News

Slush Pitching Night showcases digital start-ups at Sanoma House on 6 May

The most interesting Finnish growth companies and business ideas of spring 2015 will be presented to the public at the Slush Pitching Night event at Sanoma House on 6 May.  

The event is organised by Sanoma, Slush and the Finnish Business Angels Network (FIBAN).

“Our goal is to lower the threshold for gaining visibility and financing for growth companies. For Sanoma, this is an opportunity to find interesting business ideas and investments that support our growth strategy,” says Jussi Kallasvuo, Investment Manager at SanomaVentures.

Popular in Europe and the United States, pitching events bring start-ups close to the public and encourage them to invest in engaging presentations. At the Sanoma House event, five start-ups will present their ideas in five minutes and answer questions – and another five startups have only 90 seconds convince investors that its idea has potential.  

“Sanoma House provides a great venue is a great opportunity for startups, their teams and ideas to flourish. Slush Pitching Nights bring together audiences, provide visibility and opportunities to network with the Slush community and business angels from Fiban”, added Riku Mäkelä from Slush.  

Slush Pitching Night will be held at Media Square in Sanoma House on 6 May from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event will be broadcast live on HSTV. Sanoma is the main partner of Slush, an event for growth companies that will be held in Helsinki on 11 and 12 November 2015.

More information:

Hanna Johde, Communications Director, Sanoma Media Finland, tel. +358 40 673 8977

Sanoma Media Finland is the most multichannel media company in Finland, well-known for its leading brands. We provide information, experiences and entertainment through magazines, newspapers, TV, radio, the Internet and mobile channels, reaching nearly all Finns every day. Sanoma Media Finland is part of Sanoma, a European forerunner in consumer media and learning.

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SanomaVentures invests in language learning technology provider ITSLanguage

Amsterdam, April 13 2015 – SanomaVentures has invested in Dutch edtech company ITSLanguage. ITSLanguage has developed leading edge speech recognition software to assess foreign language pronunciation, including detailed feedback on errors and potential improvements. Educational publishers and software developers can easily implement the technology as a cloud-based service in their products. For smaller publishers ITSLanguage provides plug-and-play exercises and practice material.

ITSLanguage-thumbs

Digital tools for practicing pronunciation

Herman Kienhuis, investment director SanomaVentures: “Digital course material and tools are becoming increasingly important in mainstream education. ITSLanguage’s technology enables language learning providers, like Sanoma’s Dutch educational publishing unit Malmberg, to enrich their digital offerings. We believe in the experienced management team and the potential of the technology, which allows a broad range of students to independently practice and improve their foreign language pronunciation.”

Neural networks and machine learning

Neural networks are the backbone of artificial intelligence and of ITSLanguage’s technology. In cooperation with various educational institutions, tens of thousands of audio fragments have been recorded and assessed. ITSLanguage and the University of Sheffield have jointly processed the obtained data during a multiyear research program. Based on this research, ITSLanguage developed the technology for educational purposes, but also sees opportunities for application in other sectors, such as the healthcare industry.

Michiel Sanders, founder and CEO of ITSLanguage: “Technology plays an increasingly important role for education. Both students and teachers increasingly demand personalized learning solutions. ITSLanguage’s speech recognition technology meets this changing demand and improves language learning efficiency. We are inspired every day by students, teachers and companies who envision new applications of our technology. SanomaVentures’ support, both in terms of capital and in terms of expertise and network, will help us to bring this to the market and allows us to continue to develop new features in the years ahead.”

Pronunciation_exercise_words

About ITSLanguage

ITSLanguage develops and operates speech technology specifically for language education. A passion for education and leading edge technology played a key role in the start of ITSLanguage. ITSLanguage is founded in 2012 and has since become a major provider of speech technology for educational software. The company aims to enhance publishers to create the best language learning applications and facilitates such by providing plug-and-play speech technology components. Its strong cooperation with the University of Sheffield (U.K.) guarantees the quality of its products and enables ITSLanguage’s customers to deploy the latest technological developments.

