HomeInterviewsStrengthening Sweden’s startup ecosystem | In conversation with Nyfikna Investerare Founder, Joanna...

Strengthening Sweden’s startup ecosystem | In conversation with Nyfikna Investerare Founder, Joanna Törngren Redebran

The Nordic region as a whole has become a hub in Europe’s wider startup community, home to fresh innovation and exciting startups, and, it’s a region that is associated with forward-thinking and impactful tech developments. As we enter a new year, though, even the Nordics are being confronted with market uncertainty as the global downturn takes its toll. Dealing with war, inflation and recession isn’t exactly the perfect blend for startups to flourish – especially those just trying to take off.

Founded in 2021, Nyfikna Investerare is becoming one of Sweden’s most impactful business-angel networks aiming to support early-stage startups. In 2022, it opened up its membership network to angel investors across Europe for the first time. 

The network was founded by Joanna Törngren Redebran who turned her curiosity for investment into a business idea, aiming to facilitate growth across Sweden’s tech ecosystem. According to the ‘Swedish tech report 2022’ the value of Sweden’s startup ecosystem nearly doubled in just a year, now valued at €239 billion. Joanna wants growth to continue by connecting startups and investors in a collaborative community. 

Nyfikna is a pretty unique entity, comprising a one-stop hub for investors and startup founders to connect and meet. It’s growing fast, reflecting strength in Joanna’s convictions. Given Nyfikna Investerare (which means ‘curious investors’) is paving the way for connection within Sweden’s startup ecosystem, and it’s renewed commitment to early-stage startups, we wanted to chat to Joanna to find out about the future of Sweden’s startup ecosystem, and just how early-stage startups can navigate the current market uncertainty as we enter 2023. 

Can you share your personal story of becoming an investor?

Before the age of 30, I had different managerial positions such as CEO of Sweden’s Young Shareholder Association and various board assignments. Entering my thirties as a self-employed consultant in media production and leadership development, I realised it was finally the moment to invest my energy and time in fulfilling my own dreams and not others. This was a turning point in my life and the beginning of my journey to build my own business, Nyfikna Investerare.

I have always been passionate about building my own portfolio, so the idea of creating a community and angel network felt like a logical step. Nyfikna Investerare started in 2019 with my investment blog where I shared my story as a private investor, the learnings I gained while building my portfolio – initially by investing in precious metals and how I am hedging my portfolio.

While building my portfolio, I noticed that many of my friends’ portfolios performed better than mine. I started to ask myself why this might be the case, and I learned that I had to adopt a less risk-averse strategy in order to build a profitable portfolio.

My passion has grown to almost an obsession with Strategic Asset Class Allocation. I like the challenge of moving capital between different asset classes – dependent on macroeconomics and geopolitical- and market trends – combined with fundamental factors like supply and demand. Today, my portfolio consists of both low-risk- and high-risk assets.

I want to create value for as many as possible and inspire others to build their own portfolio, therefore, I share my experience and knowledge via my blog, podcast, and our investment network, events and courses. 

What is the vision of Nyfikna Investerare?

We are very passionate portfolio builders and continue to grow and build a welcoming, inclusive and curious community for education, inspiration and networking. We will not settle for less than a world-class impact portfolio, investing in early-stage fast-growing Swedish startups, outperforming index. In the next couple of years, my goal is to continue to expand and make Nyfikna Investerare one of Europe’s leading communities for investors, entrepreneurs and Swedes abroad. My long-term vision is to see our community grow to become a world-leading player for impact-driven startups and investors. 

Why should we be now investing in early-stage startups, when we are facing an economic crisis and a financial downturn?

The unprecedented use of quantitative easing and money printing has helped many assets do extremely well through the pandemic, which resulted in new ATHs and potentially inflated some asset bubbles. The free money era has come to an end, and capital now costs money. Yet, I chose a positive mindset and trust that there is a bright future. As investors, we live in a very exciting time with many opportunities to invest in promising startups. I believe that winners are often born during a crisis.

It is a good time to invest in alternative assets such as startups and real estate during an economic downturn. It can create a more long-term strategy and safe harbour for private investors when the stock market is in turmoil. 

