Swedish Startup Space

Rock ‘n roll at #sthlmtech meetup – February edition

Written by on February 18, 2014

Hilton Slussen was the setting for the tradition that we’ve all come to love, the monthly #sthlmtech meetup with Tyler Crowley and friends. The main guests for the night were Almi Invest, Industrifonden and MAG Interactive.

Funding spree, rock ‘n roll and Swedish Startup Space

Tyler kicked off the night with announcing that Northzone is expanding their team, and in many ways this announcement from Northzone was a suitable way to start the evening since the “funding theme” would continue for the whole night.

First out was bitcoin startup Safello, closing a 4 MSEK investment round led by Erik Voorhees (co-founder Coinapult) and Roger Verfrom (Angel investor) but also including many others. Campanja, the Swedish online ad-tech startup, closed a round of 32 MSEK led by Hoxton Ventures and DFJ Esprit. We also got the chance to listen to the amusing story behind Truecaller’s whopping funding round of 120 MSEK from top-tier VC firm Sequoia.

Maybe the most unexpected appearance for the night was rocker Jorge Bravo from Nuday Games who showed off Rock Science. What started as a physical board game has become a mobile app rock ‘n roll quiz game, which will be launched in May, in time for the summer rock festivals. The audience was invited to try out game and we got the chance to witness a couple of true rockers debate whether Mike Inez was indeed the bassist of Seattle rock band Alice in Chains or not. Nuday Games recently closed an investment round at 14.5 MSEK, in which Northzone and Almi Invest participated.

Swedish Startup Space also got some attention, as the word of our collaboration with SvD has spread around. We are just thankful for serving this awesome startup community.

MAG Interactive (Ruzzle)

The first main guest of the night was Daniel Hasselberg, who was invited to discuss the secrets of MAG’s remarkable growth.

When they launced Ruzzle in Sweden the growth was very rapid, but in the US the adoption was much slower and it took about a year until those magic days when everything exploded. For a short period of time, Ruzzle grew with one million new users per day.

Imagine that:

Ruzzle grew with one million new users per day

According to Daniel, The MAG team is currently expanding. They are 25 but want to be close to 40 in the near future. On the question whether the competition for talent was tough in Stockholm, Daniel responded that they actually benefit form Spotify and the other giants as they attract a lot of talent here, and MAG Interactive is able to tap into that and recruit the most entrepreneurial individuals.

Although not restricted to wordplay games, MAG Interactive seems to stick within the genre of casual gaming, as their upcoming title is quiz oriented game.

Almi Invest & Industrifonden

The other main guests for the night were government backed institutions Almi Invest and Industrifonden, and there are some notable differences as well as similarities between these two players.

As you know, Almi Invest focuses on the earlier stages and they have a high pace of almost 3 investments a week. They almost always take a board seat and often around 15 % of the shares, never below 10 %. At the same time they do not want to dilute the founders too much early on. Worth mentioning is that two of the companies pitching at the last meet up, RelationDesk and Revrise, are now funded by Almi Invest.

In contrast, Industrifonden goes in later and can be in for the long run and keep building the company. Just as Almi Invest they require a seat on the board. The sport fishing mobile app FishBrain is one of their more recent investments.

An interesting difference compared to the private VCs is that both Almi and Industrifonden are always “green”, i.e. ready to invest.

Pitching Session

Malmö startup Userbin enables “bank-level authentication” for developers in small and medium sized businesses. We all know the hassle with user management, and Userbin wants to deliver a solution that also include secure features such as two-step authentication found on the larger sites such as Google and Facebook. Johan from Userbin did a great job describing the problem and their proposed solution. They currently are in private beta with no paying customers, but the interest from the audience as well as the investors makes Userbin a startup that you’d probably want to have on your radar.

Cruitway is the next challenger to head into the recruitment space. The market is obviously big and Adrian, the CEO of Cruitway, showed how students with their app easily could browse and navigate through the jungle of job ads out there. They seem to have had a good start on their endeavor but the competition is fierce and the future will tell if this Uppsala and Stockholm based startup is here to stay.

Instrument champ
Last out for the night was Instrument Champ that aims at “transforming the music learning experience”. Anyone who has recently tried learning an instrument knows that the process still is quite old school. Although not patented, Instrument Champ claims to have a novel technology able to listen to your music and giving real time feedback just as your personal teacher.

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