In this article, we guide you through the Swedish unicorn and Swedish soonicorn ecosystem, surveying and highlighting the best the country has. A culture of innovation and tech entrepreneurship has helped feed the startup scene, which continues to flourish. Startups are important to the Swedish economy, and the country punches above its weight for startup investment and startup impact. Join us as we explore the world of Swedish unicorns and soonicorns.
In the fiercely competitive landscape of startups, companies relentlessly strive to stand out and leave a lasting mark on their industries. While Finland, Norway, and Denmark have rightfully gained recognition for their thriving startup ecosystem, we must not overlook the technological prowess emerging from another Nordic powerhouse: Sweden. Within its borders are highly successful unicorns and soonicorns.
The Swedish startup scene is renowned for its vibrancy and innovation. Unsurprisingly, the country has built several high-quality international startups, such as Spotify, Klarna, and Northvolt. Swedish entrepreneurs see no reason why they should not join this list. Potential entrepreneurs can start businesses in Sweden while receiving free access to higher education and other benefits from initiatives like the Sweden Self-Employment Residency Program. This works so well that the country was ranked fifth worldwide for its startup scene. Additionally, those with businesses can apply for residence permits.
Government investment in education and research has paid off by creating a startup haven with access to resources such as talent, capital and mentorship. Sweden remains an excellent place for entrepreneurs with its high quality of life and ultra-competitive business climate, which sees startups compete with more prominent players.
Sweden has been home to several unicorn startups that went on to claim unicorn status. These are businesses which have a valuation of $1 billion or more. We will list a handful here.
The idea of Klarna is simple - to make internet payments easy, speedy and secure for consumers. The unicorn provides a point-of-sale financing platform. Sebastian Siemiatkowski, Niklas Adalberth, and Victor Jacobsson founded Klarna in 2005 in Stockholm as a payment solution for online merchants. Using it, customers can buy things from a merchant and spread the cost over an interest-free period.
Many investors initially rejected their idea, but they persevered and are now one of the world's largest fintech companies, with a valuation topping 46 billion and successful funding rounds of 3.7 billion. The company's success can be attributed to its innovative yet user-friendly payment solutions.
Kry's meteoric rise as a Swedish telehealth startup has revolutionized healthcare accessibility in remarkable ways. Brought to life by Fredrik Jung Abbou, Joachim Hedenius, Josefin Landgard, and Johannes Schildt, Kry's success lies in its dedication to patient-centric care. They are based in Stockholm and began in 2014.
By providing a seamless and user-friendly telehealth experience, the startup has empowered patients to take control of their health, offering them the convenience and accessibility they desire and transforming the healthcare landscape in the process.
From routine check-ups to specialized consultations, Kry's platform ensures that individuals can access professional medical expertise whenever and wherever they need it. With a valuation exceeding $2 billion and significant funding of over $500 million, the company's innovative platform has simplified and streamlined access to healthcare services.
In an era where environmental consciousness is paramount, Swedish battery manufacturer Northvolt is revolutionizing the energy storage landscape with its commitment to sustainability. Based in Stockholm, it began its life as ‘SGF Energy.’ Founders Paolo Cerruti and Peter Carlsson have helped reimagine the entire battery lifecycle.
Northvolt has introduced a new benchmark for sustainability, setting itself apart from the competition and meeting the needs of the eco-conscious: As climate concerns become increasingly urgent, businesses across the globe are seeking sustainable alternatives to minimize their environmental impact.
Northvolt's commitment to a greener future extends beyond its innovative batteries. The company actively embraces circular economy principles, ensuring responsible handling of battery materials and promoting recycling initiatives. The company has raised over $4 billion in funding since its founding in 2016 and was last valued at 11.8 billion..
Embracing the future of urban transportation, Swedish e-scooter company Voi can validly claim to have changed how people navigate cities worldwide. Since its establishment in Stockholm in 2018, the company has secured over $450 million in funding, propelling its mission to provide accessible electric scooters. Created by dynamic founders Fredrik Hjelm, Johan Holmner, Adam Jafer, Filip Lindvall, Keith Richman, and Douglas Stark, the company is worth $1 Billion.
