20 Finnish startups you should know about: Check out Suomi’s best!
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Scenic summer aerial panorama of the Old Town architecture in Helsinki, Finland / Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The land of a thousand lakes is mostly known for its gaming startups, including ‘Angry Birds’ maker Rovio Entertainment. But what else can it offer the tech world?

There is a reason we have been writing a lot about Finland lately. It is one of the most exciting startup nations and the 4th most innovative in the world, according to Bloomberg. In a recent interview with Petri Lehmuskoski, one of the country’s foremost investors, he claimed that Finnish startups are particularly good at building things. This is partly due to Finland’s top notch education system, which excels in STEM subjects, and because the Finnish government and giants such as Nokia invest in developing startups and their research and development.

Beyond Nokia, Finland is most famous for its gaming sector, including billion-dollar “unicorn” companies Rovio Entertainment, which created Angry Birds, and Supercell. More than 200 gaming startups have been launched in Finland since Angry Birds was released in 2009. Considering mobile gaming is enormous and growing  it increased 42% from 2013 and in 2014, was projected to reach past $25 billion  it is no wonder that many of the startups on this list, including Boomlagoon, Seriously, and Next Games, are mobile gaming companies.

However, digital health startups are growing in Finland at such a speed that one of Finland’s famous Slush conference panels was titled “Is Digital Health the Next Finnish Gaming?” in 2013. Companies such as Mendor and PulseOn produce beautiful, portable devices that track health data and send the information they collect to the cloud, helping those living with diabetes, heart problems, seasonal affected disorder, and many other ailments.

Without further ado, here are the 20 startups we think you should know about, in no particular order.

 

1) Kiosked

Micke Paqvalén (left), CEO and Co-Founder with Antti Pasila (right), CSO and Co-Founder. Photo Credit: PR

Micke Paqvalén (left), CEO and Co-Founder with Antti Pasila (right), CSO and Co-Founder. Photo Credit: PR

Founded – 2010.
Funding – Series B: €3.7M, 2015. Investor: Dutch L’Arche BV.
Series A: $6.9M, 2013. Investors: Tero Ojanperä, Andreas Rosenlew, Kaj Hed, John Lindfors, Kevin Wall.
Seed: $5.8M, 2012. Investors: Andreas Rosenlew, Tero Ojanperä, Kaj Hed.
Founders – Micke Paqvalén, Antti Pasila.
Locations – Helsinki, New York, Los Angeles, London, Singapore.
Social  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
Overview – Kiosked is one of the world’s leading in-content advertising platforms that drives increased views and relevancy of ads. They do this by turning publishers’ content into unique targeted ad placements based on contextual and behavioral data, and by providing on the spot purchasing opportunities.

Forbes recently selected Kiosked as one of the top 5 Finnish startups to watch, and for good reason: on February 16, they landed a Series B funding round of €3.7M, raising its total funding to $16.9 million: not shabby for a less than five-year-old startup.

Micke Paqvalén, Kiosked’s CEO and Founder, told Geektime: “It’s an honor to have been chosen as one of the most promising startups in Finland. At the moment Kiosked is growing fast and at the end of last year, our business really started to expand and scale by winning over key publishers in the U.S., Europe and in Southeast Asia. Digital marketing and specifically advertising is moving rapidly towards 100% programmatic, and our value is that we can provide the industry with a leading and smart platform for that.”

 

2) Enevo

Fredrik Kekalainen, Founder and CEO of Enevo / Picture Credit: PR

Fredrik Kekalainen, Founder and CEO of Enevo. Photo Credit: PR

Founded – 2010.
Funding – Series A: $8M, 2014. Investors: Risto Siilasmaa, Draper Associates, Finnish Industry Investment, Lifeline Ventures, Earlybird Venture Capital.
Seed: €2M, 2013. Investors: Finnish Industry Investment, Lifeline Ventures.
Seed: $340K, 2012, Investors: Esa Mäkeläinen, Elina Lepomäki, Lifeline Ventures.
Founder – Fredrik Kekalainen.
Locations – Espoo, Boston, Nottingham, Tokyo.
Social  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
Overview – Wonderfully called the “Internet of Shit,” Enevo is one of the leading providers of smart sensors and logistics optimization solutions for you guessed it waste management. They help both commercial waste management companies and public organizations operate more efficiently, including recycling operations.

