Story by Gary Stevens
Entrepreneurs and startup business owners in the Nordic countries have long dreamed of making headway in the US. The ongoing pandemic may have created the necessary opportunity for them to do just that.
This is because numerous Nordic startups have seen their businesses grow substantially in the United States as a result of the outbreak, while other businesses and startups have likewise seen themselves propelled into very lucrative directions.
Nordic startup businesses have gained the attention of the world for the last few years, with Japanese investors in particular being big fans of Nordic startup culture. But more recently, many important startups originating in Nordic nations have designed products that have taken advantage of the situation caused by the pandemic. The startups for these devices have subsequently generated considerable buzz amongst the scientific and business communities.
In this article, we will discuss how exactly the COVID-19 pandemic has made it easier for Nordic tech startups to make serious headway in the US, the challenges they are facing, the new opportunities that have been created, and how the maturing European tech ecosystem as a whole is spelling exciting things to come in the US market.
How Nordic Startups Are Turning Challenges Into Opportunities
The economic recession created by the COVID pandemic has been even more devastating than the Global Recession of 2009. In late February of this year, the Dow Jones suffered its worst ever drop since the 2008 financial crisis when it plunged by more than 12%, which also represented the worst ever market response to an epidemic in history.
Amidst this ongoing economic catastrophe, there has been considerable fear that now is simply not the time for new startups to form and for existing businesses to go into survival mode in the face of falling sales and staff cuts. Unfortunately, Nordic-based startups have not been immune to these challenges.
That being said, several startups and businesses have also adapted well to the changing business climate created by COVID-19. In fact, it all really comes down to advanced planning and understanding the shifting needs of the market, and then adapting accordingly.
One example has been with a Swedish-based interactive presentation startup called Mentimeter, which has seized a massive opportunity created by the crisis. Specifically, the opportunity was to facilitate other companies, businesses, and organizations who have remote workers all over the globe with a virtual communication system.
Remote working is no longer a mere trend, and is now a major part of how companies big and small alike are doing business with one another. Focusing on products that could help companies with their employees working remotely was a major business opportunity, and Mentimeter seized upon it. The result is that Mentimeter became the beneficiary of record new registration levels and engagement from customers.
Another example of a Nordic company that has successfully leveraged the crisis is Meniga, a fintech company that raised over $8 million in funding in May to provide digital banking technology to some of the largest banks in the world.
Yet another example has been Estonian-based startup Veriff, which recently closed a $15.5 million deal to effectively ramp up identity verification sales to customers all around the result, resulting in verification volumes growing thirty five times what they had been beforehand.
Perhaps even more notable, Finnish-based company Oura Rings closed a major deal with the NBA to provide basketball players with Oura rings to help track their health and activities.
If anything, there is no better time to truly test the resilience of entrepreneurs than during a crisis like we are now experiencing. The current situation has clearly taught us that businesses and startups need to adapt to crises in order to turn challenges into opportunities.
Nordic Startups Making Headway In the US
Cracking into the US market provides an exciting opportunity to any Nordic startup because of the chance to exponentially increase growth and credibility. While it takes a lot of careful planning and support to expand in the US, the companies that do so successfully often have bright futures ahead of them.
The Swedish-based digital health app startup Kry, for instance, recently secured over $140 million in funding and will be pushing into the US with its video consultation app. Another example is Swedish-based individual educational skills startup Sana Labs, which has launched an initiative to provide skills to thousands of American nurses helping to fight COVID-19.
One reason why the United States is so appealing to Nordic startups is because it’s a unified market. It’s relatively simple for a startup to become a big player in one European country, but far more difficult to become so across the continent because of high international taxes and shipping flow issues between countries. There are simply less frictions in American commerce.
Furthermore, America is seen as a global player in the tech world, and startups that can set up offices in technology epicenters such as Silicon Valley can boost their reputations significantly.
That’s not to say that pushing a startup in the US is without challenges, because the reverse is certainly true. Intense competition, the economic recession, and the ever looming threat from cybercriminals that has actually been made worse as a result of the pandemic are among the issues new startup businesses face today.
Fortunately, none of these are challenges that cannot be overcome. The fact that the unemployment rate actually dropped in May when it was expected to increase further is perhaps a sign that the economic fallout posed by COVID will not be as bad as thought. The cloud has become the primary means of storing data online for startups, and also happens to be one of the most effective measures for keeping business-related data away from malicious actors as well, in addition to the numerous other effective cybersecurity defenses at any startup’s disposal.
And the fact that many Nordic tech and business startups are beginning to make significant headway in the United States is most likely a clear sign of more exciting things to come in the years ahead.
The US healthcare sector in particular is holding plenty of opportunity for Nordic and European tech companies. The US, and Silicon Valley in particular, is really the place to be for European startups because of the fact that the majority of clinical trials and world’s drugs are decided or sold in the US respectively.
If anything, establishing oneself in the US healthcare market allows companies to then propel themselves forward on a global level. This is the perfect avenue for any Nordic company targeting the healthcare sector.
The current situation should be treated as an excellent opportunity for Nordic European-based startups and businesses to showcase the products and technology that can be used to help stop the spread of COVID-19 or otherwise help businesses get ahead during these troubling times.
Nordic startups have long been focused on making inroads into the US ecosystem with global services, and now they finally have their chance to make their presence known.