In November, Eggsplore went to Stockholm for a private scouting tour to meet with the local Fintech and Tech4Fin key players. After meeting with fund investors, VC’s, technological hubs and leading local scaleups, Ellen Thijs – Eggsplore’s Executive Program Manager – shares with us her insights. It seems building tech startups is a national sport.
Eggsplore: Ellen, could you tell us why you chose to scout in Stockholm?
Ellen: Sweden is sometimes referred to as “the king of the North” inasmuch as Sweden is a booming ecosystem with notable entrepreneurial hubs such as Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmš. The city of Stockholm alone has produced six unicorns to date, among which two were Tech4Fin companies: Klarna and iZettle, and it is ranked as one of the most prolific tech hub globally – only beaten by Silicon Valley when it comes to unicorns per capita.
Stockholm has churned out more billion-dollar tech companies than any other city in Europe, beating metropolises such as London and Berlin. We were naturally excited to embark with one of our partner to meet with the vibrant players at the heart of the Nordics’ ecosystem.
Eggsplore: During your visit, what struck you the most? Could you tell us more about some of the companies you visited, share with us your views on them and what can Eggsplore get out of this scouting ?
Ellen: The Nordic ecosystem is relatively young, with just over 60% of scaleups founded after 2010; though, Sweden is the largest European scaleup hub with 149 companies (35% of the total).
I was impressed by the quality of the teams we met, whether they were payments solutions (Klarna), cryptocurrencies (Safello and ChromaWay) or advanced and innovative security providers (BehavioSec).
The support they receive from the so called “smart money providers” such as NFT Ventures – a venture capital focused on financial technologies companies in the Nordics (Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark), and Europe – or the hubs such as SUP46 – a startup community backed by the leading local tech influencers – confirmed my convictions that we are on to promising developments in Belgium too, where we observe changes in the landscape.
I am convinced we have our share of talent here in Belgium and the initiatives we build are part of a broader shift that should be encouraged and deepened in order to experience the kind of dynamism we felt was pushing our Swedish counterparts.
Eggsplore: Are there further collaboration to expect?
Ellen: At Eggsplore, we like to build bridges and create gateways between geographies as much as between corporates and Tech companies. This first visit to Stockholm was a success in this respect. Eggsplore’s members will undoubtedly benefit from these new bridges as it open possibilities of collaboration for us, igniting market intelligence sharing practices with our local points of contact. In that perspective, we look forward to hosting the companies and investors we visited on our side of Europe in the coming weeks.
Eggsplore: To conclude on an opened question, did you observe initiatives or specific programs that you would favourably welcome in Belgium?
Ellen: I would most gladly have brought two of them back with me indeed: the inter-governmental support the region receives with the recent launch of Rising North –hallmark of a national consensus entrepreneurial efforts are not optional – and the feeling Swedish people are excited to take on the challenges of the technological era we have entered (did you know the percentage of computer users has grown from 25% in 1995 to more than 90% in 2016 ?).
On the public initiative side I just mentioned, the Nordic Council – an inter-governmental body for co-operation in the Nordic Region – notably launched a €1.5 million fund called Rising North to support the internationalization of the Nordic startup ecosystem. It is designed as a three year project, as part of a priority project program from the Finnish Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers 2016. I strongly believe in the efficiency of private initiatives but this governmental scheme makes it easier for seeds to be funded and ideas to be tried. We surely should get inspired from there.
This bridges with my feeling that we should also encourage and foster initiatives-taking at a broader scale in Belgium. Eggsplore is obviously convinced of such a statement and committed to support Belgian startups in a similar fashion Swedish, Californian, Singaporian or Israeli are. I am hopeful, we already observe promising changes !