To identify the most promising Internet companies in Scandinavia, Informilo asked some of the most active investors in the sector to nominate and evaluate 25 companies outside their own portfolios. Some are well known, others are below the radar but unlikely to stay there for long. Sweden has arguably produced more billion dollar Internet companies than any other European country while Finland is home to two of the hottest and fastest growing gaming companies: Rovio and SuperCell. Click to find our picks for the top 25.
What it does:Seeks to provide a zero-friction online payment solution that allows consumers and merchants to interact with each other safely and simply.
Why it’s hot: Klarna lets the consumer receive the goods first and pay afterwards, while the company assumes the credit and fraud risks for the merchants. It's one of Europe’s fastest-growing companies; in the past seven years it has grown to 800 employees operating in seven European countries with over 12 million consumers. 2012 transaction volumes totaled €1.8 billion.
What it does: Entertainment media company.
Why it’s hot: Rovio started life as a developer of casual games across multiple platforms. Angry Birds, Rovio’s breakthrough game, is now part of the collective consciousness. In September Rovio Entertainment launched Angry Birds Star Wars II along with Hasbro’s Telepod toys. The game immediately topped app store charts in over 100 countries. Rovio's ToonsTV channel surpassed more than one billion views in its first seven months. Rovio's animated Angry Birds feature film is planned for July 1, 2016. Earlier this year Rovio's CMO said he saw no reason for an IPO because the company is "insanely profitable."
What it does:Social gaming developer.
Why it’s hot: In mid-October Japan's SoftBank Corp. agreed to buy 51% of Supercell for $1.5 billion. Last year, the company had revenues of $105 million and $40.3 million in profit. In April, a funding round of $130 million valued the company at $770 million. The current $3 billion valuation is the largest valuation for a mobile app company, according to Rutberg & Co. Last year Supercell pivoted to become a “tablet-first” publisher. About 10% of Supercell users purchase in-game extras, much higher than the industry norm.
What it does: Streaming music service with social media interactivity and mobile apps.
Why it’s hot: Allows users to stream more than 20 million songs from the big music players and smaller independent labels using either a free, ad-supported service or a premium ad-free service. Has more than 24 million active subscribers, of which six million pay. Spotify is now available in 28 countries; one billion playlists have been created so far. The Swedish press reports the company is seeking debt financing at a $5.27 billion valuation. Last year it lost over $77 million.
What it does:Popular sandbox Indie game.
Why it’s hot: Minecraft is a game about placing blocks to build anything you can imagine. It received five awards from the 2011 Game Developers Conference and received a Golden Joystick Award in the category Best Downloadable Game in 2012. Over 15 million people bought a copy for Mac, Windows, Linux, Xbox, Android, or iOS in 2012. The company made $90 million in profit on $235 million in revenue in 2012. It has no external investors.
What it does: Europe’s answer to Square, it offers small vendors a way to process payments via an iPhone or Android app and a card reader.
Why it’s hot: It’s not cost-effective for small vendors to have full card-processing machines and services so this app-plus-reader makes modern commerce available to the smallest of stores. iZettle is currently in seven European markets, plus Brazil and Mexico, and has nearly $50 million in investment from American Express and MasterCard. Recently introduced a new "smart rate" system, where the percentage of each transaction kept by iZettle drops from 2.75% to 1.5% as the number of transactions processed rises. Differentiating from others by providing free analytics.
What it does: Social gifting service that allows friends to contribute to digital gift cards via Facebook and mobile apps.
Why it’s hot: Wrapp brings together retail and social: connecting via Facebook means retailers get demographics and other analytics, allowing targeted advertising while at the same time tapping into the feel-good vibe of gift-giving. Since launch in 2011 15 million digital gift cards have been exchanged. The company’s team includes well-known seasoned entrepreneurs; Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman are on the board. In June raised it raised $15 million in Series B funding from existing investors Greylock Partners, Atomico and Creandum, as well as new investors Qualcomm Ventures, American Express, and SEB Private Equity.