Enevo, whose headquarters are located in Finland, is making a name for itself with its flagship solution Enevo ONe: It’s an innovative smart city solution that optimizes waste collection by using its network of small wireless sensors to measure the fill level and forecast the fill up date of individual bins and containers. Based on these forecasts, the service will select the plan that is most cost efficient. With smarter collection plans, Enevo’s customers so far have saved up to 50% in total operations costs.

 

3) Boomlagoon

Photo Credit: PR

Boomlagoon’s Team. Photo Credit: PR

Founded – 2012.
Funding – Series A: $3.6M, 2014. Investors: London Venture Partners, Northzone, Inventure Oy, 360 Capital Partners.
Seed: Undisclosed, 2012. Investor: London Venture Partners.
Founders – Antti Stén, Tuomas Erikoinen, Ilkka Halila.
Locations – Helsinki.
Social  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
Overview – Creating Angry Birds is about the best pedigree one could have to start a gaming studio right now. Well, Boomlagoon’s three founders did that. So now they’re onto their next challenge: launching a set of viral mobile games with wildly popular characters. Apple ranked their first big game Monsu, which is available on iOS and soon on Android, as one of 2014’s best games on the App Store. Boomlagoon is a mobile game development studio focused on making high quality free-­to-­play games. It looks like their Series A round, which was secured soon before the release of Monsu, was well worth the investment.

 

4) Smarp

Smarp Co-Founder: COO Mikael Lauharanta (left) and CEO Roope Heinilä (right)

Smarp Co-Founders: COO Mikael Lauharanta (left) and CEO Roope Heinilä (right). Photo Credit: PR

Founded – 2011.
Funding – Seed: 2013-2015. Investors: Vision+ (Tero Ojanperä), Frontier, business angels such as Pedro Ros (ex CEO of TNS, current CEO of Wilmington Group Plc), Pekka Koskinen (founder of Snoobi), Joose Viljanen (founder of Appelsiini, sold to Elisa).
Founders – Roope Heinilä, Mikael Lauharanta, [Tommi Huovinen].
Locations – Helsinki, London, Stockholm, Oslo, Singapore, Dubai.
Social  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
Overview – Smarp is riding the “getting recognition for social media engagement” bandwagon, incentivizing employees with points that can be donated for charity or exchanged for small real-life rewards when they share industry related content to their personal social media networks. They created an employee advocacy software platform called SmarpShare, which works with businesses to multiply their digital footprint by getting their employees to find and share interesting professional content to their social media networks. Time will tell whether or not this rewards system will work, and whether or not it could backlash against a brand’s authenticity, but it’s certainly an intriguing business model that may likely take off.

 

5) Valkee

Valkee's Co-Founders: Juuso Nissilä (left) and Antti Aunio (right) / Photo Credit: PR

Valkee’s Co-Founders: Juuso Nissilä (left) and Antti Aunio (right). Photo Credit: PR

Founded – 2007.
Funding – Series A: $9.7M , 2013. Investors: Follow-on investment from angel round investors.
Angel: €400K, 2010. Investors: Lifeline Ventures, Esther Dyson, Anssi Vanjoki, Jyri Engestrom.
Founders – Juuso Nissilä, Antti Aunio.
Locations – Oulu, Helsinki, Cologne, San Francisco.
Social – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
Overview – Do you suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or jet lag? If so, Valkee’s portable device may be easier to use than its bulky bright lamp competitors. 

Based on collaborative research and development with Finland’s Oulu University, Valkee introduced the world’s first bright light headset in 2010. Interestingly, it comes in the shape of headphones that you insert into your ears, sending light to your brain, and can be charged with a USB cable. They recommend daily use for 12 minutes within the first two hours of waking up for those suffering from SAD.

Valkee also recently introduced a Valkee Jet Lag app for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone smartphones to guide effective use of Valkee to recover from typical jet lag symptoms. This app is based on results from a peer-reviewed clinical trial, whose results will be published in early 2015.

