Northzone

Arctic15 in Stockholm, February, 2020: Chris Pfaff leads the Media Revolution Track

By • Posted & filed under Uncategorized

 

Jan Ameri, CEO of Arctic15, welcomes the crowd on Day 1 of Arctic15 Stockholm 2020

Peter Vesterbacka kicks off the show on D/ay 1 with a heady talk

Our good friends at Arctic15 held one of the last events in the venture world before lockdown at the Münchenbryggeriet in Stockholm, on February 5th and 6th. The sprawling event space was ideal for making new contacts, and dozens of new investors and start-ups crowded the Deal Room area (a much more commodious and well-lit space than the Cable Factory in Helsinki). This was the first legitimate Arctic 15 event in Stockholm, and the likes of Industrifonden, Northzone, Bonnier Ventures, Ericsson Ventures, Luminar Ventures, Creandum and GP Bullhound, among other reputable Swedish investors, welcomed founders and investors alike at their stands facing massive windows overlooking a surprisingly sunny Stockholm sky.

Outside, and inside, the Münchenbryggeriet

Chris Pfaff chaired the Media Revolution track on Day 1, which included a fireside chat with Arctic15 CEO Jan Ameri and the legendary Tommy Palm (Candy Crush Saga, King Digital Entertainment, Resolution Games), a panel moderated by Pfaff, with Harri Manninen, Finnish gaming legend and founding partner of Play Ventures, and Joakim Dal, partner at GP Bullhound. The panel, ‘How Gaming Will Dominate the Entertainment Industry in the 2020s,’ can be heard at:

https://bit.ly/3gXFKL4

Chris Pfaff introduces the Media Revolution Track at Arctic15 Stockholm 2020

 

Tommy Palm (left) discusses gaming with Jan Ameri

Harri Manninen (left), from Play Ventures, Joakim Dal (center), from GP Bullhound, and Chris Pfaff (right), from Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC, discuss ‘How Gaming Will Dominate the Entertainment Industry in the 2020s’

Other sessions on the track included a showcase demo of Playpilot by founder/CEO David Mühle; a keynote – ‘Scale 10X like a Mobile Game Company’ – by Sonja Ängeslevä, product lead for Zynga; a fireside chat with Epidemic Sound founder/CEO Oscar Höglund and Staffan Helgesson, general partner at Creandum, and a rousing fireside chat to finish, with Jan Ameri and Yamba founder/CEO John Zerihoun.

David Mühle, founder/CEO of Playpilot, demonstrates the service on Day 1 of Arctic15 Stockholm

Sonja Ängeslevä, product lead for Zynga, gives a keynote – ‘Scale 10X Like a Mobile Game Company’ – on Day 1 or Arctic15 Stockholm 2020

 

Pfaff moderated a panel on Day2, ‘Journeys of AI & ML startups in the Nordics’ with Anna Holmquist, founder/CEO of Gazzine; Arash Pendari, founder/creative director of Vionlabs; Jonna Ekman, marketing director at Storykit, and Jonathan Selbie, CEO at Univrses.

Anna Holmquist, from Gazzine (with microphone), discusses her journey to AI

Arash Pendari (with microphone) discusses Vionlabs’ work with leading operators

Jonna Ekman (with microphone) explains Storykit’s value proposition

The panel, left to right: Jonna Ekman, Anna Holmquist, Chris Pfaff, Arash Pendari, Jonathan Selbie

Jonna Ekman (far left), from Storykit; Anna Holmquist, from Gazzine (second from left), Arash Pendari (center), from Vionlabs, Jonathan Selbie, from Univrses (2nd from right), and Chris Pfaff (far right), from Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC

With a reception at Stockholm City Hall, and a grand tour of the historic building on Night 1 and a fabulous dinner at Stockholm Fisk, hosted by Epistemic VC and Northzone on Night 2, Arctic15 closed out another strong event in high fashion.

 

The scene at Stockholm City Hall, with (left to right) Chris Pfaff, Jordan Shapiro, VP, IonQ; Jari Mieskonen, managing partner, Conor Venture Partners; Henrik Keinonen, head of partnerships, gaming/XR/blockchain, from NewCoHelsinki/City of Helsinki, and Jan Ameri, CEO of Arctic15

 

Jan Ameri (standing) addresses the crowd at Stockholm Fisk

Chris Pfaff and Peter Vesterbacka discuss the “FinEst Bay” concept of connecting Helsinki and Tallinn via tunnel

Chris Pfaff, Arash Pendari, and Tomas Bennich on Day 1 of Arctic15 Stockholm 2020

