Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Swedish Startup Has Turned The Air Pollution Mask Into A Fashion Item – And It’s Taking Over Asia

Via Business Insider:

Airinum is on a mission to fight air pollution with pure Scandinavian fashion.

As with most startups, Airinum's founding spark came after a painful encounter with the problem; co-founder Alexander Hjertström had his childhood asthma return while studying in India.

“Alexander realized that it was due to the polluted air, and that became the first step to what now is Airinum”, says Fredrik Kempe, CMO and co-founder.

After returning from Asia – and realizing that most people can't breathe clean Scandinavian air – Hjertström teamed up with his friends and designed a mask that would confine the old construction worker type masks into oblivion – at least among younger age groups.

Helping people breathe cleaner air

Beyond creating fashionable air pollution masks, Airinum says its vision is to create a movement against an increasingly acute problem in the world's cities.

"Our world's biggest indirect health risk is polluted air, killing more than 7 million people per year according to the WHO", Kempe says.

Although his company is headquartered in Stockhom's main co-working space, SUP46, Kempe's big expansion focus lies east. "This year, we expect to ship some 40.000 masks mostly in Asia".

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Norway’s $1 Trillion Pension Fund Wants To Ditch All Oil And Gas Stocks

Via Business Insider:

Norway's trillion-dollar sovereign wealth fund is proposing to drop oil and gas companies from its benchmark index.

The Central Bank of Norway, which runs the fund, sent a proposal to the Ministry of Finance today.

The aim is primarily to reduce the fund’s exposure to oil price fluctuations.

Norway’s trillion-dollar sovereign wealth fund is proposing to sell off all its holdings in oil and gas companies.

In a letter sent to the Ministry of Finance today, the The Norwegian Central Bank, which runs the Sovereign Wealth Fund, said the move would make it “less vulnerable to a permanent drop in oil and gas prices”.

Around six percent of the fund’s holdings, or $37 billion, consist of oil- and gas stocks such as BP, Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil. The fund’s exposure to fossil fuel markets is currently double that of a standard global fund, the Central Bank said.

"This advice is based exclusively on financial arguments and analyses of the government's total oil and gas exposure and does not reflect any particular view of future movements in oil and gas prices or the profitability or sustainability of the oil and gas sector", said Deputy Governor Egil Matsen in a press release.

Norges Bank further said a divestment would not affect the fund’s projected returns, nor would it raise its risk profile. The proposal is based on the oil and gas sector as defined by the FTSE reference index.

The decision now rests with the Norwegian Ministry of Finance. If the government and the parliament reach a unanimous decision on the matter, a final approval could take place next summer, reports Norwegian site E24.

The Government Pension Fund of Norway, which recently surpassed one trillion dollars in value, is the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund. It invests Norway’s revenues from oil and gas production in stocks, bonds and real estate.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Top Banker: Here's Why The Nordics Should Form The "United States Of North" – A Global Superpower

Via Business Insider:

Eirik Winter is the CEO and Chairman of Citi’s Nordic operations. In a recent opinion piece in Swedish business daily Dagens Industri, Winter – representing himself in a private capacity – proposes that Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland should form a ‘United States of North’ - to win more clout in an unpredictable world.

In ranking after ranking, the Nordic region puts the rest of the world to shame. Whether it concerns social progress, economic dynamism or press freedom, the region's countries are held up as poster cases.

But the one thing missing, according to Eirik Winter – the CEO and Chairman of global investment bank Citi’s Nordic branch – is Nordic power on the world stage.

In a world marked by "Brexit anxiety, a fraying EU, American protectionism, Russian threats, mass immigration, and the increasingly dominant [emerging powers] China and India", the Nordic region needs to become more independent and united, Winter writes in Dagens Industri (in a private capacity).

To make "the Nordic voice heard and respected," Winter proposes that the Nordics form a close-knit political and economic union; what he calls “United States of North”.

On aggregate, the union would be the world's 10th largest economy, and a global superpower.

“27 million citizens, the world’s 10th largest economy, leadership within sustainability and digitalization. Global exports in shipping, energy, medicine, technology, heavy industry, music and telecoms. A sovereign wealth fund that owns two percent of the world’s [publicly listed company stocks]. A society that is founded on openness, equality, negligible corruption, respect, rule of law and tolerance”.

A seat at the G20

Although his idea draws inspiration from the federal model of America, Winter is not proposing a central state. Instead, he talks about a “confederation” - based on a rotating union government, which would form a unified Nordic voice in geopolitical affairs.

Winter sees the region’s shared history, values and languages as fertile ground for close co-operation, which, he notes, has historical precedents in the Kalmar Union under Margaret I of Denmark (14th century), or the union between Sweden and Norway that was ultimately dissolved in 1905.

