Swedish Startup Space

What we’re learning building an online tech community

Written by on July 11

Stockholm is a buzzing tech hub- there’s no doubt about that. Spotify, Klarna, Mojang and Wrapp are just a few examples of Swedish startups that have taken the world by storm. ReutersEntrepreneur and PandoDaily have all praised Swedish entrepreneurs and their knack for building global businesses. What struck us as odd however, was that there didn’t appear to be anywhere for these great entrepreneurs to meet online – nowhere to chat, connect and discover new companies which seem to be popping up all the time.

At the same time – all of the buzz surrounding Stockholm and Sweden seemed to focus in on the same companies – Spotify, Wrapp ,Klarna (I think this is what they call irony). It frustrated me that there were so many kickass startups – companies we were meeting every week – that couldn’t get any attention from the Swedish media whatsoever.

Many companies told us that they were more comfortable pitching TechCrunch than the ‘small business’ papers here in Sweden – something we found rather confusing.

So we decided to take it upon ourselves – and build the online startup community for Sweden.

Swedish Startup Space was born on February 1st, 2013. The initial idea was a very basic meeting place where people could browse jobs, events and office spaces. However, very quickly it became clear that news was the key – or more specifically - people wanted to read about the companies they hadn’t heard of yet.

This was kind of a big moment – when we realised Swedish Startup Space could be more than a blog – it could be a way to help small, early-stage companies get noticed.

Whilst, it is still very early days and we have a lot to prove, I thought I’d share some tips for anyone looking to start a blog, or online tech-community in their city.

A ‘documentarian’ is an important role within a startup community

With so many different initiatives happening at one time – it’s helpful to have a central place to aggregate all that information.

People love to help

This is what has amazed us the most. Some pretty ‘important’ people (VC’s, established startups and successful founders) have been more than willing to ‘give back’ to the community and help out wherever possible. Whether it’s introductions or retweets – this is a great way to gain a little credibility and build some buzz. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help.

Consistency is key

People can smell a ‘stagnant blog’ from a mile away. You have to post every day, if you want to people to take you seriously.

Don’t do it alone

I (James) definitely couldn’t handle this project on my own, so I’m really grateful that Anders and Pär are part of the Swedish Startup Space team. If you’re thinking about starting a similar iniative – I’d recommend gathering a group of friends that are equally passionate about the community. In addition, try find a team with varying and complimentary skills.

I believe that an online meeting-place is an essential part of every startup community, so if it doesn’t exist in your city yet, why don’t you start it?

  • Alena Rybik

    Big fan of your site and you’re definitely nailing it with consistency and coverage, but if you want to build a real online community around SSS, you have to provide, among other things, functionality for people to actually talk to each other. Until then SSS is a (great) information portal with (big) audience.

    • SwedishStartupSpace

      Great feedback Alena! How could we promote more discussion on the site do you think? /Team SSS

      • Alena Rybik

        Since you already have an excellent concept and possible members in place, you should set up a community platform. Disqus comments are not enough. I strongly believe in the power of forums as a community building tool, but you can take any, there’re lots available (just don’t do it on facebook). I’d recommend to start small, with a bunch of passionate power users, do a lot of engaging, connecting and relationship building. As activity grows, invite more, and more, and more users, grow organically. Be personal and relevant. Initiate and promote interesting discussions. Do cool events and competitions. That’s in a nutshell.
        A lot of work, I know ;) You better get a community manager on board, if you want to get serious. And I think you should, great potential.

        • SwedishStartupSpace

          Great feedback and THANK YOU!

  • Roger Gichuhi

    Awesome tips and hints. We’re building one for Kenya http://startupkenya.org (Still a long way to go). On Alena’s point since you’re already using wordpress, BuddyPress plugin will easily enable you to build a community. Check it out http://buddypress.org/ .

    The next step would be to explore how these various communities e.g Sweden & Kenya can leverage each other’s technologies etc.

    Great job!

    • SwedishStartupSpace

      Absolutely Roger and kickass job with the site – looking great!

    • Alena Rybik

      We’re actually using BuddyPress + BBPress for our community at Freespee, very decent platform.

      Interesting idea of Startupkenya.org – good luck with the community Roger!

      • Anders Hassis

        I’ve looked into BuddyPress a while back, not sure about the forum yet :)

    • Anders Hassis

      Keep up the good work Roger!

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