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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:


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 for more information about Sting’s accelerator program and the 300,000 SEK investment.

Best of luck!

Entreprenörskap October 10, 2012

The Pivot – so hyped and so underused

My colleague Raoul Stubbe recently wrote an excellent (yeah right, I’m not biased) blog post on ”Why Swedish entrepreneurs need more staying power”. One of the issues Raoul brought up was the PIVOT, in the context of how much harder it is to pivot here in Sweden than in the US due to how investors (and, let´s be honest, most of us) regard failure.

(If ”pivot” is still not part of your vocabulary, a nice way of defining it is ”A change in STRATEGY without a change in VISION” quote on quote from an article I recommend.)

After having spent a couple of weeks in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, and meeting with quite a few entrepreneurs there, the picture is pretty clear: The view on pivoting is definitely one of the more distinct differences between entrepreneurs here vs there. Yes, it is true that here in Sweden, in most cases the pivoting needs to be done before bringing in angels, whereas in the US the investors are used to endure one or several pivots, with the often accompanying need for additional capital.

BUT, and this is a crucial difference between success and failure for many Swedish startups I think: the fact that Swedish investors generally don´t like the idea of pivoting doesn´t lower the need for it. Quite the contrary, just because we have less capital here, because we have a lack of failure acceptance, the need for pivoting is BIGGER than in the US. Swedish entrepreneurs increase their chances of success exponentially if they embrace the thought of pivoting already from the start in their projects.

So, where does this leave the Swedish entrepreneur compared to the American? With a need of being better in both staying power according to the blog post mentioned in the beginning, AND being faster in challenging and pivoting your business model. And, of course, this is nothing less and nothing more than saying that Swedish entrepreneurs need to be better than their American colleagues in lean entrepreneurship. Iterate, iterate, iterate, and involve customers and users in every step, every work week.

Speaking of pivoting, here is a good post in Techcrunch with a number of both historical and current pivots.

Clarification: No, the number of times I´ve been using the term pivot is not an attempt to bring to the top search results on the search phrase pivot. Ehhh, Pivoting. Pivots. Pivotal. (If you have other forms of the word, please write it in the comment field.)

Cleantech October 3, 2012

The Scene for New Cleantech Ideas and Connections


Solelia pitched its charging stations for electric cars and presented “Solbanken” where you save solar power to use on a cloudy day.

Last week, 19 new cleantech ideas were presented at Stockholm Cleantech Venture Day, which was held for the fifth time. The scene was set for meetings between investors and entrepreneurs, and for sharing industry insights.

Notable during the conference was Her Excellency Ambassador Najla Al Qassimi’s description that the initiative in the United Arab Emirates to create Masdar City is pushed as a way for the country to reduce its strong dependence on fossil fuel (owned by the emirate and not the country).

From India and Mr Raghupathy, CEO of the Confederation of Indian Industry, we learned that the cleantech business has been growing by 25 percent annually for the past 10 years, and is expected to continue at this rate to offer at least 1.4 million jobs by 2020.

A major challenge is to reduce the energy consumption, which is enabled through a green building movement, to ensure availability of energy by implementing renewable energy solutions, and to provide clean water for more people.

Mr Jussi Nykänen of GreenStream Solutions in Finland described their work in China and their involvement in arranging funding and technologies to allow a shift away from the fossil based economy and to switch to renewable energy on a larger scale. He also shared his guidance, based on several years of experience, on how smaller companies can approach the Chinese market.

A Cleantech Countries Innovations Index from the Cleantech Group/WWF was presented from which it was evident that three out of the top four countries are Scandinavian! This offers an excellent investment opportunity as there are apparently a range of good prerequisites to build cleantech companies in our region.

Anolytech - cleantech company of the year

The winner: Catherine Ehrensvärd and Anolytech – Cleantech Company of the Year

As a highlight, 19 companies gave well-rehearsed pitches to the audience and answered questioned from the jury for the Cleantech Company of the Year Award. The pitches proved once again that there are indeed an excellent range of companies in Sweden and that they now to a larger degree have reached further and are active in sales and have customers. This was a very good sign and encouraging for the whole audience. The jury had a very tough time in selecting a worthy winner among the companies presented.

Malmberg Water, Veolia Innovation and Carbon Trust contributed towards the view of how companies can develop, how they have set an example and what assistance is available.

The conference ended with three parallel workshops covering current industry topics, and, during the evening, a gala dinner was held at which the winning company was announced – Anolytech AB, the green bacteria killer.

I was very pleased with the outcome of the event but specifically to hear the intensity of meetings and discussions, and the eagerness to make new contacts during the day. This is exactly what the Stockholm Cleantech Venture Day is about; to set a scene for meetings between investors and entrepreneurs and to provide new insights for the industry. With a few days retrospect, I can say that I am pleased to be part of the industry, that there continues to be an increasing demand for good solutions and that the innovators of this industry truly are fantastic in developing new solutions throughout the whole spectrum of technologies.

Entreprenörskap September 25, 2012

Why Swedish entrepreneurs need more staying power

One of the most crucial traits you need for starting a venture in Stockholm is staying power. Your peers in Silicon Valley need it too, of course, but not to the same extent. Why is that? Well, there are a number of reasons, but here are three of them.

First, the accessible amount of seed stage money in Stockholm is less. We don’t have the same fools, friends and family tradition to fund startups; the number of business angels and the sizes of the amounts they can invest are less; and we only have a handful of VCs that make seed investments. The lack of competition among the VCs allows them the luxury to place their bets once the startups have made it passed the most critical validation points. Good for the VCs, but as an entrepreneur you need to take the company longer with less money.

Second, in Stockholm failure is really not an option. Most startups need to pivot a few times before they find their recipe for success. This means that you have to be prepared to experiment and learn from failure. In Silicon Valley, as long as you fail fast, failure is embraced, cradled, and even encouraged.  In Sweden, I’m afraid that we still have to learn that we can learn from failure. Thus your pivoting must be carried out preferably in stealth mode and with money from your own pockets or possibly with soft funding.

Third, Sweden as a target market is too small for most startups to justify VC funding. The Swedish market is excellent for testing and validating new business models, but as a Swedish entrepreneur you need to think globally from day one. Many startups underestimate the effort it takes to build an international presence. We think we are so cosmopolitan, but are we really?

So, here is some advice to extend your staying power:

  1. Don’t quit your daytime job too early. There are probably a lot of the customer development, alpha prototyping, etc, that you can do in the evenings and on weekends. Try to validate as much as possible before you trade time for salary.
  2. Apply for soft funding (long) before you run out of your savings. This is of course true for all funding, but first timers tend to miss this. In fact, you can often use the money you invest yourself to match government grants/loans. You can´t do this retroactively, though.
  3. Stay lean. Don’t try to build a new Ericsson from day one. Be even leaner than your Californinian peers. Read the book “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries. Focus on the minimum viable product.
  4. Understand what unique values your business brings to the market. Everything else should preferably be “components” that you buy off the shelf.
  5. Value your own time the most. A trick is to set a high price tag on you as a consultant working for your startup. If you are charging say 10 000 SEK per hour, you will surely only do the things with the highest priority.
  6. Be frugal. One of my favorite entrepreneurs built his first prototype with garbage container findings.
  7. Trade speed for equity. You shouldn’t give away the whole company, of course, but you can’t afford to miss the window of opportunity either. Find the best co-founders and pay them with equity.