Scandinavia: The Coolest Place For A Start-up?

Author

Alison Coleman, Contributor

October 28, 2015

It has a reputation for being a pretty chilled place to live, but the Land of the Midnight Sun is on fire right now, at least its home grown Nordic tech startups are.

Scandinavia has produced some major tech successes. Sweden alone has almost as many tech startups as Silicon Valley, with its capital Stockholm emerging as a key player in the global tech hub scene – think Spotify, Minecraft and Candy Crush. And in the absence of Silicon Valley-sized VC funding rounds, the startup scenes of Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland have also delivered some exciting ones to watch.

Sweden
Sweden’s popularity as a place to launch a new business can been explained in part by it’s technology infrastructure; Stockholm is said to be one of most digitally connected places in the world. It is also seen as a risk-friendly place, a natural draw for entrepreneurs.

Recreational sport fishing is still the world’s biggest hobby, with anglers in the US spending $48 billion annually on bait, tackle and gear, according to the American Sportfishing Association. And Swedish startup FishBrain is the largest and fastest-growing mobile app and social network for anglers. Led by Silicon Valley veteran CEO Johan Attby, Fishbrain now has the US in its sights, where 75% of its 1.5 million global users are based. 

In July, Fishbrain closed an $8 million Series A funding round, led by Northzone, the Stockholm and New York-headquartered investor in Spotify. Recruit Strategic Partners No.6, LLC and Novel TMT Ventures are new investors in FishBrain, and existing investors, Industrifonden, Active Venture Partners, GP Bullhound,and Edastra Venture Capital took part in this round. The investment will help further develop its growing US presence and launch FishBrain in Japan.

Lifesum is a Stockholm-based digital health app that offers a flexible platform to get people living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Instead of focusing on calorie counting, Lifesum offers sophisticated and detailed insight and guidance in response to a user’s input. The aim is to encourage them to adopt practical initiatives that lead to long-term behavioural and lifestyle changes. 

In April 2014, Lifesum closed a $6.7 million funding round, led by Bauer Media, and the app, chosen as one of the first health apps on the Apple Watch, has achieved over 11 million global downloads. CEO of Lifesum, Henrik Torstensson was a former Head of Premium Sales for Spotify.

Finland

Renowned for its triumphs in the tech gaming arena, most famously for Angry Birds and its creator Rovio, Finland is now producing some winners in the health technology, sector, including Yoogaia, which has capitalised on the growing popularity of yoga. Founded a year ago, Yoogaia conducts yoga classes via web cam delivering live tuition to people based all over the world. Yoogaia has secured $3 million in seed funding, with Nokia Growth Partners, Inventure, Sanoma Ventures and Point Nine Capital participants in the round. The company will use the capital to push its overseas expansion plans.

But the Finnish start up scene is also staying close to its gaming roots, with the likes of Small Giant Games. This mobile gaming app was launched in 2013 and creates games that it describes are engaging, beautiful and fun to play. Last year The Helsinki-based developer raised $3.1 million following an investment round. The founders of Small Giant Games are gaming industry veterans, with a huge amount of expertise in graphic design and software engineering, making it a definite one to watch.

Iceland
The Nordic island country with a population of just 300,000 is home to some very successful tech entrepreneurs, including the team behind Blendin, a social networking app that connects friends who are going out. It gathers information on popular clubs and bars and connects friendship groups so everyone is up to date on evening plans, eliminating the need for Whatsapp and Facebook. It secured $100,000 funding in April 2014.

Launched three years ago, Cokonnect offers a solution for businesses that need to measure visitor numbers of footfall, for example bars and nightclubs, entertainment venues, and has applications for business planners deciding where to site their outlets. The real-time, cloud-based tally counter uses Google Analytics, doing away with tedious manual counting and logging of numbers. The company received $100,000 funding from an angel investor and a $150,000 grant in 2013.

Norway
Oslo-based Edtech startup Kahoot! is a global game-based platform that allows students to play a high-energy, high interaction quiz game in the classroom using their mobile devices. Kahoot! was developed by three founders, Johan Brand, Jamie Brooker and Morten Versvik, as a joint project with Professor Alf Inge Wang at the Norwegian University of Technology & Science. So far Kahoot! has raised $6.5 million in seed funding, through grants and project funding but mainly from the founders and management team. Operational across more than 180 countries with 40 million unique players, the company was named Best Start-up in the Norwegian finals of the Nordic Startup Awards in May.

Norwegian SaaS startup Crypho, provides end-to-end security for a company’s communications. Files are encrypted on the user’s device before being sent via the internet, and they cannot be read until they have been received by a recipient with the right decryption key. Founded in 2012, Crypho is used in more than 70 countries by a range of organisations, including governments, financial institutions, software companies and law firms.

Denmark
Fitbay is a Danish startup that aims to eliminate the frustrations of finding clothes that fit. By matching users with other people of a similar body type, size and shape, they can see what they’re wearing and follow people that are a match. Founded by native Copenhagen entrepreneur Christian Wylonis, in June last year Fitbay raised $2 million in VC funding.

Vivino, a mobile app that gets wine drinkers over the dilemma of choosing the right bottle by making it easier to pick a good one. It does this by building a huge user-submitted database of wines, offering reviews, average prices and ratings for almost 6,000,000 wines. Launched in 2010 in Copenhagen by Heini Zachariassen and Theis Søndergaard, it secured $10.3 million in venture funding from SEED Capital, Creandum, and Balderton Capital. It maintains its base in Copenhagen, but also has offices in San Francisco, Ukraine and India.

 

This article was written by Alison Coleman from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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