Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Swedish 19-Year-Old With Only 160 Facebook Followers Just Topped Spotify’s US Viral Top 50 With His First Single Release

Via Business Insider:

’Paris’ is the first song to be released by a Malmö-based musician called Le Sinner.

Yesterday the song soared up to Spotify’s Viral Top 50 in the US, which means that it was the most shared track.

“While I was in the studio yesterday it seems Paris became the most viral song in the US. This is completely unreal, I can’t find words. Thank you!” Le Sinner wrote on his Facebook page.

Considering his Facebook page only has 160 followers, having the most viral song – if only for a little while – is quite a feat.

The record company behind Le Sinner, Today is Vintage, will not even reveal his real name. They leave it at presenting him as a 19-year-old Swedish-Iranian living in Malmö, writes Veckans Affärer.

“Our current priority is to push ‘Paris’ both at home and internationally. We will of course follow up with more music when at the appropriate time”, Francis Cartier at Today is Vintage told Dygnet Runt.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Finnish Automaker And Chinese Battery Giant Just Teamed Up To Take On The European EV Market

Via Business Insider:

A 22% share in the Finnish car manufacturer Valmet Automotive has been acquired by the Chinese battery giant CATL (Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited), Reuters reports.

In conjunction with the investment, CATL announced that it would be collaborating with Valmet Automotive in tackling the European electric car market, particularly in supplying batteries and drivetrain solutions, Reuters writes and quotes CATL's COO, Jia Zhou, in the press announcement:

"Our shared aim is to develop a strong position in the European electrical vehicles market".

That means yet another player on the European lithium ion battery market. Previously there were five competing bids for the market: A German battery factory is to be opened by BMC, LG Chem is planning a battery factory in Poland, Samsung wants to build one in Hungary, Tesla has its own plans for a European ‘gigafactory’, and finally the former CPO of Tesla is mounting a plan for a huge battery factory in Sweden.

A report made by the company behind the Swedish project, SGF Energy, estimated the European demand for lithium ion batteries by 2025 to be 110 gigawatt hours for the auto industry and 600 gigawatt hours in total. If such projections are in the vicinity of the turnout the market certainly has room for more than one actor.

CATL, on a global scale, has set an ambitious goal to produce 50 gigawatt hours a year by 2020, and tripled its production during the last year, according to Reuters. Other battery factories in the pipeline are estimated to have roughly the same or lower production capacities.

For Valmet Automotive the collaboration will likely mean a further boost in its current upswing in business. Over the last five years, the subcontractor car-manufacturer that’s been around since 1968 has seen its workforce grow from 700 to some 2.000 – with a further 1.000 expected to be hired by the third quarter. The expansion has been driven mostly by deals for producing two Mercedez models, but Valmet Automotive is also producing electric vehicles for Fisker.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

When Don’t F*** With People’s Cars Became Don’t F*** With People’s Phones

Via TechCrunch:

There’s an adage in politics that’s been around for years: don’t f*** with people’s cars. While the right to drive where you want, when you want is not formally enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, for decades upon end, it might as well have been.

Messing with people’s cars was one of the third rails of politics — raise tolls, the gas tax or anything else that touches people’s vehicles at your own peril. That’s why gas taxes across the U.S. are exponentially lower than they are in Europe. Politicians concocted Tollway Authorities to create an independent, unelected bad guy to take the blame when tolls had to be raised. It’s why the movement to privatize toll roads never really took off.

But in the last five years, that has all started to change. Cars – and the right to drive them – are not quite as cherished as they used to be.

Fewer sixteen-year-olds than ever are getting their drivers licenses – it’s easier and cheaper to just take an Uber or a Lyft.

Increasingly people keep moving into cities, making cars less necessary. And as autonomous vehicles take hold, riding in a car will become no different than taking any other form of public transportation. But as the politics of not messing with people’s cars wanes, a new refrain has taken root — don’t f*** with people’s phones.

Phones are more than a utility and they’re more than ubiquitous. They’re our lifeblood to society – to our work, our family, our friends, our interests.

The digital world has become the physical world. And if people were passionate about their right to drive, they’re even more steadfast in their right to use their phones as they please, when they please, how they please. And that will bring about major changes in society.

For example:

Phones provide regulatory protection that allow startups to compete: One reason entrenched interests keep losing regulatory battles to startups is because the product or service being sold by the startup is almost always available on someone’s phone. And because of that, people tend to view the app in question as an extension of the phone itself. Regulators and legislators don’t like being constantly criticized by their constituents over email and twitter for trying to impose new regulations on startups, so they’re learning to say no to their donors and friends who want startups quashed. That will help change the regulatory landscape for entire industries – health care, energy, education, transportation, insurance – in the next few years.

