirServer. The app, which allows people with any device to mirror and share their screen on a display, will be prominently featured on Intel’s new meeting room tech: Intel Unite.

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The ten companies that pitched at Startup Tourism 2018

Startup Tourism had its demo day yesterday, Friday March 23nd. As usual, the companies that went through the accelerator pitched to a room of investors, tourism industry executives and others. In addition to the pitches, founder of Couchsurfing Casey Fenton, gave a keynote.

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Nortstack – Reporting and analysis of the Icelandic startup scene