More money than projects in the Nordics, mobility moves and other stories from October.

06 November 2018 Insights
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The following is a selection of our observations from the past month as we consume feeds, twits and other media bits from the Scandinavian ecosystem. We're looking to curate interesting, relevant content coming mainly from startups and investors world, with the aim to bring you the very best selection in order to get an idea about what is going on in the Nordics

From the investors

- Inventure complains about not being able to find suitable investments in Norway. Among the reasons: difficult and expensive to setup a company, as compared to Estonia (duh), entrepreneurs with local market focus as opposed to an international one, state money. It is a bit puzzling, those reasons are equally applicable to the entire Scandinavia, and still there is plenty of appealing projects in spite of those systemic causes. Particularly in Norway, 118 investors (24 of which VC companies) cannot be wrong.

- Julianna Borsos, founder and principal owner at Bocap, thinks that the Finnish private investment ecosystem is in a bubble, with prices at a 20% higher mark than she would expect.

Both stories are about supply and demand, as there is more money than projects in Scandinavia.

- In the meantime, Reaktor Ventures announced thatit will not be investing into new companies, and it will focus only on follow-up investments to current portfolio companies.

- Now that she is a partner at Atomico, Sophia Bendz got a nice PR article in the Finnish media where she says that she would like to fund female-led companies. [later edit - and another one in Swedish media]

- Did you know that Nordic Eye has a youth board composed of 9 high school and college students? The purpose of the board is to spot new trends and opportunities before they become businesses or sectors and provide Nordic Eye’s management team with fresh views on the venture/start-up community.

The future is here, unevenly distributed

- For the better part of the year, the Swedes tested successfully a pilot project with two self driving buses in a 2 km range in Kista outside Stockholm. As it worked out, the project will go the next level and the buses will also be tested in regular traffic, in Järfälla, northwest of Stockholm. The project was managed by the bus company Nobina, together with researchers at the Royal Institute of Technology, KTH

- Speaking of self driving buses, the Finnish and Japanese have created a beautiful robotbus - Gacha, which allegedly works in all weather conditions. It was made by Muji, which contributed with design and user experience, and by Sensible 4, which contributed with the autonomous driving technology.

- Mobility solutions assault Scandinavia - Aimo launched a car sharing service in Stockholm, Zipcar launched in Oslo, the Polish from Blinkee announced that will make available their scooter sharing services in Stockholm, Northzone invested in a Berlin-based scooter rental startup and not in the local VOI, which is rumoured to be in discussions to raise from Balderton. [later edit: the rumour was true, Voi completed a $50M round]

All in all, a FOMO frenzy on the European investors side looking to speculate locally on the Silicon Valley's 2018 obssesion. However, Europe is a very different and difficult market, and not only because the public transport in Europe is very good compared to what you have in US. In the end consumers will totally win except in cities that decide to constrain supply.

Iceland's tourism as an indicator

A decade after financial collapse, Iceland faces a new crisis. The argument is that tourism numbers are declining, and there will be spillover effects that could affect the whole economy, including “demand for labor and investments in hotels".

In the meantime, Icelandair acquired WOW Air, in a major consolidation of the Icelandic aviation market. Together the pair will have around 3.8 percent of the transatlantic aviation market. The two airlines will continue to operate as separate brands.

How much money does the state make from selling alcohol

First time movers in Norway or Sweden, among other things, will need to adjust radically their alcohol purchasing behaviours, as this is a state monopoly. However, prices are not as unjustifiably high as for other products, and there's very good value for money in the alcohol stores.

One of the reasons is that Systembolaget, in Sweden, when it comes to liquor, operates a fixed markup rate of 17.5 percent plus five kronor per bottle and the alcohol tax. Add that to the purchasing power, as Systembolaget is the second largest buyer of wine in the world.


- Now you can pay your taxes with Swish in Sweden. Neat.

- Big story of October in the Swedish startup circles was that Tipptapp had one of its sharing service banned by municipality, due to environment concerns. The startup's value proposition is offering an on demand service for collecting garbage for as little as $20, while similar services provided by state-approved companies can be 20 times as expensive. The TipTapp case is still in court, and in the meantime the city of Stockholm announced that it wants to build a similar application themselves.

- Another big deal in October was the newly-elected city council rejected Apple's plans to build a store in a very central park from Stockholm. A good idea in the wrong place, story in English here.

- The corruption scandal in the banking industry from Scandinavia gets bigger and has larger implications. Nordea joins Danske Bank. And SEB has something brewing in parralel. And Nokia. It doesn't look pretty.

- Can you pass these Danish citizenship test questions?

- H&M Creates Augmented Reality Experience for Moschino Collab - link

- Europe joins cannabis IPO bandwagon as Danish cannabis oil firm StenoCare made its stock market debut. More context in Danish

- There is a link between happiness and money, but it stays at about 5,000 euros a month - that is from a podcast with Niklas Adalberth, a Swedish entrepreneur who now invests in social things via Norrsken Foundation.

- Danish firms setting up shop in UK to avoid possible Brexit tariffs.

- The Wallenberg family’s holding company Investor AB - which today owns stakes in a fifth of the companies listed on the country’s large-cap index - is preparing for the inevitable downturn in global economy.

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