Scandinavian countries are often described as the ideal ‘sandbox’ testing ground for innovative business ideas. In fact, there are nearly as many tech startups in Scandinavia as there is in Silicon Valley. This may be due to the populations of countries like Sweden being amongst the most well-connected – with internet adoption at around 84%. Further to this, the education systems and progressive culture give rise to new generations of engineering talent.
Many VCs will also pay credence to Scandi startup ideas because of the emphasis placed on great design. Consideration of the finer details of tech adds a whole new layer of desirability to products. Take, for example, Sony Ericsson’s creation of the HotLine Pocket in 1987. At the time, the team at Ericsson sought to solve a specific problem – fit all the components of a phone inside the smallest plastic casing they could find. The result was the world’s first mobile phone prototype – a true technological marvel.
More recently, young tech innovators can take direct inspiration from Scandi internet behemoths such as Spotify and Skype.
Check out these exciting Nordic tech startups to watch in the years ahead…
Services that run on a monthly pay tab help millions of company owners get the technologies they need, with minimal investment. Crypho is a Norwegian brand that uses a subscription as a service (SaaS) model to provide end-to-end encryption to business communications.Crypho encrypts files safely and provides a password for the recipient to keep their stored data safe. The Communications platform can be used on both mobile and desktop devices, offering reassurance on the move. Many businesses, as well as governmental bodies, rely on Crypho’s technology to secure their data.
In 2012, when the service was first developed, the technology was relatively simple. However, since then news stories like the Snowden revelations have made data security a much more challenging and pertinent issue.
In an interview, Crypho CEO,Geir Bækholt, said that the team has worked tirelessly to make the application available on multiple internet browsers. He also said that it is the company’s aim to make cybersecurity accessible to as wide an audience as possible.
Since the brand’s inception, Crypho has been adopted in over 70 countries worldwide.
The team also won critical acclaim with the EU Commission’s Cyber Security & Privacy Innovation Award in 2015.
Since the boom of social media and the prevalence of online news sites, magazines have suffered a steep decline in sales. Readly is a Swedish tech company with offices in Berlin, Sweden, and the UK.The company, known as ‘the Spotify of magazines’ hopes to shake up the print media with an easy-to-use all you can read magazine subscription model.
In an interview with Jude Kempton, Readly’s head of digital marketing, she explained how Readly helps publishers expand their audiences:
“Our multi-platform approach is built around delivering what our audiences want, whether that is print, web or digital editions… They are reaching a new, broader audience which they might otherwise find hard to hit cost-effectively.”
You can choose to access over 2,600 world-renowned titles, with the option to cancel your £7.99 per month plan at any time.
Wasted pre-prepared food is a massive strain on the environment. In Finland alone, studies show that over 120 million kilograms of food waste is discarded each year. This is the equivalent of roughly 20% of all the food prepared in restaurants and cafes across the country. This is an astounding figure, and one that the founders of Karma sought to transform with their platform back in 2015.
Karma helps food brands sell their surplus products to consumers. The idea is simple and infinitely scalable to a globalised market. Just sign up as one of the 100,000+ Swedish businesses currently on the platform and start selling your pre-prepared dishes to hungry consumers.
From the common customer perspective, use the app to order great food for less, safely and securely. Eateries also get a way to make some money back from their food that would otherwise be thrown away: food products for sale are often added from 2-6pm in over 30 cities across Sweden. Customers can then pay for food from the app (usually for around half the full price) and pick up their takeaway after work for their evening dinner. What a great idea.
Another environmentally-focused tech startup to watch is the Finnish brand, Enevo. This IoT app brings sensor technology to the world of waste management: Enevo connects with recycling bins and sends alerts when they need to be emptied. This, in turn, saves energy – calling waste collectors to come only when the waste receptacles are full.
Enevo’s ethos is very in-keeping with the untranslatable Swedish term, ‘Lagom,’ which roughly translates to English as ‘not too little, not too much, but just right.’
Co-founder, Fredrik Kekalainen, explained in an interview how the technology is already helping companies plan their logistics more efficiently. He also stated that in the next few years Enevo will look at sensor technology for use in stock management systems, as well as waste disposal. It is hoped this will help companies maintain and automatically order materials when they are running low.
Kahoot is a learning platform that makes education fun, by adding gamification elements to homework assignments. Launched in Norway, in 2013, Kahoot is a customisable tool for making learning games and quizzes for students of all ages.
In just five years, Kahoot has reached over 180 countries and has completely transformed the education tech scene. The app has been such a success that in 2015, Kahoot won the EdTech 20 Award for Best Educational App.
Kahoot’s innovation secret was revealed in an interview with Co-Founder, Jamie Brooker. He said the team always strive to build an emotional connection with consumers.These efforts help the team design user interfaces that inspire high levels of engagement from students and teachers alike.
Podcasts have been around since 2000 when RSS feeds started enabling MP3 files.This gave bloggers the opportunity to start ‘broadcasting’ their articles and listing their shows on the latest iPod device (hence the name, ‘podcast’). However, their popularity has seen a spike in demand in recent times, thanks to Swedish brands like Acast.
Acast provides rich data to supplement the podcasts hosted from their extensive library of contributors.For those seeking podcast fame, Acast offers an excellent service to those looking to monetize their content with advertising. Additionally, Acast provides recommendations based on user data.
Karl Rosander, Co-Founder of Acast, believes that podcasting has revolutionised the way everyday internet users consume media. He cites moments in people’s days, like the daily commute, doing household chores etc. as the perfect time to listen to a podcast.
Rosander believes that this is “one of several reasons why marketers must wake up from their Snapchat dreams and start podcasting – and advertise in others’ podcasts.”
It seems the Swedes have yet again proved that they’ve got their priorities right – designing great products for functionality, rather than following gimmicky trends.
The Nordic regions will continue to attract investment from entrepreneurs around the world. This is because, as the above examples demonstrate, the environment of the Scandi tech scene breeds innovation.
Internet connectivity and a design-driven culture inspire many Scandi tech developments – as well as consideration for everyday internet user’s needs. With this great ethos, we’re sure the Scandinavian nations are set to bring us some of the best-loved technologies and services for many years to come. We can’t wait to see what the future brings.