Phones will hasten the legalization of controversial products: More and more controversial products and services will become legal and available because they can be accessed via someone’s phone. While the Trump presidency will put a short-term crimp in cannabis legalization, marijuana is now a product you can order from your phone (at least through Eaze in California). Consumers expect to be able to use their phone to buy what they want, when they want, and that basic expectation will hasten cannabis legalization across the country.

The same is true for gaming. It’s one thing for a state government to slowly dole out casino licenses. But telling people they can’t play poker or video games for money on their phones comes with a much higher political cost (it means saying no to everyone) – and that’s why legalization of virtually all forms of gaming will happen a lot sooner than people realize.

Phones will save democracy: When it comes to the act most fundamental to maintaining our democracy, we currently toss aside the object we rely upon most and revert instead to an outdated approach that is difficult from start to finish –identifying your polling place, finding time to go there, waiting in line, dealing with confused/hostile people working at the polling place, finally voting and then driving or walking back to wherever you started. Not surprisingly, few people bother to consistently vote.

Politicians tailor their views, votes, policies and actions to cater to the people who can elect or un-elect them. And given that those who actually do vote (especially in primaries) tend to be highly partisan and highly ideological, the people they elect then religiously represent their views, which means constant polarization and dysfunction. But the easier it is to vote, the more people will vote. The more people vote, the more mainstream our politicians become because they have to start representing the views of more and more people. And when politicians are acting within the mainstream, that allows them to – finally – work together and get things done.

Politicians learned to behave with extreme caution on anything related to cars. If they don’t learn to exercise the same restraint on anything connected to people’s phones, they’ll pay a steep price. So as a new President takes office, a new Congress settles in, and new Governors and state legislatures begin their sessions, here’s a new political adage to commit to memory: don’t f*** with people’s phones.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Norwegians Are Still Fighting To Give Finland A Mountain For Its Centennial - Now With A Movie

Via Business Insider:

This December will mark the centennial of Finnish independence as the country broke free from Russia on December 6, 1917.

To commemorate Finland's 100th birthday the retired Norwegian geophysicist Bjørn Geirr Harsson proposed to move the border between Finland and Norway that passes over mount Halti 40 meters so that the peak would officially be on the Finnish side.

That would make it the highest peak in Finland, though it should be noted that the highest point in Finland is already on mount Halti - at the current border. Still, the symbolical gesture has gathered a lot of support, and, for Norway, the act would not even mean losing one of its 200 highest peaks, according to the New York Times.

The Facebook page 'Halti som jubileumsgave' (Eng. Halti as an anniversary present) has gathered some 17.000 likes. An official proposal was even submitted to the Norwegian government.

Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg considered the gesture undoable, however, because the Norwegian constitution states that the country is indivisible, the New York Times writes.

Despite the rejection of the proposition, Norwegians have not given up.

It's not over until it's over.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Nordic Council Is Considering A Regionwide Citizen ID

Via Business Insider:

The Nordic Council, a regional cooperation body, has today been debating a pan-Nordic citizen ID in a committee meeting in Oslo.

The proposal was put forward by members representing centrist parties in the council. Their argument is that a common ID would make it easier for the region's citizens to live, study and work in another Nordic country.

“It doesn’t mean we will abolish the national citizenship so much as complement it. It would give all Nordic citizens the same rights and duties, wherever they choose to live” said Britt Lundberg, a Swedish Center party politician, and president of the council in 2017, to Sydsvenskan.

If the proposal wins a majority vote, it will be futher debated in the council's meeting in Stockholm in April.

“The goal is also to make the Nordic region to a more powerful common market for goods, knowledge, employment and free movement” says Lundberg.

Facts about the Nordic Council

The Nordic Council, founded in 1952, is an official parliamentary body that promotes regional cooperation.

The council has 87 members from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland, and Sweden.

Council members are appointed in the member countries’ respective parliaments, and are organized into various party factions.

The council puts forward proposals on various issues, which are forwarded to the government’s in each country.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Elon Musk Is Meeting President Trump In The White House His First Week In Office

Via Business Insider:

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is back in the White House.

Musk is one of several executives attending President Donald Trump's meeting on manufacturing Monday morning. Reuters' reporter Roberta Rampton snapped a shot of Musk in the White House's Roosevelt Room, along with executives from Lockheed Martin, Whirlpool, Under Armour, and Johnson & Johnson.

Although Musk and Trump have diametrically opposing views when it comes to climate change, the two seem to be aligned when it comes to US manufacturing.

Musk is building his massive battery factory, the Gigafactory, in Sparks, Nevada that is slated for completion in 2020. When it's finished, the factory will house 6.500 employees.