Whatever differences the countries have – in terms of memberships in Nato or the euro, for instance – would be far outweighed by the countries' consolidated voice and reduced transaction costs in global affairs, Winter argues.

Even though Nordics have grown accustomed to running their political affairs via the EU, they would benefit more by banding together, he says.

“Let us take matters in our own hands and gain a strong voice that can make a real difference in [global affairs]. Everything else is just [peanuts]“, Winter ends the piece.

Here’s what Winter proposes as the key pillars of the ‘United States of North’:

Common voice towards G20, Nato, UN, EU,USA, Russia

Common voice and initiatives in foreign policy, EU-matters, defense-, migration-, energy- and economic policy matters

A united, high-tech defense that is built on neutrality, and co-operation with regards to common enemies and terrorism

A rotating union government

All countries remain independent, and maintain their cultural, linguistic and social heritages

Open towards immigrants who want to work and study in the region

A common central bank

The union would also comprise the autonomous regions of Åland, Faroe Islands and Greenland

The Baltic countries may also be invited into the union

All Scandinavian monarchies could stay intact

...Eirik Winter is not the first one to raise the issue of Nordic political and economic union.

Already, citizens of the Nordic countries enjoy almost equal rights in their neighboring countries. They are able to move, study and work freely – Finns in Sweden, Swedes in Norway, and so forth. The argument concerns to what extent the region should integrate – and whether co-operation should extend beyond just regional affairs.

Gunnar Wetterberg, a Swedish historian and author of the book “The United Nordic Federation”, has long proposed initiatives similar to Winter’s. In August, he wrote an opinion piece for Swedish tabloid Expressen, called 'The Nordic Countries should use their Power', in which he said:

“If the Nordic countries were to unite under common policies, then EU, Nato and G20 would listen – even at the Nordic countries that stand outside these organizations”.

Wetterberg also called for the removal of internal barriers in the Nordics, and a redesign of regulations regarding the movement of labor, taxes and social security. “[The legally gifted] should get the assignment to summon a Labor Market 2.0”.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Former Apple CEO John Sculley Explains Why Steve Jobs Was The Best Recruiter He Ever Met

Via Business Insider:

Steve Jobs was never one to hold back.

That's exactly what made him so adept at finding talent, according to John Sculley, the former CEO of Apple and Pepsi.

"The best recruiter I ever met was Steve Jobs", he told Business Insider. "He really set no limits to the talent he would go after".

Jobs' success was driven by his confidence in Apple's mission, Scully said.

"He felt what he was doing was so incredibly important to the world", Sculley said. "Why not get the best?"

Sculley would know. Jobs himself first poached Sculley from his role at Pepsi. Sculley told Business Insider editor-in-chief Alyson Shontell that Jobs won him over with a simple, pointed question: "Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?"

Jobs unabashedly went after the top people in tech and business and never let the occasional failure trip him up, Sculley said.

"It didn't always work out, but the reality was that he never compromised on trying to go for the best talent he could", Sculley said.

For Jobs, his ability to passionately convey his belief in Apple - and his lack of qualms over going after prominent talent - was crucial. Scully, who is now chairman of startup RXAdvance, a startup that seeks to blend the fields of high tech and healthcare, said for most people, it's a lesson that's simply learned through time and experience.

"Those are things that only come through experience", Sculley said. "You've got to learn how to recruit a team, you've got to learn how to work with other people, and you've got to learn how to get good stuff done".

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Tim Cook Just Visited The "Breathtaking" Forests Of Northern Sweden - Here's Why

Via Business Insider:

Today, Tim Cook started his day by visiting Apple’s headquarters in Stockholm, before disappearing in a black car. Speculation was rife about where the American tech executive headed next. Now we know: to the forests of northern Sweden.

Dagens Industri (Di) reports that the American executive was really headed to Iggesund forestry, near the mid-Swedish town of Hudiksvall, where Swedish forest industry company Holmen produces advanced packaging materials.

For more than a decade, Apple has had a “top secret” deal with Holmen, which has supplied the American tech giant with an ever-increasing volume of packaging for Apple’s iPad’s, Di reports.

Tim Cook was invited to Iggesund only last week, and perhaps it’s no surprise he accepted: Before becoming CEO of the world's most highly valued company, he was responsible for Apple’s supply chain.

Moreover, durable packaging is strategically important for Apple, as many customers save their boxes after purchase.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Newest Decluttering Craze Is "Swedish Death Cleaning"

Via Business Insider:

It's hard to tell when Margareta Magnusson is being serious.

Honestly, I'm still not sure if her intention with the forthcoming book "The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning" is to poke gentle fun at all the self-help literature out there dedicated to cleaning and organization.

Either way, Magnusson - a Swedish artist "somewhere between 80 and 100 years old" - raises a good point when she suggests that, if you can't motivate yourself to clean for the sake of being clean, just think of how much of a burden you'll place on loved ones when you, um, pass on.

