Virtuagym Raises €2.1 M Growth Funding

Virtuagym, Dutch provider of cloud-based fitness software, has announced it raised a €2.1 million investment from Saffelberg Investments, a Belgium-based investment firm. The new funding will enable Virtuagym to expand its consumer and professional services in the health and fitness industry and boost further international growth.

“We aim to provide both fitness professionals and consumers with a complete fitness solution”, says Hugo Braam, CEO and co-founder of Virtuagym. “This investment will allow us to speed up our international growth and further invest in the development of products and services for our clients, which include gyms, trainers and corporate health services.”

“Virtuagym provides an innovative SaaS solution in an interesting and rapidly growing vertical,” says Jos Sluys, CEO of Saffelberg Investments. “It is quite unique in the way it combines both a consumer and professional service in one platform. The company has already proven to be successful in Europe, and with this investment we believe Virtuagym can take their business to the next level, including further expansion into the US.”

Prior to this investment, Virtuagym received funding from SanomaVentures, the Amsterdam-based investment branch of Scandinavian media group Sanoma. Since then, it has grown into a worldwide player in the fitness industry, with its software and apps being used by over 7 million consumers and 1800 businesses.

Overview Devices Virtuagym Professional (All In One)

About Virtuagym
Virtuagym initially launched in 2009 as a consumer website, allowing users to track their health and fitness. Since then the service has developed into an all-in-one solution for workout and nutrition tracking, client coaching, membership management, payments, scheduling and more. Virtuagym currently employs 52 people, with offices in Amsterdam, NL and Los Angeles, US. | |

About Saffelberg Investments
Saffelberg Investments is an independent investment firm with a total capital 250 million EUR capital base, investing in diverse sectors through equity and/or mezzanine financing. In recent years renewable energy, life sciences and SAAS have become key focus areas. As of January 2014, Saffelberg Investments has invested in 25 portfolio companies, with a combined turnover of 1 billion EUR, employing close to 3000 staff.

About Sanoma Ventures
SanomaVentures is the corporate venturing arm of European media and learning company Sanoma Corporation ($SAA1V). SanomaVentures aims to support digital startups by providing capital, media reach, industry expertise, network and active support and focuses on strategic early-stage investments in innovative start-ups in online media & marketing, e-commerce and education. SanomaVentures has offices in Amsterdam and Helsinki and has since 2012 invested in amongst others Scoupy, Peerby, VirtuaGym, Brandkids, Nosto, Springest, Roomlr, SendCloud and Yoogaia. |

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EdTech Pitching Night electrifies the Sanoma House on 22 September

Helsinki, September 17, 2015 – The most interesting startups and business ideas on the educational technology this autumn will be presented to the public in the EdTech Pitching Night at Sanoma House on 22 September. Pitching Night, now arranged for the second time, brings together startup entrepreneurs, investors and the public.

“We want to help startups gain visibility and financing for their ideas. The event space marketplace Venuu participated in the last Pitching Night in May, and recently raised EUR 425,000 growth funding,” says Jussi Kallasvuo, Investment Manager at SanomaVentures.

At the Sanoma House Pitching Night, eight startups will present their ideas. The key note speaker is Aape Pohjavirta, founder of Funzi, a mobile learning service for the emerging markets. Pohjavirta is a couch and lecturer at Startup Sauna, Aalto University and DTBI, among others. He also is a steering group member in several international research and technology projects.

EdTech Pitching Night is arranged in co-operation by Sanoma, Slush and the Finnish Business Angels Network FiBAN.

“Pitching Night brings startups close to the public and offers entrepreneurs valuable feedback straight from the public and the investors. The visibility of the startup scene and the interest in it are important for building the Slush event in November,” says Riku Mäkelä from Slush.

EdTech Pitching Night will be held at Media Square in Sanoma House on 22 September from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event will be broadcast live on HSTV. The event will be held in English.

Sanoma is the main partner of Slush, an event for startups that will be held in Helsinki 11–12 November 2015.

Follow the event on Twitter #pitchingnight


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

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International children’s fashion e-tailer Brandkids launching in Poland

Dutch based online baby- and kids clothing and footwear retailer Brandkids has expanded into Poland. “Being the fastest growing economy in Europe and with a population of 36 million people, Poland is an interesting market for us” claims Brandkids CEO Hans Lormans.

Brandkids was established just over two years ago. Operating webshops in The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Poland -all under te name of Brandkids- and with offices in Haarlem (NL) and Berlin the company clearly has an international strategy.