This isn't Musk's first meeting with Trump. In December, Musk, along with tech CEO's like Apple's Tim Cook and Alphabet's Larry Page, met with Trump in New York.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Russia Shouldn’t Pin Hopes For Lifting Of Sanctions On Foreign Elections – Medvedev

Via RT:

Regardless of the results of elections in any foreign nations, Russia should expect the sanctions imposed on it by the West to remain in place, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said.

“It’s time to discard the illusions that any sanctions imposed on our country would be lifted. Obviously, they are there to stay for a long time. And don’t lay your hopes on someone else’s elections”, he said Sunday, in a speech addressing a United Russia party meeting in Moscow.

Some political experts both in Russia and elsewhere suggested that the election of Donald Trump as the new US president may lead to the lifting of anti-Russian sanctions by America and its allies, based on Trump’s statements that he would work with Russia. Senior Russian officials warned against such optimism, saying that campaign rhetoric does not necessarily translate into policies.

Medvedev said the sanctions tit-for-tat with the EU was beneficial to some sectors of the Russian economy, particularly agriculture, and that the government would help domestic producers capitalize on the situation.

“We will support them, because we will be feeding ourselves in any case”, he said.

Responding to a spree of individual and sectoral sanctions imposed by the EU against Russia in the wake of the political crisis in Ukraine in 2014, Moscow banned the import of EU-produced foodstuffs. This served as a protectionist measure for Russian farmers, who otherwise found it difficult to compete against subsidized European producers. The measure also caused multibillion euro damage to European companies which lost their markets in Russian.

The Western sanctions were imposed in response to Russia’s support of popular separatist movements in regions of Ukraine opposed to the coup in Kiev, which imposed a new government hostile to Russia. The predominantly Russian region of Crimea voted in a referendum to rejoin Russia, while large parts of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine proclaimed their independence and fought against government troops sent in to crush the rebellion.

Moscow rejects the West's accusations of illegally annexing Crimea, and says US and European governments contributed to the escalation of violence in Kiev, which led to the political crisis in the first place.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Swedish Company Invited Americans To Escape Trump And It Worked Too Well

Via Business Insider:

The day after President Trump won the election over Hillary Clinton, Swedish ad agency Round & Round put out an invitation to all Americans: Escape Trump. Come work in Sweden.

Two months later, the agency already regrets the decision.

"A lot has happened since November", Round & Round's head of content told the Local on Inauguration Day. "We've had a whopping 857 applicants for one job, which is both fantastic for us, and regrettable for the world. It's remarkable how the campaign has played out".

Immediately after the November 8 elections, Round and Round, one of the leading agencies for major Swedish brands, told visitors on its newly listed website, "The Great Trump Escape", that "You are looking for a new country, we are looking for new talent!"

It cited a sobering statistic - that one in 4 Americans said they would look to leave the USif Trump won - as the main reason for the launch.

Andreas Ullenius, Round and Round's executive creative director and co-founder, told Business Insider after the launch that he wished he didn't have to issue the invitation.

"Unfortunately, I wish we would have Hillary for president and no applications", he said.

According to the Local, hundreds of people applied in earnest, but many applied out of the very kind of hopelessness the initiative half-jokingly served.

"It's definitely mixed emotions", Aslan said. "We definitely didn't hope for this when we were trying to tap in to the discussion. Then it played out as it did".

For people who want to join that mission and move to Sweden, the process is actually much simpler than the other popular option of moving to Canada.

Though learning the local tongue definitely helps, immigrants don't technically need to learn Swedish. They must only spend five years in the country, avoid committing any crimes, and - as competitive as it may be, post-election - find a job.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Sweden -- 10 Million People Today

Via The Swedish Wire:

A historic number has been reached. Sweden now has ten million people, according to Statistics Sweden (SCB), who confirmed the number at 7:47am Friday.

“Today Sweden officially noted that we have passed 10 million inhabitants", former Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister Carl Bildt wrote in a Twitter post.

Statistics Sweden writes:

Sweden’s population has increased sharply in recent years. The reason for the increasing population is that there are more births than deaths, and that immigration is greater than emigration. Immigration surplus accounted for three fourths, and birth surplus accounted for one fourth of the population growth from 9 to 10 million.

Statistics Sweden and its predecessor, Tabellverket, have kept statistical population records for 268 years. Historically speaking, it has taken a long time for the population to reach the next million. It took 35 years to go from 8 to 9 million inhabitants, while the last million took 13 years.

“We do not know the identity of the ten millionth inhabitant in Sweden. It could be a new-born child, or someone who has immigrated to Sweden”, says Linus Garp, population statistician at Statistics Sweden.

