Be Part Of Stockholm’s Impressive Startup Network

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Stockholm inhabits well educated people with a passion for tech and innovation. That's definitely a good reason to found your business in Europe's north - but certainly not the only one.

Stockholm, having produced six unicorns to date, is the second most prolific tech hub globally – beaten only by Silicon Valley. It has a mature ecosystem where successful entrepreneurs are re-investing time and money into the many exciting startups in various phases. The community is a vivid, tight-knit one where people share knowledge and experience through several different initiatives, recurring events and natural meeting places.

Direction: Stockholm

Advantages Of Starting Up In Stockholm:

  • Venerable Design/Engineering culture gone Digital
  • Easy to start a company
  • Ready and available capital – Angels and VCs congregating
  • Loads of early adopters who can afford the newest smartphone
  • Small market means global focus from start
  • High level of proficiency in English
  • Fourth highest rate of Internet usage in the world (94%)
  • Second fastest broadband speed worldwide
  • High computer literacy thanks to government subsidies on home PC’s in the 90’s
  • Top notch programmers at good prices, and they tend to stick around
  • Flat organizations that encourage innovation and creativity in the workplace
  • 18% of the workforce work in tech, and this number is rising
  • Reserved Swedes tend to let their work speak for them, necessitating quality products
  • Programmer or system developer is the most common job
  • High quality of life and work/life balance (long holidays, maternity and paternity leave etc.)
  • Nature – Stockholm is all islands & water
  • A good collection of universities and technical colleges, and education is not costly so the population is very well educated

What Startup Founders Have To Consider:

  • Tough to find accommodation
  • High taxes
  • Takes some time to get a work permit, when hiring specialist personnel from outside of the EU
  • Difficult to get from seed to series A funding stage
  • Employee stock options are taxed as income (although this is currently investigated to be changed by the government).
  • Limited communication between different startup support organizations. Many silos, not enough coherence in the ecosystem.

There are some disadvantages to moving your startup to Stockholm but once you’re in the system, starting things up is easily advantageous compared to most other cities. The community is actively trying to get most of the disadvantages sorted out with the initiative Swedish Startup Manifesto – several of these issues are now being looked into by the government. And lastly – the great quality of life means that for most companies, the initial struggle is well worth it.

First: Stockholm’s Local Startup Community

Stockholm-_guide_community

The Stockholm startup community has really come together during the past couple of years. It has gone from several clusters, with no natural meeting place and no obvious place for national and international visitors to go, to a vibrant and collaborative community.

The biggest annual tech event – Stockholm Tech Fest, drew more than 5000 people in it’s second year. On a monthly basis Stockholm Tech Meetup sees roughly 800 visitors. Some other yearly events such as Internet Discovery Day, Startup Day, SUP46 Growth Day and STING Day together attract a bunch of startups, investors and other stakeholders (see below for more info).

The startup news site Breakit.se acquired their counterpart Swedishstartupsspace.se and now deliver news in Swedish and English, alongside the more traditional Dagens Industri Digital and Veckans Affärer as well as the one stop shop for all things data-driven The Nordic Web.

Info About Upcoming Events, Meetups & Other Occasions:

  • Angellist
  • Meetup.com & Eventbrite.com: Meetup.com and Eventbrite.com are the most prominent collectors of startup events, growing steadily in number of memberships and event sign-ups.
  • Stockholm Startups
  • SUP46: One of the visions the founders of Startup Hub SUP46 had was to gather the startup community. Since opening its doors two years ago it has established 30k visitors per year and 250 startup events per year, becoming the natural meeting-place the community wanted and needed.

Regular Events And Meetups:

    • Stockholm Tech Meetup – Monthly meetup presenting the latest community news and where startups pitch investors live.
    • SUP46 Happy Hours – Informal gathering for startup mingling. DJ and alcohol served.
    • Impact Hub – Friday afternoon wine and open house.
    • #uberaw – Uber Social After Work.
    • Startup Grind – the largest independent startup community, actively educating, inspiring, and connecting 215,000 founders in over 185 cities.
    • Startup Weekend – a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate, and empower individuals and teams.
    • Fuck Up Nights – global movement where stories of failed businesses and projects are told.
    • Swedish Growth Hackers – a recurring meetup for all who are involved in or interested in growth hacking.
    • Sthlm.js Meetup – meetups with focus on discussing where JavaScript is heading.
    • Silicon Vikings – The Stockholm chapter connects the startup and tech communities in Silicon Valley and Stockholm and to build bridges between entrepreneurs and professionals.
    • Google Tech Talk is one of the most active meetups in Stockholm with over 2200 members and at least one meetup per month.

