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Entreprenörskap October 23, 2014

5 ways to boost your STING Accelerate application

Thinking about applying to the next batch of STING’s accelerator program? Here are 5 useful tips to improve your chances of getting chosen for the program:

STING FastFwd

Tove and Janna, founders of Competencer, pitching at Demo Day.

1. Show us that you have a strong team
STING invests in people, not companies. One thing that truly impresses us is an experienced team with complementing skills. Show us that your team represents business, marketing and sales competencies, as well as a solid set of techies.

2. Think visual
Another thing that excites us – and makes you stand out – is video. Tell us about your team and business concept in a three-minute video pitch. We promise we won’t pay attention to production quality; it is the content we’re interested in.

3. How will you make money?
Explain to us how your business will scale. How will you make money? We love to see traction. Who are your customers and what do they say about you? Show that you have a deep understanding of your market, as well as your strategy for how to meet the need of that market.

4. Show a global focus
Our mission is to help entrepreneurs to build international companies. For that reason, it’s essential that you have your sights set on going global from day one.

5. Put effort into your application and do your homework
Take the time to answer each question carefully, spell check, include images and produce a short video. In other words: fill out the application form properly. Equally important is doing your research. Do you know what STING – and STING’s accelerator program – is all about? We want you to feel that this is the right fit for you and your startup.

And last, but not least; apply before midnight on May 10.

Visit sting.co/startup-program/sting-accelerate for more information about Sting’s accelerator program and the 300,000 SEK investment.

Best of luck!

Finansiering March 14, 2014

In the mind of a business angel

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How do you attract a private investor? What should you research and what questions should you consider before choosing who to bring into your company? On Monday this week, we had lunch with the serial entrepreneurs and business angels Jane Walerud and Martin Wattin who talked about private investing with our entrepreneurs.

So, simply put: A business angel is someone who privately invests in early-stage companies, with money straight from their own pocket. Jane and Martin are members of the STING Business Angels (SBA) network, and the two have invested in close to 20 startups combined.

Jane is currently CEO at her latest startup, Teclo Networks. She is an experienced tech entrepreneur and her journey goes back to 1998. Since then, she has built a portfolio of investments and companies that is rather impressive. Some of the more known cases are Bluetail, Klarna and LensWay.

Martin hails from a background as an IT-entrepreneur and investor, and has since 2006 invested in a number of IT/media companies in Sweden, the US and India. Some of the Swedish investments include Mostphotos, Rabble and Scrive, where Martin also serves as a board member.

Here is a summary from the lunch meetup.

Enjoy building companies
To invest in early-stage startups equals a large risk, and the investor can potentially end up empty-handed. According to both Martin and Jane, it’s worth taking that risk. They believe it is important, and a real pleasure, to share their expertise as serial entrepreneurs, and help companies to scale early. Angel investors usually have a deep passion for building companies, and have a lot to offer younger entrepreneurs – especially in the initial stages of a business.

“I know I’m most helpful in the early stages of a startup, before the team grows bigger than 50-60 people,” Jane said.

Martin is an active investor, and on a weekly basis he meets up with the companies as well as has regular follow-ups. “I want to steer them away from doing the same mistakes I once did, and be close to my companies,” Martin said.

Martin and Jane pinpointed business angels’ critical role in the eco system of startups, which is to support the companies with both funding and coaching when they might require expertise the most, and before they attract capital from larger VC firms.

Study before the official test
So how do you go about attracting a private investor? Well, there’s no straight answer to that.

“It’s vital to know who you’re approaching. What type of business has this person invested in earlier? Why is your company relevant to them?” Jane advised. She really emphasized the importance to identify the weaknesses within the team, and look for an investor who represents those skills.

“Make sure that you accept the right people into the company, who share your values and future ambition,” Martin urged.

For Martin, it is essential that the entrepreneur presents an idea of a vision of the business, and in what direction the business will head in the next few years. You need to have a vision to become a leader. Structure is key, and also to show a sense of urgency combined with a lot of optimism.