It's something she's personally experienced after the death of her parents, her in-laws, and her husband. And it's something that many millennials and Gen Xers are experiencing today, sometimes paying up to $5.000 for people to haul away their aging parents' furniture and other possessions.

Magnusson shares some solid guiding principles for organizing your home, no matter your age or life circumstance.

For example, if you have embarrassing items in your possession - say, letters from an illicit love affair - consider getting rid of them now. "If you think the secret will cause your loved ones harm or unhappiness", Magnusson writes, "then make sure to destroy them".

Note taken.

And if Aunt Cece gives you a gorgeous (read: hideous) piece of china and you hate it, don't keep it. Don't even put it on display when Cece visits, Magnusson says - that will just motivate her to give you more of the same. (Apparently, in Swedish, the word fulskåp describes "a cupboard full of gifts you can't stand to look at, and which are impossible to regift".)

Magnusson's strategy is pretty different from the last big decluttering fad: "Kondo-ing" your home and office, named after Japanese organization guru Marie Kondo. Kondo encourages people to keep only those items that "spark joy" in their hearts.

But Magnusson also urges readers to approach death cleaning rationally. She recommends not starting with photographs and other emotional items: "You will definitely get stuck down memory lane and may never get around to cleaning anything else". Better to begin with your wardrobe, she says.

As for books, if you can't stomach the thought of donating or selling them to anonymous readers, Magnusson suggests having family and friends browse your collection first and take what they want.

But - and this is important - always keep in mind that what you consider a treasure may be to others a burden. Magnusson writes: "I often ask myself, 'Will anyone I know be happier if I save this?'"

In the book's introduction, Magnusson writes that one of her sons asked her if her book was going to be sad, given that it's largely about death. "No, no, I said. It is not sad at all. Neither the cleaning nor the writing of the book".

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Author Of "Funky Business" Told Us That "Anything That Can’t Be Digitized Will Become Profitable" — Here’s The Proof

Via Business Insider:

We often assume that today’s most profitable businesses must be digital. But Kjell Nordström, the co-author of global bestseller Funky Business (2007), begs to disagree. His advice to entrepeneurs is to look at what might seem boring, non-digital industries.

“The rule of thumb is easy: if it cannot be digitized it will create value and become profitable", Nordström said at the Nordic Busines Forum in Helsinki last week, at Business Insider Nordic's live studio.

Nordström gave some examples from the music industry, where many famous artists are touring to make money (as opposed to selling their records online).

“Look at the Madonna’s, the Justin Bieber’s, the Rolling Stones – what are they doing? They are on tour", he said, adding:

"Look at the spa business, which sells experiences. They are very profitable”.

To avoid fierce competition and have a better chance at creating value, Nordström says, one needs to look for the inefficient markets, the non-digital ones.

"If you can digitize something, there will be a lot of competition, for the simple reason that the market functions very well”.

When Nordström later sat down for an interview with your reporter, it happened in something called a smart meeting cube – which turned out to be a good example of his thesis.

Founded in November 2015, Smartblock has seized the non-digital market for professional meetings (and improved ability to focus at work).

Just two years after its founding, Smartblock's projected turnover is €3 million euros, or four times last year's. Smartblock also says it expects to turn a profit of €200k euros; a result your standard VC-backed app can only dream of two years after launch.

Among some recent Finnish success stories, there are further signs that Nordström may be on to something.

From phone booths to hairdressers

Take Smartblock’s indirect Finnish market competitor, Framery, which has become a leading producer of office phone booths.

The Tampere-based company had €17.6 million euros in turnover in 2016, with profits amounting to more than 3,5 million euros. Last year’s revenue grew almost 250 percent on the previous year, according to Finnish public company data.

When Finnish business daily Kauppalehti recently compared the performance of Series A-backed Finnish startups of the past five years, it found that among the 88 - mostly tech - companies surveyed, the best performer was SuperPark, a chain of indoor activity parks founded in 2012.

This year, Kauppalehti estimates, SuperPark will post €14 million in revenue, and is on track to double that amount next year on the back of an expansion to Asia.

Finally, Finnish hairdresser chain M Room's revenue has almost quadrupled between 2012-2016, to €2.4 million. The company is now expanding aggressively to the United States, where it plans to open some 200 franchises by 2020.

One way to claim an edge in mainly non-digital markets, beyond expanding globally, is to use digital components to make your product stand out. Smartblock's CEO, Janne Orava, gave an example:

“We are piloting IoT-sensors, and we have just introduced the Microsoft Surface Hub [screens] in our cube’s. We have also used the Microsoft Hololens - as the first company in the world according to Microsoft - as a sales tool”, he told BI Nordic.