Creator of kid headphones Buddyphones, Nordic Enterprises Ltd., recently announced a $1m (125m ISK) funding round. The funding was through a convertible bond purchased by local (Icelandic) investors. Centra assisted with the financing.
The company was founded by Pétur Ólafsson and Bjarki Garðarsson with the goal of designing and developing headphones specifically for children and teenagers. In a statement, the company says that around 12.5% of young people between ages 6-19 have had hearing damage due to listening with headphones with too loud volume.
The company had around $4.3m in revenue last year and projects 46% growth this year, to $6.3m. The biggest customers are Target and Amazon and the product is available in over 60 countries.
Lucinity, an Icelandic startup working in the anti-money-laundering space, just announced a $2m seed round led by Crowberry Capital, with participation from Preceptor Capital and international angel investors.
“In Lucinity, we saw a team that has tremendous relevant execution experience and an extremely innovative approach that we believe will be a game changer for firms fighting money laundering,” commented Helga Valfells, managing partner at Crowberry Capital.
Lucinity was founded in 2018, to solve the current gap in the anti-money laundering monitoring market. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that more than $2.4 trillion of laundered flow through the market every year, and that only 1% of the financial proceeds of crime is intercepted.
The current solutions are extremely inefficient with 99% of alerts being false alerts, Lucinity claims in a statement.
“Our goal is to bring cloud-ready intelligent anti-money laundering solutions to our clients that will transform their capabilities to fight money laundering activity,” Guðmundur Kristjánsson, founder and CEO of Lucinity remarks.
“This staggering cost and lack of results is largely a consequence of the current rule-based technology and human surveillance efforts not working together effectively,” he continues. “At Lucinity, we adopted a new approach called Augmented Intelligence, which combines the power of Artificial Intelligence and human intelligence through constant feedback loops. Using this approach, Lucinity ClearLens empowers clients to improve detection of suspicious behavior patterns and greatly increase review efficiency.”
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Boston Based Freyja HealthCare, a medical device company founded by Jón Ívar Einarsson, MD and professor at Harvard Medical School, just announced a $1m (120m ISK) financing by undisclosed, Icelandic investors. The round values the company at 1,000m ISK (~$8.3m) post money. Spakur assisted with the financing round.
Jón Ívar, which Academia.edu describes as “a leader in the minimally invasive gynecologic surgery (MIGS) field” said in conversation with MBL.is that the company is finalising a deal with a big medical company on the sale of three devices aimed at standardising hysterectomy operations.
“This financing allows us to continue development of more devices,” Jón Ívar told MBL.
Icelandic bicycle manufacturer Lauf Forks has just announced a $2.5m (300m ISK) funding round led by New Business Venture Fund (Nýsköpunarsjóður). The funding will be used to grow in the United States.
“The bicycles from Lauf Forks have been well received in the United States, so focusing on growth their is a logical next step,” chairman of Lauf Forks, Erla Skúladóttir, said in a statement.
Lauf Forks was founded in 2011 around the invention of the lightest bicycle fork in the world. The company has since developed into designing and manufacturing full blown bicycles. They paved the road with Lauf True Grit, an award winning Gravel bike, and now also offer Lauf Anywhere, a mixed terrain bike.
“It’s been a pleasure following the development of Lauf Forks and we believe the company is poised to grow even more,” commented Huld Magnúsdóttir, CEO of the New Business Venture Fund. “Lauf Forks is an example of a successful innovation, and with added funding the company gets the opportunity to grow in new markets.”
GRID, the SaaS company with the goal of “freeing the spreadsheet,” just announced a $3.5m seed funding round, only five months after their initial $1m angel round. The funding round is led by Berlin-based BlueYard, with participation from Slack Fund, Acquia Capital and angel investor Charles Songhurst. Previous investors, including Brunnur Ventures, also participated.
“We are happy to work with this group, as they add a lot of value to our mission other than their funding,” the company said in a statement.
“This investment – on top of our $1M angel round in October – fuels current plans well into 2021,” the statement continues. “It gives us breathing room to focus on building the initial version of our product, take it to market, and hone our commercial approach before raising capital for further growth and expansion.”
GRID is the second company, led by a repeat founder, to raise substantial money from foreign and local investors in a short period. The other, Teatime Games, raised over $10m in a 6 month period – both a sign of a maturing ecosystem.
Avo, the SaaS company preventing human error when implementing analytics, is the first Icelandic company to be accepted into Y Combinator, widely regarded as the world’s best accelerator. As part of the program, Y Combinator invests $150,000 in the company. Avo (then as Viska Learning), previously raised a $1.2m seed round from local investors Brunnur and Investa.
The company was founded by several former employees of QuizUp, which raised more than $40m in venture financing from investors including Sequoia Capital and amassed 100m users before being acquired by Glu Mobile.
“Every company is already or will soon be using analytics through tools like Amplitude, Segment, Looker, Google Analytics or even their custom pipeline,” comments Stefania Olafsdottir, co-founder and CEO of Avo. “The problem is, humans suck at implementing analytics.”
According to Stefania, the team ran into this problem at their previous workplace QuizUp. “We ended up building our own, in-house analytics validation tool to help us alleviate that.”
