Stockholm – the unicorn factory

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Sweden Summer night at Riddarholmen
Sweden Summer night at Riddarholmen

The story of the unicorn factory

Stockholm produces more billion-dollar companies per capita than any other region in the world after Silicon Valley. Skype, King, Mojang, Klarna, Spotify and iZettle are all unicorns founded in Stockholm. Truecaller is another Stockholm based company about to reach a billion-dollar valuation.

The DNA of Stockholm – or why the city breeds so many unicorns
So why is it that Stockholm breeds so many billion-dollar companies? A number of factors could explain the success:

1. In the 1990s, the government offered a tax break for residents to buy personal computers. This helped Swedes become early adopters of technology.

2. In 1994, Stockholm built the world’s largest open-fiber network with 100% of businesses and 90% of homes tapping into that infrastructure today.

3. Sweden is a small market. That’s why so many Stockholm startups are born globals with a strategy to scale and reach an international market from day one.

4. The social security system makes entrepreneurs dare to be creative and take risks. If they fail they don’t have to wind up on the street.

5. Free education and a highly educated population with access to incubators, means access to talent.

6. A supportive startup ecosystem, with access to co-working spaces, startup hubs, events, innovation grants and a growing number of angel investors and venture capital firms.

7. A culture of sharing – with a first generation of sucessful entrepreneurs inspiring and investing in the new generation of entrepreneurs.

8. Extremely high openness to new ideas.

9. All of the above in combination with political stability and long term economic growth provide Stockholm with the best business climate in the world.

And just to give you a tenth reason – our cold climate and dark winters foster creativity when we spend large parts of the year indoors, focusing our energy into finding unique solutions to complex projects.

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