When talking about European startup hotspots, the Top Ten lists seem to skip over Copenhagen. In Wired’s recent list, they hit London, Berlin, and in our neighborhood, Stockholm and Helsinki, but there’s something about Copenhagen that makes their startups or scene easy to skip over. As a writer, it’s pretty easy to see why. Copenhagen is full of B2B companies and B2B isn’t sexy or fun to write about.
Maybe it’s just me, but Copenhagen and Berlin give off similar vibes. Both have very liberal attitudes and art seems to permeate life. With that in mind it makes sense that Berlin’s startups come from this sort of environment – the city’s full of social startups that seem more like art projects designed to hook into our social consciousness for the sake of it, rather than any plan to make money in the short term. For the tech press they’re easy to write about (and remember) because as end-users ourselves, we can generally see the benefits and advantages of these startups better than invoicing platforms.
In Berlin, take for example the sadly defunct Amen, a Twitter-like platform that forced users to post in the format: _____ is the best _____ ever. Or the newly launched Instagram-meets-LinkedIn project, Somewhere, that focuses on professionals’ aspirations and working styles rather than a bland CV. Our region’s entrepreneurs even move to Berlin to start up, like famously the Soundcloud Swedes or Vamos.
Copenhangen’s startups dance to a different beat – an unsexy beat, but at least they’re focused on creating businesses that make money. And with last night’s news that Copenhagen-based Tradeshift raised $75 million for their B2B invoicing platform, Copenhagen should embrace it’s unsexiness and build a brand on being the opposite of Berlin – a home for Europe’s smart, practical B2B companies. A rivalry is a messaging thing.
Because we haven’t dug into that huge news, let’s say something about Tradeshift. The company was founded in 2009 and now has 150 employees in 31 countries. They began providing their free electronic invoicing software to keep companies from having to send paper and fax to each other, which is still a big trend even this late in the internet era. They’ve seen solid growth; between 60 and 70% of the company’s transactions are cross-border, so the company was forced to expand quickly. With the cash they’re solidifying their presence in Asia.
Aside from Tradeshift, the other big recent success from Copenhagen is Podio, which was acquired by Citrix in 2012 for $43 million. Podio provides project management and CRM tools for businesses. Another huge Copenhagen-founded sweetheart is Zendesk, which provides e-helpdesk software for tens of thousands of businesses and is rumored to be IPOing anytime now.
The hot young Copenhagen companies companies are also following in the B2B tradition. Opbeat is gaining some hype by providing an operations center for developers to look over their product. Iconfinder is selling icons for other developers. And other companies, like Conferize, Graduateland, and Everplaces are all in that B2B space.
Of course Copenhagen has plenty of outliers to the B2B trend, such as Endomondo, the social sports tracking app, but for journalistic purposes Copenhagen = B2B = startups that actually think about solving needs and making money off of it.
Recently the city’s startup scene got organized under the hashtag #CPHFTW which is apparently helping entrepreneurs stay organized and up-to-date. But additionally I think when talking to the press, Danish entrepreneurs should get under the unsexy is actually sexy banner. Talk about Tradeshift. Bring up Podio. And by embrace this B2B trend, you’ll give journalists something easy to write about, which will help put Copenhagen on the map when talking about European startup hotspots.
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