Later, when the team had founded another company they ran into this problem again. They couldn’t believe they would need to build internal tools for this again, so they started investigating what friends and colleagues were doing.
“We found that a surprising amount either had this problem and hated it, or fixed it by building similar tooling to what we had done at QuizUp,” Stefania adds. “To us that meant we had something.”
And seemingly, the partners at Y Combinator think they have something as well.
“I always wanted something like this at Airbnb,” Gustaf Alströmer, former growth lead at Airbnb and currently partner at YC commented in a statement.
“The constant problems we had was analytics implementation being mistakenly removed while refactoring or launching new flows, misspelled event-names leading to incorrect funnels that took until next release to fix, and poor knowledge of where you look up the meaning of events for other teams. Avo solves all this!”
While Avo is the first company from Iceland to be accepted into Y Combinator, they’re not the first Icelanders. Ari Helgason, currently principal at Index Ventures, participated in YC with his company World on a Hanger (Winter 2012), and Ingvar Helgason was at YC recently with VitroLabs (Spring 2017)
The Nordic Web, just announced that it has raised its second investment fund. The company, founded and led by Neil S W Murray, has been investing out of its first fund, and has already (if you count a not-yet-announced investment out of the second fund) invested in all Nordic countries (including Iceland).
The fund invests in pre-seed and seed stages, with 14 investments to date, and has invested alongside other notable investors like Y Combinator, Point Nine Capital, Seedcamp and Founders Fund.
The Nordic Web Ventures goes to the community for financing, having people active in the startup communities as LP’s (investors). For Iceland, this includes Georg Lúðvíksson (of Meniga), Crowberry Capital, and Kristinn Hróbjartsson (Norsthack).
Founding Partner Neil S W Murray commented in a press release: “The Nordic Web Ventures is already well positioned to write the first cheques into the next billion dollar companies from the Nordics, however I believe the opportunity is even bigger than that, it’s not just about funding entrepreneurs, it’s about nurturing and improving the conditions of an ecosystem that make this possible.”
Drone startup Flygildi, which is creating a drone that is disguised as a bird, flies flapping wings, and is undetectable by radar, has raised an angel round. The amount is undisclosed. Flygildi was founded by the two engineers Hjalti Harðarson and Dr. Leifur Þór Leifsson.
In a press release, Helga Viðarsdóttir, CEO of Spakur, and chairman of Flygildi, commented that the drone has already garnered significant interest from Tom Moss of the drone company Skydio; Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus; and the defense company Lockheed Martin, which has shown an interest in participating in further financing of the company.
Last week, Dattaca Labs announced Iceland Venture Studio, a new “growth solution for entrepreneurs and startup founders.” The Studio has raised a $1m fund, working towards a total size of $5m, to invest in early stage companies.
“We’re very committed to our investment thesis,” CEO and co-founder Bala Kamallakharan told Northstack. Their focus will be companies that focus on that provide services around decentralization of private data, algorithms, privacy, process and data security.
The venture studio has already unveiled the first investments: Retina Risk and FlowVR.
“We had the opportunity to work with several potential investors, but we found Bala and Iceland Venture Studios to have the best possible mix of capital, connections and capabilities to meet our very specific needs,” said Prof. Einar Stefansson, co-founder of Retina Risk. “They have committed to partner with us for the long-haul and we are very impressed with Bala and his team as they help us grow to the next level.”
“As part of the team here at Iceland Venture Studios, my job is to provide expertise and guidance” Bala commented in a statement. “We have the industry relationships, technical know-how and business development experience to bring the best opportunities to our portfolio partners.”
Bala previously invested in Icelandic startup CLARA (acquired by Jive in 2013), and served as the executive chairman of Guide to Iceland and Travelshift, which recently raised $20m.
Silicon Valley Internship Program, founded in 2013 with the goal of closing the talent gap whilst giving international engineers the skills they need to become successful entrepreneurs in their home countries, is partnering with Reykjavik University to offer internship positions to Icelandic developers.
From the press release:
The tech industry desperately needs great talent, and is under pressure to build a diverse workforce. The SVIP brings top engineers from all over the world with 50% of the engineers being female – to work at Bay Area technology companies, making the whole process as frictionless as possible. With partnerships with top engineering institutions across 35 countries, the platform attracts the best engineers from universities such as Oxford and Cambridge to universities in Taiwan and most recently SVIP partnered with Reykjavik University, forming the strongest international network of entrepreneurial engineers.
The program has two tracks which bring newly graduating Software Engineering students from 35 countries around the world to work at a startup in Silicon Valley. The first track accepts male and female software engineers with a STEM degree (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) from any accredited European, Scandinavian, EEA University. The second track, in partnership with GBx-x, accepts female engineers with a STEM degree from outside of Europe.
SVIP interns are paid a salary of $75K+ for the year. The program also facilitates the hiring process for companies by arranging all the immigration and legal documentation, taking care of interns flights and accommodation for the first month. Roam Analytics, an SVIP company that has hired engineers through the program notes that “in a world of ever-more complex recruiting programs, SVIP is a blessing. They helped introduce us to some exceptional candidates and have always made the process a breeze”, says Carter Wilkinson, Head of Finance and Operations of Roam Analytics.