Itslanguage.nl

 

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SanomaVentures acquires majority shareholding in Brandkids

Amsterdam, April 1, 2015 – Through a new investment round and share purchase, SanomaVentures has gained a majority interest in Brandkids, an international online retailer of children’s fashion. In 2013 SanomaVentures provided seed funding for Brandkids, which now operates from offices in Haarlem and Berlin. 

brandkids logo

Brandkids was founded in 2013 by Hans Lormans, Peter Sorber and Michel Sollie, with seed funding from SanomaVentures in the form of working capital and media budget. To boost further growth, also in Germany, SanomaVentures is now providing additional working capital and also acquires a small shareholding from the founders, after which SanomaVentures will hold a majority shareholding. Founders Lormans, Sorber and Sollie will remain on board as large shareholders and as management of Brandkids, which will remain independently organized and located in Haarlem and Berlin.

International growth
Herman Kienhuis, investment director at SanomaVentures is enthusiastic about the investment: “Brandkids has developed very well in the last two years. Their focused e-commerce activities clearly fit our strategy and they have a good connection to Sanoma’s existing activities in the domains ‘women’ and ‘parenting’ and to other e-commerce activities within the group. Additionally, we are positive on the international growth opportunity in premium kids fashion. Add to this the entrepreneurial drive of the founders, which makes us believe that Brandkids has a good chance of realising substantial growth in the coming years.”

Creating scale
Brandkids co-founder Hans Lormans is happy with Sanoma strengthening the partnership and becoming a majority shareholder: “As an entrepreneur you want to focus on finding new markets and creating and capturing opportunities. E-commerce is developing very fast. You have to continuously innovate and stay ahead. With Sanoma as a strong and stable partner we can focus on the things that we do well. Sanoma helps us to accelerate our growth and reach a larger scale which is key in e-commerce.”

Brandkids-presentatie 2

About Brandkids
Brandkids is a unique online store for children’s apparel, shoes, accessories and toys. Brandkids.nl launched in March 2013 and is attracting more than 100,000 visitors per month. In 2014 it opened Brandkids.de for the German market. Brandkids offers a unique assortment of high quality international labels such as: Scotch & Soda, Tommy Hilfiger, Replay, Adidas, Moodstreet, Converse, Ralph Lauren, Blue Rebel, Ugg Australia, New Balance, McGregor, Gaastra, Blue Rebel, Baby Face, etc. In addition to the latest collections, Brandkids provides consumers with the possibility to sell ‘vintage’ items, which children have outgrown, on the platform as well, with payments being facilitated by Brandkids.

www.brandkids.nl | www.brandkids.de | facebook.com/brandkidscom

 

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SCOOL, the Finnish educational development company, raises $1 million funding led by SanomaVentures

SCOOL combines creative format business know-how with educational expertise. Having already engaged thousands of teachers successfully since 2011, the company is now ready for global expansion.

March 16th, Helsinki, Finland – SCOOL, founded by Saku Tuominen and Juha Tynkkynen, the most successful TV producers in Finland, and Pekka Viljakainen, the father of Finnish online-banking, brings together some of the most acknowledged creative people in Finland with leading educational experts.

scool logo

“Our mission is to bring the outside world into the classroom. We help schools change by creating innovative concepts that enhance creativity, curiosity and co-operation” says Saku Tuominen, creative director of SCOOL. “We test these concepts in Finland, which has one of the best performing educational systems in the world, and then scale them up globally”.

”Even though we love new technology and online learning, our starting point is always listening to the teachers and empowering them,” says Tuominen.

SanomaVentures, the external venturing arm of the European media and learning company Sanoma, has decided to make a strategic investment in SCOOL. “We are constantly looking for new, innovative learning concepts and solutions to improve learning outcomes, motivate pupils and help teachers to excel in their job. We have been very impressed with the SCOOL´s fresh approach, which combines educational know-how with deep understanding of the 21st century skills,” says Jyri Ahti, Vice President M&A and Public Affairs at Sanoma Learning.

Two examples of the formats created by SCOOL are Campus Seminar and Dreamdo Schools.

campus_logoCampus Seminar, organized successfully in Finland since 2011, helps teachers understand how the world is changing outside of school (from climate to robotics, from Ebola to economy). Campus consists of seminars, change reports, online lectures and teacher awards. Campus seminars have taken place in Finland and in Poland. All five events have been sold out and videos from the seminars have received over 50,000 views from schools. This year, in addition to Helsinki and Warsaw, Campus seminars will be organized in Atlanta, Amsterdam, Stockholm and Vilnius.

