Yesterday I attended an event by the Prins Daniel Fellowship about inspiring people to become entrepreneurs. Prins Daniel himself – husband of crown princess Victoria – was the main speaker at the event. Joining him was three prominent entrepreneurs speaking about their experiences within entrepreneurship: Cristina Stenbeck from Kinnevik, Anna Omstedt Lindgren from MedUniverse, as well as Saeid Esmaeilzadeh from Serendipity Innovations.
IVA hosted this event and adjoining lecture to inspire young individuals to develop and pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. It aimed to discuss ideas, experiences, possibilities, and tools that are extremely helpful when you want to evolve your idea or company. The speakers spoke about their experiences and challenges as well as answered open questions from the audience.
The prince spoke about his perception that entrepreneurship is everywhere in society and business. He mentioned the importance of crossing academic and business disciplines to create new valuable ideas. He stressed his belief in the younger generations and that importance for young people not to give in to the fear of failure. He also talked about the fact that most of the time it is not a new idea in itself that investors invest in, it is in fact the people that are invested in. He also pointed out that it is a splendid time to start businesses when you are studying, since you often can find time easier than if you work full time.
Cristina Stenbeck is a world famous intrapreneur who took over a large share of the responsibility in the huge Stenbeck media empire when she was just 24 years old. She is the daughter of the Swedish entrepreneurial legend Jan Stenbeck and is a major figure within Kinnevik Investing. She has played a main role in the successful digitalization within the vast telekom sector. When she stepped in at the age of 24, the company had 15 000 employees, today the number of employees is above 80 000. She has been a part in the investment of two billion Euro to create the e-commerce market that we have today. As an example she invested early on in the e-commerce company Zalando and has worked closely with them since the beginning of the company.
Her recommendation for new entrepreneurs is to find a niche that is focused on the future. She stresses the fact of social entrepreneurship and that Swedes have a huge advantage in social entrepreneurship that they can and should export abroad. The Swedish trademark is strong and our culture of sustainability is profitable. She also says that “The perfect time to start a business does not exist, just do it”.
Anna Omstedt Lindgren
Anna Omstedt Lindgren is an entrepreneur who started in the dot com era. She talked a lot about her first business and how it developed. She was the cofounder of Tasteline, who later evolved into a part of the now big company Mathem. The difficulties her company faced were mainly related to getting an analogue world to go digital. They struggled with everything from finding a name and domain name that customers would “approve” of, to suppliers that did not want to go digital but rather keep sending out post. Today Anna works with digital patient cases in her own company. Her core team is extremely diverse with people from all around the globe and one of her recommendations is just to make sure you have diversity to get new mixes of ideas. She says that especially as a woman, it has been very good for her to start her own companies as she that way has not had to fight the gender fight the same way as women who climb the career ladder the usual way.
Saeid Esmaeilzadeh is a highly successful entrepreneur and cofounder of e.g. Serendipity Innovations och Serendipity Ixora AB. He was born in Iran and came to Sweden as a child. He studied chemistry at Stockholm University and his first entrepreneurial breakthrough came after he and his friend started a company based on a new glass material that Saeid had discovered in his lab. He is a academic at heart and did not know he wanted to start his own company until the opportunity came. Today his company has 1500 employees and sell to over 70 countries. Their businesses are based on technological innovations and their strategy is to avoid competition by finding business opportunities where there is no competition yet.
He has many simple but clever recommendations to people who want to be entrepreneurs. First of all he says you should do what you find fun and to find the right people to do it with. It is important that these people have skills that you do not possess. He talked a lot about the fact that you should get out and try your idea instead of sitting and trying to perfect it as you never know how the market will react. Related to this he says that you should not be afraid of people stealing your idea as it is the implementation that is the important part. It is how you create the business around your idea that is the unique and lucrative part. He says there are thousands of good ways to build a company. However, it is always important to have strong engine in driving it forward. To all foreigners and immigrant he also has the recommendation to learn the social constructs of the (Swedish) society as this brings with it a lot of contacts and opportunities. With social constructs he referred to e.g. fika, kräftskivor, midsummer, and snaps songs.
The event was very informative and inspirational. It made me really think about and reflect upon how I myself can move forward in the future to achieve my personal entrepreneurial goals. It captured a lot of important aspects that you usually might not think about when considering getting in to entrepreneurship. If anyone has the opportunity to attend an event by Prins Daniels Fellowship about entrepreneurship, I think you should seize the chance!