“Stipsters? Never heard of them.” I replied, jostling the phone between my ear and shoulder as I packed moist tobacco into the antique rosewood pipe.
I said goodbye and hung up the phone, bewildered.
Stipsters? I had to read this article for myself. I faxed the Guardian link to my organic fair-trade ink dot-matrix printer and within minutes I was nestled in my antique rocking chair puffing away and perusing the vintage A4 recycled hemp pages with perplexed intrigue.
Stipster. It’s a fairly new thing. A Google search yields less than 9,000 results. But it’s definitely a thing. What exactly is it? According to the ever-erudite Urban Dictionary, the primary definition lists the prerequisites as follows:
- You have a start-up.
- You’re Scandinavian.
- You use the word social at least 15 times a day.
[Author’s note: while not explicitly stated, the word 'social' can easily be interchanged with other similarly startup-ish terms or phrases, such as 'disruptive', 'bootstrap', 'internet-of-things', etc.]
Later that evening, as the final drawls of Coltrane’s broody tunes faded away on the crackling (antique) gramophone beside me, I felt a sense of enlightenment wash over me.
Scandinavian entrepreneurs are start-up hipsters! That’s what it’s all about. And you know what? The rest of the world is a little jealous. Why? Scandinavians might not have been doing the social entrepreneurship thing before it was cool, but they’re certainly doing it right, right now. Their digital solutions accelerate other social initiatives, like a slippery-slope of ‘techno-social inter-integration’. Social start-ups coalesce like the colors of a collaborative painting on the canvas of Scandinavian society.
Social start-ups coalesce like the colors of a collaborative painting on the canvas of Scandinavian society.
So why not Ameristers, Germsters, Chinsters, Indisters, or even South Koripsters? Well, the s in stipster doesn’t stand for Scandinavia (or Sweden or Stockholm or Södermalm or SUP46 or Sparta Sales). It stands for start-up. Nevertheless, the more I ponder it, the more all those S-places seem equally eligible. Why? Because they all possess that special je ne sais quoi (that’s French for ‘stuff’) that comprises a definitive stipster characteristic. What makes Scandinavia so unique? In their combined form these ingredients are in fact only found in Scandinavia.
In no particular order, these 10 special ingredients are:
- An open mind-set for new solutions and lateral thinking
- A culture of co-operation and volunteering
- A stable political environment
- An economy focused on SMEs
- A high rate of gender egalitarianism
- Commercial and marketplace transparency
- A culture which thrives on youth entrepreneurship
- An environment conducive to social engagement / integration
- The existence of investment funds and entrepreneurial ‘support organizations’
- The realization that social entrepreneurship is perpetually in its infancy, allowing for theoretically limitless growth potential.
What can we learn from all of this? I’ll tell you. Personally, I don’t care too much about the moniker. What interests me is the fact that the rest of the world is recognizing the prototypical pattern of success for Scandinavian start-ups, and the people who conceive and nourish them. Also, the fact that digital and social go together like sun and summer. Together with those aforementioned ingredients, these start-ups create something that is more than the sum of their parts; something that the rest of the world admires and emulates. So, behold Scandinavian social entrepreneurship! Behold the realm of Stipsterdom, and behold Stipsterolm, the capital of Scandinavia. Here. Here is where you want to be.
Behold the realm of Stipsterdom, and behold Stipsterolm, the capital of Scandinavia. Here. Here is where you want to be.