6) Mendor

Kristian Ranta, CEO and Co-Founder of Mendor

Kristian Ranta, CEO and Co-Founder of Mendor. Photo Credit: PR

Founded – 2006.
Funding – Venture: €6.5M, 2014. Investor: Reaktor POLTE.
Venture: €4.7M, 2014. Investor: Reaktor POLTE.
Venture: 2013. Investor: Reaktor POLTE.
Series B: €8.1M, 2011. Investors: Risto Siilasmaa, Finnvera Venture Capital, Finnish Industry Investment, Life Sciences Partners.
Founders – Kristian Ranta, Tuomas Planman, Jukka Planman, Juho Konsti, Henri Andell.
Locations – Helsinki.
Social – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
Overview – 
Mendor’s portable, easy to use, small, and cloud connected diabetes solution is a welcome improvement for those that live with diabetes. Mendor research project manager Marcus Watermark, who has Type 1 diabetes, explained at 2013’s Slush conference how Mendor’s technology has made his life easier. Instead of carrying around, “a meter, test strips, a control solution, and lancers,” Mendor combined all of these elements into one box: its Mendor Discreet all-in-one blood glucose meter. Mendor also recently released Mendor ONE, which both takes glucose readings and sends those results to the cloud, where people with diabetes and their healthcare providers can access the information.

Though the company has experienced much success in recent years, its past was not always as sunny: in 2010, they almost faced bankruptcy. It just goes to show that with a product and vision that investors can believe in, persistence pays off.

7) PlayRaven

PlayRaven's Team / Photo Credit: PlayRaven's website

PlayRaven’s Team. Photo Credit: PlayRaven

Founded – 2013.
Funding – Series A: $4.1M, 2014. Investor: VC Northzone.
Seed: $2.3M, 2014. Investors: Creandum, Jari Ovaskainen, London Venture Partners.
Founders –  Lasse Seppänen, Teemu Haila.
Locations – Helsinki, Laskutus.
Social – Facebook, Twitter.
Overview – PlayRaven, founded by veterans from game studios including Remedy Entertainment, Wooga and Digital Chocolate, creates free-to-play strategy games for touchscreens that are real world and historically based. Its first title, Spymaster, is set in World War II. Since its release in September, the game has reached the top of the App Store’s iPad charts in 99 countries.

It is also important to note that London Venture Partners and Jari Ovaskainen were both early investors in Supercell.

8) Seriously

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 10.45.45 AM

Photo Credit: Seriously

Founded – 2013.
Funding – Series A: $5M, 2014.
Seed: $2.7M, 2014. Investors: Daher Capital, Upfront Ventures, Sunstone Capital.
Seed: $2.4M, 2013. Investors: Sunstone Capital, Upfront Ventures.
Founders –  Petri Järvilehto, Andrew Stalbow.
Locations – Helsinki, Santa Monica.
Social – Facebook, Twitter.
Overview – Another Rovio pair-led startup, Seriously is starting to make big waves. Its first game on the market, Best Fiends (available on iOS and Android), got more than 1 million downloads in the first week after its release in October, and currently has more than 1 million daily active users

Seriously has some serious traction: We look forward to seeing what they come out with next.

 

9) Small Giant Games

Small Giant Games's Team / Photo Credit: SGG's Facebook Page

Small Giant Games’s Team. Photo Credit: SGG’s Facebook Page

Founded – 2013.
Funding –  Seed: $3.1M, 2014. Investors: Risto Siilasmaa, Gregory Milken, Spintop Ventures, PROfounders Capital, Creandum.
Seed: $750K, 2013.
Founders – Timo Soininen, Markus Halttunen, Otto Nieminen.
Locations – Helsinki.
Social – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
Overview – 
Small Giant Games is a mobile gaming startup whose first game, Oddwings Escape, will be released some time this year. This was the impetus behind their most recent $3.1 million seed funding round in October, 2014. Their team consists of industry veterans with extensive experience, who aim to make engaging mobile games for multi-player audiences.

