The Icelandic start up scene continued its steady growth last year with more events and activities than ever.
Startup of the year 2013, Plain Vanilla, grew very fast in terms of employees going from 12 to 80 full time staff and moving into new offices on the Laugarvegur shopping street. They have been attracting employees from Jive software and google which shows the attractiveness of the company as a workplace.
Startup of the year 2012, Meniga has also grown to around 100 employees and moved to new offices in the Tower office complex next to the Smaralind shopping mall in Kopvogur. They have shown steady revenue growth and no signs of slowing down.
In January the ocean cluster at the Reykjavik harbor opened an extension to their offices and thereby doubled their available space. The ocean cluster has 2,700 sq.m. of office space and has been adding amenities such as a bicycle storage, shower facilities and a restaurant will open in the space shortly. There are over 100 people going through the house daily.
Innovation Iceland and the city of Reykjavik joined forces to open a new co-working space focused on the creative industries at Hlemmur square next to the hotel which shares the name. Among tenants in the space are Iceland Airwaves music festival and Iceland Music export. On average around 120 people are working in the space which is located in two buildings. (note: I work for the city of Reykjavik and participated in developing this project).
Early in the year there were two notable investments in Iceland startups.
In march personal home finance software maker Meniga announced two European companies had invested for around €1,5 M. The two companies were Crealogix of Austria and Dutch venture capital fund Velocity.
In May, bicycle suspension fork makers Lauf Forks closed a €1,2M Series A financing round to fund further product and market development.
The largest announcement was in a repeat of last year close to the end of the year where Datamarket announced that Qlik technologies had acquired the company for $13,5M. Datamarket founder Hjalmar Gislason has stated that Qlik intends to grow its presence in Iceland and has started looking for bigger offices.
Another large investment, though not in the startup arena, but rather the IT arena was the acquisition of almost 60% of IT company Advania Group by a team of Swedish investors led by Thomas Ivarsson. Advania has already announced that they intend to hire more employees to fuel further growth.
The acquisition by Qlik makes Datamarket the obvious choice for startup of the year. Adding someone like Hjalmar Gislason into the (small) group of VC’s in Iceland is also a very positive development. Hjalmar has already invested in news startup Kjarninn.
Other notable companies include Greenqloud which have grown very rapidly in the last few years. Another startup, Recode, participated in a New York based Kaplan Techstars accelerator program and opened new facilities.
For the year of 2015 we will hopefully see new investment funds being established as there have been talks of up to five funds trying to raise capital. One or two new funds could have a very positive effect on the ecosystem increasing available capital and knowledge to entrepreneurs.