9 Swedish Startups You Should Know

This is where unicorns come from.

What’s Swedish for Startup?

What Sweden lacks in population they more than make up for super successful startups. The relatively small Nordic country has just 10 million people, but it is the second most prolific tech hub on a per capita basis. Only Silicon Valley beats it.

Niklas Zennström, a creator of Skype, thinks the small size of his country is an advantage. “We think globally from the outset,” he told The Telegraph. “We all realized the domestic market is not big enough.”

Jacob de Geer, founder of iZettle, a payment tech company agrees. “Since the days of ABBA, we have really understood the importance of shooting for global presence,” he told the Financial Times. “The way ABBA did it was to write songs in English. The way we do it is make our services available to anyone, not only Swedes.”

Swedish startups have also been bolstered by a booming economy, which grew 4.2% last year to $493 billion.

Whatever the reason, Stockholm has earned the well-deserved reputation as a unicorn factory. Here are nine Swedish startups to keep an eye on.

The best-known Swedish music export isn’t ABBA anymore – it’s Spotify. The music streaming company, which was founded in 2006, is credited with changing the music industry. The company’s 100 million users no longer buy CDs or download albums like they used to, instead they stream, much to the music industry chagrin. The company has raised over $1.5 billion in capital and is valued at $8 billion. Thinking of a move to Stockholm? Spotify is hiring for over 50 roles.

Skype became synonymous with peer-to-peer video calling after it was created in 2003 by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, a Dane. After raising $76 million, the company was bought by Microsoft in 2011 for $8.5 billion.

This startup will speak to anyone who has been disappointed by an online purchase. Customers who buy through an online retailer that works with Klarna have 30 days to pay for, or return, the item. Businesses like it because it eliminates friction involved in online purchases – customers don’t even have to enter their credit card number. The 12-year-old company is one of Sweden’s unicorns, valued at over $2 billion. Klarna’s services are now available through some US online retailers.

This app that blocks callers and identifies unknown numbers is a telemarketer’s worst nightmare. And apparently, there’s a lot of unwanted calls in India – it’s Truecaller’s biggest market. Today, the company, which has raised over $90 million, also offers calling features and the ability to see when friends are free to receive a call.

If you’re not familiar with King, you will certainly recognize with the company’s most popular game – Candy Crush. The company recently claimed to have 1 trillion games played since it launched in April 2012. Although the video game maker’s IPO was greeted with tepid excitement by investors and garnered talk of the bubble, the company was recently acquired by Activision Blizzard for $5.9 billion.

Mojang is another example of a company whose name you might not know but whose product you’re certainly acquainted with. Mojang, which is Swedish for “gadget”, is the maker of Minecraft. In 2014, Microsoft acquired the video game company for $2.5 billion. In 2016, Mojang announced they have sold over 100 million copies of Minecraft.

Tictail is in the business of monetizing the popularity of Scandinavian design. This e-commerce company embraces the minimalist look in home products, fashion staples, and their website design. The company, which has raised over $32 million, recently relocated to New York City and opened a brick-and-mortar location there.

This fintech company has been called the Square of Europe. iZettle created the world’s first mini chip card reader and develops software for mobile devices to accept payment. The company has raised over $172 million in funding. iZettle has recently expanded its offerings to include lending. The startup recoups loans by taking a small percentage of each transaction processed through its payment systems.

You don’t have to choose between waiting for the cable guy and cutting the cord when you use Magine. The startup is a cloud-based TV operator that saves consumers from complicated TV and cable box setup and offers live and pre-recorded TV. Magine has raised over $58 million in funding but sadly, isn’t available in the US yet. You’re stuck with Time Warner Cable for now.

Interested in relocating to Stockholm? Check out StartupJobs.se for local job openings.


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