Small Giant Games chief executive office Timo Soininen explained in a press release how they hope to differentiate themselves from the fierce competition: “It’s not possible to succeed in the fiercely competed mobile games market just by copying existing popular games – you need to create new and unparalleled game features and experiences, which shape the existing genres and create entirely new ones.” He added, “One of our goals is to raise the quality of character animations in mobile games to a new level. We are thrilled to get experienced investors to back our vision of creating beautiful and engaging multiplayer games with small focused teams.”

 

10) Next Games

Nest Games's Team / Photo Credit: NG's Facebook Page

Nest Games’s Team. Photo Credit: NG’s Facebook Page

Founded – 2013.
Funding –  Series A: $6M, 2014. Investors: Phil Sanderson, York Ventures, Jari Ovaskainen, Lowercase Capital, IDG Capital Partners, AMC Networks, IDG Ventures USA.
Founders –  Jaakko Jumisko, Joakim Achrén, Kalle Hiitola.
Locations – Helsinki.
Social – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
Overview – Next Games, founded by games veterans from Rovio, Supercell and Disney, has not only landed a good deal of cash, but also impressive partnerships with investors Lionsgate and AMC Networks to develop mobile games based on TV series and movies, including The Walking Dead. Lionsgate invested approximately $2 million in the startup as it plans to expand franchises such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Twilight. Its first game The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land, made in partnership with AMC, will be released some time early this year. 

 

11) PulseOn

Tero Mennander - CEO and Founder, PulseOn

Tero Mennander – CEO and Founder, PulseOn. Photo Credit: PR

Founded – 2012.
Funding – Seed: €1M , 2014.
Seed: €1M, 2013, Investors: Olli Pohjanvirta, Otar Margania.
Founders – Tero Mennander, Prof. Ilkka Korhonen, Kate Alhola, Jari Nousiainen, Jaakko Hattula.
Location – Espoo.
Social  Facebook, Twitter.
Overview – PulseOn is a mobile wellness technology company that aims to make the world’s easiest, most accurate heart rate monitor. Released in October, the company has developed a highly accurate wrist based heart rate monitoring device that is not only small and stylish, but also offers meaningful insights about users’ fitness and activity. Though many wearables claim to measure heart rates, most have worse quality data. So the fact that PulseOn’s product is similarly accurate in comparison to large, technical, bulky and uncomfortable chest strap based monitors, and provides analytics in iOS and Android applications, is a welcome innovation.

 

12) Sharetribe

Antti Virolainen (left) and Juho Makkonen (right) - Co-Founders of Sharetribe / Picture Credit: PR

Antti Virolainen (left) and Juho Makkonen (right) – Co-Founders of Sharetribe. Photo Credit: PR

Founded – 2011.
Funding – Seed: $1M, 2014, Investors: Reaktor POLTE, Lifeline Ventures.
Seed: $160K, 2013. Investor: Reaktor POLTE.
Seed: $40K, 2012. Investor: Start-Up Chile.
Founders – Juho Makkonen, Antti Virolainen.
Locations – Helsinki.
Social  Facebook, Twitter.
Overview – Sharetribe provides an easy way to create a peer-to-peer marketplace website in the spirit of Airbnb, Fiverr or Etsy. In Sharetribe marketplaces, members can rent or sell products, services or spaces to each other. Their platform enables anyone to create such a site without coding skills, taking just a few minutes to set up. The Sharetribe platform powers numerous marketplaces in 15 countries, hoping to make it accessible and affordable for anyone around the world to create their own marketplace site.

 

13) Bitbar (Testdroid)

Bitbar's Team: Sakari Rautiainen, CTO, (left)  and Jouko Kaasila, COO (right)

Bitbar’s Team: Sakari Rautiainen, CTO, (left) and Jouko Kaasila, COO (right). Photo Credit: PR

Founded – 2009.
Funding – Venture: $3M, 2013. Investors: Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ), Qualcomm Ventures, Creathor Venture, DFJ Esprit, Finnvera Venture Capital.
Seed: Undisclosed, 2012. Investor: Finnvera Venture Capital.
Founders – Marko Kaasila, Jouko Kaasila. 
Location –Helsinki.
Social  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
Overview – Bitbar Technologies is a technology and service company that provides high-performance mobile software development and testing solutions for mobile app and game developers. It distinguishes itself from cloud testing competitors by allowing developers to test across across multiple devices and in real-time as well as automated testing. The company’s flagship product – Testdroid Cloud – has been used to make many of the most popular mobile apps and games reliable, highly optimized and compatible across the Android and iOS device ecosystems.


