Highlighting August's most significant investment, exit and story

The Investment

Norwegian Konsus raised $1.5 million from backers including Sam Altman

There’s been a multitude of Nordic startups being accepted into Y Combinator’s prestigious Silicon Valley accelerator over the last couple of years, so while Norwegian Konsus being accepted into the winter batch isn’t particularly noteworthy in itself, what followed after (and most likely because of) is.

In July, Slack announced that they were one of the first batch of startups they had made an investment in with their newly formed Slack Fund, not only demonstrating that Konsus was on their radar but that they could clearly see a potential longer term strategic partnership.

Then last month, it was revealed that it was the President of Y Combinator himself, Sam Altman had led their $1.5 million seed round. While Y Combinator do participate in follow-on rounds these days, this is a fairly recent development and as such must be a fairly rare example of them taking such a strong stake in one of their graduating companies so soon. 

With Slack and Sam Altman on board, as well as other prestigious investors such as Paul Buchheit, Geoff Ralston, Acecap and Liquid2 Ventures, Konsus look set up to be a company able to truly put Norway on the International map, especially as they maintain a strong presence in Oslo currently.


The Exit

Finnish Kopla Games has been acquired by German flaregames

If there is one thing that the Finnish startup scene has always been able to rely on it’s gaming startups. From Angry Birds to Clash of Clans, Finland has produced some of the most played games globally. 

Having experienced a quieter than usual 12 months for investments, Finland may need to rely on their wealth of gaming talent to get things kickstarted again, and the sale of Kopla Games to Germany’s games publisher flaregames may just be the spark that’s needed.

Remaining independent and still operating from Tampere, Kopla Games now have a strong opportunity to use flaregames’ support to build on the success of Nonstop Knight, their game that made the “Top 100 Apps” in 130 countries and perhaps produce the next big Finnish gaming success story. 


The Story

Danish Spiri is an ambitious green on-demand car pooling service

Capitalising on the recent uprise in interest in self-driving cars and automated vehicles, Copenhagen-based Spiri announced itself with a bang out of nowhere towards the end of August with great fanfare from both social and tech media.

If there is one criticism I make of the Nordic startup scene more than any other, it’s a lack of ambition, but you can’t get much more ambitious than this:

"We are redefining urban transportation through a unique combination of software and hardware. Our technology matches people going the same way and the fully electric Spiri allows them to travel together at an incredibly low price."

The CEO of Drivr, a SaaS platform for taxi companies (formerly a direct Uber competitor) is one of the co-founders, and clearly has years of experience in the automotive industry that should stand him in good stead with this. Also, it appears that David Helgason, co-founder of Unity is also involved in some capacity (I believe Chairman).

Spiri will be unveiling the car later this month at TechBBQ, I will be in attendance and look forward to finding out even more then, keen to discover whether the practicalities can match the hype. 

In the tech world, things move fast and companies are born anywhere in the world. I’m able to have an ear to the ground with The Nordic Web - the content is fresh, local, and of high quality, which is exactly what you need as a seed investor.

In fact, it’s through Neil Murray’s newsletter that I first heard about Mapillary. Several months later, I was fortunate to lead our firm’s investment in the Company to help drive the creation of a crowdsourced visual representation of our world
— Nathan Benaich, Playfair Capital