We’re excited to announce our latest regional fund focused on the Nordic region (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland). This excitement is not just because the area is constantly ranked as one of the happiest and most economically prosperous parts of the world. No, it’s because the viking spirit is alive again in the form of tech entrepreneurship as the next generation of great founders sharpens their axes for battle.
This fund will be targeting $15M USD and focused on early stage investments. We plan to make 100+ investments into the region through the fund over the next few years. Our main areas of focus will be SaaS, Mobile, Marketplaces, E-commerce, Fintech and Music/Video. The fund will be led by Investing Partner & Viking Man-Bun Destroyer Sean Percival, and will include local venture partners in each of the key ecosystems.
Ahead of forming the fund, we have already been active in the region making investments in Norwegian companies such as Tagbeat, Filmgrail and Socius. In Sweden we have invested in Pacemaker, Brisk.io, Proleads and Vint. In Denmark, EasySize and Iconfinder. Last but not least, YouApp, hailing from Finland, recently completed our accelerator program in California.
Why the Nordics?
The weather may be cold but the market is hot with Stockholm already producing several impressive unicorns like Spotify and Klarna. The other Nordic countries are also showing great potential, as the entire region has put extensive focus on innovation and creating new industries through technology.
In terms of activity, the region will soon see more venture capital invested than London (source). For investors, significant liquidity opportunities await. For example, the game publisher King was recently purchased for $5.9B from US company Activision. Additionally over the last 10 years the Nordics have represented more than 50% of the billion dollar USD exits across Europe (source). Yet we are just at the beginning of what’s becoming an incredibly exciting ecosystem.
As far as challenges there are several, most of which can be attributed to the small size of many of the Nordic countries. So it’ll be important for companies to think global from day one. That’s where 500 comes in.
What’s 500 Startups role going to be?
500 will bring Silicon Valley’s best practices to the region through our accelerator and growth marketing programs. Our main focus will be helping these companies internationalize faster and get access to venture capital and mentorship from Silicon Valley.
With regards to programs, we are starting with a pre-accelerator program in January 2016 based in Oslo. This will be followed by an an additional soon-to-be-announced program taking place in Stockholm in April 2016. Stay tuned for more exciting details.
Are you as excited about the Nordics as we are? Then now is your viking moment of glory to make an impact. We’re looking for partners and of course great startups who want to change the world. Get in touch with me if that’s you.
Viking artwork by Yiying Lu