Voi has emerged as a trailblazer in reshaping urban mobility with a platform that prioritizes convenience and sustainability. By offering electric scooters as a convenient and eco-friendly alternative, Voi is reshaping the transportation landscape. With just a few taps on a smartphone, users unlock a Voi scooter, and a city, avoiding traffic congestion and reducing their carbon footprint as they do so.
Voi's success can be attributed to its user-centric approach. The company's platform has simplified access to electric scooters, allowing users to locate them easily too. As cities seek sustainable alternatives for commuting, Voi stands at the forefront, offering a convenient, eco-friendly, and efficient solution that allows individuals to navigate cities easily.
Swedish autonomous trucking company Einride is leading a groundbreaking revolution in the logistics industry. Using state-of-the-art tech to automate driving, it replaces the need for traditional combustion engines for electric power. With reduced human error and the ability to operate continuously, Einride's autonomous trucks hold the potential to enhance efficiency and minimize disruptions in the logistics ecosystem.
As the brainchild of Robert Falck, Linnea Kornehed, and Filip Lilja, Einride's journey as a Swedish autonomous trucking company began in the Swedish capital in 2016. In a relatively short time, they reached funding of over $150 million, and the company's current valuation stands at over 1.5 Billion.
By leveraging innovative technology, Einride's vision extends beyond mere transportation, offering a safer, more efficient, and sustainable solution. With a relentless pursuit of excellence and an unwavering focus on a future with autonomous trucks, Einride looks set to shape the logistics industry for years.
With 517 million users and 210 million paid subscribers, Spotify is the world's biggest music streaming service. Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon created Spotify to give users a better music experience and to combat online piracy. Their story has since been told in Netflix’s “The Playlist,” a tv series about the formation of the company.
Spotify generates revenue through fees or advertisements. It allows users to make playlists. Spotify is available in 184 countries worldwide and is valued at 8.5 billion. Stockholm is its headquarters.
Everything about Spotify was different. Spotify pays royalties based on the number of streams as a percentage of all songs streamed, as opposed to physical or download sales, where artists are paid a fixed amount per song or album sold. Behind Spotify's genius is a strategic vision and relentless pursuit of excellence. The company has consistently invested in refining its algorithms, ensuring users get tailor-made recommendations. With over 82 million tracks from record labels and media companies, Spotify provides an extensive library that caters to diverse musical tastes. Whether searching for your favorite artist, discovering new sounds, or curating your own playlist, Spotify ensures a remarkable music experience tailored to individual preferences. Spotify pays royalties to independent artists as well as big record labels. It is currently the top revenue generator in the music industry. And it hails from Sweden.
Soonicorns are soon-to-be to be Unicorns - startups that have successfully grown beyond their nascent phase to earn valuations of hundreds of millions of dollars and could hit the 1 billion valuation mark. The definition of a unicorn and soonicorn is explained here in another article. Watch this space to see where these companies end up in the coming years.
With their cutting-edge plug-and-play application programming interfaces, Tink provides a gateway for institutions to build various products and services, including account aggregation, payment initiation, data enrichment, and personal finance management solutions.
By harnessing the power of machine learning, Tink enables organizations to analyze data from multiple sources, gaining multiple insights. The best part? Tink's APIs seamlessly integrate into existing apps and websites, making implementation effortless. This holistic approach allows firms to offer customers personalized financial planning and decision-making tools, giving a deeper indication of their financial health. Now residing in Sweden’s tech hub capital, Tink came about in 2012 through co-founders Daniel Kjellen and Fredrik Hedberg and is valued at more than $824 million.
Whether peer-to-peer transfers or online purchases, Tink's APIs enable institutions to stay ahead in the rapidly evolving digital payments ecosystem. By harnessing the potential of this data-driven approach, banks and financial institutions can deliver personalized recommendations, strengthening customer engagement and loyalty. Tink is now owned by banking behemoth VISA.
In today's digital landscape, managing software licenses efficiently and effectively is crucial for businesses of all sizes. Step in Snow Software, which provides comprehensive solutions for tracking, optimizing, and generating reports related to software licenses. Founded by Axel Kling in 1997, it is based in Solna, Sweden.
With Snow Software, businesses can take control of assets, streamline operations, and make informed decisions that drive cost savings. With automatic software inventory updates, businesses can eliminate the risk of non-compliance. By tracking license status and renewal dates, Snow Software empowers organizations to stay ahead of licensing requirements, avoiding costly penalties and operational disruption.
