New startup career fair to help Nordic startups attract international talent

The following is a guest post from our friends at Founders House.

The Nordic startups need talent. Everything from highly experienced CMOs to that kickass intern that help you set up a new lead generation cycle. The best candidates we see are often referred by personal network such as the early international employees, previous colleagues with startup experience, and don’t underestimate the expats and spouses.

We are happy to see the #NordicMade Career Fair take off. One of the main bottlenecks for the Icelandic startup ecosystem is access to talent. We certainly do have a well educated population, however in Iceland there is a lack of people with the relevant skills and know-how needed to better support economic growth derived from export driven industries – Salóme Guðmundsdóttir, CEO of Icelandic Startups

The Hub and Startupmatcher work year round to create a great platform for startup jobs. But this one time a year it is a team effort. #NordicMade want to engage the people of the startup ecosystem to use your personal network and help startups of the North find their next brilliant team member. Please share #NordicMade Career Fair with your personal network, whether that be Icelandic, another home country or international.

The #NordicMade Career Fair is free, and the reason we’re doing this is that we experienced finding talent is one of the biggest challenges for startups – in Startup Village* and Founders House alone we have almost 100 open positions –  so we decided to do something about it and created #NordicMade Career Fair for startups in the Nordics.

#NordicMade Career Fair is different from other career fairs as it:

  1. It is virtual, which means that talent and startups meet online and are presented with a shortlist of respectively relevant jobs or relevant candidates
  2. The entire Nordic startup ecosystem supports and spreads the word of your jobs
  3. The candidates are from all over Europe and are willing to relocate
  4. It is only a few hours and you can work with the chat window open next to other tasks from your office
  5. Only for startups
  6. It is free

For more information please visit, https://live.graduateland.com/startup_vcf2017/. The entire Nordic startup ecosystem #NordicMade of 35+ startup organisations is backing a recurring yearly Startup Career Fair organised by Founders House and Graduateland.

The online event is 15 November 2017, 13.00-16.00. See more and upload your open vacancies and internships, https://graduateland.com/recruiter/signup/

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us, should you have any questions and for technical support, please contact careerfair@graduateland.com or watch this how-to video

This short post is a part of The Update – crowdsourced news and updates from the Icelandic startup and tech community. If you wish to share an announcement, send us a message.

OZ Sports among seven companies to participate in first Nordic Scalers program

OZ Sports – previously known simply as Oz – is one of the seven companies chosen to participate in the first edition of Nordic Scalers. Nordic Scalers is a six month scaling program that connects chosen startups to mentors to help them scale in the US. Icelandic Startups is the local partner for Nordic Scalers.

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The first Icelandic Wasabi hits the market

Jurt – formerly known as Wasabi Iceland – just announced its first batch of brand-new Nordic Wasabi has hit the “shelves.” You can now try Icelandic grown Wasabi at restaurants Fiskmarkaðurinn (Fish Market) and Grillmarkaðurinn (Grill Market).

“What most people know as wasabi isn’t really wasabi, but a mix of horseradish, mustard and green food-coloring,” said Ragnar Atli Tómasson, co-founder of Jurt. “Fresh wasabi, on the other hand, is made purely from the wasabi plant, which is what we’re producing.”

The company, which participated in Startup Reykjavik 2015, subsequently raised a $380,000 seed round, and added another seed round in March this year, bringing the total raised to 100m ISK, around $900k in today’s exchange rate. In addition, the company has received a grant from the Technology Development Fund. The company was founded by Ragnar and Sindri Hansen.

“Our product has gotten much deserved interest at the Grillmarket and Fishmarket,” said Sindri, co-founder. “It’s being used in interesting courses, such as Icelandic Minke Whale Steak with Wasabi and in a Nordic Wasabi Martini.”

Nordic Wasabi is grown in high tech greenhouses in the East of Iceland where geothermal heat and renewable electricity are used in the production. According to a statement, foreign chefs have shown interest in the product. “We aim at exporting fresh wasabi under the Nordic Wasabi brand, later this year,” Johan said.

