Gary Vee-backed media and events startup ArcticStartup raises funding; plans to launch a Nordic deep tech community

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Helsinki-based ArcticStartup, the organiser of Arctic15 and an independent technology company that reports on digital startups and growth entrepreneurship in the Nordic and Baltic countries, announced on Thursday that it has raised an undisclosed amount in a bridge funding round. 

The funding will enable the company to resume physical events for the first time post the Cocid-19 pandemic.

Investors in this round

The round saw participation from several known angel investors, including US-based investor Gary Vaynerchuk, who has invested in the company for the second time and becoming the third-largest shareholder.

Vaynerchuk says, “The friendship we have built with Jan and ArcticStartup over the years has been fantastic, and I am looking forward to future adventures together. As I am so much heads down on my own businesses and especially launching my VeeFriends NFT Series 2 right now and my conference VeeCon in May, I am not currently looking for new startup investments. But I am very interested in collaborating with cool Nordic brands.”

In an exclusive conversation with Silicon Canals, Jan Ameri, Chair of Board of ArcticStartup, talks about the time when Vaynerchuk shaved his head on stage for a $100 bet. The bet was made in Stockholm on 6th December 2017 — the 100th anniversary of Finnish Independence.

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GaryVee cutting Jan Ameri Arctic15 (2018) | Image credit: ArcticStartup

While having wine in a bar with Gary and a group of guys, Gary asked the table, how much would each of them take to shave their heads. Few people declined, but Ameri accepted the challenge and said he would do it for $100 as it was the 100th Independence Day of Finland. Unfortunately, since it was late evening and all the shops were closed, the cameraman could not find the haircut equipment. Gary, however, managed to fulfil the bet during Arctic15 – 2018.

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In total, 11 investors joined the round, including Curiosity VC, Tharald Nustad, the founder of Katapult, and Markus Räikkönen, Investor at global VC firm Headline and husband of Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin.

Capital utilisation

ArcticStartup organises Arctic15, a matchmaking startup conference in the Nordics and Baltics. It will use the funds to take the startup event and ecosystem-building concept to the world, starting with Stockholm and Oslo, after organising its flagship Arctic15 Helsinki conference in June.

In addition to the expansion plans, the capital will also help the company to launch the Nordic Deep Tech community and Business Summit to support the commercialisation of science and research-based startups. ArcticStartup is also preparing to launch funding services for startups by connecting them with relevant investors.

Jan Ameri, Chair of Board of ArcticStartup, says, “I’m very excited to welcome so many great people as new backers. We did well throughout the pandemic with online events, but meeting in person is so invaluable when it comes to forging both new business connections and friendships.”

“Everyone we’ve spoken to has told us that they are ready to travel again, making this a pivotal moment where we get to reconnect in the same physical space. It’s been three years since our last Helsinki event and it’s time for us to bring back the real thing. We all want to see people in rooms again and not just as images on screens,” adds Ameri.

ArcticStartup’s new CEO

The expansion plans of ArcticStartup will be overseen by its new CEO, Vedat Ondas, who has over 15 years of international business management and executive experience.

Ondas says, “Startups are solving the world’s biggest problems, and we aim to solve startup problems. ArcticStartup has been a great player in the Nordic startup and investor ecosystem for the last 15 years via well-known Arctic15 events and media outlets. Now, it’s time to carry this success to the global level.”

“Our ambition is to extend our conferences and media arm to four continents and continue to serve the global ecosystem in the coming years. Our growth strategy includes creating and acquiring events and media outlets as well as opening new services to help startups,” adds Ondas.

In the future, ArcticStartup says it will take a deeper dive into foodtech and deeptech sectors with the help of other investors who participated in the round, including Marten Mickos, CEO of HackerOne; Juha-Petteri Kukkonen, exited Kaslink to Fazer; Maija Itkonen, exited Gold&Green to Paulig; Elias Aalto, Wolt co-founder, exited to DoorDash; and Henrik Poulsen, exited Fort Deli to Orkla.

“Now, after handing over my duties as the CEO of ArcticStartup, I can focus more on the expansion plans and food tech activities,” says Jan Ameri.

“The voice of the Northern European startup community”

ArcticStartup aims to build communities with uncapped opportunities through media, events, PR and consulting. And it has been doing so since 2007. Launched by Antti Vilpponen and Miikka Kukkosuo as founding writers and getting out to two-three articles a week, ArcticStartup quickly started gaining traction.

In 2008, Ville Vesterinen and Karri Saarinen joined the founding team and ArcticStartup launched its own event that was at first held in a small bar of Dubrovnik in Helsinki.

Both the media and events started going international in 2009, expanding to the neighbouring Nordics and Baltics. This growth continued until 2012, when the company nearly shut down as the founders wanted to move on to other projects. At that point, Dmitri Sarle and Greg Anderson took over the company and re-founded ArcticStartup with Jan Ameri joining very shortly.

About Arctic15

Arctic15, organised by ArcticStartup, is a matchmaking startup event in Northern Europe that hosts 1,500 to 2,000 attendees every year. Its aim is to make deals and quality networking. The two-day event offers a focused international crowd of startups, investors, corporates, media, and influencers.

Arctic15 says, “This year we aim for 300+ investors, 450+ startups, 150+ corporates, a maximum of 2000 attendees and again – the name of the game will be “Deal Room”. This is a unique matchmaking solution that makes it easy and efficient for you to meet as many relevant investors or potential clients as you can.”

The name comes from the fact that it originally started out as a pitching competition, gathering the TOP 15 startups from the Nordic and Baltic region. The competition is still up and running but has changed its form into a Funding Program. It focuses on connecting angel investors to startups from the region to negotiate cross-border syndicate investments.

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Vishal Singh

Vishal Singh is a News Reporter and Social Media Marketing Lead at Silicon Canals. He covers developments in the European startup ecosystem and oversees the publication's social media presence. Before joining Silicon Canals, Vishal gained experience at the Indian digital media outlet Inc42, contributing to its growth with insightful content. Despite being a college dropout, his passion for writing has driven his career in journalism.

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