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European Startup Tour (second stop): Stockholm (yep, exactly)

By Yassine El Kachchani • July 1, 2014
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Here’s the real title of this post: Handsome Smart People with Motivation and Passion (WHAT ?!). We just couldn’t use it for SEO concerns….

After Berlin, we headed to Stockholm as our second stop for our European Tour. Here’s what happened.

We started by the usual city visit. Felt like a city of Clooneys and Therons (we didn’t melt in the background this time because you just fucking can’t).

City is royal. I think they recruit princes and princesses from there. It felt like every person was in product/market fit physically, no more iteration needed, sir Steve Blank.

Jokes aside, we had quality time hanging out with the swedish startup scene.

COWORKING SPACES

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Kyrkan (great vibes, great people, very warm and welcoming)

Just minutes after entering Kyrkan coworking space, we noticed a pattern based on our Berlin stop too: there will be always 2 types of coworking spaces, one targeting startups with no specific focus (offline/online, usually involving art related creative people), and the other dedicated to tech/digital people. So my guess is you will always find the betahaus Vs agora, SUP46 Vs Kyrkan type of places.

This paints a picture of entrepreneuship transformation. Tech startups, even if they make a lot of noise media-wise, thanks to their exponential growth, aren’t the only players out there. Offline heavy businesses are also embracing the change and following the new format: technology + incubation. This process ensures lower costs of entry in term of learning, building and networking. Entrepreneurship has never been this accessible.

EVENTS

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We’ve been to the following events:

  •  STING FastForward accelerator Demo Day
  •  Crucial Connections: Online & Offline (IRL), by Stockholm Entrepreneurs
  •  STHLM TECH MEETUP with LAKESTAR
  • #Expertnight – Kings of Scaling – #SthlmTech

Going to one event per day is not an easy task. It means you are constantly getting out of your comfort zone. That warm zone where you meet with familiar faces, people you know well and chill with zero pressure involved. No, this time, everyday (coworking spaces and events) our “interaction arrows” needed to point out toward people we’ve never seen before. This is our interpretation of Steve Blanks’ “getting out of the building“.

This is what we did and this is what we hope YOU will do. Even if you’re not that outgoing, if this is what it takes to get feedback, early adopters and a small community to support you, you should push yourself hard, close your eyes and do that thing you thought you will never ever do: interrupt people who’re talking, say you’re sorry to do so, and get in the mix. A founder should be able to do that, right ? laptop for building, real life interaction for pitching.

Here’s our general take on the pitches we’ve heard:

Pitching Early: it’s more than fine to do so, it’s a must BUT if and only if you don’t expect money in return. Otherwise you are just killing your morale.

Building too much: it’s crazy how almost everybody talks about being “lean” and the lean startup stuff, yet VERY few people actually apply the principal. Almost everyone we’ve met have an over built product with too many features and nothing live yet.

Audience Interaction: we didn’t feel that the events we went to had a challenging atmosphere regarding questions asked (at the exception of LAKESTAR event which was held by the VC with the same name). During the “STING FastForward accelerator Demo Day” for example, founders were asked light questions that don’t in any way challenge their products’ value proposition. This, we think, is crucial for a healthy startup scene. That’s exactly why our motto here at hiddenfounders.com is: NO-BS.

FOUNDERS INTERVIEWS

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This is something we didn’t do in Berlin (we’re fixing this by requesting Skype interviews). In Stockholm, Nabil Belmezouar, our VP Business Developement, had the chance to interview a lot of founders. We will be writing a post for each one of them. In the meantime here’s a quick idea of the top 4:

  • Daniel Eriksson, co-founder at Waitress.com
  • Hanna Löfqvist, founder at a product in stealth mode
  • Joerg Fehlinger, CEO & Co-Founder at Artist Radar
  • Derek Wahl, BizDev @ Tash.io

OVERALL FEEDBACK

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Sweden is healthy, startup-wise. LAKESTAR for example is a VC with strong leverage in terms of international knowledge and experience. They invest in Swedish Stockholm startups, and try to bootstrap the tech scene here. There is a trend here: after London and Berlin, Stockholm is rising, thanks to a good foundation.

The Market has everything ready for the next big jump: la court des grands. They have the language, the education, the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship, co-workings and events, and SUP46. More than that, they have a success story: Spotify (trueCaller too). They got SF funding and US market penetration right, which resulted in VCs attention for the region. We all know this is how it starts. The Nordic scene is clearly doing things the right way, better than that, the classy way.

Where do you think we should go next ?

Now go MAKE something. Peace.

Yassine El Kachchani

VP Product at hiddenfounders.com

 



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