14) Walkbase

Tuomas Wuoti - CEO & Co-Founder of Walkbase

Tuomas Wuoti – CEO & Co-Founder of Walkbase. Photo Credit: PR

Founded – 2010.
Funding – Series A: €3M, 2013. Investors: SBT Venture Capital, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo. Seed: $300K, 2013. Investors: Jan Blomquist, Leonid Gluzman, Leonid Volkov.
Founders – Tuomas Wuoti, Niclas Jern.
Locations – Espoo, Turku, London.
Social  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
Overview – Walkbase is the next generation of in-store analytics and marketing solutions for traditional, offline retailers. Like modern web analytics platforms, Walkbase provides retailers with real-time analytics on customers’ browsing habits in brick and mortar stores. Importantly, they combine data about their activity within the store, using existing hardware such as Wifi and door counters, with customers’ online behavior to create omni-channel customer profiles. For retailers, this means engaging customers with personalized in-store marketing, and turning physical stores into digital advertising spaces.

15) Tellyo

Kimmo Koivisto, CEO and Co-Founder of Tellyo / Picture Credit: PR

Kimmo Koivisto, CEO and Co-Founder of Tellyo. Photo Credit: PR

Founded – 2012.
Funding – Seed: €200K, 2014. Investor: GS Group.
Founders – Kimmo Koivisto, Jakub Majkowski, Mariusz Ostoja-Swierczynski, Justyna Majkowska.
Locations – Helsinki, Lodz, London.
Social  Twitter, LinkedIn.
Overview – Tellyo makes it easier to clip TV broadcasts into short highlights people can share on social media. Specifically, their Share the Moment service allows live TV viewers the ability to clip what they’ve just watched through Tellyo’s app, and then share it.


16) Moodmetric

Henry Rimminen, Co-Founder of Moodmetric / Picture Credit: PR

Henry Rimminen, Co-Founder of Moodmetric. Photo Credit: PR

Founded – 2013.
Funding – Seed stage. Currently running on their own capital (six co-owners) and a Tekes grant (Tekes is the Finnish Funding Agengy for Innovation).
Founders – Henry Rimminen, Kai Kronström, Juha Lindström.
Location – Espoo.
Social  Facebook, Twitter.
Overview – The Moodmetric ring is smart jewelry for emotional wellbeing. It is a beautifully crafted piece of Scandinavian design, hiding a biosensor tracking emotional activity. The Moodmetric technology guides the wearer to better use of mental resources and active reduction of stress and tension, showing which times of the day are most and least stressful. It does this by detecting electrodermal activity (EDA) in one’s nervous system, a measurement that’s been conducted to analyze stress for more than 100 years.

Though there are similar devices, including bracelets, on the market, it is one of the lightest, smallest, and most aesthetically appealing mood measuring wearables.

 

17) 10monkeys

10monkeys's Co-Founders: Simon Björklund and Katri Björklund / Photo Credit: PR

10monkeys’s Co-Founders: Simon Björklund and Katri Björklund. Photo Credit: PR

Founded – 2011.
Funding – Seed: Undisclosed, 2012-2014. Investors: Finnish business angels, Frontier Seed Accelerator.
Founders – Katri Björklund, Simon Björklund, Lisen Häggblom.
Location – Helsinki.
Social  Facebook, Twitter.
Overview – 10monkeys is a game studio that makes math learning games fun for kids. 10monkeys is an international growth company with operations and customers around the world, and targets families, schools, and of course, kids. The company was founded in 2011 and is owned by the company’s management – people committed to making the world a better place through learning. You can download their apps for iOS and Android and see for yourself.