Dreamdo Schoolsdreamdo_logo_400x400 is an educational programme and a digital platform in which school classes all over the world commit to doing great student-led projects within one semester and share it with the world. The pilot season has started across four continents, in 24 countries.

“However, this is just the beginning. Our goal is to launch two new products already this spring. We see Scool as a production company that has various, evidence-based learning concepts in its portfolio, says Tuominen. “Our goal is to create a global network of forerunner teachers and then serve them well with innovative, well-tested and fresh ideas.”

About SchoolScool
The world is changing faster than ever. Schools have to as well. SCOOL helps schools change by developing innovative formats that bridge the gap between schools and the outside world. The company’s existing formats include Campus and Dreamdo Schools. Campus helps teachers understand global changes outside of schools. Dreamdo Schools connects school classes around the world through student-led projects. SCOOL is continuously developing new formats to inspire teachers and improve education globally. Its concepts enhance creativity, curiosity, co-operation and passion for lifelong learning. SCOOL operates and inspires globally and is headquartered in Helsinki, Finland.

 

www.scool.fi | twitter.com/scool_fi
www.dream.do | twitter.com/DreamdoSchools
www.campusseminar.com | www.twitter.com/CampusHelsinki

 

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2014 Breakthrough Year for Dutch Start-up Scene

Amsterdam, 29 January 2015. 2014 has been a breakthrough year for the Dutch tech start-up ecosystem. Government has stepped up its game, accelerators and incubators are thriving and more capital than ever is flowing towards start-ups. Active early-stage investor SanomaVentures summarises its year in the SanomaVentures 2014 infographic.

infographic 2014 clip 3

Government stepping up support
The importance of start-ups for the economic development has been acknowledged by the Dutch Government, which has taken concrete action to create a more attractive environment for entrepreneurs. Criteria for temporary VISA have been eased for start-up teams and budget for government loans or guarantees for venture capital funds and innovative starters has been widened. Special envoy Neelie Kroes has launched the StartupDelta programme, with the mission to make The Netherlands one of the leading start-up hubs in Europe. As part of this initiative, the City of Amsterdam has announced an investment of €5.2 million to support start-ups and increase access to working spaces, talent and capital.

Accelerators and incubators thriving
University incubators and commercial accelerators have expanded their activities and new programs are emerging. Utrecht Inc. ranked as the world’s second fastest growing ‘knowledge based incubator’ and Amsterdam’s ACE VentureLab ranked third as best new academic incubator. Leading European accelerator StartupBootcamp expanded their presence in The Netherlands with an E-commerce program in Amsterdam and a High-Tech program in Eindhoven.

SanomaVentures crossing borders
In 2014, SanomaVentures received over 350 investment requests, talked to 124 companies and negotiated with 28 entrepreneurs, which ultimately resulted in 4 new investments. Besides these new investments SanomaVentures executed 6 follow-on investments in existing portfolio companies, of which 2 alongside international VC’s. The 14 companies in SanomaVentures’ portfolio realised an average revenue growth of 90% in 2014 and currently offer employment to over 220 people. Many portfolio companies expanded internationally; SanomaVentures itself opened a second investment office in Helsinki, Finland.

More capital
European venture capital investment last year reached its highest level since the dot-com boom according to data provider Dow Jones VentureSource. The Netherlands has not been an exception to this trend. According to a list of investment transactions compiled by StartupJuncture, Dutch tech start-ups raised a record €500 million in 2014. Adyen was the first Dutch start-up to reach the so-called unicorn status, raising €200 million at a valuation of $1.5 billion. More Dutch start-ups than ever raised series A, B or C financing rounds, such as Peerby, Blendle, 3Dhubs, CataWiki, ElasticSearch or Takeaway.com. The larger, later-stage financing rounds were mostly coming from international investors, who seem to have discovered The Netherlands as fertile grounds this year. Also more Dutch seed and early-stage investors have entered the market. SanomaVentures, active since 2012, participated last year in seven of the fifty-five listed deals between €0.1 million and €5 million funding.

