Made in Emerging Europe: Nordeus, Recart, Lightyear, Nordigen

Emerging Europe’s start-up scene is thriving: new money is pouring into the market all the time. To keep you up to date with the latest investments, innovations, movers and shakers, each Monday Emerging Europe brings you a handy round-up of the region’s start-ups which closed financing rounds over the previous seven days.

The Nordeus Team. Photo: Nordeus
Serbian game studio Nordeus bought by Take-Two Interactive for 321 million euros

United States game publisher and developer Take-Two Interactive has announced it has acquired the Serbian gaming company Nordeus at a price of 321 million euros (378 million US dollars).

Out of the total price, 185.7 million euro comes as upfront cash while a further 74.3 million comes as newly issued shares of Take-Two common stock.

Nordeus was founded in 2010, and quickly became one of Serbia’s most successful IT companies riding on the wave of success of its football management video game Top Eleven.

“Over the last decade, Top Eleven has grown its audience, revenue, and profitability through Nordeus’ introduction of live-ops and ongoing gameplay innovations that continue to drive ongoing consumer engagement. It’s also incredibly exciting for Take-Two to expand our operations into a vibrant, beautiful city such as Belgrade; the local science and engineering talent in Serbia is very strong and the quality of the Nordeus team is a testament to that,” says Michael Worosz, executive Vice president and head of strategy and independent publishing at Take-Two Interactive.

Now, Nordeus is joining the Take-Two stable of mobile game developers which already includes Socialpoint (acquired in 2017) and Playdots (acquired in 2020).

The founding team of Nordeus will continue to run the company.

“We’re delighted to be joining the Take-Two family,” said Branko Milutinović, co-founder and CEO. “We are excited to take both our products and our work locally, to the next level with them as we continue our aim of putting Serbia on the global map of gaming.”

The Recart team. Photo: Recart
Romanian mobile marketing platform Recart scores 2.8 million euros in new funding

Budapest-based marketing platform Recart has received 2.8 million euros in funding with around 2 million euros from the Enter Tomorrow VC fund, and a further 205,000 each from Oktogon Ventures and Day One Capital.

The mobile marketing platform helps online web-shops by convincing interested shoppers to complete their abandoned purchases. It does so via analysed real time behavioural data.

Recart was founded in 2016 to address what the founders saw as a serious problem of e-commerce, namely that over three quarters of purchases are never completed by prospective customers. The process is halted and the items remain in the virtual shopping basket. Today, the company assists e-commerce companies to stay in touch with their consumers in a more efficient way by automating e-store marketing activities and communication on various messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger.

Users of the platform can thus be addressed with high accuracy, Sellers can choose to re-address their potential customers with by offering them such things as personal discounts.

So far, according to Recart, the firm has generated an additional 165 million for their clients in revenue which would have otherwise been lost.

With the new funding the company will further developer its software, boost sales and expand its United States presence.

Lightyear seeks to shake up investing in Europe. Photo:
Tallinn/London-based investment platform Lightyear raises 1.23 million euros in pre-seed round

A new European investing platform based out of London and Tallinn, Lightyear, is set to launch later in 2020 and has already received 1.23 million euro in pre-seed funding from influential start-up founders, Taavet Hinrikus of Wise, Sten Tamkivi of Teleport, and Jaan Tallinn of Skype.

Lightyear was founded in the summer of 2020 by early Wise team members Martin Sokk and Mihkel Aamer, when the pair realised that investing in Europe is still broken.

Lightyear is meant to combine a low barrier of entry with a global mindset, eschewing the high fees, hidden costs, and the complicated nature of investing. The company’s team features people with an investing know-how, with many Wise, Robinhood, and Revolut alums.

When the product launches in Q3 2021 (the waiting list is open) it will offer access to 1,500 stocks and ETFs and will have no fees up to 3,000 British pounds a month. Past that a 0.35 per cent nominal charge will apply.

“Investing in Europe is a very long way away from where it needs to be. Professional and experienced investors have good options open to them with clear pricing and best-in-class tools, but ordinary investors don’t have that,” says Mr Sokk. “Lightyear is going to be Europe’s first truly commission-free investment platform, and using our experience with transforming how the world approaches currency conversion, our goal is to completely change the name of the game when it comes to investing.”

Nordigen co-founders, Roberts Bernans and Rolands Mesters. Photo: Nordigen
Latvia’s open banking start-up Nordigen raises 2.1 million euros

Nordigen, a free open banking API start-up, has raised 2.1 million euros in a founding round with participation from Black Pearls VC, Inventure, Highgoal Capital, ID4 Ventures, Superangel, Calchas Holding, and Angel Investors Artis Kehris, Henry Nilert, Gerri Kodres, and Riivo Anton.

Founded in 2016, the start-up provides PSD2 (Payment Services Directive) data connections to all major European banks.

These connections are used by just about all banks and fintechs, and the difference Nordigen makes is that they offer them for free.

“It’s time to wipe out screen scraping in Europe. It’s expensive and hacky. Banks have built amazing APIs to let people migrate their account information securely and without friction. Nordigen allows developers to connect to these bank APIs for free,” says Rolands Mesters, co-founder.

But if the service is offered for free, where the does the revenue come from?

According to the company, from paid access to data analytics and insights.

“Access to banking data is becoming a commodity and Nordigen is also creating the next valuable layer by turning fragmented financial data into usable information for various types of financial institutions,” says Aleksander Dobrzyniecki, partner at Black Pearls VC.

Top photo: Top Eleven official Facebook page.

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