Swedish Startup Space

Want to impress Northzone? Heres how:

Written by on April 9, 2013

Today we’re talking with Marta Sjögren, part of the early-stage investment team at Northzone – the Nordic VC firm that were early investors in Pricerunner, Trustpilot and Spotify to name a few. I asked Marta what they look for in early stage companies and entrepreneurs  so read on for the hot tip!

Hi Marta, tell us a little bit about Northzone?

Northzone was founded in 1996, as the first pan-Nordic venture fund to invest in Nordic companies with global visions. The franchise was built upon the premise that winners breed winners, so our focus is on working with teams that stand out from the crowd, and really provide value where needed; putting entrepreneurial value creation first. We feel that so far this has been a successful strategy – especially given the number of serial entrepreneurs that return to us, and on top of this, introduce us to new generations of epic teams. Today, six funds and an abundance of adventures later, Northzone is fortunate to have been chosen by companies such as Spotify, Lastminute, Widespace, Trustpilot and Stepstone as the first institutional investor. This is an important feature of our business, as it enables us to follow the company from early on and help with the different stages of its lifecycle. It’s not all hunky dory – most investments require contextual understanding, patience, and well-grounded/analytical, but also brave decision-making.

The franchise was built upon the premise that winners breed winners, so our focus is on working with teams that stand out from the crowd, and really provide value where needed; putting entrepreneurial value creation first

Some other basics: we have invested in 86 (soon 87!) companies, exited some 27 of them successfully, and are constantly on the lookout for complimentary investments. We’re a focused tech investor with a cross-stage approach: about half of our investments are early stage (Series A), half growth equity (Series B and later), and we also selectively do seed investments. We have offices in Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen, and as of early last year, London. We’re 10 investment professionals, out of which 8 are partners. The organisation is very horizontal, and the heavy-lifting is done by all.

What do you guys look for in companies and entrepreneurs?

The three most important things we look for are: team, team, and team. Following from this is a solid base of complimentary skills and a common vision. It is crucial that the teams think big, yet act with unrelenting attention to quality of product and company development. Just “good enough” does not cut it; we look for teams who know how to make calls that will drive value creation, balancing short term and long term decisions.

The three most important things we look for are: team, team, and team. Following from this is a solid base of complimentary skills and a common vision.

Thanks Marta!

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