Sanomaventures 2014 infographic

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SanomaVentures invests in SendCloud, shipping software platform for webshops

Amsterdam, January 21, 2015 – SanomaVentures has invested in SendCloud, a new software service which offers online and offline retailers an easier and cost effective way to handle the process of customer shipments. The SendCloud software integrates webshops with shipping service providers and automates different steps in the shipping process. In addition to saving time, SendCloud also saves money for the merchants, who can benefit from the contracts SendCloud has made with various shipment service providers.

sendcloud logoThe SendCloud software solution, which among others automatically generates shipment labels and automates sending of Track & Trace e-mails, generates an average of three minutes time-saving per order. Through its platform, webshops can also benefit from SendCloud’s contracts with shipping providers and get attractive rates for local and international shipments.

Fast growth

SendCloud, based in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, was founded in 2012 by Rob van den Heuvel, Bas Smeulders and Sabi Tolou. As former webshops owners, they had experienced the cumbersome and time-consuming process of preparing packages for shipping. They started SendCloud with the ambition to solve this problem and help other webshop owners. After their launch in 2013, they were selected for the StartupBootcamp Amsterdam accelerator programme and in November of last year they won the Deloitte Technology Fast50 Rising Star Award, as one of the fastest growing start-ups of the Netherlands. SendCloud has secured contracts with large shipping service providers such as PostNL and DHL and has attracted more than 1500 webshop customers to its platform.

Rob van den Heuvel: CEO and co-founder SendCloud: “Last year we have invested substantially in the development of our platform and we were able to attract a large number of new customers. With the investment of SanomaVentures we can continue to improve our service and also expand internationally. We can also benefit from the network of Sanoma in the e-commerce market.”

E-commerce optimisation

Herman Kienhuis, investment director SanomaVentures: “In the professionalizing e-commerce industry, there is increased demand for specialised e-commerce optimisation and integration services. The SendCloud team has developed a solution that offers true value to webshop owners. With our expertise and network, we think we can be a good partner to further grow this platform, both in The Netherlands and in surrounding countries.”

sendcloud video image

About SendCloud
SendCloud is an All-in-One shipping solution for webshop owners that saves them time and money Complete integration of the webshop with the system makes this possible. We offer many other timesaving modules. As a starting company with young co-owners and personnel, SendCloud is a fast and dynamic organization that is growing every week with almost 6%. SendCloud originated from the frustration of the founders as webshop owners.

www.sendcloud.nl | contact@sendcloud.nl

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WappZapp stops service, founders join Sanoma/SBS

Amsterdam, 23th of december 2014 – Sanoma takes over the WappZapp team with the two founders Colin Ellis and Wienke Giezeman. The WappZapp service will stop in the beginning of 2015.

SanomaVentures is the venturing arm of Sanoma, aimed at investing and supporting the development of young enterprises in consumer media, e-commerce, and education. In 2013 SanomaVentures invested in WappZapp, an innovative video on demand platform.

Herman Kienhuis, investment director SanomaVentures: “WappZapp had a great team and vision and users loved its service, unfortunately it wasn’t able to generate sufficient growth and monetisation to provide for a sustainable business in this very competitive market. Therefore the team chose to stop the service. But I am very content with hiring the founders of WappZapp. Connecting with entrepreneurial talent is one of the goals of SanomaVentures, we strongly believe in the power of innovation combined with the start-up mentality.  We are glad we can continue to work with the team and profit from their knowledge and experience. This is highly valuable for us, given Sanoma/SBS’s ambition and initiatives in online video, such as video platforms KIJK.nl and Ruutu.fi, video channels from NU.nl, iltasanomat.fi and magazine brands, and the new Veronica Magazine Superguide app.”

Read the message of the founders here.

http://vimeo.com/82570068

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SCOUPY raises €2 million from current investors

SCOUPY, The Netherland’s biggest location based marketing platform raised an investment of 2 million euro from its current investors SanomaVentures, Gennie Freen Producties (GFP) and founders Bras, Slot and Karsten.

The new funding will be spend on further development of functionalities for local acquisition, activation and retention, as well as to secure Scoupy’s position in The Netherlands. Along with the new funding, SanomaVentures and GFP increased their stake in Scoupy by acquiring the existing shares of Netwerk VSP. With the transaction, Sanoma becomes Scoupy’s largest shareholder .

