Building a bridge between the Swedish startup ecosystem and the UK investor scene

25 June 2020

Many Swedish businesses see an establishment in the UK as a natural step in their expansion plans, because of its thriving business community and for being considered as the gateway to the rest of the world. In order to start building presence, start-ups and businesses, such as Beleco and SCC member Tipser, turn to the SCC’s Growth Readiness Programme to expand their network in the UK and get advice from experienced investors on their growth journey. “The most important discussions that I have been part of have circled around raising capital, focusing on scalability of the core business and networking,” says Malin Holmberg, Partner at Target Global and one of the mentors of the programme.

The Growth Readiness Programme spans over a full year with four meet-ups consisting of workshops, presentations, mentoring and access to a powerful network of Swedish-British investors and tech-professionals. The participants of this year’s edition represent a wide variety of sectors, such as tourism, e-commerce, real estate and design-tech. Malin Holmberg, Partner at Target Global and one of the mentors of the programme, believes it has been a successful year: “What a year this has been! Such great companies and so much energy and drive from all the participants in the programme.”

Developing the future of shopping
Embeddable e-commerce platform company, Tipser, will soon launch in the UK. The company began its journey back in 2011 by being inspired by bloggers writing about products on their blogs. “We thought that the future of shopping is when you move the buy button as close to the inspiration as possible, because our take was that the consumer would like to buy stuff as soon as they liked it,” says Marcus Jacobsson, Founder and CEO of Tipser. Today, Tipser has switched its focus to large European media houses, such as Bonnier, Schibstedt, Bauer and Burda with publications like Elle, Cosmopolitan and Dagens Nyheter. “We realised that you need substantial traffic to make substantial money. When we learned that, we switched the target to large traffic platforms like big news outlets or other types of media players,” says Marcus.

Furniture on demand
Design-tech startup Beleco rents out furniture on demand to companies and individuals. Beleco provides high-quality design with simplicity and high availability, letting users access items for both shorter and longer time. The service has a positive environmental impact as it saves 45% in CO2 compared to buying the furniture yourself. “Together with research institutes in Sweden we have calculated that within 10 years Beleco and our members will save 2 million tonnes of CO2,” says Sebastian Rudenstam, CO-Founder and CBDO at Beleco.

The idea was born in 2016 when Co-Founder Sebastian Rudenstam heard that all products and services will be available on demand in the future. A few days later, Sebastian’s mother, Marie Rudenstam, got the idea to rent out furniture and their business model was born. They are currently active in Stockholm but are planning to launch in London within a near future.

Networking and getting connected
Marcus saw the Growth Readiness Programme as a tool to expand to the UK market, since the company was looking for both new investments and support with entering the UK market. “We met with the Swedish Chamber, and we were really impressed by their professionalism and the network. And then we heard about this programme, which was good timing, because we are planning to launch in the UK,” says Marcus. He continues: “At the same time, we were starting to prepare for our investment round, where London is a big financial hub. So, it was interesting to get access to that network.”

Beleco decided to join the Growth Readiness Programme in order to create connections and better presence in the UK. “I’m a firm believer of networking and I have learnt that everything is about connections. That is what I felt with the Growth Readiness Programme. I had almost zero connections in London, which is one of the markets that we will grow into, and one of the largest markets in Europe,” says Sebastian.

A door opener
According to Marcus and Sebastian, participating in the programme has been a highly valuable experience. “I would say the warm leads have been the biggest gains. It has provided us with a really personal network which opens doors to lots of well-connected and experienced experts in these fields. I’m actually a bit surprised by the helpfulness and friendliness that we were met with. We have gotten really valuable tips and introductions through the programme,” says Marcus and continues: “The Chamber also helped us filter the network and recommend contacts where there is a potential mutual match, which was really helpful.”

For Beleco the programme was a platform to create a presence in the UK and to get their name recognised. “I think we have a presence now. A lot of the businesses in London know about us. Also, we have started to build connections for partnerships, which is great,” Sebastian explains. One thing that Sebastian recommends doing prior to the programme is to make sure your business is scalable. “We don’t own any of the asset. We don’t own any of the interior designers. We have a platform that’s really scalable and we have partners that are national brands three dimensional. Before you start it is important that you are already everything that the investors want – and they will ask if you are scalable.”

Focusing on the core business
Apart from important insights in raising capital, Malin believes the programme has helped the participants to understand the mechanisms of scaling up: “The most important discussions that I have been part of have circled around raising capital, focusing on scalability of the core business and networking. We have talked about what it takes to raise capital at different stages and how important it is to get your business to show strong progress.” However when embarking on a growth journey there is more to keep in mind than capital. Malin says: “You need to have a stellar team that shows passion for the business as well as resilience. In the early stages, it is key to find a strong product/market fit, for example solving a customer need in a great way. As the business matures, scaling up the team, ensuring an efficient sales machine, dimensioning the platform for growth and prioritising becomes key.”

Virtual meet-ups can be beneficial
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the programme has changed its setup during the spring, where the remaining meet-ups have been moved online. Malin thinks that the programme works well in a virtual setting as it has required everyone to be more prepared and the meetings have been more efficient and varied. ”I have to say that this has worked incredibly well. Being online forces you to prepare the discussion topic a bit more in advance and this has made the sessions short but sweet. Productivity has been high and we have spent less time accomplishing the same,” says Malin. On the other hand, the meetings in person should not be fully replaced as they are vital when meeting new people. This is why the next year’s edition will provide a mix of virtual and in person meet-ups if possible. “You need face to face interactions to get to know each other and find efficient ways of interacting. I think we will see a shift in our way of working even after the pandemic, but the face to face meetings will not disappear.”

Malin will be joining as mentor in the next edition of the Growth Readiness Programme as well and is excited to meet the new participants: “I look forward to meeting the new founders and to learning about their new exciting business models and get inspired. And then of course helping them, in any way I can.”

Apply for the Growth Readiness Programme
The application for the next round of the Growth Readiness Programme is now open. Are you a Swedish start-up that would like to create a presence on the UK market?

Read more and apply here

If you have any questions regarding the programme, please contact Business Services Manager, Anna Crona on crona@scc.org.uk

BY: HEDVIG ASTBERG

 

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