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.
geoSilica, just announced a $425,000 Series A round led by pension fund Lífsverk, with earlier investors participating. This funding round follows a $330,000 angel round in September 2018. After the round, Lífsverk owns a 6,7% share of GeoSilica, valuing the company at roughly $6.2m. Spakur finance assisted with the funding round.
The company was founded by CEO Fida Abu Libdeh and Burkni Pálsson in 2012, with the idea of create silica based health products from the excess water from Hellisheiðarvirkjun power plant. Three years later they introduced the first products to market.
“We are thrilled that Lífsverk joined geoSilica as a shareholder,” commented Fifa Abu Libdeh, co-founder and CEO. “For geoSilica it is a huge mark where the involvement of Lífsverk is an approval that we are maturing in the right direction. Now we have the financial support needed to achieve our goals.”
On the topic of pension funds investing directly in startups, Fifa adds: “In my mind, it is time for our pension funds to start investing directly in startups and fill the gap of capital shortage for companies in rapid growth.”
The investment will among other things be used to market the product abroad.
“geoSilica is a very interesting innovative company, with a clear vision and strong leaders,” commented Jón L. Árnason, CEO of Lífsverk, to MBL.is. “We believe this is a good long-term investment for the fund.”
EpiEndo Pharmaceuticals announced yesterday a fundraise of €800k from a syndicate of local funds and angels including Brunnur Ventures, with participation from existing shareholders.
The funds will be used to advance the pre-clinical development of their lead program of proprietary products called “Barriolides” for the treatment of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
That disease is the leading respiratory disease with over 70 million patients worldwide that has significant unmet medical need and is an increasing burden globally.
“I am extremely pleased to be joining such a great team to develop what could be the next generation of treatments for a number of important respiratory disease,” commented Fredrik Lehmann, CEO of EpiEndo. “[The] scientific team has meticulously developed the novel Barriolide technology over a number of years, and with this recent funding we will be able to advance this important program of work to choose our first clinical candidate (CD) in 2019.”
Reykjavik and Berlin based identity verification startup Authenteq, announced today a $5m first close in a Series A round. The round is led by Draper Associates and capital300. The company raised a $1.3m seed round a little over a year ago. In a statment, Kári Thor Rúnarsson co-founder and CEO comments that the company closed the round in just two weeks. He notes that the company is in discussions with a few investors that will take the second closing of the round.
“The reason we decided to do two closings, is we were introduced to an investor with a startup mindset of getting things done and felt it was a great challenge to try to finish all due diligence and paperwork in 2 weeks after the term sheet was approved,” comments Kári. “It was sort of a field test for us to see if they really were as agile and dynamic as they claimed to be during our discussions. We were honestly surprised how smoothly it went, despite a very thorough due diligence and legal process. ”
The company describes its product as the fastest onboarding process of an identity verification solution on the market and caters to companies that need to comply with KYC(know your customer) and AML(anti-money laundering) regulations. They launched their service in late 2018 and report signing up more than a dozen clients in the first months.
“I believe that Authenteq is the beginning of the solution to true and pure identity, which may eliminate many of the security concerns in the market today,” commented investor Tim Draper, known for seed investments in Skype, Tesla, SpaceX, Baidu, and Twitch to name a few. “Their product is simple and elegant.”
Authenteq has 21 employees working in their Berlin and Reykjavik offices and the new funding will in part go towards hiring for a range of new positions currently being filled. “We are lucky enough to have our offices in two of the coolest cities in Europe at the moment! So convincing talent from all over Europe and the USA to move to either Berlin or Reykjavik hasn’t been that difficult.”
“We are excited that Authenteq’s unique technology is disrupting the existing [identity verification] process,” Peter Lasinger, founder of Capital300, said, “and enables an affordable and fully automated identity verification, at the same time ensuring the privacy of users.”
Icelandic Crypto Fintech startup Monerium just announced a $2m seed round led by Icelandic VC fund Crowberry Capital. Also participating in the round were blockchain company ConsenSys and Hof Holdings. Tech EU reports.
In addition to a new funding round, the company announced that it had applied to become a licensed financial services company in the EEA.
Monerium, founded in 2016, aims to offer fiat money services and issue e-money. As Tech.eu mentions, more details haven’t been announced.
Icelandic fintech company Meniga today announced the acquisition of Wrapp, a Stockholm based reward platform. The purchase price is undisclosed, all-stock, with maximum earn-outs totaling up to a 25% share in Meniga. Current shareholders, including Scandinavia’s biggest bank Nordea, join Meniga’s shareholders.
The Wrapp reward platform will be merged with Meniga’s similar offering with Wrapp’s CEO Aage Reerslev joining Meniga as VP of Rewards.
“The attitudes of consumers towards the use of their personal data is changing. Custodians of personal data are expected to use data to deliver personalisation and value in a respectful and transparent manner,” explains Georg Ludviksson, CEO of Meniga.
“We believe the merger brings us to a tipping point given the strong commitment we have from existing platform partners. This is the right time to invest in transaction-driven marketing technology and create a more intelligent user-centric service which basically helps people buy better and smarter, not more”, says Aage Reerslev, former CEO of Wrapp, now VP of Rewards at Meniga.
In two press releases today, Iceland founded Oculis Pharma announces an extension to their Series B round amounting to $15.7m (15.5m CHF), and an expansion to its portfolio through the licensing a novel antibody from Novartis. No financials are disclosed in relation to the licensing.