Nordic Showcase in New York Demonstrates the Power of Cohesive Innovation

By • Posted & filed under News and Press Releases

Pär-Jörgen Pärson, general partner at Northzone, and an early backer of Spotify and Bloglovin, welcomed guests to Scandinavia House in New York on a steamy Tuesday evening, August 25th to a Nordic Showcase of start-ups selected by the best accelerators and incubators in Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland. His remarks said it best; the reason that the Nordics are kicking such serious ass in the EU, and global, start-up market is due to one word: socialism. Yes, the cohesion created by the Scandinavian model of state-sponsored education, healthcare, and – in the case of Sweden in the mid-’90s – home computing has yielded entrepreneurs better educated, better prepared, and creatively forged in markets where innovation is as much a natural characteristic as it is a personal trait. The driver for the success of large companies – from Ericsson to Kone to Lego – is also the driver for Nordic entrepreneurs.

Pär-Jörgen Pärson, Northzone, venture capital, Swedish, Nordic Showcase, New York, Scandinavia House

I coined the term “Finntrepreneur” in 2011, in the wake of Nokia’s implosion. It was initially used to market ex-Nokian entrepreneurs who had taken the plunge in the start-up world. Now, four years on, the Finntrepeneur is everywhere. She, or he, are creating seminal new technologies and digital media services at a frantic pace. It is no longer cool to work for a big company in the Nordic region: start-ups are the new vitality.

 

And, unlike the U.S., the Nordic start-up scene is infinitely more diverse. It was not a surprise, then, to see that 6 out of the 10 presenters at the Nordic Showcase, produced by Helsinki-based Slush, were women. Women from Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. In an era where female start-up founders are still marginalized in the U.S., the Nordic Showcase proved again the power of Nordic progressivism in action. The two Slush event producers, Eva Fogdell and Ghita Wallin, are not only Finntrepreneurs, but students. Yes, Slush – the dynamic, ever-growing conference that is the largest venture confab in the world – is completely run by students from the Aalto Center for Entrepreneurship. If a group of U.S. students attempted the same feat, it would flop around like a perch on a dry dock in blazing summer heat (sorry, just speaking the truth).

SLUSH, Ghita Wallin, Eva Fogdell, Jeremy Rougeau, Peter Vesterbacka, Julius Hietala, Nordic Showcase, Lemonsqueeze, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

 

For the record, the Nordic Showcase held this week may have made history, as the start-up incubators/acclerators and premier growth ventures from all 5 Nordic countries were represented. Erik Engellau-Nilsson, VP of Swedish e-commerce powerhouse Klarna, also spoke, but more as a quasi-mentor, displaying the kind of sangfroid that investors so relish: I’m here now in New York, and we have grown well, even after past mistakes. How refreshing, in this age of rocket-phase “unicorn” ambitions, to hear start-up founders and execs discuss operations and geographic expansion in mature tones.

klarna, Erik Engellau-Nilsson, e-commerce, Swedish, Scandinavia House, New York

One of the more illuminating opportunities of the evening was the chance to see Icelandic entrepreneurs present. Breakroom’s Didrik Steinsson and Tagplay’s Sesselja Vilhjalmsdottir displayed new paradigms for, respectively, workplace privacy and automatic web updates. Swedes in the house included Per Emanuelsson, CEO of Soundtrap, a mobile music education and production platform, and Sofie Lundstrom, CEO of Toborrow, a unique lending platform for small businesses. The Danish side included Thomas Helms, CEO/founder of Vaavud, a smartphone wind meter, and Gulnaz Khusainova, CEO/founder of EasySize, a personal fashion e-commerce platform. The Norwegian contingent included Jeanette Dyrhe Kvisvik, CEO/co-founder of Villoid, an app that enables users to follow fashion trends and buy the latest fashions, and Ivar Sagemo, CEO/founder of AIMS Innovation, an IT performance analytics platform for large enterprises. The Finns were well-represented in the persons of Jenny Wolfram, CEO/founder of FaceForce, a brand reputation and ad performance tool, and Katariina Rantanen, CEO/founder of Cosmethics, an iOS app that scans bar codes and cross-references ingredients with a database that enables users to make smarter product and health decisions.

 

The historic nature of the Nordic Showcase will be borne out in the coming months and years: more young entrepreneurs will hear of the various U.S. successes of these start-ups and accelerate their moves into the massive American market. And, yes, Slush 2015 (November 11-12 in Helsinki) will be an even more immediate barometer of how fast the Nordic venture ecosystem is growing.

 

In the region where the sun shines least, cohesive innovation seems to burn brightest.