Now, you are launching internationally and have recently announced the Nyfikna Investerare Index. Tell us about your expansion strategy. 

We have seen a great interest in our angel network in Sweden – having closed seven out of ten investments last year and grown to over 40+ active professionals in our community – we see our international expansion and the launch of our Index as a logical next step to further syndicate our investment capacity and in parallel back our entrepreneurs with more than just capital. 

Nyfikna Investerare’s international launch will go hand-in-hand as our portfolio companies also scale internationally. We are now intensifying our efforts to educate and inspire our business angels and board professionals so that they can actively support their investments, and connect them with each other. 

Our strategy is to scale in quantity (number of investments, size of investments, number of community members, geographical locations and educational offerings) and quality (deal flow screening, follow-up structure, and quality of support from our network).

Long-term plans for the firm?

In the long term, we aim to be Europe’s leading investment community regardless if you are an angel, entrepreneur or business professional. Building on our Swedish roots, we want to offer an active and welcoming community for education, inspiration and networking not limited to being Swedish or Scandinavian. As a natural development, we want to expand and structure our investment capacity both with internal capital and external capital outside our angel network making it possible to be a strong early-stage lead investor in impact-driven tech startups starting with the Nordics. 

Specifically, this will mean; 

  • Expansion of community groups for angels, entrepreneurs and partners both in terms of frequency and geographical location (starting, but not limited to European locations)
  • Tailored financial educational packages for those who want to deepen their understanding of various types of asset classes
  • Inspirational thought leader creating and publishing content built on the knowledge in our community and portfolio 
  • Established syndicate structures combining capital from the angel community and external investors, setting Nyfikna Investerare as a highly valued early-stage lead investor

Sweden’s startup ecosystem is pretty strong. Why do you think this is?

There are many reasons why Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, boasts the highest number of unicorns per capita of any city outside of Silicon Valley. Being one of the leading startup hubs in Europe has resulted in attracting even more competence and capital which in turn has built a thriving and active ecosystem. 

Sweden has always had a strong culture and competence in process-oriented production. We have created several global company names considering our relatively small population. Sweden has been forward-thinking in terms of engineering and innovation and established a structured and agile way of working which has transferred well into the digital world.

Why is Sweden a startup hub? What are the ingredients for success there?

A combination of capital, talent, culture, high-quality education and the social safety net has accelerated the development to make Sweden a successful startup hub. The government has created various initiatives and government-backed funding programs available for entrepreneurs which have been beneficial for creating the dynamic ecosystem we see today.

Besides Stockholm, there are many other startup hubs across Sweden. Cutting-edge technology and successful companies are being launched in cities like Malmö and Gothenburg, so I am sure we will continue seeing Swedish startups making waves internationally.

What are the benefits of collaboration for startups? And how can we foster more of it across Europe?

Even though many startups want to scale internationally, they surprisingly often lack an international network. Technologies, R&D, and consumer/ user behaviours are relatively similar across Europe so there are many reasons why startups should collaborate. I believe in creating inclusive communities that are open for collaboration where people can get inspired, receive support and share knowledge across roles and functions. Our aim with Nyfikna Investerare is to build a community that is as inclusive for entrepreneurs as investors and foster such collaboration across Europe.

Are there any verticals that are especially exciting at the moment in Sweden?

There are a lot of interesting verticals at the moment, but something we see in Sweden right now is a widespread emergence of green transition and many impact technology startups are getting more traction from investors to fund these climate-focused companies. The femtech sector is continuing to be strong as well as developments in the medtech field. 

How can startups best navigate the current socioeconomic climate? And what’s the outlook in your eyes? Are you optimistic or cautious? 

I am optimistic, but the coming years will be challenging because competition is fierce about capital. Having said that, there is still a lot of capital out there. For startups, it is important to monitor runway and profitability, partner with the right advisors and investors who can back the business with capital, and provide the right support during the scaleup journey. 

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Patricia Allen
Patricia Allen
is the Head of Content at EU-Startups. With a background in politics, Patricia has a real passion for how shared ideas across communities and cultures can bring new initiatives and innovations for the future. She spends her time bringing you the latest news and updates of startups across Europe, and curating our social media.

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