The model that the Statistics Sweden population clock is based on contains some uncertainty, and the government agency will only know precisely when the population reached 10 million after the fact.

From 1.8 million to 10 million

When Statistics Sweden’s predecessor, Tabellverket, began to collect population statistics in 1749, there were just under 1.8 million people living in Sweden (excluding Finland).

When we reached a population of 9 million in 2004, there were more women than man - women accounted for 50.5 percent and men accounted for 49.5 percent. Since then, the number of men has increased at a higher rate than the number of women, and by March 2015, there were more men than women. Among all those listed in Sweden’s population register, 82 percent were born in Sweden and 18 percent are foreign born. Finland is most common country of birth among foreign born persons.

Based on all those listed in the population register in Sweden

Sweden’s population statistics is based on all those listed in the population register in Sweden. To be added to the population register in Sweden, those who, for instance, immigrate to Sweden, should intend to and have the right to stay in Sweden for at least one year.

Population figures are available in several places on scb.se, for instance in the form of monthly statistics on the start page. These are based on reported data and are different from the population clock, as monthly statistics are published with a five-week delay.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sweden Best Country In The World For Business: Forbes Ranking

Via The Swedish Wire:

Sweden has been ranked the best country in the world in which to do business, according to a new survey by American magazine Forbes.

The Scandinavian country moved up four spots to the top of the charts for the first time. Forbes writes:

"Sweden has achieved an enviable standard of living with its combination of free-market capitalism and extensive welfare benefits. Sweden remains outside the euro zone largely out of concern that joining the European Economic and Monetary Union would diminish the country’s sovereignty over its welfare system".

"Timber, hydropower, and iron ore constitute the resource base of an economy heavily oriented toward foreign trade. Economic growth slowed in 2013, as a result of continued economic weakness in Sweden’s European trading partners; Sweden’s economy experienced modest growth in 2014-15, with real GDP growth above 2%, but continues to struggle with deflationary pressure".

A separate article adds:

“Over the past two decades the country has undergone a transformation built on deregulation and budget self-restraint with cuts to Sweden’s welfare state".

“Sweden’s government shrank jobless and disability benefits to encourage employment. The lower benefits allowed for tax cuts. The inheritance tax was scrapped in 2005 and the wealth tax was canned two years later. A new bill lowered the energy tax on data centers by 97% effective Jan. 1".

“Taxes are still high relative to the rest of the developed world, but taxes paid as a percent of profit are down eight percentage points over the past decade and the country’s tax burden rank in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business has improved 11 spots during the time".

"Sweden’s $493 billion economy grew 4.2% last year with only Ireland and Luxembourg faring better among countries that placed in the top 25 in our ranking. The Scandinavian nation has a low level of public debt relative to other European Union countries, and it benefits from its free-trade policies. The trade balance surplus was 5.2% of GDP last year. Sweden ranked among the top 10 countries in seven of the 11 categories we measured".

At a Glance

• GDP Growth: 4.2%

• GDP per Capita: $50.300

• Trade Balance/GDP: 5.2%

• Population: 10M

• Public Debt/GDP: 43%

• Unemployment: 7.4%

• Inflation: 0.7%

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

IKEA To The UK: "Until You Get Better At Renewable Investments We're Taking Our Money elsewhere"

Via Business Insider:

The Ikea Foundation has set aside €1 billion to invest in sustainability, of which €600 is to go to renewable energy projects. None of that money will go to the UK, despite the country being one of the most favorable places for wind energy.

Due to the political development in the UK's attitude toward renewables, Ikea deems that such investments just aren't worth it.

Joanna Yarrow, Ikea UK’s head of sustainability, told the Huffington Post:

“The UK has a fantastic wind profile, it is one of the best places in the world to generate energy via wind, but the context that we’re operating in, the political context, doesn’t encourage that investment. So we’re having to take it elsewhere. We would like to see that change”.

“I would say that over the last five or six years it has become increasingly difficult to invest in renewable energy production in the UK, and that for a large organisation like Ikea which has the resources to invest, it would be great for the UK to benefit from it”.

Joanna Yarrow further laments the decision because she believes that Ikea's investments would lead to the creation of new jobs in the UK. She pointed to the Nordic countries as role models in promoting environmental investments.

According to the Huffington Post, Ikea's work with renewables has already led to 327 wind turbines and 700.000 solar panels across the world.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Helsinki Airport Is Among Europe's First To Adopt Jack Ma's Payment Platform - To Get Ahead In The Race For Chinese Air Traffic

Via Business Insider:

With the massive and growing Asian market, European airports are racing to establish themselves as hubs for Asian air traffic.