Operations for Poland are managed from the Berlin office. Brandkids is the first non Polish online kids fashion retailer that is active in Poland. Brandkids plans to launch in other international markets and even considers to kick off in the USA. “We are always looking for markets that can be interesting for us”, says Hans Lormans,  “but we will enter countries outside of Europe only with the support of local partners or investors. Local expertise is crucial in our business. But as far as our IT and CMS systems concern,  it wouldn’t be a problem to add many more markets, languages and currency’s. This makes us very flexible in moving into new markets”. 

Brandkids is selling european and international children’s clothing from well known brands like Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Replay, Converse and Adidas. Apart from offering the latest collections, Brandkids Netherlands is doing a test with selling second hand children’s clothing via a marketplace principle.

Brandkids Poland visual

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SanomaVentures invests in Venuu, a Finnish event space marketplace

The Finnish event space marketplace startup, Venuu, has raised EUR 425,000 growth funding for expansion to Sweden. Investors in the round included SanomaVentures, Reaktor Polte and several Finnish business angels.

Like Uber, Airbnb and, the Finnish event space marketplace startup Venuu connects demand and supply efficiently online. In Finland currently delivers more than EUR 1,500,000 worth of booking requests monthly to its 1,300+ party, meeting and other event spaces.

 With the EUR 425,000 funding Venuu expands to international market, first to Sweden. has seen a strong start as nearly 300 venues in Stockholm have joined the service in just few months.

“Sweden will verify our case of effectively entering a new market. Our goal is to open the service in the next market in early 2016,” Venuu’s CEO Jasu Koponen sums up.

Investors in the current round included SanomaVentures, Reaktor Polte and several business angels. “The Venuu team shows exceptional energy and talent in  solving a true problem by bringing transparency to the event space pricing and availability. We’re thrilled to be backing the firm up in its international growth,” SanomaVentures Investment Manager Jussi Kallasvuo comments.

Further information:

CEO Jasu Koponen, Venuu Oy, +358400 013 359,

Investment Manager Jussi Kallasvuo, SanomaVentures, +35840 503 8667,


About Venuu
Venuu is an online marketplace for event spaces making it easy to find and book the perfect venue. The service is free for event organizers. Further information:

About SanomaVentures
SanomaVentures is the corporate venturing arm of European media and learning company Sanoma Corporation ($SAA1V). SanomaVentures aims to support digital growth companies by providing capital, media reach, industry expertise, network and active support and focuses on strategic early to mid-stage investments in innovative companies in online media & marketing, e-commerce and education. SanomaVentures has offices in Amsterdam and Helsinki. Further information:

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SanomaVentures invests in Yoogaia, the world’s first interactive yoga studio

Yoogaia, the world’s first interactive yoga studio, today announced the closure of a $3 million seed investment round from Nokia Growth Partners, SanomaVentures, Inventure and Point Nine Capital. This new funding allows Yoogaia to continue with its international expansion, hire key talent and improve customer experience in mobile devices.

yoogaia picture 2

Founded in 2013, Yoogaia has grown rapidly, reaching 50,000 users in over 50 countries since its launch. Earlier this year, the company opened its first studios in Helsinki, London and Hong Kong. In September, Yoogaia will launch the world’s first interactive live yoga application for Apple mobile devices globally. Yoogaia will also begin to offer yoga classes in German.

“Yoogaia is serving a large global need by an innovative use of mobile real time services that help consumers live a healthier life. Mikko Petäjä and his team have in very rapid fashion built a large growing user base in a segment of Digital Health, one of the investment focus areas of Nokia Growth Partners,” says Bo Ilsoe, Partner at Nokia Growth Partners.

Jussi Kallasvuo, Investment Manager at SanomaVentures comments: “Yoogaia has a totally unique approach in the area of wellbeing. It is the only online service where a group of people can have interaction with a real yoga teacher. There are numerous collaboration opportunities for Yoogaia with Sanoma’s lifestyle brands both in Finland and abroad”.

“Yoogaia has created a beautiful and differentiated product that truly sticks out in the online fitness market – and the numbers show that users really love it. We are impressed by what the team has achieved since launch and are thrilled to be part of the journey going forward” says Nicolas Wittenborn, Point Nine Capital.

In addition to flexibility when exercising from any location, Yoogaia wants to provide the best service to its customers.