 “You need to find the perfect match”
At the end of the day, it’s all about how you connect. Martin and Jane could not stress enough how central the connection is between the two parties.

“You need to find the perfect match. A business angel is a key player, it has to be a brilliant fit,” said Jane.

It is worth to keep in mind that this person will be with you for a long time ahead. And, of course, by targeting the right kind of investor, identify exactly what you want to get out of it and what skill-gap the investor could fill, there’s a greater chance of finding that perfect match.

_____

Thanks Jane and Martin for spending this Monday lunch hour with us!

Want to hear more from two experienced entrepreneurs? Read our blogposts about Niklas Adalberth, founder of Klarna, and Henrik Lenberg, former VP Soundcloud.

Internet/media December 23, 2013

“Find people who are better than yourself”

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At the end of last week, STING’s FastForward team popped over to Klarna’s headquarters here in Stockholm. Since Sebastian Siemiatkowski, Niklas Adalberth and Victor Jacobsson founded the e-commerce business in 2005, it has been quite a ride. With the recent acquisition of rival Sofort (DE) earlier this week, Klarna is today one of the leading European online payment services with more than 1000 employees.

We sat down with Klarna’s deputy CEO Niklas Adalberth for lunch, and looped through as much of their journey as we could fit into one hour. Niklas is a modest man with – needless to say – ­­tons of advice for young entrepreneurs. Here are five of them:

Young and inexperienced is a great benefit
According to Niklas, being a rookie was definitely not a problem. “Looking back in hindsight, a big advantage was that we were young and inexperienced when first starting out. Partly because that gave us the courage to jump into this industry, and partly because our lack of expertise in certain areas made us find other talented people who represented the missing skills.”

“We hold an incredibly strong focus on sales. It should be every company’s top priority.” – Niklas Adalberth

Take your idea for a test-drive
Klarna is a product success as much as it is a sales success, Niklas revealed. “We hold an incredibly strong focus on sales. It should be every company’s top priority.” He suggests creating a prototype and test-drive your idea in the very early stage. Don’t spend months on just the product before testing the market and collecting inputs, ideas and other valuable insights from your customers.

“Try to find people who are better than yourself”
Since inception, the Klarna founders have been persistent with employing strong and high-performing people. “Try to find people who are better than yourself, who complement you,” said Niklas. At the same time, he does admit this is a difficult task – especially in the beginning. One reason why Klarna managed to attract talented people from start is related to the generosity of offering equity stakes. “If you give your employees a reason to be motivated, it’s much more likely you’ll find the right people,” Niklas clarified.

Consider a logical reasoning test
Business angel and investor Jane Walerud has been an eminent support for Niklas, Sebastian and Victor, not just financially. Early on, she encouraged them to, among other things, introduce a logical reasoning test in the hiring process. Simply put, the test is a good indication to how well a prospective employee would cope with a rapidly expanding business. Niklas said Klarna applies it in the recruiting process still. “It’s a frank and predictable test, and Sebastian and myself are very adamant about this.”

Right person in the right position
To constantly re-evaluate the team and who does what within the company has become a vital activity for Klarna, due to its speedy growth. “What’s most difficult, but also most necessary when building a business is to repeatedly challenge yourself to assess the team and employees’ roles,” Niklas said. He gave a clear example: “We spend a lot of time ensuring we have the right people on our board and there’s been some changes to it almost on an annual basis since the start.”

Thanks Niklas for having us, it was a great pleasure!

Internet/media December 4, 2013

Tuesday lunch break with Henrik Lenberg

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On Tuesday (Dec 3), the FastForward startups caught up for lunch with Henrik Lenberg, former VP at SoundCloud. During two years in Berlin, and two in San Francisco, Henrik was part of the core team that turned the music platform into its current state.

Now back in Stockholm, Henrik’s got his sight set on establishing his own music creation startup. The ex-Soundclouder also regularly coaches and teaches, to inspire and encourage other entrepreneurs.