What it does:Largest skill gaming site in the world.
Why it’s hot: Originally started in Stockholm, where it maintains a large development base, King.com offers over 150 exclusive games in 14 languages through its website, mobile devices, Google+, and Facebook. Overall, its games are played by 40 million players more than three billion times each month. Analysts estimate its popular game Candy Crush Saga makes $3.6 million a day. Just filed for an IPO expected to value what the founders call “The Kingdom” at $5 billion.
What it does:Develops and sells products for eye control and eye tracking.
Why it’s hot: Founded in 2001, Tobii creates an intuitive interface that uses natural eye movements. The company also helps people with disabilities to communicate and gain more independence. Eye tracking is used in research as to provide insight into human behavior. Tobii is the preferred provider of eye tracking solutions to thousands of researchers worldwide. The company has received numerous awards for its technology innovations and recognition for its rapid financial growth.
Stockholm, Sweden [update]
What it does: A cloud-based service for watching live and recorded TV.
Why it’s hot: An app that streams live and on-demand TV channels (which are recorded in the cloud) over the Internet on multiple devices, allowing viewers to use the service wherever they have a web connection. Successfully trialed by 3,000 people in Sweden last year, Magine is now rolling out in Germany and Spain. In July the company raised $19 million from a group of Swedish and international investors.
What it does:Facebook ads tool for professionals.
Why it’s hot: Provides cloud-based tools for social media marketing. Qwaya has customers in more than 90 countries and is growing by 15% per month. In June the company raised $3 million in Series A funding from Zobito (the team behind enterprise software provider Qliktech). The financing will be used for product development and international expansion.
What it does:Free, customizable online store platform.
Why it’s hot: Tictail enables retailers to create attractive online stores quickly and for free. It also offers marketing advice and analytics. Growing quickly; it supports more than 24,000 online stories in 98 countries. Raised €1.2 million from Balderton Capital and super-angel Klaus Hommels. Working with third party developers to create premium features such as discount codes and Facebook campaigns.
What it does:Invests in online gaming companies.
Why it’s hot: Mr Green & Co AB — listed on AktieTorget – was founded in 2013 and so far has invested in Green Gaming Group, which owns the Malta-based online casino Mr Green; Mr Green & Co Technology AB, a provider of technical services; and Iacta Marketing AB, which provides marketing services for online gaming. Mr Green was voted the best online gambling web site by magazine Internetworld in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. It has customers in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Austria, Germany and the United Kingdom.
What it does:App and global social network for sport fishing.
Why it’s hot: FishBrain's vision is to help the 200 million anglers in the world catch more and bigger fish. Won the start-up competition at Slush '13. Now has more than 100,000 registered users. Recently raised a second seed round from Almi Invest and a number of Swedish angels; the funding will be used to expand to the U.S.
What it does:Wine recognition app.
Why it’s hot: Vivino recognizes more than one million wines using a smartphone's camera. If it can't find a wine, Vivino will conduct research and get back to users with details later, meanwhile updating its database. Janus Friis, co-founder of Skype, invested an undisclosed amount in Vivino's first angel round. The company is now looking to expand into the U.S.
What it does:Finnish gaming company.
Why it’s hot: Grand Cru was founded in 2011 by six Finnish game industry veterans. Their goal: to revolutionize mobile and social gaming. In July the company closed a Series A funding round of €8.5 million led by its main investor Idinvest Partners; other investors include Qualcomm Ventures and Nokia Growth Partners. This followed a $2 million round in March to fund the creation of its first game, Supernauts. The game hasn't launched yet, but hopes are high that Grand Cru will be the next Rovio or Supercell.
What it does:Exercise and movement tracking app.
Why it’s hot: Developed by Helsinki-based Protogeo, Moves collects sensor and location data from the user’s mobile phone to measure activity. Developers can also use the data to build new solutions and integrate with existing ones using the Moves Open API. Moves-app was launched in late January 2013 and has been downloaded for the iPhone more than 2.4 million times; it tracks two billion steps a day. Raised €1.2 million in seed funding from Lifeline Ventures and PROfounders.