 

18) Claned Group (previously TribaLearning. The name change will occur on March 1)

Mervi Palander - CEO of Claned Group (previously TribaLearning) / Photo Credit: PR

Mervi Palander – CEO of Claned Group (previously TribaLearning). Photo Credit: PR

Founded – 2013.
Funding – Seed: €2.4M, 2013. Investors: Business Angels, Tekes.
Founders – Vesa Perälä, Antti Pasila, Micke Paqvalén.
Locations – Helsinki, London, Shanghai, Singapore.
Social  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
Overview – Claned Group (previously TribaLearning Oy), seems to combine trendy edtech with fitness tracking into something somewhat novel: a platform that tracks your self-described learning goals, measures your progress, and gives you tips for what could improve your learning results. You can also collaborate on learning goals and interact with other learners on the platform. CLANED™ claims that it is the world’s first solution to combine both educational data mining and learning analytics: It could prove very handy for teachers that want to assist students and improve their syllabi.

They are currently seeking to raise a $7-$10 million Series A round of funding.

19) bt.tn

From left to right: Sami Pönkänen, Harri Rautio, Jari Leminen, Juuso Pesola - bt.tn Co-Founders / Photo Credit: PR

From left to right: Sami Pönkänen, Harri Rautio, Jari Leminen, Juuso Pesola – bt.tn Co-Founders / Photo Credit: PR

Founded – 2013.
Funding – Seed: Undisclosed, 2013. Investor: Jari Ovaskainen.
Founders – Harri Rautio, Juuso Pesola, Jari Leminen.
Location – Helsinki.
Social  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
Overview – The bttn is a short way of saying what you think it would mean: button. And as you can imagine by the funny tech name, it’s an internet oriented button, specifically to start a pre-defined action or chain of actions in the cloud. Some examples of bttns, which work via built-in mobile data or Wi-Fi, are for taxis, elderly care, and service and maintenance companies, as well as safety bttns for schools and manufacturing.

 

20) Tespack

Tespack team with Mario Aguilera - CEO and Founder (Second to the left)

Tespack team with Mario Aguilera – CEO and Founder (Second to the left). Photo Credit: PR

Founded – 2013.
Funding – Undisclosed.
Founders – Mario Aguilera.
Locations – Helsinki.
Social  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
Overview – Tespack’s solar powered smartpacks are intended for folks that need to charge devices but will be away from energy sources for long periods of time, such as transit riders and outdoors enthusiasts. The packs are particularly ideal for trekking and biking trips, and they claim they are the first company to create solar-powered backpacks designed for these activities. Their mini pack costs just €49.

 

Feature Photo Credit: Scenic summer aerial panorama of the Old Town architecture in Helsinki, Finland / Shutterstock

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Rinat Korbet and Laura Rosbrow

About Rinat Korbet and Laura Rosbrow


Rinat Korbet is a startup outreach manager & analyst at Geektime. Likes to geek-out, play video games, binge watch and blog about culture and media. Laura is a social entrepreneurship enthusiast: This is what happens when a former social worker becomes a tech journalist. She writes mostly about startups, technology, peace and justice issues, cultural topics, and personal stuff. Before Geektime, she was an editor at the Jerusalem Post and Mic.

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  • StefaniaBelmondo

    I wouldn’t be so high on Valkee, as it’s a scam. Their science doesn’t hold up, but for some reason the press treats them with kid gloves.

  • Pekka / Valkee

    Stefania – Our product divides opinions but certainly is not a scam. The science has been solid during my watch since 2012, that I can speak for. There’s more to do, and the work continues and is shared with others who share the purpose to study and harness light’s benefits for health and performance. A scam it is not despite a few very passionate critics.

    • StefaniaBelmondo

      Yeah, selling two LEDs and a battery for 200€ is a pretty decent business while it lasts. I especially enjoy the first study, done without any controls and with 13 people, drawing conclusions that 92% people are healed with Valkee, as 12 of the studied said they felt somewhat better. That’s some rigorous lab work right there.

      Apparently, a later study foud out that the brightness of the light doesn’t have any effect, suggesting that any possible benefits aren’t because of the light, rahter just plain old placebo. If one were serious about this, there would be a study with real contorls, placebos and proper blinding. But we all know that’s not good for business.