Here are some of the insights Henrik shared with us:

Quit your job
“I think people should be faster at leaving their jobs and trying something new, when they feel they’re not doing the right thing.” Henrik is indeed a man of his own word. When he felt he was ready for a new challenge, and wanted to move back to Sweden, he picked up his things and left his position at SoundCloud

Start with why
Initiate a sustainable vision, or ideology, before establishing a business, is another great advice from Henrik. Most successful startups didn’t have a clear plan for becoming billion-dollar companies when they started. Focus on solving a problem that you care about, and have a clear “why” behind the business idea and concept

Think big but start small
According to Henrik, it’s important to steer away from thinking too big too fast. Having said that, a strong ambition is crucial, and there’s nothing wrong with an overarching goal of taking over the world – at some stage. Being a big advocate of the lean startup model, Henrik points out that a startup doesn’t need to have a crystal-clear idea initially. Rather, that’s a part of the iteration process, and will probably change over time.

A good team is your most valuable asset
This is perhaps of no surprise to anyone. Finding the perfect team is an enormous challenge. “If you’ve got a great little team, that is willing to commit, work together and start up a business together – but simply unsure of what kind of business – just get on with it!” A strong team is an incredible asset. Henrik discusses this further on his website: “I believe a great team is usually more valuable than a great idea, and that great ideas usually come from great people working on problems together.”

Make sure you’re geared up
Starting your own business inevitably means you need to be ready for it – on all levels. Somewhat financially, but most important: mentally. Persistency is an important skill shared by all successful entrepreneurs. Once the business starts moving, the energy and full attention has to be there every day, all day – from the entire team.

During the lunch, Henrik mentioned the following books for everyone involved in building a startup:

Thanks Henrik for coming over. Good luck with your startup, we look forward to seeing more of you and your creations in the near future!

NEWS April 26, 2016

Join a Startup Tech

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Join a Startup is a “selection-only” matchmaking event that aims to connect talented and skilled tech professionals, like you, with fast-growing potential startups looking to expand their teams.

If you’re interested to join some of the hottest tech startups of this city please apply!

When: May 12th, 2016 at 5pm
Where: SUP46, Regeringsgatan 65, Stockholm

20 amazing and fast-growing tech startups will be selected to pitch for 50+ tech positions and you have the chance to choose your most interesting opportunity from them.

For this matchmaking event, we are looking for candidates interested in the following positions: CTO, tech lead, software engineer, frontend/backend/app/mobile developer, data scientist and designers.

We welcome highly varied experience levels in tech from our extremely respected industry experts and tech gurus to freelancers, consultants, students & (of course) fresh graduates.

At the event, you will get a chance to hear the best startups present who they are, what competence they are looking for and why skilled professionals like yourself should join their team followed by a mingle with the founders of participating companies.

Read more and apply here >>>

NEWS April 18, 2016

Join STING Accelerate!

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The application period for the next STING Accelerate program is now open. The program round starts in August 2016, and finishes up in January 2017. Do you have what it takes to be a STING Accelerate company? 

Apply-Now

STING Accelerate is the accelerator program that gathers Stockholm’s most promising internet startups. The program provides 7-8 handpicked startups with an exclusive package of funding (300 000 SEK), tailored business development coaching, access to STING’s network of investors and partners as well as free office space at SUP46 in the centre of Stockholm.

> More about the program and the investment 

NEWS April 7, 2016

Worldfavor raises 5 MSEK to revolutionize the management of corporate sustainability data

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Having a strong sustainability profile could mean great value for a company, but no player has taken on the task to digitize and centralize all the world’s comapny sustainability data – until now. The STING company Worldfavor has raised funding to expand and secure this position: 4 MSEK from AXSU Ventures combined with VINNOVA and EU funding of about 1.3 MSEK.

Worldfavor’s cloud-based SaaS solution offers companies worldwide a radical streamlining of its management of information relating to economic, environmental and social sustainability – from collection to compilation and communication. The service can be applied both within the company and in the supply chain, and even visualized toward more and more sustainability-conscious consumers.