Inspirally raises undisclosed angel round

Inspirally – formerly known as Vizido – just announced it has raised an undisclosed amount from a group of angel investors including Thor Fridriksson, founder of QuizUp and co-founder of Teatime, and Vilhjálmur Þorsteinsson.

“It is an honor to get funding from seasoned tech entrepreneurs like Thor Fridriksson and Vilhjalmur Þorsteinsson,” said co-founder Pétur Orri Sæmundsen. “We are lucky to have them on board and we are both happy and exicted to work with them.”

Inspirally helps creative people collaborate on their ideas. It allows people to take and manipulate pictures and videos to be shared with other people for collaboration. Interior designers and architects are already using the product, according to a statement.

Pétur co-founded the company with Erlendur Steinn Guðnason. Inspirally is currently in closed beta and according to the founders they expect to release it to the public in February 2018.

Atmonia wins annual business plan competition Gulleggið

Atmonia is the winner of Gulleggið fall 2017, a business plan competition run by Icelandic Startups.  Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector of the University of Iceland opened the ceremony in University of Iceland on Saturday where the results were announced.

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CCP shuts down VR projects, lays off 100 people

Icelandic news outlet MBL.is reported earlier today that CCP Games, creators of the Eve franchise, are shutting down VR development and laying off nearly 100 people globally. The company’s Newcastle (UK) office will be sold, Atlanta (US) will be closed, and 30 people have been laid off in the Icalandic HQ.

According to Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CEO of CCP, market conditions don’t allow for more investments in the space, probably laying to rest any ideas of Iceland becoming a hotbed for VR development. It’s also a bad sign for the fledgling VR market, as CCP had become one of the biggest players in producing interactive content for the technology.

“We’re going to focus on PC and Mobile games,” Hilmar Veigar said in a statement, referring to (at least) Project Nova, the company’s second venture into the First-Person shooter territory.

Read more on MBL.is or PC Gamer.

More investors for seafood startups

Þór Sigfússon

One of the greatest challenges for the 100% fish utilization movement is financing. I have felt that investors. financiers and bankers which have some focus on seafood have little or no knowledge about the new seafood industry; nutraceutical or functional food from fish protein or new technology for extending shelf life, extracting proteins, securing trazeability etc. Seafood bankers and financiers know all about fisheries and fish processing but the new seafood is a black box to them.

It is understandable as the traditional and new seafood industry are very different. We should not necessarily try to change the traditional bankers. They have an important role to play in their field. I believe instead we need to better inform investors who have been involved with high tech, pharmaceutical markets, health and beauty about these new opportunities. Get them excited about new seafood startups. But how?

First we have to showcase new startups which are becoming proof of concept; small profitable companies developing products from seafood proteins etc.

Second, the Ocean Cluster Network can be the vehicle which effectively develops and validates a scalable business model from the ideas which emerge from the network.

Third, we have to invest in relationships with these investors. This means we need to get close to them. The Fish 2.0 project in the US is a good example. Our sister clusters in New England (Maine and Massachusetts) are a part of our strategy to connect seafood startups from all over with the global investment community. The coastal areas in New England have a global investment community next door.

Now its our turn to show investors the startup world in seafood which they rarely know exists!

This is a guest post by Þór Sigfússon, founder and CEO of the Iceland Ocean Cluster.

Cover image by Timothy Meinberg.

How a media personality’s change of jobs might influence the tech industry in Iceland

This post is from the Northstack Memo, our newsletter and commentary on recent happenings in the Icelandic startup ecosystem, written by @kiddiarni.

Yesterday, Kjarninn reported that Icelandic media personality Logi Bergmann would be barred from starting a new media job at Árvakur – publisher of Morgunblaðið and owner of K100.5 radio station – for twelve months. The reason? His former employer, 365 (owner of Stöð 2 and Fréttablaðið) is suing, because Logi had a 12 month notice period, as well as a 12 month non-compete after the termination period, barring him from working at another media company.

How does this connect to Icelandic startups? One word: Non-competes.

If this decision will be upheld by courts it could set a dangerous precedent that makes non-competes not only legal but enforceable.