The routing of Asian flight traffic through Finland has been one of the top priorities for Helsinki-Vantaa airport and it’s handling company, Finavia. As another step in the massive effort put into promoting the airport as the most desirable transit point between Asia and Europe - in particular for the rapidly increasing traffic from the Chinese market - Finavia has now implemented the Chinese payment system Alipay.

Alipay was launched in 2004 by Jack Ma through his Alibaba Group. The online payment platform has about 400 million users in the Asian region to date. It could best be compared to Paypal though up until recently, it wasn’t available in Europe. Thus far, the only two other places that have the Alipay option are Munich and Frankfurt so it’s very early days, but it fits beautifully with Helsinki-Vantaa’s Asian strategy.

Chinese passengers are high priority.

Finavia's director of commercial services, Elena Stenholm, says, “Chinese passengers are the most rapidly growing customer group coming to Helsinki Airport, as well as the group that spends the most money. Familiar and easy payment options increase the feeling of smooth and safe travel for Chinese passengers”.

Helsinki-Vantaa is among the first airports in Europe to enable AliPay. To begin with it can be used at the airport’s Iittala, M-Box, Finspiration, Lindroos and Moomin shop outlets, though Finavia intends to have Alipay available at all of its commercial operators eventually.

The first commercial operators at Helsinki Airport adopted the Chinese AliPay mobile payment application in December 2016.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

These Cheeky Malmö Entrepreneurs Aced The World’s Best Accelerator In Silicon Valley – This New TV-Series Showcases Their Explosive Growth

Via Business Insider:

The GetAccept team: Jonas Blanck, Carl Carell, Mathias Thulin, and CEO Samir Smajic.

Y Combinator in Silicon Valley is the Ferrari of startup accelerators.

Since its inception in 2005, it has hosted, mentored and honed many global success stories, including household decacorns like Airbnb and Dropbox.

Merely five Swedish companies have ever been accepted to this “spawning ground for emerging tech giants” as Forbes called it. Remarkably, three of them are from Malmö, and the most recent one is GetAccept, founded in 2015. Samir Smajic, CEO, shared the feeling of being one of the 100 startups chosen from more than 8000 applicants:

“It was a fantastic to get the phone call – the very same day that we had delivered our pitch in front of the YC jury. We prepared a full week before flying to California for the interview”.

What made their feat even more remarkable was that their product was launched just two months before the intense YC-program started in the winter of 2016:

“We are a team that is extremely passionate about sales and closing deals. Our goal is to change how salespeople manage sales documents worldwide, by making it a more engaging process. We do it by using e-signatures, automation and analytics” Smajic explains in a Skype interview from Silicon Valley.

Y Combinator: No cakewalk

Smajic described the first weeks as chaotic, setting up base in the US and getting to grips with the YC program:

“We didn't get that much from the YC program in order to perform better. You had to take care of things yourself – starting from finding accommodation and office space. That was not easy, coming in as expats without any social security numbers. But it was up to us just execute and find our own way. So YC was definitely no cakewalk [dir.tr. räckmacka]”.

Despite nice perks like rubbing shoulders with the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and co-founders of Airbnb and Fitbit, the key for GetAccept was to close out a lot of the noise that comes with a program like YC, by putting a single-minded focus on validating their product – in two markets simultaneously:

“The fact that we are four co-founders enabled us to launch our product in both Sweden and the US simultaneously, running double shifts. Getting our prouduct out there fast was key. We worked US markets during days, Sweden during nights. We sold extremely efficiently – at one point we almost ran out of sales leads in Sweden” Smajic says.

The GetAccept team would get great feedback for their progress in weekly meetings with the YC mentors:

“We were encouraged to just keep selling. And sales is what we do best – we don't talk or analyze too much. This has been the secret of our success, and enabled us to grow 23% week-on-week during YC”.

The program culminated in a “demo day” pitch by co-founder Mathias Thulin, in front of almost a thousand Silicon Valley investors.

GetAccept makes it easier to communicate and engage with sales prospects

As Thulin mentioned in his pitch, up to 60% of sales proposals end up “in a black hole” where the lead never gets back, and gets lost. GetAccept’s USP is really about taking out all the stress in between first contact and contract signature:

“To call and follow up with your leads; drafting sales offers and bothering them with phone calls actually makes it more likely that they will raise their guard and say: enough already. We are trying to enable perfect timing by automating the way you communicate and engage with the lead” says Smajic.

In short, the company’s platform gives sales people more control throughout the sales process, and more information about the prospects’ needs, by using a set of technologies. Smajic says:

“We help sales people close more deals with automation. We offer a cloud platform, where the key is engagement and easy e-signatures. We also offer a negotiation bot to start up conversations; and live tracking of when someone is looking at a proposal – so that sales people know when to call up the customer. This way, we make it really easy to engage with the lead“.