– The potential of Worldfavor is fantastic. Digitalizing sustainability reports is both commercially good for businesses and a way to make the world more sustainable. It will be very exciting to join the journey together with the talented Worldfavor team, says Axel Sundstrom at AXSU Ventures.

Worldfavor also releases the possibility for anyone to ask companies for their sustainability data. The vision is that all information should be digital in one place – easy to access, share, compare and analyze.

– The timing is very interesting right now. For example, there is a new EU legislation on sustainability reporting, and we want to ride that wave as much as we can. We expect to increase our user base in the category large companies to about 17,000 within three years on a global scale, says Frida Emilsson, co-founder of Worldfavor.

The product is based on international sustainability standards and already has more than 2000 member companies, including Folksam, HSB and Länsförsäkringar. The investment will mainly be used for expansion with a focus on marketing and sales. The company will also prepare for expansion into the international market.

– We are very happy to have an investor who, in addition to significant expansion capital, will contribute with experience from breaking new ground in the digitalization of a new area, and sales to large corporations. They also have a technical expertise that we value, said Frida Emilsson.

> Read more about Worldfavor

 

NEWS February 18, 2016

Strong lineup when STING presents its eight new stars

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STING welcomes eight new Internet companies to the sixth round of the accelerator program STING Accelerate. The batch represents diverse teams with broad experience, where half of the companies are founded by female entrepreneurs. Each company receives an investment of SEK 300 000 by Propel Capital to accelerate their growth.

A total of 170 Internet companies competed about the eight spots in the accelerator program STING Accelerate. After a comprehensive evaluation of the business model, the team and the overall potential, eight of the most promising startups joins the program and moves in to STING’s premises at the co-working hub for digital startups, SUP46, where the program is run.

– The line-up is strong and we are very excited about the diversified teams this spring. Half of the companies are founded by female entrepreneurs, and it is a good spread of age and origin. It provides a really good dynamic and best conditions for good exchanges in the group. We also have a wide variety of companies, both in terms of industry but also regarding how far they have come, conditions that are exactly what the program is designed for, says Peo Nilsson, program manager and business coach at STING Accelerate.

A digital platform for models, a subscription service for fragrances and a mobile TV guide is a selection of the digital services that STING Accelerate shows this spring. The startup companies are founded by a number of serial entrepreneurs and several individuals with extensive experience in relevant industries, including companies such as MTG/Viaplay, Samsung and Cap Gemini.

One of the companies this spring’s is YouModels, a digital platform to book and manage professional models.

– We are really looking forward to working closely with Sting during the spring, to increase the speed of growth in Sweden and globally, says Laura Lilja, CEO and co-founder of YouModels.

Another of the spring batch company is Mi.tv, the fastest growing online/mobile TV guide in Latin America. One of the co-founders are Fredrik Hellström, co-founder and former CEO of digital TV schedules TV24.

– To be selected for the program feels great. It is a unique opportunity to gain valuable coaching and expand our network of entrepreneurs and investors. Now we want to take the company to the next level by accelerating our business development, evaluate and refine all aspects of the company and prepare us for the next investment round, says Fredrik Hellström, CEO and founder mi.tv.

All companies accepted to STING Accelerate automatically receives an investment of SEK 300 000 from STING’s investment company Propel Capital. Venture capital comes from 18 renowned Swedish business angels, including Carl Palmstierna, Ludvig Linge and Magnus Bergman, who have come together to invest in Internet and media companies.

The companies are now awaiting 20 weeks of intensive coaching by experienced STING coaches with expertise in company building and business development. The focus is on the “Lean Startup” –methodology, to increase the pace of development, and to challenge and sharpen our offering to customers. The new companies will also receive close support in recruitment and communication, as well as access to STING’s wide external network of industry experts and investors.

During the program STING provides the companies with free office space at the internet hub SUP46 in the heart of Stockholm. In May, at the annual investor event STING Day, the program ends with a demo day, where the companies will present their business ideas for exclusively invited investors, potential partners and journalists.