Non-competes bar employees of a company from working for a company in a similar industry for a certain amount of time after their departure from the current company. And they slow down innovation. And are bad.

The claim that non-compete clauses chill innovation should not catch anyone by surprise. Think of Silicon Valley, the world’s technology center. California law forbids Silicon Valley firms from using non-competes, and employees are largely free to move. Workers’ mobility creates knowledge spillovers across firms and throughout the industry, all of which stimulate greater innovation. It was Bob Noyce, the founder of Intel, who hailed “the mobility of our personnel, which quickly diffuses knowledge of new techniques in design, production, and marketing.” (from Fortune)

The clearest example of this is between Silicon Valley in California and Route 128 in Massachusetts. Research suggests that the difference in how the two states deal with non-competes (in California they’re not enforced) had an impact on the growth of Silicon Valley and deterioration of Route 128 (relatively speaking). From the abstract:

[Professor Gilson] contends that legal rides governing employee mobility influence the dynamics of high technology industrial districts by either encouraging rapid employee movement between employers and to startups, as in Silicon Valley, or discouraging such movement, as in Route 128.

Because California does not enforce post-employment covenants not to compete high technology firms in Silicon Valley gain from knowledge spillovers between firms. These knowledge spillovers have allowed Silicon Valley firms to thrive while Route 128 firms have deteriorated. (source)

So, if this issue goes to court and the non-compete will be upheld, it might set a dangerous precedent for Icelandic industry.

Granted, there’s a difference when a company wants to stop a media personality to bounce between media outlets and when engineers move from one tech company to another. But if the findings of the court are very open, it might impact the enforcement of such contracts in Icelandic law as well.

Two notes on the funding report (from the Memo)

This post is from the Northstack Memo, our newsletter and commentary on recent happenings in the Icelandic startup ecosystem, written by @kiddiarni.

Last week we published our quarterly funding report (read it here) where we looked at investments and exits in Q3 2017. This Memo will be short and sweet.

Another top tier VC invests in Iceland

Index Ventures, arguably the top European VC firm, invested for the first time in Iceland this quarter. This adds Index to a (small but) growing list of top tier VC firms that have participated in Icelandic companies. Other’s are most notably Sequoia that invested in QuizUp and WuXi NextCODE (gray area whether it should be counted as an Icelandic investment, I didn’t in the report, but it’s one we should remember anyways), and New Enterprise Associates, that invested in CCP in 2015. This is also second time that Thor Fridriksson (co-founder Teatime Games) brings a top tier VC firm to Iceland (last time was Sequioa).

The significance is in my mind, obvious. Being in Iceland is not a barrier to international investors. Yes, teams need luck and connections, but getting international money is possible.

Also, now that there are two (kindof) investments from Sequoia in Iceland, we’re most definitely the most often Sequoia funded country in the world (per capita).

The QuizUp effect is showing

Two out of three investments this quarter were into companies founded by ex-QuizUp people. Viska Learning was founded by Vala Halldórsdóttir (ex-CRO & Editor in Chief), Stefanía B. Ólafsdóttir (ex Head of Data) and Árni Hermann Reynisson (ex VP Engineering). Note: Their first employees are also ex-QuizUp.

Teatime Games was founded by Thor Fridriksson (ex-CEO), Ýmir Örn Finnbogason (ex-CFO), Gunnar Hólmsteinn Guðmundsson (ex-COO) and Jóhann Þ. Bergþórsson (ex-CTO).

In addition to that, another ex-QuizUp founded company – Takumi – raised a Series A round earlier this year. That brings the QuizUp related rounds to 3 (out of 8 tracked) this year.

(Note: Yes, I’m obviously biased because I worked at QuizUp and they’re all my friends. However, I still find it an interesting datapoint of an effect I discussed in an earlier post).

With Airdate, Overcast Software is simplifying ad planning

Overcast Software recently announced it signed a major contract with a leading Scandinavian digital agency, SMFB Engine. SMFB Engine will implement Overcast’s ad planning solution, Airdate.

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Nortstack – Reporting and analysis of the Icelandic startup scene