Nordic highlights from April 2018 - facts, figures and other notable news.

05 May 2018 Insights
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Scandinavian investment seems to cool off considerably, if we look at the data we tracked about the funding activity in the Nordics for April 2018.

- 53 investments and $308M in April 2018 vs 91 and $290M in the month of April of 2017.

- If we exclude ITB-Med AB ($67M) and Arctic Green Energy ($100M), we get to a $180M from 51 investments, some of the lowest numbers since 2015. Related - first week of April was Easter holiday, last week of April the May 1 holiday, so we had roughly 10-12 days of public announcements for the entire month

- still, very thin for Silicon Valley wannabe of Europe, trend has been going downwards since the end of 2017.

- largest deals ($5M+): Qapital ($30M), DBT Capital ($24M), Mapillary ($15M), Budbee ($9.2M), Lavo TV ($7.7M), Eficode ($7.4M), The Future group ($6.4M), Kaiku Health ($5.4M)

- 17 other deals between $1-5M. Distribution in the graph below:


- more telling graphs here

- 4 deals made in Iceland, Reykjavik ranks as the #4 city this month in terms of the deal number. To get a perspective, Reykjavik was ranked as #12 city from Scandinavia, with 11 deals tracked for the entire year of 2017.

- most active angel investors: Mattias Weinhandl and Stefan Bengtsson, both Swedes, both with 2 investments each.

- most active institutional: Northzone, Almi, Angelr, Pre SEED, Vækstfonden. Each with 2 investments.

- all data, tables and graphs, available here.


- Did you know that in the Nordics there are two unrelated companies with identical names providing an almost similar service?

Both are named Active Brands. One is a Norwegian company owned by FSN Capital, supplier of premium brand goods to sports retail in the Nordic region, with about $100M in sales. The other, a Swedish startup backed by angel investors including Daniel Pilotti, Danny Saucedo or Emad Zand, and acting as an international distribution company focussing on high quality products related to health, sports and medicine, with about $500k in sales.

- Almost one in five CEOs in Sweden is a woman. 18%, to be exact. In absolute numbers, the total number of of CEOs in Sweden was 138,845. The data is for April 2018, compiled from Bolagsverket

- A total of 46,000 people emigrated from Sweden in 2017. A survey conducted in 2016 showed that people choosing to do so have higher education levels, are within working age and overall more prosperous and happy with life. One fifth of them are Stockholmers.

- The number of Norwegians on the waiting list for buying a Tesla 3 is higher than 200,000. First cars of Model 3 are expected to be delivered in the first part of 2019.

- An official stat indicates that Finland enjoyed a record-breaking year in the number of greenfield investments and acquisitions by foreign companies in 2017, with a total of 336 new international companies and acquisitions. The figure was almost 20% higher than in 2016. The biggest number of investments came from Sweden and the most popular sector targeted by foreign investment was knowledge intensive business services.

- The Swedish Tax Agency found 22 Swedes who didn't pay the proper taxes for dealing with cryptocurrencies. Skatteverket claims that they developed ways of identifying and tracing those who do business in bitcoin.


- Nordic fuckups:

Exibit A: The Future Group from Norway, which raised loads of money for building an interactive mixed reality technology for TV. A couple of years later, they laid off most of their people and had to raise rescue money in order to salvage whatever asset they can sell off.

Exibit B: Urb-It, which still is doing due dilligence and discovers the unexpected a year after splitting with their CEO / founder.

- Swedish Rebtel, which made its money back in the day by selling VOIP services, wants to invest SEK 130M ($15M) to change its business model in order to provide bank account transfers for immigrants. Here's a better idea supporting that pivot: buy Transfer Galaxy. Varsågod!

- Sami Lampinen, who is founder and managing director at Inventure, was declared VC of the year in Finland.

- Yet another middle manager exits the glam world of venture business from Sweden - Aurora Belfrage leaves EQT Ventures. Besides her investment work, she was the one in charge of building Together, an idea with so much unexploited potential for entrepreneurs and which ultimately proved to be just a lame marketing trick for internal lead generation at EQT.

It is not clear whether Aurora will start a business on her own, but the truth is that even though today all the kids want to be an investor, it's a great time to be an entrepreneur - plenty of money available and exciting technology context. It's also true that being an entrepreneur is somewhat in contradiction with the Scandinavian image of comfortability and security. That means less competition for experienced entrepreneurs who know what they're doing and don't need VC schooling, which a frequent case in the lil' cozy Scandinavian ecosystem.

- Pepins, Tessin and Lendify announced their intention to form a new crowdfunding alliance. The world of crowdfunding investment seems to be fragmented, though the demand for alternative funding sources is certainly higher. Maybe an old school, affiliate-based aggregator could be a business idea, think Yahoo for crowdsourcing deals.

-  Add another problem for founding a startup in Sweden's capital - Stockholm has an acute shortage of affordable office space for startups. This besides issues like stock options being taxed as salaries, opaque governemental system kicking out valuable and honest tax payers who happen to be immigrants and, more important in the overall big picture, the shortage of operators available for hire with experience to take startups from product/market fit to international scale and building a sustainable biz. There are very few such local people who have done it and have the trust of the investment and startup community. Add this to the (still huge) Swedish reticence of being open to hire foreigners in jobs other than software or design because of the "Swedish way" or the "not invented here" syndrom.

- Two dozen Finnish and Swedish industry giants are forming an AI alliance for a knowledge exchange on new technologies like artificial intelligence – the obligatory PR punchline: it’s a world-first. Somebody should tell them that AI is just a bit of math and lots of statistitics applied on real life opportunites and for the rest they can look up N9's databases. :-)

- Norway blocks its $1-trillion sovereign wealth fund from investing in private equity. The country's finance ministry cited fees and lack of transparency as reasons not to invest in unlisted equities. Is anybody surprised?

- Media vs the car industry, the online lead generation asset building episode. Wayke, which is supported by local Swedish car dealers, started to compete head to head with Blocket, one of the most popular listing website from Sweden, owned by Norwegian media group Schibsted. Too early to say whether it's value creation or value destruction a la long, so far it looks like a zero-sum game in a classic market share domination chasing.

- Finland is killing its world-famous basic income experiment. Actually it's not, it's just not going to extend it beyond its 2019 availability.

- A Swedish social media celebrity wants to build a (Swedish crowns) billion business in 4 years. On her own, with no professional investor's money involvement afaik. Ambitious and a bit unexpected judging superficially from the blog musings of the entrepreneur.

- Caller ID app Truecaller has reached a key milestone over 100 million active users who are using the app on a daily basis. Most of them are from India.

- The Swedish media startup, Breakit, has raised more risk money, and it looks like part of the deal was shutting down a weekly industry gossip article written by one of the founders. Too bad, I liked it when Stefan was pissing people off without reason.

- "I do not really know what the traders had to drink before they got to work in the morning" - quote of Barry McCarthy, Netflix CFO, about the company's stock going down after Netflix first earnings call.

- Space10 (Ikea’s future lab) recently collaborated on a co-living research project, ONE SHARED HOUSE 2030 and presented the findings in New York. This piece gives a run down of the key points. They also made a fantastic interactive documentary.

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