Swedish Startup Space

Half of Swedens most successful startups have foreign founders

Written by on November 16, 2015

Breakit’s research shows that seven of Swedens 14 most successful startups have a least one founder who is either a 1st or 2nd generation Swede.

Breakit have asked the following question to 14 of Sweden’s most successful startups: “Is any of your founders born abroad or has a parent born abroad?”

The result shows that half of the companies have at least one co-founder with foreign background.

For most of them it is the latter alternative which is: The founder in question is a 2nd generation Swede.

The companies have been selected by Breakit’s reporters based on different criteria such as turnover, valuation and size of user base.

We want to be careful of drawing too far-going conclusions from such a small amount of data. But in our opinion the research gives a fair picture of the situation at the top of the Swedish tech scene.

An American report written by top analyst Mary Meeker has previously shown that 60 percent of the biggest tech companies in USA have founders with foreign background.

Having an international founders group can have a greater impact than one might think. According to experts, having founders from different cultures and with different points of view can be the key to global success. You can read more about that here.

Here is the list that shows the situation in Swedens most successful startups:

Spotify

  • Turnover: $1,22 billion
  • Valuation: $8.53 billion
  • Founders: Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon
  • Roots: Super-Swedish since way back

King

  • Turnover: $2.26 billion
  • Valuation: $5.9 billion
  • Founders: Toby Rowland, Sebastian Knutsson, Melvyn Morris, Riccardo Zacconi, Thomas Hartwig, Lars Markgren and Patrik Stymne.
  • Roots: The entire company is Swedish-British with Italian Riccardo Zacconi at the very top.

Avito

  • Turnover: $495 million
  • Valuation: $2.7 billion
  • Founders: Jonas Nordlander, Filip Engelbert, Mattias Danielsson, Daniel Larsson and Tobias Adolfson
  • Roots: Entirely Swedish group of founders

Klarna

  • Turnover: $250 million
  • Valuation: $2.3 billion
  • Founders: Sebastian Siemiatkowski, Niklas Adalberth and Victor Jacobsson
  • Roots: Siemiatkowski has parents from Poland but is himself born in Sweden. He is also the only founder still working operatively in Klarna since NiklasAdalberth jumped ship.

Truecaller

  • Turnover: $770.000
  • Valuation: $1 billion
  • Founders: Alan Mamedi och Nami Zarringhalam
  • Roots: Alan Mamedi is born in the Kurdish part of Iran and Nami Zarringhalam is Swedish-Iranian.

Tobii

  • Turnover: $71 million
  • Valuation: $746 million
  • Founders: Henrik Eskilsson, John Elvesjö and Mårten Skogö.
  • Roots: All founders are Swedish since generations.

Widespace

  • Turnover: $30 million
  • Valuation: $60 million
  • Founders: Henrik Ehrenblad and Patrik Fagerlund
  • Roots: Swedish founders

Izettle

  • Turnover: $22 million
  • Valuation: $500 million
  • Founders: Jacob De Geer and Magnus Nilsson
  • Roots: Both are Swedes since generations back

Mathem

  • Turnover: $52 million
  • Valuation: $115 million
  • Founders: Tomas and Karolin Kull
  • Roots: Tomas’ father is from Latvia

Tictail

  • Turnover: $1 million
  • Valuation: Unknown, raised $22 million past summer
  • Founders: Carl Waldekranz, Kaj Drobin, Birk Nilsson and Siavash Ghorbani.
  • Roots: Kaj Drobin has a Japanese mother, Birk Nilsson a Norwegian father and Siavash Ghorbani is born in Iran.

KNC Miner

  • Turnover: $22 million
  • Valuation: Unknown, raised $15 million in venture capital last winter.
  • Founders: Andreas Kennemar, Johan Rilegård, Marcus Erlandsson, Michael Unnerbäck and Sam Cole.
  • Roots: Sam Cole, CEO and co-founder is British.

Fyndiq

  • Turnover: $16 million
  • Valuation: They have issued convertibles which can be converted into shares in a tier system the following years.
  • Founders: Dinesh Nayar, Fredrik Norberg, Dan Nilsson, Micael Widell and David Brudö.
  • Roots: Dinesh Nayar has a Finish mother and Malaysian father. Micael Widells father is Polish.

Neo Technology

  • Turnover: The company does not issue information regarding global turnover but turned over $3 million in Sweden 2014.
  • Valuation: Unknown, the company does not issue any information regarding valuation.
  • Founders: Emil Eifrém and Johan Svensson.
  • Roots: Swedish several generations back.

Fishbrain

  • Turnover: $44.000
  • Valuation: $19 million
  • Founders: Johan Attby
  • Roots: Swedish
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