The interaction is also enhanced by the platform’s video feature, which makes sales presentations more lively:

"We are first movers with a video function. It makes the sales proposal a lot more engaging, and increases chances that customers will take an interest".

As a result, GetAccept’s customers can close more deals each month. One of their case studies has increased sales with 100%.

Born in Malmö, Raised in the Valley

Today, one year after the start of YC, Smajic is permanently based in the Valley to expand the company.

Owing to aggressive execution coupled with a single-minded focus on sales, the team has managed to establish the US as their second home market.

They have gone from zero to more than 1000 paying customers in Sweden and the US, within a year.

The big help from YC has surfaced after the program; being associated with the brand has helped in marketing and attracting investment. Moreover, YC has given a contact network to boost their US growth, and provided assistance in investment advice and valuation matters.

And who knows, will this startup one day become another Y Combinator unicorn? Judging by this trailer from “Inside Silicon Valley”, the company's own video blog series, the founders would be the last ones to hesitate on that.

Additional insights from Samir Smajic:

What stage are you currently in, and what are the plans for 2017?

"We started out with the US and Sweden, but we are already expanding into Europe. Moreover, our product is being used in more than 40 countries already. We are growing the team in both Malmö and California. We’re definitely past validation stage, with the speed that we're growing and hiring, and with low churn numbers, it's looking good. People like the products, and we are experimenting with new features to imporve the service“.

What advice do you have for other startups joining accelerators?

“Don’t cozy up with your product for several weeks or years. Get it out there. When you release, you will anyhow not know what the outcome will be”.

Smajic says the team managed to keep their focus on the long-game, and let the accelerator be a supportive element in the background: “We had to focus on our thing, and that's what made us succeed”.

Do you recommend other Swedish startups to “grow up” in the United States?

"Yes and no. When you start out here you’re really just a school kid. You start from scratch here, and that's difficult, especially since there's so much more competition in the US. We were lucky with Y Combinator, as it enabled us to get started in good way, and gave us some street cred".

Here are the 5 Swedish companies that have been accepted to Y Combinator:

Heysan (Malmö) – mobile messaging service – 2007

Verbling – e-learning platform – 2011

Wheelys – coffee stands – 2015

Get Accept (Malmö) – e-signature and sales automation platform – 2016

Castle (Malmö) – cyber security – 2016

Saturday, January 14, 2017

5 Tips From A 27-Year-Old Swedish CEO Who Took His Startup From Nothing To Nasdaq In Less Than A Year

Via Business Insider:

Erik Gatenholm is the CEO of CELLINK. Founded 2016, it's the first bioink company in the world and a maker of 3D bioprinters that print biological tissue. During the last year CELLINK and its founders received more than 10 different innovation and entrepreneurship awards. Erik agreed to share some of the things he learnt on the journey from just starting up to Nasdaq.

In January of 2016, I founded the startup CELLINK together with Hector Martinez. By November we were listed on Nasdaq and had gone from two employees to 16. To say that I've learnt a lot during this journey is an understatement. Here are five pieces of advice for entrepreneurs like myself, that I wish someone had told me a year ago:

1. Be transparent with your New Year's resolutions.

Every company sets goals at the start of the new year, but for a startup this is crucial to paving the way for success. I not only promise myself I will achieve certain goals but I promise my team as well. The more people who know what you wish to achieve, the more help you will get along the way. It’s important to build a work environment that encourages thinking big. Running a startup is a team effort, every helping hand counts. It’s important to be transparent with your vision not only for yourself but for the entire company. Working together towards a common goal in order to fulfill your promises will make the journey a much better ride.

2. Keep up the momentum.

If you've ever worked in a startup, you know that means long hours for weeks on end. As a founder, this will undoubtedly mean that your company becomes your life. You will eat, sleep and breathe your startup. It’s easy to burn out and lose sight of your goals.

To avoid this happening - for both you and your team - set up weekly goals and take some time to bond as a team. I found that taking the time to connect not only strengthened our personal relationship but made for a better work environment.

Whether it’s having lunch once a week together or taking a coffee break to clear your mind for 30 minutes, it’s important to take a step back and get refueled with positive energy. If you feel like you’re working with friends the momentum will come naturally.

3. Stay active on Social Media.

There are so many tasks associated with running a startup that staying on top of your social media presence tends to end up on the backburner more often than you would like. In the beginning, the founders end up doing all the work, from accounting to social media, themselves. If you don’t have time to run your social media, find someone else to do the job. Regardless of whether or not your customers will come from social media, it’s important to have an online presence. That being said, don’t over do it. Research shows that less is more. According to Facebook statistics, companies who post once or twice a day get 73% more comments and 32% more likes than those who post numerous times.

