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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.

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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”

Klarnalunch

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!

NEWS April 18, 2016

Join STING Accelerate!

STINGDemoDay160119

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 January 26, 2015

Here are STING’s eight new Internet startups, Propel Capital’s latest investments

Today, STING welcomes eight new internet/media companies to the fourth round of its accelerator program STING FastForward. The investment company Propel Capital invests 250 000 SEK in each company, to further accelerate their growth.

After a comprehensive evaluation of 120 applicants for STING’s accelerator, eight teams made it into the program. The entrepreneurs have impressive backgrounds with experience from iZettle, Klarna and Tradedoubler, and degrees from reputable schools such as Stockholm School of Economics and Parsons School of Design.

– The eight companies selected for the spring batch represent several areas that currently are undergoing very exciting shifts, including digital marketing, fintech, logistics and mobile enterprise solutions, says Peo Nilsson, program manager and business coach at STING.

Propel Capital, dedicated to investing only in STING companies, invests 250 000 SEK in each team. Early on in the program, the entrepreneurs will start to build close relationships with the investors behind Propel Capital. Some 20 successful business angels, including Hampus Jakobsson, Eric Byrenius, Kristofer Arwin and Niclas Lilja, have joined forces to invest in STING Internet/media and ICT companies. Previously, Propel Capital has invested in STING’s earlier batch of FastForward, in startups such as EdQu, Qasa and Selfiejobs, but also in the STING alumni company Apprl.

– STING FastForward really is an engine for entrepreneurship. Last year’s companies have taken significant technical, commercial and financial steps to develop their ideas. We welcome the next batch of companies and look forward to contributing to their growth, says Niclas Lilja, angel investor and investor in Propel Capital.

The companies now have 20 intensive weeks’ ahead of them with coaching by STING’s experienced Internet coaches with expertise in company building and business development. The focus is on accelerating their development according to the lean startup methodology, and to challenge and sharpen their offers to clients. The new batch will also have access to communications and recruitment support, as well as access to STING’s wide external network of industry experts and investors.

Throughout the program, the STING companies are offered free office space at SUP46 in central Stockholm. The program ends with a Demo Day, a closed event where the companies pitch their business ideas for exclusively invited investors, potential partners and journalists.

Here are the eight companies of STING Fast Forward’s spring batch, FFW_04:

Boxgard offers a smart urban by-the-box storage solution for people who need more space. The pay-as-you-go service can be booked online via boxgard.com and comes with free pick up and home delivery any day of the week. Boxgard delivers free packing boxes at no additional costs. Uniquely Boxgard has the option to schedule delivery of one or several boxes at the time from the comfort of your home.

Haaartland turns growing marketing complexity into something that is fun and easy to manage. The company develops cloud-based subscription-based services for marketers. These services enable marketers to understand the hidden factors that drive the audience in their product-niche (the heartland of the product), to create highly engaging data-driven content, and to publish in the most effective way to grow their audience.

HappyTail is a community for active and social dogs and dog lovers. By connecting dogs with dog lovers we eliminate the dog owners dilemma of reduced freedom and lonely dog walks. This benefits the dog owner as well as the dog – and that is our main mission: Every dog should be able to live a happy, active and social life!

Liquido simplifies and manages your invoicing and accounts receivables. We supply you with a simple but powerful invoicing tool, that together with our automatic matching of your incoming payments, gives you access to an constantly up-to-date accounts receivable  – wherever you are.

Pecuniosus has developed a SaaS platform, Market2Member, to making it easy for companies and organizations to offer advanced loyalty and cashback programs to their customers/ members. The platform content is API driven making it easy for partners to integrate the solution on their own web sites.

Salesbox CRM is not just your average model for managing your customer relations and keeping focus, it is a breakthrough blueprint for maximizing your sales. It is an intelligent and mobile CRM system matched by no other. Salesbox CRM is the art of selling contained within a CRM.

Sellpy makes it dead simple to get rid of stuff you don’t use anymore. Order a Sellpy bag online and fill it with anything you want. We pick it up at the door, sell the items and share the profit. Whatever we can’t sell we donate to charity. Sellpy gets you both space and money and ensures that your unused items come to use. Good for you and good for the environment!

Strawpay uses Bitcoin payment channels and payment protocol to create small, cheap and secure micro payments. The buyer and seller of the payments only risk one payment at the time. The payment channel can be used to pay different sellers simultaneously.

NEWS October 19, 2014

Apply to FastForward’s next batch!

The next application round for the next batch of STING FastForward, FFW_04, is now open!

For 4 months, we gather Stockholm’s most promising entrepreneurs in the Internet/media sector at SUP46 in Stockholm. We select 7-8 startups that receive an investment of SEK 250,000, close to business development support and coaching, free office space. The companies are also invited to take part of STING’s international network of investors and experts.

> Read more about the program here.
> Apply here!

Application deadline is Nov 10 at midnight.