“I’m gonna change the world.”

Posted by on Dec 5, 2014 in blog, travel | No Comments

A series of travel posts documenting my experiences in beautiful Stockholm, Sweden from October 25-November 3, 2014. It has been broken up by the various and interesting aspects of the trip to provide inspiration and ideas for anybody that wants to visit one day.


In this edition: Starting up in Sweden

As a founder myself (Padworthy.com), I’m always looking to meet entrepreneurs around the world and experience their projects. Perspectives on innovation vary around the globe and I decided to try a social experiment and meet as many tech companies as I could during my short stay. How many could I meet in a week? Turns out quite a few, as long as you know where to look.

Stockholm is a tiny city but huge on technology and startups. In fact, according to Atomico, Sweden is second only to Silicon Valley in creating successful, billion-dollar startups including Mojang (Minecraft), Klarna, King, Spotify, and Skype.

In an effort to locate local founders, I leveraged Meetup.com’s worldwide reach to discover where the local founders congregate. Fortunately, the STHLM Tech Meetup (led by Los Angelino, Tyler Crowley)was a hosting a local event about gender diversity the very next evening.

In the States, this awesome turnout would be considered a fire hazard.

The Hilton Slusson Auditorium was the scene for the Meetup and I was blown away by the turnout. There were HUNDREDS of people in the audience clamoring to hear about the progress the Stockholm was making on the gender diversity front, enjoy the pitch competition, and perhaps even meet a VC. Stockholm is at the forefront of the push to make startups more accessible to women, and I applaud the involvement of the local startup community on this front! The pitches were generally very well put together with the female founder taking home the top prize.

Thanks to local, online startup maps and news aggregators like StartupLocation and Swedish Startup Space, I became aware of dozens of other startups in the local area and I reached out to several of them with a tweet. While there were many replies, I decided to take the opportunity to sit down with representatives from Pingdom and Klarna over fika.


Me and my juice.

Charles Arvidsson leads up worldwide accounts for Pingdom and we met up at a local smoothie bar [appropriately] called “Joe and the Juice”. As an American expat hailing from the Bay Area, I was fascinated by how his story led him to Stockholm by way of NYC. Perhaps most interesting was learning about how our meeting came to be. As I soon learned, Swedes aren’t so into small talk and my request had been passed around the office until it landed in Charles’ lap. Lucky for me, he was an incredibly kind and generous host and I thoroughly enjoyed our time sharing about our personal and professional stories of work and home.

Klarna is killin’ it.

Klarna was another incredibly gracious host and awesome opportunity to visit the office of one of the biggest startups, not only in Sweden, but perhaps in Europe. Jonas Köpniwsky connected me and Charlotta Åsell who kindly welcomed me to their awesome offices and shared the Klarna story with me. I’m extremely bullish in Klarna’s opportunity to bring super simple checkout payments to the States, making it possible to checkout with only your email address and postal code…no passwords!

SUP46: Sweden’s premiere co-working space for startups that want to change the world.

Along the way, I stopped by local startup co-working space SUP46 where I had the opportunity to speak with Lukas Gräf about their mission and get a tour of the office. Their workspace is a living, breathing incubator that is packed to the walls with dreamers who want to change the world. The benefit of starting up in Stockholm is that you’re forced to think about solving real problems for a world-wide audience. There-in lies some of the biggest challenges for local startups. Sweden is a tiny market of only 9.5M people, so getting traction or funding for products that address local challenges is extremely difficult. However, from my understanding there are a decent number of local angel investors and European VC’s that swing by the STHLM tech scene in search of deal flow. Despite the general sense of Swedish introversion, I felt the transcending sense of community with the startup people of SUP46.

Stockholm might be a relatively small community and market for tech startups, but the dedicated founders building the next generation of billion dollar companies are poised to make a world of difference. I, for one, am excited to see what they come up with!


Stockholm has the most beautiful subway stations I’ve ever seen.

In the next post, we’ll explore what it’s like to live and explore Stockholm, from the trendy and hip Södermalm neighborhood, to the bustling Norrmalm, and back home to our Airbnb apartment in Kungsholmen.