Not that 2018, 2019 or 2020 weren’t already great. Per Oxx’s end-of-year 2020 analysis, we know at least 823 Nordic founders are already building SaaS companies. 2021 shows even greater promise. The pandemic accelerated digitalization, which boosted SaaS company valuations. And the continuous development of the Nordic and Baltic startup ecosystems has made it even easier for local startups to take advantage of these shifts. Here’s the case that 2021 will be even better for SaaS.
Let’s start with the obvious. Remote work erased many of the geographical restrictions that made it difficult to scale a global software company from a small country. In 2020, as anybody who has clocked more than 100 hours on Zoom or Teams can attest (which, let’s face it, is almost all of us), it’s never been so easy to access information, insights and people anywhere in the world. In one day, I can ‘visit’ Helsinki, Reykjavik, San Francisco and London. In B2B sales, the effect was immediate for many startups. The incoming CRO could skip hours spent flying here and there in favour of more time setting up strong internal processes. The CEO and board could delay the risky investment to set up a new office overseas without losing the ability to test a new market.
So why are the Nordics and Baltics now even more attractive places to scale a SaaS leader than before? Because the infrastructure of a mature startup ecosystem is continuing to coalesce in each of the Nordic and Baltic startup capitals.
We’re arriving at a point where there’s a local depth of talent for every step of a startup’s journey, be that founders, operators, non-executives or advisors. Many Nordic and Baltic startups have already reached great global success. But still, generating more local role models – at different growth stages – is key. This lets entrepreneurs combine the first-hand advice of many founders, operators and investors to build a unique playbook for success. Moreover, and relatively uniquely for this region, many of these individuals aren’t originally from the Nordics and Baltics. The pitch decks I read often highlight how many different countries a startup’s employees hail from. This diversity of perspective – global experience paired with local understanding – is incredibly valuable.
Finally, there’s never been a better time to raise venture capital in the Nordics and Baltics. Historically, startups in the region had fewer funding options available. The consequence, as our team’s analysis on the Swedish market shows, was that many SaaS companies were bought before they had a chance to truly test their global potential. Now, the Nordics and Baltics have a thriving ecosystem, with a 207% increase in VC funding in the last three years alone. The rise of specialist VCs – like Oxx in the SaaS space – means founders can find a supportive expert partner as they take their company global.
And that’s a good thing. Because with 2020 pushing SaaS into the spotlight, many global enterprises are rethinking their digital stacks. For founders with foundations in place to become global SaaS leaders, this is a great year to raise capital and realize those international ambitions.
If that describes you then I’d love to chat, just an email away at [email protected]. And if you disagree, I would love to hear why!