New CCO: Auke Boersma

Scoupy also attracted Auke Boersma as Chief Commercial Officer. Valentijd Bras, founder of Scoupy, comments: “We are really glad that we have been able to attract Auke. He is an established name in the world of Online- & Affiliate Marketing in The Netherlands. In his previous role, Boersma served as interim Managing Director of Videostrip, a participation of RTL, after having been involved as country manager in the start of Affilinet, rolled out the international performance based marketing activities for European Directories, and served as principal at Scoot Media. His knowledge, network and energy will help to further expand our path.”

full press release (in Dutch): http://sanomaventures.pr.co/85602-scoupy-haalt-2-miljoen-vervolgfinanciering-op-van-bestaande-investeerders

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SanomaVentures invests in local commerce platform Locals United

Amsterdam, 8 September 2014 – SanomaVentures invests in the Dutch company Locals United. Locals United offers local brick & mortar stores a platform that enables easy online sales, by providing them their own webshop environment and accommodating for matters such as product photography, payments and logistics. Locals United also offers support for online promotion.

In return for a monlocalsunitedthly membership subscription, physical stores add three plug & play sales channels to their operations: a web shop under their own domain name, a shop on their Facebook page and their own shop-in-shop at LocalsUnited.nl. Starting and running an online sales channel has never been more convenient, as product photography, payments, online promotion, online inventory management and logistics are all handled by Locals United.

Taking care of everything
Locals United continuously adds new features to its platform. Among the platform’s latest features are local store recommendations and a feature known as “shop local”, which provides consumers a real-time view in the inventory of local shops. To help boost offline sales in the actual store space, Locals United also offers an innovative interactive touch screen kiosk with which customers can browse through the store’s entire collection of brands – and order products which are out of stock.

Neil Persoon, founder of Locals United, comments: “Sanoma is a strategic partner and the value of the partnership widely exceeds the financial investment. The combination of a major player’s online expertise and wide marketing scope ensures we can grow Locals United faster, in the Netherlands and abroad.”

Clicks & Bricks
Herman Kienhuis, investment director at SanomaVentures, adds: “Online and offline shopping converge. Locals United developed and marketed a successful model that bridges the gap between online and offline. We will be contributing our experience in e-commerce, which includes among others Kieskeurig.nl and in the fashion sector FashionChick.com, to help Locals United improve its services and accelerate its growth.”

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 10.10.21 AM

localsunited.com | facebook.com/localsunited | twitter.com/localsunited

 

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FashionQlub acquires and restarts shopVIP.com

FashionQlub has reached an agreement to acquire the assets of shopVIP.com, which filed for bankruptcy in July 2014. FashionQlub is the company behind flash sales labels Goeiemode.nl, Vault79.com and 42HRSClub.com.

FashionQlub has relaunched shopVIP, which is available as of today at www.shopvip.com. shopVIP was started in 2009 and was the first closed online shopping community in The Netherlands. With over 1 million members shopVIP became one of the largest online flash sale sites in the Benelux.

Lennart Koopmans, founder of FashionQlub: “We see great opportunities in combining the activities of shopVIP with FashionQlub’s existing business. We are pleased that we have been able to acquire the assets, but we also realize that a number of shopVIP’s former customers might not have received their order or credit back due to shopVIP’s bankruptcy in July. Although we have no legal obligations towards disadvantaged shopVIP customers, we are doing our best to come to a solution for these customers as much as possible. We are working on that right now.”

FashionQlub co-founder Alexander van Wassenaar adds: “Luckily we also get great responses from shopVIP customers who are glad to see shopVIP return. And we were able to attract some of the staff of shopVIP which will help us in continuing the business.”

The best deals
The acquisition of shopVIP and bundling of the activities with FashionQlub creates one of the biggest players in the Dutch market for online flash sales. With its labels Goeiemode.nl, Goeiemode.be, 42HRSclub, Vault79.com and now also shopVIP.com, FashionQlub aims to further develop and expand its services offered to its shopping communities.

About FashionQlub
FashionQlub is one of the biggest online flash sales companies in the Benelux, offering premium brands at exclusive discounts via various websites and media, such as private labels Goeiemode.nl, Goeiemode.be, 42HRSclub.com and Vault79.com as well as for De Telegraaf, Veronica Magazine, VIVA, Shedeals.be and Fashionchick. FashionQlub focus is on fashion for both women and men, but it is expanding into other product categories as well. FashionQlub runs its own fulfillment center where all orders and shipments are processed every day.

FashionQlub.com  |  goeiemode.nl | goeiemode.be | 42hrsclub.com | vault79.comshopvip.com

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