“This is such a sunny optimistic place, I have not seen anywhere else in the world that builds true technology-based franchises”, a VC firm executive tells The New York Times about the Silicon Valley. In the same post it’s also argued that many of these technology-based franchises are now shifting base to New York City as they move closer to those from the media, fashion, finance and other industries, who they increasingly work with.
If this becomes a trend, it would soon put the Silicon Valley farther away from the action. However much farther from the US, 1000s of miles away, and with a 6 and 9 hour time difference from New York and the Silicon Valley, are two entrepreneurially thriving nations – Sweden and Estonia. Let’s look at how companies emerging from these nations have handled the distance dilemma.
Spotify gets it Spot-on
Take the case of Swedish music streaming company, Spotify, whose incredible journey to 20 million users began in the Swedish capital of Stockholm. Spotify works with the world’s top 4 record labels, EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner Music Group, all of which are headquartered, well, many 1000 miles away, proving that the time difference and distance may not be hurdles after all.
Connecting via Skype
Another popular case is of the Estonian company Skype, now bought by Microsoft, which too had blurred the lines of distance. In this case not just for itself but for tens of thousands of companies through its VoIP calling service. Count the calls and you have the world talking.
So what do these companies and several others emanating from Sweden and Estonia have in common – Is it the developer talent or better support structure or is it the flexibility and global mindset? Well, one could say all of these and more, or simply that a bunch of guys had an idea and made it happen, nevermind the distance, time, space, and the other odds.
Not-so-sunny but Optimistic
Well, the sun hasn’t really been on Sweden’s or Estonia’s side either, and when it has, many from the region seem to be holidaying elsewhere. That aside, those in Sweden and Estonia are entrepreneurially optimistic, how else does one explain the President of Estonia having his profile on a resume startup site, or the four times a year poker nights by entrepreneurs and VCs in Stockholm. While London and Berlin as European startup hubs have its advantages, the world’s next breakthrough may well be from one of these startups mapped around Stockholm city, or it could be that the Skype mafia decides to strike again. And then there are university incubators and accelerators across Sweden and Estonia that have over the years been fostering its entrepreneurial spirit.
More Ties, Less Distance
All these point to one beacon, that there are strong ties within the entrepreneurial circles in this region, including with those who have relocated. The challenge however remains whether these ties can be sustained as well as furthered by including those from other parts and from diverse backgrounds. Well, with the flux of the internet and social-networking platforms, there’s little choice. As Grow VC’s Alan Moore often says ”The next Silicon Valley is not a place it’s a platform’.
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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 at 10:19 am and is filed under Entrepreneur Inspiration. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.