A look at Sweden’s startup scene as Techstars drops Stockholm program


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As the global venture capital market contracts following a historic investing boom, the downturn impacts each startup market differently. While we’ve given the United States’ startup ecosystem most of our attention lately, it’s time to broaden our perspective.

And narrow our focus. In the wake of Techstars’ decision to discontinue its Swedish accelerator program, TechCrunch+ decided to dig into the country’s startup scene to understand how one smaller venture market is adapting to a changed investing climate.

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Sweden, which has a population of around that of Michigan in the United States, punches above its weight in both cultural and business terms. Any fan of heavier music will rhapsodize to you about towering Swedish heavy metal giants like At The Gates, In Flames, Amon Amarth and Meshuggah. In business terms, Zettle, Ikea, Klarna and Spotify all call Sweden home.

It’s clear, then, that while Sweden’s population doesn’t make it an instant powerhouse in terms of sheer scale, it’s a country with a history of creating and building things that the world welcomes. Surely that creates a good foundation for future startup activity; after all, Spotify is worth $25 billion by itself. Why can’t the country’s founders repeat the feat?

Techstars CEO Maëlle Gavet declined to comment on the choice to leave Sweden on the record. So today, we’re looking at Sweden with a focus on Techstars’ exit and how local venture and startup actors view it. We want to know whether there are ameliorating circumstances for the decision that will help us better grok Techstars’ call, as well as the European startup market in general and Sweden’s in particular.

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