Snow Software's track record speaks for itself. Trusted by industry giants such as ABB, Toyota, RBS, DHL, and AVIS, their solution has proven its value in diverse and demanding environments. With a valuation of just under 1 billion, Snow Software's success is a testament to the effectiveness and impact of its software license management solution.
Volta Trucks’ electric trucks are redefining urban logistics norms. Volta Trucks is altering how goods are transported, paving the way for a cleaner and greener future. Carl-Magnus Norden, a Scandinavian entrepreneur, founded Volta Trucks in 2019 with Kjell Waloen. They are headquartered in Stockholm.
Volta Trucks is at the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution, manufacturing trucks with remarkable features designed to meet the demands of modern-day logistics. Equipped with powerful 160-200 kWh battery systems, they offer an impressive 8,600 kg payload capacity, ensuring that businesses can transport their goods efficiently while reducing their carbon footprint.
Volta Trucks has recently surpassed the impressive valuation mark of 500 million.
Quinyx provides cloud-based workforce management software designed for organizations to schedule, track, and optimize their workforce time. The company was founded in 2005 by Erik Fjellborg while working at McDonald's. When Fjellborg saw how difficult it was for managers to arrange shifts manually, he created Quinyx, a workforce management software. Fjellborg’s solution won over McDonald’s, and they became his first customer. Not bad for a first sales pitch. It is now worth 550M. With a client list of renowned brands like Gant, Hilton, and Burger King, Quinyx is making its mark in the industry. While it has offices around the globe, its main site is in Stockholm.
From scheduling and task assignments to tracking employee progress and calculating pay, Quinyx provides a comprehensive suite of tools to streamline employee management. Another feature of Quinyx is its absentees' overview, allowing businesses to effortlessly keep track of employee absences and make necessary adjustments to maintain productivity.
Additionally, the software facilitates effective communication through Qmail and text messaging, enabling seamless collaboration and efficient information sharing among team members.
Exeger is a leading Swedish company at the forefront of light-harvesting technologies. With a focus on energy harvesting from natural and artificial light sources, Exeger is shifting the landscape of sustainable technology. They were first switched on in 2008, in Stockholm, under the guidance of Giovanni Fili and Krim Talia. Exeger is edging closer to unicorn status, with a valuation upward of 878M.
Exeger's core technology sets the stage for a new era of self-powered devices by capturing and converting light into electrical energy. At the heart of their groundbreaking solutions lies "Powerfoyle," a flexible and lightweight solar cell material that has captured the imagination of the tech industry.
What sets Exeger apart is its technology's remarkable ability to generate electricity even in low-light environments, such as indoor spaces or under artificial lighting. This makes it well-suited for powering devices frequently used indoors, further amplifying the possibilities for a greener future. At its core, Exeger envisions a world where everyday objects are self-powered by sustainable and renewable energy. Who are we to say otherwise?
Juni equips online entrepreneurs with tailored banking solutions designed for their operations. , Samir El-Sabini and Anders Orsedal founded the company (based in Gothenburg) in 2017. It’s valued at 800M and shows no sign of slowing.
It offers banking services specifically designed to meet the unique needs of e-commerce merchants. From business accounts and corporate cards to financial analytics and integrated expense management tools, Juni provides a one-stop shop to streamline financial workflows, reduce administrative burdens, and let businesses concentrate on core activities. What separates Juni is its unwavering commitment to automation and integration. Juni understands that user experience and transparency are paramount in finance.
With a user-friendly interface, intuitive controls, and comprehensive financial reporting, the platform grants businesses greater visibility into their financial activities.
Sweden has become a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship thanks to an innovative and supportive ecosystem. Few startup ecosystems worldwide are as vibrant and dynamic as Sweden's. Sweden’s government has favored innovation and startups since the early 1990s. It is now we see the results. As a tech hub, it is thriving. Finland's government supports entrepreneurs, its workforce is trained, and its technology is cutting-edge.
It is the first for unicorn production in Scandinavia, and is in pole position for Nordic startups. Aside from those on our list, the country has produced many other unicorns and soonicorns, all adding to its huge economy and powering the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.