You probably had no idea, but if there were an Oscar for the “Second largest birth place of technology companies worth more than 1 billion dollars” it would go to Stockholm! That’s right, the Swedish capital is, after Silicon Valley, the largest producer of unicorns, no, not the mythical creature, the name for startups valued at 1 billion dollars or more. In 2014 there were seven cases of these startups and surely most of them will sound familiar to you: Mojang, Skype, Spotify, Klarna, King, Avito and Soundcloud.
Sweden is an international reference for living well
And yet, the Swedes have used the living well factor as a springboard to startup without fear, like lying in a hammock where you watch life go by quietly. The Swedes have used this safety net as the reason for creating a community of entrepreneurs not afraid to take risks. And even though the traditional Swedish system was designed to employ many people in large companies, society has developed, especially among young people, a thriving entrepreneurial culture.
The numerous success stories and successful entrepreneurs like the founder of Skype, Niklas Zennström, and the founders of Spotify, Martin Lorentzon and Daniel Ek, have served as an inspiration to an entire generation of young people who are characterized by being well educated in technical and business areas as well as perfectly fluent in English. It’s particularly important to point out the case of FinTech startups such as Klarna and iZettle, who received an investment amounting to 266 million dollars only in the city of Stockholm.
Entrepreneurs don’t only live for social guarantees
Besides having a strong social state, Sweden offers other advantages that help innovators to exploit the opportunities created by globalization and the internet.
• There is a risky business culture thanks to success stories that persist over time such as large multinational companies Ericsson and IKEA.
• Geographic concentration of investors, incubators, technology parks and startups. We’re not only talking about Sweden and its technology centres like Stockholm, Malmo and Gothenburg, but also to the Nordic countries in general, where FACE Entrepreneurship events will take place. As just one example, as of June 4, 2015 the Nordic companies had already surpassed the investments that corresponded previously to 2014.
• The investment of the Swedish government in quality broadband in the 90s has resulted in a native digital society, connected and completely immersed in information and communication technologies.
Success inspires… and attracts investors!
The reputation of Swedish startups successes, unicorns and other stories (see iZettle, Tictail, TrueCaller, Magine, Wrapp…) has attracted many investors and foreign business angels with extensive experience in founding, growing and internationalizing companies. This is one of the facts that have helped to position the city of Stockholm as a competitor of Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv in the technology sector.
Of course, the long dark winters can be boring but they provide ample time to think and develop quality technology products and services.