”We have an extremely loyal customer base that finds true value in our offering, attending classes several times a week on average. This investment enables us to serve customers’ needs even better, making everyday wellbeing more accessible to more people around the world” says the CEO of Yoogaia, Mikko Petäjä

Individual Company contact information:

Mikko Petäjä, Yoogaia, tel. +44 7444 939 149,
Jussi Kallasvuo, SanomaVentures, tel. +358 40 503 8667,
Walter Masalin, Nokia Growth Partners, tel. +358 50 487 7187,
Ekaterina Gianelli, Inventure, tel. +358 44 317 3470,

yoogaia logo tm

Yoogaia is the world’s first live, interactive online yoga studio with a mission to bring easy wellbeing for all utilising the latest technology. Yoogaia brings interactive yoga, pilates, core and barre classes to your home, in real-time. With Yoogaia, the studio is where you are, allowing you to exercise in the convenience of your home with professional teacher instructing you personally via webcam. For more information, please visit

SanomaVentures is the corporate venturing arm of European media and learning company Sanoma Corporation ($SAA1V). SanomaVentures aims to support digital growth companies by providing capital, media reach, industry expertise, network and active support and focuses on strategic early to mid-stage investments in innovative companies in online media & marketing, e-commerce and education. SanomaVentures has offices in Amsterdam and Helsinki. For more information, please visit

Nokia Growth Partners (NGP) is an independent fund sponsored solely by Nokia investing in companies that are changing the face of mobility. NGP offers industry expertise, capital and an extensive network, enabling entrepreneurs to build disruptive, industry-changing companies and take them to the global market. With offices in the US, Europe, India and China, NGP extends the reach of companies making their products and services local everywhere. For more information, please visit

Point Nine Capital was founded in 2011 and focuses on early-stage investments in the areas of SaaS and Digital marketplaces. It now has over 50 companies across Europe and North America in its portfolio and has raised a total of €100M for its three funds. For more information please visit

Inventure is a leading early-stage venture capital company in the Nordics and Baltics. Inventure invests in innovative and fast-growing companies, led by exceptional entrepreneurs that are willing to disrupt their industries. Inventure’s team is a great mix of experienced entrepreneurs, industry experts, and investment professionals committed to help start-ups build global success stories. Inventure operates in Helsinki, Stockholm, Shanghai, and New York. For more information, please visit

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Fosbury Acquired by Verve Mobile

Amsterdam, NL – June 9, 2015 – SanomaVentures today announced the sales of its share in mobile marketing company Fosbury to New York based Verve Mobile. SanomaVentures invested in the Dutch start-up in May 2013. In August 2013 Fosbury participated in the Techstars accelerator program in Austin, Texas, where it drew international attention.

Verve Mobile, the leading location-based mobile marketing platform, completed the acquisition of Fosbury in May and will integrate its products into its own portfolio.

Fosbury is an innovator in the proximity-based mobile marketing and mobile wallet space. The leader in iBeacon campaign functionality, Fosbury allows brands to create highly relevant customer loyalty and deal-based messages that bridge the gap between mobile and physical retail environments.

The integration of Fosbury’s Apple Passbook and Google Wallet campaign management tools and Verve’s existing real-time, one-to-one mobile marketing propositions with first-party location data, gives advertisers a more comprehensive and powerful view of shopper purchase decisions.

Read more here: Press release Verve Mobile , Article on Venturebeat


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Sanoma launching partner of StartupAmsterdam

Amsterdam, June 4, 2015. Today, Amsterdam’s City Council member Kajsa Ollongren has officially launched the StartupAmsterdam Launchpad Network and Partner programme. Both are part of the specific action programme that aims to make Amsterdam one of the key technology start-up hubs in Europe. Sanoma has joined as launching partner.

Through a set of concrete measures, the public/private initiative, dubbed StartupAmsterdam, part of the Dutch governmental programme StartupDelta, wants to strengthen the start-up ecosystem in the Amsterdam region.


Sanoma, and especially its digital division Sanoma Digital –which was a start-up itself 10 years ago- has been active for a long time in the Amsterdam start-up scene, among others with its investment funds Dutch Creative Industry Fund (2006-2012) and SanomaVentures (since 2012). Joining this programme is a logical step to further expand its activities.

As a network partner, Sanoma will participate in accelerator DemoDays, LaunchPad meetups, match making events and individual tech scouting activities. The network will be expanded in the coming months and years to give start-ups in Amsterdam a fastlane to growth.

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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.


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.”


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.


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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. launched in March 2013 and is attracting more than 100,000 visitors per month. In 2014 it opened 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. | |


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