What it does:Mobile gaming.
Why it’s hot: Founded by Andrew Stalbow, who ran partnerships, licensing, animation and distribution at Rovio, and Petri Järvilehto, Rovio’s former EVP of Games, Seriously launched in August and expects to have a game out in 2014. The company plans to provide its games for free, with revenue coming from licensing deals for merchandise, TV shows, movies, etc. Seeking investment now.
What it does:Reverse auction site for car owners and CRM system for car mechanics.
Why it’s hot: By collaborating with thousands of auto mechanics, Autobutler provide car owners with online offers on high-quality car repairs, maintenance, etc. And car owners can easily create a car repair job and receive bids from car mechanics. Autobutler has more than 1,400 car mechanics with 90,000 completed jobs. The company has grown rapidly across Denmark and Sweden, and is now expanding into Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, and Norway. In August received more than $5 million in funding from Creandum.
What it does: Enterprise point of sale.
Why it’s hot: Wallmob focuses on POS systems, but, it says, "with very few similarities to the conventional global POS suppliers." It offers an out-of-the-box solution that helps retailers manage their inventory, scan barcodes, accept cash and credit cards, and email receipts. It also integrates with mobile payments, numerous wallets, apps and e-Commerce. Wallmob has raised $1.2 million in funding from Venture Kapital ApS. Customers include L’Oréal, Armani and the Red Cross.
What it does:Helps companies understand their audiences and build great online user experiences.
Why it’s hot: cXense (pronounced see•sense) provides online publishers with insight into their online audiences, through EIE, its unique real-time big data platform. Its mission is to "understand better than anyone what people want, and deliver contextual and networked monetization services with the most relevant user experience." Customers include The Economist, Naspers, Polaris Media, Rakuten, Ringier, and Yomiuri. CEO and Founder John Lervik was one of the founders of Fast Search & Transfer (acquired by Microsoft for $1.2 billion).
What it does:Crowd-sourced price comparison site for the container shipping industry.
Why it’s hot: Xeneta develops, markets and sells web-based solutions for global buyers and sellers of containerized ocean freight. Its vision is to change this highly volatile, $150-billion market through transparency. Since launch last year, the company has grown its coverage to over 125,000 data points per month on 1,100 port-port combinations to and from Europe. In April Xeneta raised €1.2 million in seed funding from Creandum and Norwegian private investor Alden AS. The basic service is free to members; a paid-for offering is in the works.
What it does:Mobile CRM.
Why it’s hot: GetSalesDone is a mobile app for adding, editing, and syncing relevant data and tasks between Salesforce.com and iPhones. Its goal is to help sales people plan and execute their days more efficiently. The app is free but upgradable for more features. GetSalesDone is an app on top of Force.com, so data does not pass through Dexplora's servers. Founded by the team behind The Astonishing Tribe (TAT), which was acquired by BlackBerry in 2010 for $150 million. In June the company raised $1.2 million from angel investors, Creandum and DN Capital.
Under the radar
What it does:Personal trainer marketplace.
Why it’s hot: Currently in beta, Vint is a marketplace for personal trainers in any sport and at all skill levels. The app makes it easy to find suitable local activities. All instructors are approved by Vint. One co-founder, Louise Eriksson, is also the founder and CEO of AdProfit, a digital advertising network that helps clients target the B2B and affluent B2C segment online. She was named “Young Entrepreneurs of the Year” in Sweden in 2012. The other, Magnus Hult, was VP engineering and co-founder at Wrapp and a founding employee at Spotify.
What it does:Calorie counter/diet tracker app and club.
Why it’s hot: ShapeUp Club offers a free iOS and Android app to helps users sustain a healthy lifestyle. The service has more than three million registered members, 450,000 monthly active users and 100,000 daily active users. The company has taken no external financing and is profitable. In May former execs from Spotify and Stardoll joined the business to help ramp up growth.