The Entrepreneurship Club has just returned from its second trek this year to Stockholm, after the very well received Tel Aviv trek. 20 ESADE MBA students jumped on the direct flight to Stockholm, the “Venice of the North”.
Stockholm has long been perceived as the capital of Scandinavia, as Sweden is, undoubtedly, the leader of the five Nordic countries. Sometimes considered a high-welfare socialist country, Sweden has recovered brilliantly from the 1990s social problems and built up a dazzling active business-driven society. In the 21st century, Stockholm proudly stands in the frontier of the European cities best for starting up a new business, lavishing with its rich resources in highly educated talents, strong financial investment, stream-lined government processes, and not to mention the extremely low corruption rate and well-governed legal system.
Arlanda Airport is impressive in its human touch. It is often said that Nordic countries are of the most advanced civilizations in the world, and we had a glance of this on the trek. Their feeling of social responsibility and environmental awareness are deep in the culture. “Design thinking for citizens who consume” is not a hype, but a norm with a long tradition. In a country where the natural conditions are sometimes extreme – considering the -20 Celcius winter days – here the goal of “survival” has long been upgraded to “comfort”, that minimizes the impact of the harsh Scandinavian climate to human activities. It is probably because of such long history of battling against the nature and surviving together, that Sweden has developed such a high sense of equality for its people, and that everyone has the right to pursue a better life.
We spent two intensive days with incubators, startups, founders and VCs. Here is a brief introduction to the companies.
SUP46 is a young hub for around 60 exciting tech startups, its members range from digital media to digital health. SUP46’s atmosphere makes the visitors feel hot in the Nordic capital, perhaps because enthusiasm warms up!
Northzone is a VC, managing 8 funds of 1 billion euros’ worth. Founded in 1996, it can proudly announce 9 IPOs with a long string of big names in their pocket: Spotify, iZettle, Kahoot…
We were given the opportunity to visit the quickly growing fintech, Tink. Stockholm’s housing market has been incredibly hot in the recent years and Tink’s service of mortgage deal comparison makes the home-buyer’s life much easier.
On the second day we visited, with the founder, Altor Equity partners, a private equity company with more than €8 billion under management. For many of our club members, this is their fist time to visit a PE, and the content of the visit has led them to select the elective course of VC&PE later at ESADE MBA.
NFT is a VC focused on fintech. We met with their founding partners, as well as a portfolio company, Nowo. Nowo is a “save as you spend” pension planning technology, and some of our students got very excited for this idea because they would like to start saving.
Pejoni works on real estate digitalization. The company is connecting the property business with modern technology to boost efficiency and user experience. We were able to work directly with the owner on a new business venture case and the students really loved the hands-on experience of a real company.
After the company visits, we joined the investors and entrepreneurs to admire the world-famous Stockholm nightlife scene of tall blondes, and danced hard to digest the Swedish meatballs in our stomach.
Our trek was filled with discoveries and learnings; the many small details of Sweden and Swedes have impressed our MBA students from around the world. From the cultural culinary experiences to the creative talents with whom we crossed path, the Entrepreneurship Club is deeply grateful towards the companies who have given us the opportunity to learn from their experiences and would like to thank all the contacts involved in organizing this trek!