Over the last few years, Scandinavian startups have been performing excellently. Stockholm and Helsinki regularly feature in the top 15 best startup hubs due to their excellent digital infrastructure, highly-educated citizens, and progressive governance.
Stockholm has been known as the Unicorn Factory for many years due to the Swedish capital producing more companies valued at $1bn than any other country per capita. The early success of apps like Skype and Candy Crush put Sweden on the map. And soon, more startups in the region flourished.
Spotify is valued at around $67 billion. Finnish mobile game developer Supercell generates billions in annual sales. All of this is before mentioning Just Eat, Zendesk, Klarna, Oatly, Nortvolt, and Oura Health, and more.
The last decade has seen a spate of big tech exits across the Nordic region. There is so much potential and innovation in the Scandinavian startup community that huge companies like Mastercard and Visa monitor the market and invest big in fintech companies.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the Nordic startups that are expected to hit it big over the next year.
Even before COVID-19, online sales were making up a significant share of the total retail spending. Once lockdowns began, this trend was exacerbated, with eCommerce businesses being one of the chief beneficiaries.
Klarna offers consumers “buy now, pay later” credit. It’s straightforward to use, with the original approval only taking a few hours. They provide a good range of options for credit, with terms ranging from 30 days to four years.
The Swedish fintech giant has expanded globally, securing a range of high-profile partnerships with the likes of Zara, Micheal Kors, Nike, and JD Sports.
Great advertising and marketing that is targeted toward Millennials mean that this giant will keep on growing and is set to hit market dominance.
Vipps is another fintech startup, this time from Norway. The disruptive banking tech was founded by DNB in 2015. Despite being a reasonably simple payment app, it reached 1m customers within its first six months. Soon, it had a market penetration of 85% and a strategic deal with Visa.
The deal with Visa will allow banking partners to take advantage of the Vipps payment solution. Vipps is set to become a household name in 2021 and beyond as contactless, mobile, and online payments become the norm.
Another fintech company to keep an eye on is Norway’s Axo Finans. The digital broker is disrupting the personal lending space by offering users a way to get the best interest rates when borrowing.
By partnering with over 50 Nordic banks, Axo Finans helps customers apply for loans and then presents them with the most attractive interest rates and offers. This revolutionary approach can represent significant savings for customers.
Founded in 2008, Axo was acquired by Corsair Capital in 2019. Plans to expand into Denmark this year could be just the beginning for this exciting fintech.
There were many startups that gained adoption throughout the pandemic. Stay at home orders meant that online grocery stops like Oda were well-positioned to solve users’ challenging problems. The Norweigan startup, formerly known as Koloniel, took advantage of the shift to online shopping.
However, the Oslo-based company has a far grander vision than merely helping during the pandemic. They offer same-day or next-day delivery of food, accessories and meal kits. Additionally, they plan to provide a weekly shop at competitive prices.
The startup raised €223 million ($265 million) in a round of funding in April, bringing the total value of the business to be €750 million ($900 million). Shortly after, an anonymous investor bought 40% of the company, elevating it to Unicorn status.
Plans to expand into Finland and Germany in 2022 are just the start of a broader strategy for European dominance.
Kry is another Swedish startup based out of Stockholm. The value of remote health apps became evident over the last 18months, and Kry’s stable, secure, and elegant solution won it a lot of fans.
The digital health platform connects users with healthcare professionals 24/7. These doctors, nurses, and psychologists are available at Kry’s 21 healthcare centres. With over 1.3m patients served and a strong record of patient satisfaction, this solution is ripe for even greater adoption.
Kry raised €140 million during 2020 and has expanded into Norway, the UK, France, and Germany.
Too Good To Go
Based out of Copenhagen, Denmark, Too Good To Go is an app with an excellent concept. Restaurants and supermarkets throw out a horrific amount of food based on best-before dates. In the majority of cases, these products are perfectly fine to be consumed.
Through this app, users can locate deals that offer around 70% off the retail price. This is an elegant solution that allows retailers to claw back money on the wasted stock and consumers to buy heavily marked down items, all while reducing the amount of discarded foods.
This January, the app received $31 million in Series A funding. While already operating in 15 countries in Europe, Too Good To Go is set to expand into six US hubs.
Wolt is a food delivery platform from Helsinki. While restaurants make up the bulk of their businesses, they have expanded into grocery deliveries too. They launched in Finland in 2015 but have soon expanded to 129 cities in 23 countries.
With 10 million customers and counting, Wolt aims to build infrastructure between their delivery partners, businesses, and customers.
Wolt became a Unicorn in 2020, following a series of investments. In January, they received a further $530 million.
Lucinity, from Reykjavik, Iceland, is an AI-based Anti-Money-Laundering app. With increasing regulatory and financial governance laws coming into place globally in the last decade, Lucinity fits inside the scope of Regtech.
Indeed, banks and financial institutions are spending considerable sums on technology to help with AML and KYC regulations. This has opened up a gap for third-party providers to develop tech that will allow them greater protection.
With offices in New York and Reykjavik and a $6.1 million funding investment in 2020, this fintech startup looks to have a bright future.
Health, Fintech, and Sustainability
The incredible thing about this list is that there are so many other great Scandinavian startups that could just as easily be there.
Cutting-edge health, fintech, and food delivery, alongside environmentally sustainable projects, are some of the categories that Nordic startups are triumphing in.
The thriving startup scene has been booming over the last decade, with only Silicon Valley producing more exits.