Here are the eight STING Accelerate-companies

Gaddr  
Gaddr is universal friend requests, and makes it up to 25 times faster to add and follow a friend, business, influencer or other person’s social media profiles. Add a person on up to 35+ social medias, games and profiles in one tap. Add one, add anywhere.
CEO: Francisco Andreasson

Marqts 
MARQTS.com makes it easier for you as an investor, large or small, to understand financial information so you can make better investment decisions.
CEO: Joakim Höglund.

Match2One  
Match2One makes it easier for advertisers to make automated and hyper-targeted purchases of ad inventory – also called programmatic marketing. The self-service platform allow users unrestricted access to global ad inventory across display, mobile, native, video and soon digital posters, TV and radio. The innovation reduces barriers to enter for independent agencies and SMBs, that will use Match2One to create and run high-performance programmatic ad-campaigns. It’s also easy to use, no training or experience is required!
CEO: Mikael Kreuger.

Mi.tv 
Mi.tv is the fastest growing online/mobile TV guide in Latin America. Mi.tv is not only a guide but a social platform that gives personal recommendations of shows based on users’ preferences and allows users to interact with friends. The business model is a free product monetized by premium advertising such as display, native ads and sponsorships.
CEO: Fredrik Hellström.

Sniph 
Sniph is a smart subscription service for perfume, which makes it easy to discover new scents. Sniph delivers 7 ml bottles monthly, to be used in a smart case. The subscription is €15,99/month with no commitments.
CEO: Lisa Kjellqvist.

Teleguru
Teleguru is a fast-growing telecommunications website that is targeting the Polish market (58 million active SIM-cards). Teleguru shares content on market news, analyze tariffs/operator services and products reviews. Thanks to Teleguru average people can get help with choosing the right products and services.
CEO: Filip Wisnander.

Worldsmarathons  
Worldsmarathons.com is the starting place for all long-distance runners from beginners to elite. In the comprehensive event calendar, runners can discover new challenging marathons and exciting destinations, and to find all possible information they need about the events. The global website also provides race organizers and advertisers with new opportunities to reach their target audiences.
CEO: Charlotte Melchert.

YouModels  
YouModels.com is an online platform for booking and managing models with agency contracts. YouModels’ unique search engine allows advertisers to easily find and “book the look” without multiple contact points at different agencies. YouModels enables agencies to market their models globally in a cost-efficient way, generating additional bookings with minimal effort.
CEO: Laura Lilja.

NEWS January 21, 2016

High investor attendence at the year’s first STING Demo Day

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More than 60 investors gathered on Tuesday Jan 19 for STING Demo Day, to listen to the twelve STING companies that pitched their business ideas. The event is the final step of the business development programs STING Accelerate and STING Incubate, and attracted a total of 170 specially invited guests.

STING Demo Day, organized by STING, has grown into a very popular event. Twelve startup companies presented their business ideas in areas such as digital health, e-commerce and marketing, for a specially invited audience of 170 investors, business profiles and journalists at the World Trade Center in Stockholm.

The event is held twice a year in order to give entrepreneurs the opportunity to build relationships with future investors, partners and other relevant people who can help them in their growth.

– STING Demo Day has proven to be one of the most important days for our entrepreneurs during the time with us. Today, we have seen strong results and driven team that really has the potential to go far, says Pär Hedberg, CEO and founder of STING.

All startup companies have since the start of the STING progams focused on testing their products and services to customers and sharpen business models and processes to grow faster. The entrepreneurs have made great progress both team- and product wise, with international launches, invetments and new established partnership.

Resrc, one of the companies that joined the program STING Accelerate, is developing a new consulting marketplace that dramatically simplifies the meeting between buyers and sellers. More than 6000 organizations are already using Resrc platform to make better business, and in 2015 received the benefit of the mission ads to a value of SEK 14 billion.

– The best thing about the program is that we have strengthened our focus on growth and reached close to a doubling of the registered company we had from the start. We have good visibility in the media, where we ranked number 7 in Internetworld’s Startup List. The STING team has also opened the doors to the investors, with who we will intensify dialogue when it is nearly time to take the next step in Resrc development and international expansion, says Manuel de Verdier, CEO and co-founder of Resrc.