If you’re going to create a social media presence, be consistent. Keeping your channels up to date not only helps with brand engagement but helps shape your overall image. Remember, out of sight means out of mind in the world of branding. If you want to stay in the game, you have to be present.

4. It’s okay to say no.

When you’re running a startup, you often find that several people are trying to pull you in many different directions at once - An investor is telling you one thing while your board member is telling you another. In the beginning this happens more frequently and delays your decision making process.

Operating a startup comes with a mountain of challenges. Do yourself a favor and get used to Jim Camp’s favorite word: 'no'. The less you try to please everyone, the less stressed out you will be. While it’s important to be gracious and consider everyone’s advice, it’s always okay to take a stand on what you feel is important and keep yourself on the path toward success.

5. Be humble but celebrate your achievements.

Working with a startup is like being on a rollercoaster. You have your ups and you have your downs. When you have those shining moments it’s 100% okay to celebrate them. You don’t have to break out the champagne, but something as simple as reflecting with your team on how you reached that point and why it’s important is not only acceptable, it's necessary.

Not all achievements need to be showcased to the world - it’s vital to not boast. Stay humble yet proud so that the feeling of fulfillment can stay within you when you hit one of those inevitable downs.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Poltergeist Activity Videotaped. Fake Or Not?

Via Unknown Country:

The first part of this video involving a doll's head moving on its own could have been created using CGI, but we don't think so because the second part of the video is difficult to explain as a hoax.

One of our video experts comments:

"The first one could have been CGI. -- the very poor resolution of the video can cover that sort of thing up very well.

"The second one is harder to explain. Puffs of air from hidden outlets (where??) could explain the papers, but the rest would have had to be accomplished with magnetic devices and very thin monofilament lines strung in various directions (hidden by poor video resolution ... and some crafty editing, because the girl's path would have had to cross at least one of those lines -- the one that would have been used to pull the tabletop toward the sofa.).

"But with that said, the objects' quality of motion looks convincingly anomalous, the girl's reactions seem natural, and I can see no actual evidence of trickery".

Another disagrees:

"Stop motion animation on the doll. It's been placed in after the fact. The stuff moving on the table looks like its done with a fan. But the heavier objects are a question and the table. But in the low res image wires could have easily been hidden.

"Looks like its faked to me. Especially the single frame animation which I'm so familiar with".

We rate this one B, possibly real, which gets to the question of what in the world is happening here? If real, it's really a most unusual video.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Finnish Central Bank Has Declared The Recession To Be Receding – Many Indicators Of Brighter Times Ahead

Via Business Insider:

Excepting the southern member states, Finland suffered the worst economic contraction of any country in the Eurozone after the financial crisis in 2009. Not until recently did the Finnish central bank declare that it seems Finland’s long recession is finally receding.

“An improving employment situation and low inflation will bolster real disposable household income. Exports will recover amid better competitiveness and higher external demand”, claimed the Finnish central bank.

The bank does however point out that the ageing population of Finland, will continue to curb the country’s growth. Finland’s GDP growth for 2017 is forecasted to 1.3%, according to the Bank of Finland’s recently published Outlook for the Finnish economy. It’s not much, but it’s positive.

And while the employment situation may be described as improving it is still critical.

Since 2010, the number of long term unemployed has increased dramatically. 15% were long term unemployed out of the total of unemployed in 2010. Today the number is 35%.

“When the economy is able to renew itself by improving productivity and generating jobs, this will boost economic growth and the outlook for the public finances”, said central bank governor Erkki Liikanen.

Despite these mitigating factors, there are currently several indicators of a brighter future for Finland ahead, according to the Finnish central bank.

First of all, the labour market has grown stronger and the competitiveness has improved (due to the Competitiveness Pact). Finnish consumers are confident about the country’s economy and the last months the confidence has kept growing stronger, according to Statistics Finland. The last time Finnish consumer confidence was this high was in 2011.

There has also been a decreasing amount of bankruptcies the past 3 years, and 2016 showed an improvement of 8% compared to the previous year. December had a record low amount of bankruptcies, according to Hufvudstadsbladet – the number hasn’t been as low in ten years.

The same positive trend is seen when it comes to payment defaults. For the second year in a row the amount has decreased amongst Finnish businesses. The amount of companies with a registered payment default decreased by 4.000 during last the year compared to the year before (from 56.000 to 52.000).

