We interviewed Swedish Innovation Compass, an innovative app aimed at connecting startups with the right funding.
Stephen Batley, CEO of Swedish Innovation Compass, and Sasa Farkas, technical lead, aim to make the startup ecosystem in Nordic countries even better than it is now. The innovative app gathers information on all available and soon-to-be available financial resources from the government and venture capitalists that can be accessed by startups, inventors, researches, and other initiative world changers.
Stephen, how you’ve came up with such idea?
While I was studying at Lund university, I got acquainted with the Swedish startup ecosystem, which has so many opportunities, and it was hard to find out about all of them and apply for the financing that you need for your particular project. I’ve came up with and idea to systematize all the opportunities and make them available for everybody who needs them.
What are your development plans, are you going to expand in other countries?
Absolutely, Sweden is kind of a test bed for us, there is the most need for it here as it’s innovation system is really big and complex. By the end of the year we hope to have all our development done for Sweden, next year will be focusing on the Nordics and after that we’ll see where we can expand further. Another big piece of news is that in the next month or so, we are are starting to work on the corporate market, that is creating Swedish Innovation Compass Corporate Edition, which has the innovation ecosystem of large corporations.
What is your monetization strategy?
When we first started we were crowdfunding. Now the organizers of the events or venture capitalist will have to pay to send push notifications to startups to apply for their event, as well as having the premium and basic profiles. Plus we are negotiating with one of the Swedish banks to become a sponsor and require a reputation as innovative startup bank. The corporate market where big companies pay licenses to get SIC to their ecosystem. So the core idea is to make it free for the user.
Are you planning to make a web version of the app?
Yes, sure, we are planning to make one next year, to make available to more people as well as improve the application. We used to require login information before, to identify how old is the user, whether it’s a student or what you are entitled to. Though we had to make this feature optional, as 25% of the people who had downloaded the app, quit using it because they had to log in. That’s what our competitors have done.
Are you planning to add any categories?
The update just came out on Tuesday, and the new category, ‘Freelancer’, will be added. We’ve started only 6 month ago, and already had 3000 downloads, and we are always improving.
Do you have any competitors or similar applications?
Most of them are government, one of which released a book with all the innovation actors, though it is, as you may understand, becoming out of date quickly. Though asthey are government funded, they are not able to have any Venture Capitalists or private investments on their service, which really restricts you from development.
Is your marketing strategy based on paid advertisement or guerrilla marketing?
We are doing a little bit of both, the initial investor of the startup is Creatify Media, who is having a wifi network around some city businesses, such as hair dressers, laundry’s, exhibition halls around Sweden and so on, where in order to login you have to watch some short advertisement. And a lot of guerrilla marketing in universities, science parks, incubators… We issued a flier with one of the Swedish banks to hand out to, so when somebody starts a company, or sole trader company, they get information on the Swedish Innovation Compass
Do you have some success stories, like any of your users won some grant or financing?
People have been using it and saying, it’s great, they keen on it, to download and everyone is pretty happy to share it, but it’s only been 3 weeks, we hope that pretty soon the first user will find their venture capitalist or business angel. People are really happy that it exists.
So you’ve just collected the information from different social media sources?
Yeah, and this institute for all the different business incubators and science parks in Sweden, we’ve also been talking to them and going around, as they were the first adopters, the first download of course. We’ve been talking to them and getting feedback and that’s why we are having the update coming out. Head of social innovation center at Lund’s university is on the board of advisors.
What are the new features that are coming:
Freelance category will be added, for example if are a freelance photographer, a lot of effort will be needed there as well. Plus, the Calendar will be added, so you will have access to all the events that are coming.