“Oculis is evolving and advancing rapidly,” CEO of Oculis, Dr. Riad Sherif said in a statement. “With this new fundraising, adding to the CHF20 million we raised a year ago, we have a strong financial position from which to drive our clinical development programs”
The extension of the round brings total raised to $36m (35.5 CHF) with new investors Tekla Capital Management and Nan Fung Life Sciences, and participation from earlier investors. Previously the company had raised $5m from Icelandic VC firm Brunnur Ventures, which holds 19% of the share capital after this financing round.
The funds will be used to expand the company’s portfolio through strategic in-licensing, and to advance its development of novel eye-drop treatment for major ophthalmic diseases.
“I, and the team at Nan Fung Life Sciences, have been extremely impressed with vision and progress made by Oculis in building a company with the potential to significantly improve the treatment of ophthalmic diseases,” commented Peter Bisgaard, Managing Director at Nan Fung Life Sciences.
Ankeri Solutions, the startup creating a shipping marketplace that rewards efficient, low-emissions vessels, just announced a $500k seed round led by NSA Ventures. The investment gives NSA Ventures a 12% ownership stake in the company.
“We’ve been following Leifur and Kristinn for a long time and know of their knowledge and experience with the international maritime sector,” Huld Magnúsdóttir, CEO of NSA Ventures said in a statement.
Co-founders Kristinn Aspelund and Leifur A. Kristjánsson, previously worked at Marorka, a tech company that specialises in marine energy management.
“We’re excited to have NSA Ventures join us on our journey to change the communication between shipowners and charterers,” CEO and co-founder Kristinn Aspelund commented. “The initial market response has been beyond our expectations, and since we’ve launched we’ve seen a lot of growth in its use.”
Influencer marketing marketplace Ghostlamp has secured an additional $800,000 in funding from local and international investors. The funding round is led by Brunnur Ventures, which previously invested in the company, with participation from angel investors. This brings total investment in the company to roughly $1.6m (200m ISK) over the last two years. In addition, Ghostlamp received a $400,000 grant from the Technology Development Fund last December.
Jón Bragi Gíslason, co-founder and CEO of Ghostlamp says in a statement the funding is a key factor in the continued growth and development of the company.
“Over the last months, Ghostlamp has been a leading provider of influencer marketing world wide,” Jón Bragi said in a statement. “We’ve been lucky to work with customers across twelve countries and have done campaigns for brands like Nissan, Subaru, Hamley’s, KFC, and more.”
Up until now the company has been providing influencer marketing as a full service, taking care of finding, hiring, and paying influencers as well as measuring effectiveness and managing the content. “In the coming months, both customers and influencers will be able to use the Ghostlamp marketplace in many new ways,” said Jón Bragi.
The company recently opened an office in Brazil. “We’ve created strong connections with key people in Brazil and we have a strong team there working on development and the management of campaigns,” comments Andri Birgisson, co-founder and CTO of Ghostlamp.
Origo, parent company of Tempo Software, announced that it had reached an agreement to sell 55% of Tempo to Diversis Capital. Tempo is valued at $62.5m in the transaction, and Diversis will pay Origo $34.5m in cash for the share. Following the transaction, the owners (Origo and Diversis) will inject $2m into the business pro rata.
In a press release, Finnur Oddsson, CEO of Origo, comments that the sale is “great news, both for Origo and Tempo.” It’s a “recognition of the great work that has been ongoing at both Tempo and Origo” and that it shows the value of R&D work in Iceland. He also notes that it’s very much in the interest of Origo to maintain ownership of a sizable part of Tempo, eyeing further growth of the company.
The price tag ranks Tempo highly on the list of Icelandic tech exits – and adds an important item to a small but growing list of international tech success stories stemming from here: the fourth exit with a valuation of more than $50m since 2015.
Several years in the making
Tempo is a spinoff from TM Software, one of Origo’s (then Nýherji) subsidiaries. A team of developers were solving their own problem: creating timesheets connected to the Jira project management tool to send to clients. It has since early days been a top seller at Jira’s marketplace and fueled consistent double-digit YoY growth in revenue.
That led to an exclusive agreement with HPE Partners in August this year, where the plan was to sell a third of the company at a valuation of $62.5m following due diligence. Those talks fell through in the process. In conversation with Northstack, Ágúst Einarsson, CEO of Tempo, said the main reason was a different view on vision and strategy for Tempo following the sale between Origo and HPE. Then came Diversis, ready to buy a majority stake at the same valuation as HPE with a vision for next steps more aligned with Origo’s and Tempo’s leadership.
“Diversis are buying into a well operating company” Ágúst adds when asked about what changes we should expect, “so we don’t foresee any major changes in operations or staffing.” The plan is to use the fund to accelerate growth with more emphasis on sales and marketing, continued investment in R&D, improved customer service and additional product diversification.
From product to platform
“Tempo started out as a plugin for a popular project management tool,” says Viðar Svansson, Chief Product Officer at Tempo. “It’s now a suite of tools, and the next step for us is to widen our support base across workplace applications.”
Tempo officially integrates with Slack and support for Quickbooks Online was recently introduced. Other integrations are in development with a new Google Calendar integration expected to be rolled out before the holidays. According to Viðar, Third party developers have also shown interest in the platform with plugins and integrations ranging from business intelligence to asset management available.
“Investing in our platform to create connected experiences is key to our strategy,” Viðar adds. “We see new plugins from the ecosystem almost every month now, and we expect more of that in the future.“
Becoming a platform is the dream of most B2B software companies, making money both off their own product, and taking a cut of sales of plugins built to extend their core offering.
“Both owners have expressed the continued financial support in the case of M&A activity in the future,” Finnur, CEO of Origo mentions when discussing the platform play. “If Tempo sees technology or products that would fit into the product range, both Origo and Diversis will support acquisitions, should that be the best way forward for Tempo.”