Stockholm, the capital of Sweden has approximately 900,000 citizens and it’s also the most-visited city in Sweden with around 1 million tourists each year. 

There is always something happening on the streets of Stockholm, whether there is a food fair, a marathon or a royal wedding. Anything can happen if you’re up for it. The culture in Stockholm can be described as reserved but very good for networking and business. There is always an opportunity to network and do business, and people are always on the hunt for new opportunities and experiences.

Stockholm’s Startup Scene

StockholmStockholm has created the second most unicorns, only beaten by Silicon Valley.  Companies like Ikea, Spotify, Candy Crush, uTorrent, Kazaa and Minecraft all hail from Sweden, and these success stories inspire and spur new entrepreneurs. This also means Swedish innovations have a good reputation and also means investors, media and talent already have their eyes open for Sweden.

Being a small country, and therefore a rather small market, startups think globally from the very beginning. This means they need to have a global mindset from day one and prepare very early to take their product to other markets.

The opportunity for entrepreneurs in Stockholm to use coworking spaces has increased over the past years. There is now a coworking space for every type of entrepreneur existing in Sweden. For those that focus on creating a sustainable future and make positive impact on society, there’s Impact Hub, the only coworking space in Stockholm with this specific niche. Jesper Kjellerås started Impact Hub Stockholm in 2005 as part of the global Impact Hub network (impacthub.net), which now has coworking spaces in 49 countries around the world.

For those interested in starting hardware businesses in areas like iOT, 3Dprinting, wearable technology and medtech, there’s Things (thingstockholm.com), the first hardware hub in Stockholm, which opened up in March this year.

Key Issues

Competition for Talent: Swedish startups both in early and late stages have difficulty competing for the best talent, which is needed to become a market leader. Many founders also simply want to be able to share a part of the success with their employees if/when it comes to that, but legal hurdles and very high taxes on stock options stop this today.

Recruiting outside of EU: Another challenge is recruiting staff from outside of EU. This process needs to be quicker and easier than it is now. We also need to create and market a simpler process for startup visas.

Shortage of Residential Housing: Another hot topic is the shortage of housing, as “the Stockholm region has accumulated a shortage of 100,000 homes since 1990, as new construction has failed to keep up with the population growth.” (source: WSJ.com)

However, the shortage of housing mostly affects residential buildings. As far as start-ups and young entrepreneurs go, it’s pretty easy to find a co-working space and, as start-ups scale up, it is actually quite easy to find office rentals.

What is the “Law of Jante” and how does it affect entrepreneurial culture?

Taken from a book by the Danish author Aksel Sandemose, Law of Jante is translated as “the law of not too much, not too little and you are no better than anyone else.” This concept is a cultural driver behind humility, equality and restraint that’s deeply embedded in Scandinavian culture. You can see in play in the way the offices are organized to avoid hierarchy and how success is downplayed among entrepreneurs. Another example, is those that “made it” still choose to walk places or drive old cars instead of flaunting wealth.

Cool Stuff from Sweden:

Want to run your own coworking space? Hoffice is a platform enabling entrepreneurs to set up a coworking space at their home with the aim of creating temporary working sessions in each other’s homes. (hoffice.nu)

What’s the temperature like in __ country? Stockholm airport installed a Climate Portal so that you can feel the weather live from all over the planet.  Now that’s an upgrade from checking the weather app.


By Ekaterina Larsson, Digital Communications of Impact Hub Stockholm | Ekaterina.larsson@gmail.com