Today’s startup investment trends for top Nordic VCs

In the last week, VC firms based in the Nordics announced €1.2 billion in fresh funds to invest.

Nordic entrepreneurs are a constant presence, whether they’re based in their home region, in the U.S, or the U.K. Northern Europe has deep roots in gaming, graphics, music, and communications technology that has helped raise giants like Unity, King, Mojang, Supercell, Spotify, Skype, Rovio, Paradox Interactive, Truecaller and Kobalt.

But the ecosystem’s strength has expanded substantially outside those fields, particularly with fintech unicorns like iZettle, Klarna, and Bambora, customer service software platform Zendesk, and others. 

Because SLUSH, the region’s largest startup conference, is taking place in Helsinki this week, I asked several Nordics-focused VCs to share which startup trends they’re most excited about:

  • Marta Sjögren, Northzone
  • Fredrik Cassel, Creandum Ventures
  • Neil Murray, Nordic Web Ventures
  • Louise Samet, Blossom Capital
  • Jimmy Fussing Nielsen, Heartcore Capital 
  • Hjalmar Winbladh, EQT Ventures
  • Lina Wenner, firstminute Capital
  • Tommy Andersen, byFounders
  • Ari Helgason, Index Ventures
  • Magda Lukaszewicz, Balderton Capital
  • Christian Jantzen,

Aside from gaming, digital health and fintech were standout areas of interest. Here are their individual responses:

Marta Sjögren (Northzone)

Healthtech: The next wave of healthtech will see the creation of some very valuable companies that are saving costs to society by rewriting the narrative of the patient experience, from diagnosis to treatment of chronic conditions, with outcomes-based data that will over time disrupt money-flows in healthcare (showing a clear ROI).  This is a huge opportunity as the current system just does not cater to an aging population. I am especially excited to apply this thesis to mental health, diabetes, and age-related conditions.

PeopleTech (aka HRtech+productivity): I am very excited about productivity gains we will see as remote-first working environments come to market. The constant growth of project-based, gig-economy type of professional relationships will also see the rise of a productivity suite for this audience. Companion-apps for micro-entrepreneurs that cater to both private and business needs of “making it work.” Some verticalization of productivity tech [is] already starting to take place.

Fredrik Cassel (Creandum Ventures)

I’m most excited about products and services whose growth is not dependent on (under)performance marketing, massive spend based on some marginally favorable CAC/LTV comparison but ones that grow thanks to incredible user love and ambassadorship. Both with consumer users (like Depop) and with business users (like Shapr3d). Also, I’d love to meet entrepreneurs who consciously weigh their growth versus users’ privacy as well as versus profitability of their present unit economics.

Neil Murray (Nordic Web Ventures)

As someone who is investing first money in the Nordics, I tend to be pretty vertical agnostic and I focus heavily on founding teams instead. One trend I’m particularly excited about in this regard is that we are now seeing early employees at companies like Unity, Klarna, iZettle, Spotify, Trustpilot, etc. start their own companies, providing the Nordics with a new generation of entrepreneurs who’ve already been passengers on a scaling journey once and are now keen to take the wheel themselves.

Stockholm is definitely a large beneficiary of this trend as most of the biggest companies have been built there, however, it’s also worth noting that companies who may not be “unicorns” but are still successful companies in their own right are also contributing to this, for example, I’ve recently invested in a couple of companies whose founders had been executives at Trustpilot in Copenhagen.