While there are definitely indicators a brighter future for Finland, the biggest source of uncertainty remains: the global economy. So Finland’s near future ultimately depends on the rest of the world.

Friday, January 06, 2017

More Than 7% Of Swedes Live Abroad – And USA Is Their Favorite Country

Via Business Insider:

Swedes are one of the world's best traveled people, something that has helped them to succeed in business and culture on the global stage.

Now there are some indicative numbers to shed light on how much Swedes love being – and living – abroad.

Around 660.000, or some 7 percent, of Swedish natives live permanently abroad, shows an extensive study from 2015. The number has grown more than 100.000 since the lat study in 2011. An "expat" is defined in the study as someone who has lived more than 6 months abroad.

"The Swedish government should see them as a resource for Sweden. All these people transmit an image of Sweden abroad", says a representative of Swedes Worldwide, an organisation that looks after expat Swedes' interests, and that conducted the headcount this article refers to. This was reported by Sydsvenskan.

Around 80% of expat Swedes live in these countries:

1. USA: 150.000 2. United Kingdom: 90.000 3. Norway: 90.000 4. Spain: 90.000 5. France: 30.000 6. Germany: 23.000 7. Thailand: 20.000 8. Finland: 15.000 9. Denmark: 15.000 10. Italy: 12.000

The research notes that in almost no country is the amount of Swedes decreasing; though one exception is Greece. One up-and-comer is Portugal, where the amount of Swedes has almost tripled to 3.500, arguably because of favorable tax policies for retirees, according to Sydsvenskan.

The biggest reasons for getting out of Sweden are career opportunities, love, climate, and taxes.

The amount of Swedes in sunny locations like Spain and Thailand should keep increasing, as baby boomers retire and look for less punishing winters than what Sweden can offer. Thailand already hosts more than 20.000 Swedes permanently.

Therese Larsson is one of the expats, living in Gran Canaria with her family. She tells Sydsvenskan how many things, like education and equality are worse abroad, but that the climate and lifestyle makes up for it: "The social life down here [in Spain] is fantastic if you compare with Sweden. We spend a lot more time outdoors, and that's of course because of the climate".

If one includes Swedes descended from people who migrated during the Great Migrations in the late 18th- and early 19th centuries, the amount of "Swedes abroad" grows to millions.

For example, around 1.4% of the US population, or more than 4.4 million people, are descended from Swedish ancestors. These Swedish-Americans are concentrated mainly in the Midwest, in states like Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Sweden's Six-Hour Workday Too Expensive

Via The Swedish Wire:

Bloomberg said that Swedes looking forward to a six-hour workday just got some bad news: the costs outweigh the benefits.

That’s according to the preliminary results of a two-year experiment carried out in the Swedish city of Gothenburg, the home of Volvo. To reduce the 8-hour days at the 68-nurse Svartedalen old people’s home, the city had to hire 17 extra staff at a cost of 12 million kronor ($2.2 million).

“It’s far too expensive to carry out a general shortening of working hours within a reasonable time frame”, said Daniel Bernmar, a local left-wing politician responsible for running the municipality’s elderly care.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Here Are Sweden's Most Attractive Employers For Business Graduates

Via Business Insider:

It's a time of economic uncertainty, and the competition among students for a spot in Spotify or another popular company like Google or IKEA is arguably tougher than ever.

Universum Global's annual survey has asked thousands of Swedish students and young professionals about their work place preferences. Here are the results in the Business category.

Business Students

Universum Global's annual survey has asked almost 25 000 Swedish students where they prefer to start their careers.

Swedish companies are good at attracting young graduates, as only three foreign companies – Google, PwC and EY – make the Top 10.

Tech giants Google and Spotify cement their place at the top, together with Swedish household names IKEA and H&M. The tech- and retail-heavy top is followed by more traditional options; four Swedish banks and two famous management consultancies make the business student wish list.

1. Google

2. Hennes & Mauritz

3. IKEA

4. Spotify

5. Handelsbanken

6. PwC

7. EY

8. Swedbank

9. SEB

10. Nordea

Young Business Professionals

Universum Professional Survey asked more than 12,000 Swedish young professionals about their ideal work place.

The top 4 is almost identical to the Student list. But further down, replacing the banks and consultancies are cars and running shoes.

Have the business students learned something about the world of banking and management consultancy that make them prioritize new employers? Perhaps.

1. Spotify

2. IKEA

3. Google

4. Hennes & Mauritz

5. Nike

6. Volvo Cars

7. ICA

8. Adidas Group

9. Volvo Group

10. Business Sweden (Exportrådet)

Over the past 28 years, Universum has been using the insights from its annual student survey to help employers understand, attract, and retain current and future employees through its research, strategic consulting, and activation services.