Yearly Or Major Events, Festivals, Conferences:

  • Stockholm Tech Fest – Yearly meetup bringing together top investors, exciting startups and attendees. 2016’s event will be announced later this year, here’s the link to 2015’s.
  • Swedish Startup Hall of Fame – Annual award commemorating people who through their actions and personality have made an exceptional contribution to the startup scene. Combined with a big party. Again, 2015’s overview here.
  • Startup Day –  keynote event for startups in Stockholm. Speakers, startup pitches, exhibitors, and a diverse group of passionate attendees.
  • Internet Discovery Day (IDD) –  Free event where startups can exhibit and pitch to investors, startup people and media.
  • STING Day – showcasing companies from the incubator and accelerator programs of Stockholm Innovation and growth
  • SUP46 Growth Day – selection of startups pitching to invited investors and media, held for the first time in 2015.
  • Symposium/Brilliant Minds – for the first time bringing together world leaders in the tech/music and innovation industry. Will it be a repeated event? We do hope so!
  • Festen –  is a party for all hackers, designers and creatives in Stockholm, aswell as the afterparty to the Nordic.js Conference.
  • Code in the Dark – Code in the Dark is a competition where frontend development meets smoke machines and lasers.
  • SIME conference – a digital/media focused annual event, not specifically aimed at startups but with the digital/tech focus it’s certainly interesting for poeople in the industry.

Second: Places To Work From In Stockholm

Stockholm-_guide_coworking

Like many cities, Stockholm has several different co-working spaces, and each has its own unique composition of personalities and industry representation. Some are startup-focused, some are more traditional office hotels and some offer a place for corporate innovation. We have tried to cover, and introduce you to, all of them below.

Co-working Spaces In Stockholm:

  • SUP46: SUP46 is the leading startup hub in the Nordics for fast-growing tech companies. It is a member based community with 50+ startup members ranging from seed stage to post-Series A. Roughly 10% of all membership applications are accepted and once accepted, the startups are offered competitive advantage through the world-class ecosystem of investors, partners and advisors. Also an open meeting place for the whole startup community. Everyone is welcome to network, have coffee or get some work done in the Hangout Space and attend the open events.
  • THINGS: is a 2000sqm co-working space at KTH Campus down-town Stockholm for selected startups with hardware as part of their solution and global ambitions.
  • The Park: is made up of two creative co-working spaces for new and mid-sized companies, and has been a springboard for many startups, like the local branch of Uber. It also has ties to companies such as Britny, Hyper Island and SUP46.
  • Epicenter: Epicenter is a co-working space in the heart of Stockholm’s business district. It is part of the Urban Escape development, a project of AMF Fastigheter, and it aims to become the first house of digital innovation in Stockholm. It hosts events and facilitates coaching and venture development. This is a membership space for corporate innovation, startups and consultants, but it hosts events that are accessible to the public as well.
  • Slottet: “The Castle” is an experiment to create a workplace that offers more than just a place to work. It’s more of a community than an office, and members are actively engaged in co-creating this community. Slottet often plays host to after-work social events, seasonal parties, and lunchtime yoga classes.
  • United Spaces: Neatly designed modern office hotel calling themselves “Corporate Co-working at heart”. Centrally located with a huge variety of customers.
  • Knackeriet: is a co-working space for web, design & business. Named “Best office space in Sweden” by Nordic Startup Awards.
  • Impact Hub: is part of a global network of connected communities that enable collaborative ventures. Impact Hubs unite people from every profession, background and culture with imagination and drive to pursue enterprising ideas for the world.
  • Kolonien: is a office hotel in the traditional sense based outside of the city – rent a space and work from it.
  • D82: is a co-working space in the center of the city.
  • Cafe&Co: is a café turned office space in Hornstull, the hipster part of the town. Trendy coffee, comfortable seats and rentable meeting rooms.
  • No18: is a building where you can rent office space or get an access card that enables you to work from one of the most fancy addresses in town. It’s got wooden floors, big armchairs and high ceilings. Also a great place to host events.
  • OpenLab: is a conference and co-working space with founding partners such as KTH, Stockholm University, Stockholms Stad and Karolinska Institutet.

