Nordic Startup Bits was there as STING Day was held for the sixth consecutive year. With 65 selected startups and more than 140 investors gathered we were in for a great and inspiring day.
The headline of the day was inspiration. Inspiration for investors to meet and get to know some of Sweden’s most interesting and promising startups within life science, clean tech, ICT and internet/media. Inspiration for startups in the form of exciting stories from “those who made it”, highly relevant panel discussions, live pitching in front of a jury and a live interview with co-founder of Spotify Martin Lorentzon.
Mingling in the exhibition area
During the day the vivid exhibition area gave great chance for mingling and networking. Investors and other interested participants had a possibility to become familiar with the startups’ products and concepts first hand.
“The exhibition area was a good way to get exposure to different kinds of visitors and a chance to introduce Worldfavor face-to-face – which is always the most effective and fun way in my opinion,” Frida Emilsson said.
Alexander Bergendahl co-founder and CEO at SNOW, the world’s first free-to-play open world winter sports game obtained particularly great benefits from being able to let people experience their game first hand.
“Having the opportunity to demo SNOW in the exhibition area during STING Day is invaluable. It’s often a challenge to accurately describe what we’re building to people – especially in a crowded room – so being able to actually show a potential investor the game and let them play it right then and there makes a massive difference,” Alexanders Bergendahl explains.
STING Day indeed facilitated a chance for startups and investors to meet. Besides the exhibition area they offered a more formal setting in the form of a speed-dating session. Here startups had 6 minutes to pitch their ideas to selected investors.
Linas Matkasse – what is the secret recipe for growth?
The day started with keynote speeches of some of the Swedish startups who have made it, and Linas Matkasse, a meal delivery subscription service, was one of them. Having experienced rapid initial growth they were asked to present their secret recipe for this. They introduced their presentation with a clear answer:
“In the beginning volume is more important than margin – margin will come with volume,” Niklas Aronsson, co-founder of Linas Matkasse said.
With that strategy in mind they had focused all their energy on rapidly creating a certain cash flow. They did this by outsourcing all their volume work, like packaging and logistics, leaving themselves to do all the really valuable work.
With the cash flow created they were able to make a national TV commercial produced in Lina’s own kitchen with her own family acting. The commercial created the desired volume in customers and with this they could start focusing on their margins.
Saeid Esmaeilzadeh – from refugee to successful entrepreneur
Saeid Esmaeilzadeh’s path to success has to a high extent been characterized exactly by serendipity. Thus, this was the headline of his speech covering his entire life story; from being a refugee that by a circuitous route ended up in Sweden to leading a successful company with a yearly revenue of 41 million Euro in 2014.
At the event we did an exclusive interview with Said Esmaeilzadeh in which he explains how he sees the startup environment in Stockholm. You can look forward to reading the interview here on the site soon.
Panel discussion – Bridging between startups and corporations
How can global corporations and smaller, fast-growing startups benefit more from collaboration? How can they work closer together, as they do in the US?
These were the questions underlying the panel discussion in which both startups and people from great organisations took part, among others director of Developer Experience and Evangelism at Microsoft, Sara Kullgren.
One factor underlying the discussion is the fact that 85% of all Swedish companies that are acquired are bought by US companies – not European. So how can this be? Sara Kullgren offered an explanation: it is a matter of company culture – US corporations are more willing to take risks than are European.
The main take away from the panel discussion was that the relationship between startups and corporations is so much more than just a question of whether or not corporations should invest money in startups by buying them.
There are several other ways for startups and corporations to benefit and learn from each other. At Microsoft, for example, they give startups access to their solutions and let them co-create. Then, after having strengthened them, they consider a more formal collaboration, e.g. to invest money in them.
The main advice for startups approaching corporations was this: be aggressive in your approach, don’t take no for an answer – be a bit more American.
Interest in Stockholm’s startups is at its highest
Community Manager at STING and organiser of the event Sara Mattsson was entirely contented with the day.
“Stockholm is becoming known as the startup capital of Europe, as it is home to the most billion-dollar startups in the world, after Silicon Valley. The interest in our city’s startups is at an all-time high, and STING Day plays a key role in connecting these entrepreneurs with international and local investors. This year we welcomed more than 140 investors from more than 60 venture capital firms in 11 countries — a splendid turnout!”
Thank you to STING for a great and inspiring day!