A Startup Guide to Stockholm

You are an entrepreneur in search of opportunities in Northern Europe. Stockholm is the most important business center in Sweden and the largest startup hub in the Nordics. It can be a great place to start your venture while on your way to conquer Europe.

Starting up or expanding to a new country often means starting up in a new city. When entrepreneurs think of Sweden, many of them will immediately think of Stockholm. The larger metro areas are almost always the largest drivers of growth and innovation. Most startups want to be close to the action and therefore a move to the main metro-area is usually what happens to those starting up or expanding their business to Europe.

This guide explains how things work, who to talk to and how to become successful in Stockholm

Tech Ecosystem Stockholm

Stockholm has evolved as a world class tech hub. Not quite the size as London, but definitely just behind it.

1. Events

Stockholm’s vibrant startup scene is punctuated by numerous events:

  • STING Day: An invite-only showcase of promising startups
  • STHLM Tech Fest: The city’s largest annual tech event (September)
  • STHLM Tech Meetup: Europe’s largest monthly tech meetup
  • Sweden Demo Day: A platform for startups to pitch and network

2. Coworking Spaces

A logical starting point are the many coworking spaces. The main well-known ones (besides the WeWorks and Spaces of this world) are:

  • Epicenter: An innovation house hosting startups and corporate innovators
  • SUP46 (Startup People): A hub known for its strong tech startup community
  • THINGS: Focused on hardware and IoT startups
  • H2 Health Hub: Specialized in healthtech
  • BlockBlock: Dedicated to blockchain companies

3. Funding

As a small business or startup looking for funding, angel investors are a good starting point in your search for capital or even just to test out your proposition with some experienced minds. Check out:

  • Stockholm Business Angels (STOAF)
  • Keiretsu Forum Nordics
  • Angelr

4. Set up a company

For advice on setting up your company, consider talking to Pavel from Nordic Gem. He knows all the ins and outs about setting up as a foreign entrepreneur in Sweden. Check out our network of business professionals or contact us in the contact form below.

5. Key Organizations

  • Invest Stockholm: Official investment promotion agency
  • KTH Innovation: For DeepTech innovations
  • Stockholm.ai: Building the AI community
  • Nordic PropTech Initiative: For real estate technology innovators
  • VR Sweden: Community for VR/AR enthusiasts

6. Thriving Verticals

Stockholm excels in several sectors, including FinTech, MusicTech, Gaming, AI, HealthTech, IoT/Hardware, EdTech, and PropTech.

7. Swedish Approach

Embrace the local business culture, including flat hierarchies, consensus-driven decision making, and the important ‘fika’ tradition.

8. Sustainability Focus

Stockholm leads in sustainable innovation. Consider how your startup can align with this ethos.

9. Nordic Advantage

Look beyond Stockholm to the broader Nordic market for partnerships and scaling opportunities. The Nordic countries are culturally very well integrated.

10. Housing and Team Building

Plan ahead for housing challenges and tap into the diverse international talent pool.

Stockholm vs Other Northern European Cities

AspectStockholmCopenhagenOsloAmsterdamDublinHelsinkiTallinn
Startup Ecosystem Rank (EU)261538514
Number of Startups~1000~400~300~2700~1200~500~600
Unicorns Produced72112314
Avg. Software Engineer Salary (€/year)53,00061,00065,00056,00055,00051,00030,000
English Proficiency (EF EPI Rank)84516725
Cost of Living Index70.374.875.472.276.870.154.9
Quality of Life Index180.3191.3175.1175.6154.3187.5173.4

Note: Data is approximate and may vary. Ecosystem ranks are based on Startup Genome’s 2021 report. Cost of Living and Quality of Life indices are from Numbeo (as of 2023).

This comparison shows that while Stockholm faces stiff competition from cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, it holds its own in terms of startup ecosystem strength, unicorn production, and quality of life. Its relatively lower cost of living compared to some competitors and strong English proficiency make it an attractive destination for foreign entrepreneurs.

Get in touch with advisers on doing business in Stockholm, Sweden and Beyond

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