Third: Securing Your Money In Stockholm

Stockholm-_guide_financing.

The investment ecosystem in Stockholm is a healthy one. There has been a good amount of entrepreneurs with successful exits in the region and most of them decide to use their funds and experience to invest in the next generation of startups. Angels and VCs congregate and there are several grants, subventions and state initiatives that work really well. Apart from this, the previous success of Swedish startups mean that lots of international investors have found their way to the city.

Incubators:

  • STING – Stockholm Innovation and Growth – business incubator in ICT, Internet/media, Cleantech, Life Science offering startups a faster path from idea to global company.
  • Student Inc. – is connected to the Royal institute of Technology (KTH) and lets selected KTH students sit and work in their premises for free.
  • SSE Business lab – is a subsidiary of Stockholm School of Economics (SSE) and offers its services without cost to teams including at least one SSE student or alumni.
  • SU Incubator – develops and accelerates innovative business ideas from Stockholm University.

Accelerators:

  • Springfield Project – Experienced team investing in batches of 10 companies at the time. Each company selected will be provided with a first seed-round of up to 0,5 MSEK. In a second step the most promising entrepreneurs will be offered an a-round investment in the range of 2 to 10 MSEK and will join our prolonged 12-month program.
  • STING Accelerate is an accelerator program providing 7-8 handpicked startups with an exclusive package of funding (300,000 SEK), tailored business development coaching and free office space at SUP46 in the centre of Stockholm.

Grants & Subventions:

  • Vinnova – promoting sustainable growth by funding needs-driven research and stimulating collaborations between companies, universities, research institutes and the public sector. Is also the national contact agency for the EU framework program for research and innovation.
  • ALMI – Sweden’s most active investor in young growth companies has the sole vision to create opportunities to help tech companies and to develop viable ideas.
  • Internetfonden – gives out grants twice per year, to projects with innovations within internet. Behind these grants is “Internetstiftelsen i Sverige”, the top-level domain provider of Sweden, .se.

Angel Investors & Seed Investment:

  • Stockholms Affärsänglar: is an Angel network providing Venture finance and competence. Active investors will do syndications.
  • Propel Capital – an Angel network consisting of 16 well-known swedish business angels, working in conjunction with STING – Stockholm Innovation and Growth.
  • ALMI Invest – investing in companies with scalable business concepts. Through the support of experienced investment managers, capital and networks, they create opportunities for businesses to grow and compete in a global market. They invest from the seed phase to the expansion phase, and are located across the whole of Sweden. Their portfolio consists of over 350 growth companies.

Family Offices / VCs / Institutional Investors:

Stockholm is regularly visited by international investors such as:

  • Atomico
  • Balderton
  • Capital A Partners
  • Ceyuan Ventures
  • Dawn Capital
  • DN Capital
  • Index Ventures
  • Lakestar
  • Lean Investments
  • Mosaic Ventures
  • Octopus Ventures
  • Paua Ventures
  • Seven Ventures,
  • Wellington Partners
  • Whitestar
  • and many more.

Finally: Support Stockholm Offers

Stockholm-_mentors

    • Startup Docs – Created by Business Angel Erik Byrenius, Startup Docs provides free legal templates for startups.
    • NyföretagarCentrum/Startup Stockholm – An organization with government ties that gives you a lot of free advice on how to start different kinds of companies.
    • Skatteverket – The Swedish Tax Agency are very helpful in answering your questions or even taking meetings with you on how to do your taxes, all for free.
    • Verksamt.se is a collaboration among several Swedish government agencies, for anyone who is considering to start, is starting, already is running, want to develop, or will close a company in Sweden.
    • SSES – Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship is a joint effort of the five Universities and University Colleges in Stockholm. Attendees of KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm University, Karolinska Institutet, or Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design are eligible to apply.
    • Move to Stockholm focuses on attracting talent to Stockholm’s startup/tech scene. They can also be found on Twitter @movetostockholm and #movetostockholm.

And if you have any questions – don’t be shy. Hop over to Twitter and use #sthlmtech to get involved in the conversation!

 

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Last updated: August 25th, 2016

The guides are like startup communities – they constantly change and grow. Make sure to check for updates and if you have something to add to one of them or want to publish one for your city, get in touch right away! And don’t forget to enrich the startup ecosystem by creating your company profile at StartUs!

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