Resrc also received, as part of STING Accelerate, an investment of SEK 300 000 at the start of the program from STING’s investment company Propel Capital. The investment is given to all teams in the program and with the aim of facilitating teams to focus on their business instead of chasing capital.

During the afternoon, the audience vote for the “Best of pitch”, and after a tight game named two companies winners: Airinum and Resrc.

Here are the companies that presented at STING Demo Day

STING Accelerate

Airinum
Airinum combats one of the biggest health risks in the modern era: air pollution. The company’s first product is a new type of breathing mask for daily use with optimal protection and does not compromise on comfort or design.

Beatly
Beatly provides a marketplace for influencer marketing, which aims to increase its clients’ social media presence, and to simplify for the world’s business to reach out with their message on social media.

Daily Bits Of
Daily Bits Of offers free courses to anyone who wants to work with their personal development. All courses are free, delivered daily via email in small portioned lessons.

Footmall
Footmall is a search and marketplace for shoes. By gathering all the shoes at one place from a variety of retailers helps Footmall shoppers to save both time and money.

Jaramba
Jaramba is a world of adventure on the tablet, where children can freely explore at their own pace and according to their own interests, whether you like pirates, penguins, table tennis or pancakes. In Jaramba all content is carefully selected and free of advertising. Jaramba adapts to each child and tailor a unique adventure every time.

Karma
Karma is a shopping platform in a fun way allows users to find and share great deals. By users contribute content in the app, we get the data that companies need to attract, engage and regain customers, which was previously only possible for large enterprises. Karma is intelligent and learns our users’ shopping patterns, allowing us to provide offers that suit the user based on time, location and relevance.

Resrc
Resrc creates future consulting market by being an independent marketplace that facilitates the meeting between buyers and sellers. More than 6000 organizations already using Resrc platform to do better business. In 2015 got these organizations take part in missions ads to a value of SEK 14 billion.

UNjobfinder
UNjobfinder.org is the leading global career platform in international development cooperation. Through innovative tools and professional support for recruitment, the company matches job seekers with employers.

STING Incubate

Beagle
Beagle is a “lead generation” tool for small and medium-sized enterprises, which make it possible to identify visitors on a website through easy to use forms, and follow their activity over a long time horizon.

Exmet
Exmet develops technology for additive manufacturing (3D printing) of components in amorphous and nanocrystalline alloys. Exmets technology enables weight reductions of up to 90 percent of mechanical components and up to 80 percent reduction in energy losses in magnetic components.

Moggles
Moggles is a virtual reality headset with a modern smartphone makes it possible to step into the virtual reality. Their patented hardware is designed to be portable and user friendly, without compromising on a good user experience.

VisueCare
VisueCare is an innovative new cloud service that aims to ensure a good quality of care and safety of residents and relatives in elderly care. The application will also be a working tool for staff and support staff to do “a good job” in a more efficient manner.

> More information about STING’s programs and how to apply 

NEWS January 21, 2016

Sellpy receives 8,2 MSEK from H&M and more

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The STING Alumni company Sellpy welcomes 8,2 MSEK from H&M and a number of tech investors, the tech site Breakit reveals.

Sellpy, the company that helps you sell the stuff that you no longer use, will now focus on expanding the market and the team. The venture capital comes from the clothing giant H&M (SEK 5 million), Ryska Posten founder’s company Jeansson Pilotti (750 000), Gymgrossisten founder David Frykman (100 000) and the investment company DIG Investment (SEK 1.5 million).

“We are very pleased with the investors who decided to jump on the bandwagon. Both in terms of capital, but of course the knowledge and capacity they represent,” says Michael Arnör, CEO and founder of Sellpy, to Breakit in a statement.

Sellpy makes it easy and painless to get rid of the stuff that are no longer of use. The concept is simple: you order a Sellpy bag, fill it with things you want to get rid of, Sellpy picks it up and then sells the content on Tradera.You share the earnings equally.

> More on Sellpy