6 Nordic Startups to Watch in 2023 (And Beyond)
You can now register to attend our Executive Roundtable in Stockholm on 17 May. Hampleton’s Nordic dealmaker Michael Annink and legal expert Gabriel Albemark will be examining the Nordic tech market as it stands right now, providing the do’s and don’ts that you need to follow if you want the best possible M&A transaction in the region. They’ll also be joined by VC fund founder David Hug and tech CEO Urban Bucht, who’ll be providing their own insights during a fascinating fireside chat.
Stockholm is a fitting location for the event, having more tech unicorns per capita than anywhere else, bar Silicon Valley. The tech industry in the Nordic region in general has been going great guns, with 10 new unicorns emerging in 2022 and plenty of fresh-faced startups to keep an eye on.
Here are some that have been on our radar – each one contributing to the Nordic region’s importance as a dynamic and influential tech hub.
Finnish startup Huuva puts a neat spin on the familiar, Deliveroo-style food delivery formula. It allows customers to order from multiple restaurants in the same order, which means no more fights with your family or housemates when one of you fancies tacos and the others are in the mood for Thai.
Huuva is as much a food company as a tech startup, since it works by setting up special Huuva kitchens where different restaurant brands operate under one roof. The company refers to itself as a “virtual food court”, and this very pitchable concept earnt it a $5.4 million seed round last year. The funding is being used by Huuva to ratchet up its operations beyond Helsinki, with the express aim of bringing restaurant offerings to underserved neighborhoods.
Headquartered in Stockholm, Goals has an eye-catching pitch (pun fully intended) as the football game for the Web3 age. Moreover, it’s tackling the blockbusting FIFA games by being fully free-to-play, with all in-game assets fully owned by players. This means that you’re able to trade the assets on digital marketplaces.
On top of this, there’s a play-to-earn model which means players can collect NFTs through successful gameplay. Founder Andreas Thorstensson, a seasoned tech exec who was a professional esports player for the game Counter-Strike, has tweeted his hope that Goals will allow players to “make a living playing the game”, and become “the greatest football game of all time”. Fighting words indeed, and investors have certainly been keen to pitch in, with the company already gathering over $15 million in funding,
Leading investor Johan Brand has pointed to edtech as being one of the tech sectors in the Nordic region that will seriously boom in 2023 and beyond. One startup making waves in this space is Astrid, a Swedish company which has raised $5.3 million to date, and aims to revolutionise how English is taught as a second language in markets around the world.
Its app is voice-based and powered by AI, listening to users as they speak and providing instant, bespoke feedback to help improve language skills. Its use of generative AI allows the app to operate as a virtual teacher, with a highly personalised approach. As well as being marketed as a speaking coach for individuals, it’s also a business tool that allows employers to evaluate their staff members’ English prowess and level up their skills for call centres, hospitality venues and other workplaces.
The online dating space boasts plenty of brands, with the likes of Tinder, Hinge and Bumble having become household names in countries like the UK and the US. Over in Iceland, however, the market leader is Smitten, which is pretty impressive for an app that only launched a few years ago.
Tailor-made for the Gen Z demographic, Smitten is about far more than the much-maligned “talking phase”, where complete strangers ask small talky questions and awkwardly flirt their way to an in-person date. Instead, it provides mini-games which can be played on people’s profiles. These include fun questionnaires, and the classic “two truths and a lie” game, which have been given a colourful, arcade-style makeover for the app. Completing a $10 million funding round last year, Smitten looks set to make even more users fall in love with it throughout Europe.
One of the most recent multi-million dollar funding rounds in the Nordic region was enjoyed by Danish startup Landfolk. Created by former Airbnb employees, the company landed $4.2 million in March of this year, and the windfall will be used to fuel its expansion as a holiday home rental platform.
Landfolk functions in a similar way to Airbnb, but with an emphasis on helping people escape urban centres and connect with nature. The properties listed on the site are specially handpicked, featuring quintessentially Nordic architectural features that will appeal to anyone in search of a spot of hygge. At the time of writing, the platform connects travellers to properties across Denmark, Norway and Germany, and the new funding will surely help to expand its footprint across Europe.
Fintech is another booming sector in the Nordic region, with a standout startup being Two. The Oslo-based company raised $19.7 million in March, bringing the total capital raised to $30.7 million – a clear sign of its potential as a B2B payment platform. Two’s mission is to make the checkout process as seamless for businesses as it is for consumers, eliminating credit checks and ID verification, and allowing businesses to get paid immediately or on a BNPL basis.
The portal integrates with e-commerce platforms using custom-made plugins. These have already been developed for platforms like WooCommerce and Norwegian favourite 24Nettbutikk, with a Shopify plugin launching later this year. With Two recently announcing partnerships with Santander and Allianz, it’s one of many Nordic startup success stories to come in recent years.
Don’t forget to register for our upcoming Executive Roundtable for analysis of the Nordic tech scene, and insider tips on optimising your company’s exit in the region.