I.The power of entrepreneurship
Nowadays, most of us listen to music primarily with our mobile phones through a streaming service – but that hasn’t always been the case. When music became downloadable, the market quickly became filled with pirated copies of songs that were distributed through networks. The music industry tried to fight back, but with little to no success. Then one day in Sweden, a couple of music enthusiasts saw an opportunity and started to build a platform with the idea to distribute music online legally. In essence, they decided to embrace the power of the internet and move the music industry to a digital format.
While Spotify started small, it has since grown into a global powerhouse in the frontline of change in the music industry. Music album sales have dropped at a steady rate since the digital distribution of music became possible. At the same time, the music streaming market has grown rapidly and still continues to grow. Spotify created the technology and the product, but it has also been a key factor in the emergence and growth of a completely new market.
Spotify is just one example of the Nordic ecosystem producing the most unicorns per capita. Other examples include companies like Klarna, Skype, Supercell, iZettle, CRF Health, MySQL and King. The sheer number of success stories suggests that there is something in this area that people are doing right.
The global impact of new technology companies is undeniable, but the impact of these companies is controversial. Not all technology companies have had only positive effects on the world. However, when done right, fast growing technology companies offer a great opportunity for a change towards the better, both for society and individuals. Especially in the Nordics, more and more technology companies are focused on “scaling good” – aiming to have a net positive influence on our society.
The next generation of world-changing companies are already in the making, and there’s room for more.
Some exciting new companies to watch include:
- Meru Health – offers an evidence-based app-based treatment program for depression, burnout and anxiety.
- Karma – offers surplus food from restaurants, cafes and grocery stores at half of the regular price.
- Hedvig – builds a new generation of insurance platforms that use AI to help evaluate customers and operates on a policy of using any surplus for social good.
- Spinnova – turns wood or waste into textile fibre, without harmful chemicals.
- Clue – tracks the menstrual cycle, and is a free app built in collaboration with top health researchers.
The essence of entrepreneurship
Put simply, entrepreneurship means that you choose a direction for your life and take responsibility for getting things done. The simplest example of entrepreneurship is of course founding your own company, but you can have an entrepreneurial mindset while working for any company – becoming a so-called “intrapreneur.” In today’s world, it’s exceedingly important to have entrepreneurial skills. In other words, it’s important to be self-directed, to understand what problems are important to solve and to have the capacity to find innovative ways to solve problems and provide value. That’s why we created this course: to provide everyone who’s interested with a useful skill set for using entrepreneurial tools and thinking in any context.
A course created with an entrepreneurial mindset
As just one example of how an entrepreneurial mindset can help you outside of the startup world, we used the principles you’ll learn by taking this course to actually create the course in the first place. That means we first identified the fundamental problems:
- There is a lot of hype around startups, but also many misunderstandings.
- The world of startup entrepreneurship is not easily approachable for everyone.
We came up with a solution (this course), validated it with beta testers, and we’re collecting feedback from our students to learn how we can continue to iterate and improve what we have. So with that in mind, please give us feedback by using the feedback widget on the right side of the page, or via our community on Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/starting_up/.
The benefit of innovation
Innovation is not just coming up with ideas. Innovation means the creation of new and useful ideas that lead to a method, product or a service. Just creating something new is not enough – while creativity can be defined as making something new and useful, innovations are defined by a concrete solution that results from creativity, often to solve an existing problem.
Innovation is created by a culture that fosters and inspires imagination and self-expression where everyone can contribute. Innovation is needed to create sustainable economic growth on a national level. Just enhancing what already exists isn’t enough when new solutions and ways of working are continuously being developed in the global market. Entrepreneurship provides a strong breeding ground for innovation. The self-directed nature of working as an entrepreneur opens up a new way of doing creative work that isn’t self evident in larger companies. Put another way, entrepreneurs are risk takers that reach for the stars.
So why should I care about entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship offers a possibility for anyone to help shape the future, both for them as an individual and for society as a whole. Everyone has their own reason why they are involved in entrepreneurship. To understand common reasons, we asked “Why did you start?” from 17 early-stage entrepreneurs in the Nordics. The six most popular answers were:
- I saw a problem I wanted to solve
- I wanted to do something of my own
- I wanted to change the world (before I had an idea)
- I had a business or service innovation model in mind
- I wanted to escape from my payroll job
- I had a tech innovation in mind
We believe that entrepreneurship is essentially about solving problems. The majority of leading entrepreneurial teams are solving a problem they (or someone close to them) have faced. Different people solve different problems. This is why we need a diverse group of entrepreneurially minded people from all over the world so we can find and solve more problems.
The technology startup industry in particular is facing a problem with ensuring diversity – in 2018, 93% of venture capital investments (more about them in Chapter 7) in Europe went to all-male founder teams according to the State of European Tech report 2018. Since venture capital investments are often crucial for early-stage startups, having only 7% of investments going to female founders means that a majority of startups are potentially solving problems from a male perspective. It would make much more sense to have products and services that cater to as many people as possible.
The same logic applies to intrapreneurs, people inside bigger companies (mainly large corporations) who bring in a much needed entrepreneurial way of thinking. For bigger companies, it’s also crucial that products new and old cater to a large group and are usable by everyone. Intrapreneurs can also be a force for change inside big companies, helping to bring about innovation that enables big companies to stay in their leading position.
So no matter where you are in your life, we believe this course will have something to offer you.
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II. The different types of entrepreneurshipStart →
Kiuas is one of the leading startup accelerators in the Nordics, bringing early-stage startups together and providing them with the best support and tools to take their progress to the next level.
Maki.vc is an early stage venture capital firm dedicated to partnering with founders who never conform to category standards.
AVP is the entrepreneurship education program at Aalto University. Students in multidisciplinary teams do hands-on exercises and gain tools, ready to be used to construct a startup or to renovate an existing company. We teach students to build like an entrepreneur.
Reaktor Education partners with world-class organisations and education providers to develop online courses and digital learning solutions designed to empower all people to participate in a rapidly-evolving globalised society.