Startup examples from Tel Aviv and Oulu

27 Jun 2014

I spoke at two mobile events, Israel Mobile Summit in Tel Aviv, Israel, and Midnight Pitch Fest in Oulu, Finland. They were excellent events to see the latest innovations and startups in mobile. Both places are the home of several mobile companies, Tel Aviv for many successful Israeli startups and Oulu used to be an important hub for Nokia’s mobile business and radio technology companies, and is still an important location for NSN’s base station business. The events gave an interesting outlook on mobile startups.

First, it was nice to see not only social this and social that – apps, but also startups whose products need hardcore competence and technology. Second, there are also more and more B2B solutions from mobile startups. Third, Internet of Things is really emerging and also startups have become active in that area. All this demonstrates that mobile business is coming to the next phase, after the first wave of mobile apps (I wrote earlier about 3rd era of mobile).

Air quality measurement and monitoring are good examples about new kinds of solutions and startups. Israeli Breezometer offers a mobile app to discover the air quality, for example, on your home street, your kid’s school area or your bicycling route. They collect data from public sources (e.g. most cities have air pollution monitoring stations and cities have made this monitoring data public). Breezometer offers an easy to use app to utilize that data in daily choices for a healthier and better life. They have started the business in Israel, and as typical for Israeli startups, now they start to target the US and especially the Californian market.

A Finnish startup 720 Degrees offers tools to monitor and improve air quality and working environment at work places. Companies can monitor air quality and noise levels in offices, warehouses and factories, and based on that data improve the working environment. 720˚ is creating its own wireless devices to monitor the working environment, send data to their cloud and then reports are available in easy-to-use format to companies. They have already got a few corporations to use the service.

We were able to see many other interesting startups, for example, Voiceitt helps people who have speech or language impairments to express themselves, Compoze offers tools to collaborate in creating music and Laturi helps to test and monitor fitness and personal energy levels. Mobile and mobility is coming to help us in all areas of our lives.

Of course, in Oulu and Finland mobile games are also important. Oulu has less than 200,000 residents, but almost 40 mobile game companies, Fingersoft the best known. Fingersoft has also helped other game startups to publish their games. It is a good example, how a local ecosystem and critical mass of competence and contacts is valuable to create new success stories.

Oulu and Tel Aviv are good examples, that the telecom and mobile industries have changed and are changing all the time. Amdocs and Nokia were one day the big names in those places. Now we see that those roots, experience and competence form an important foundation, but all the time new innovations, new models and new companies are needed. No place that is going to be successful in mobile can count on old business and companies only. We have seen, how giants can collapse, and new innovative companies emerge. I believe Tel Aviv and Oulu are good examples for many other cities and regions to transfer the telecom business to new mobile business.

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