On Friday 15th of November the competition “Cre8 the future” took place at Jernkontoret’s facilities in Kungsträdgården, Stockholm. Jernkontoret is the branch organization of the Swedish steel industry and they announce each year the “Framtidsstipendium” where three teams out of eight get to share a huge price sum. The attending teams are given a case in which the students are to work with for three hours and then pitch the solution for five minutes towards a panel of judges from the steel industry.

Loggor Cre8, Jernkontoret, KAU

This year it was Höganäs that presented a case that they wanted a creative solution for. The problem is that Höganäs has the ambition to produce steel in a more sustainable way but that the subtractors don’t find it incentive enough to buy sustainable steel that is more expensive but does the same job. How are we going to create value for sustainable steel? Value in this context didn’t have to be economical, but could also be social or environmental e.g.

Bildresultat för höganäs logo

My team and I were deployed in the CEO’s office (the fanciest office I have ever seen) where we struggled with the case for three hours. It was so much fun that we totally lost the perception of time and in the end, we did not have time to practice the pitch even once. All we had time to do was to divide the pitch into topics and just freestyle the rest. The minutes before the pitch was some of the worst that I have ever experienced, and suddenly we were standing in front of the judges and a camera. Five minutes went by and suddenly we were standing out in the waiting hall again. I couldn’t tell whether the pitch was any good or if the judges liked it or not. All we could do now was wait for the winner announcement.

A screenshot from the pitch that was live-streamed.

The third place was announced and then the second, and all we wanted to do was to leave and take a drink somewhere. One of the judges then started to read the motivation for the first place position and I reluctantly started to recognize them. And then it happened, our team name popped up on the screen and we had won. It was completely unbelievable.

When I eventually came to my senses the first thing I thought about was how grateful I was for the School of Entrepreneurship (or the School of Serdar) that first of all encouraged me to sign up for this competition, but also taught me and my teammates to think in the way of entrepreneurs and how to approach problems like this, and maybe most of all how to present a good pitch. Good times.

Team Future Industeels

On the 17th of October, the Askås e-commerce day took place in Säffle, the metropole, 4 hours from Uppsala. Askås is an e-commerce platform that is used by companies like Desenio, Caia, and Nordiska Galleriet among others. Lecturers, exhibitors, customers, and other visitors attended for a whole day in Medborgarhuset in Säffle. The four lecturers were Alexander Hars, Patrik Müller, Karin Zingmark and lastly “the joker” Anders Borg.

After a long car ride, we made it to Säffle just in time for the first lecture that was held by Alexander Hars which is the entrepreneur behind the companies Let´s deal and most recently Alva that sells sustainable bed lining. He spoke about how optimism is an important trait for an entrepreneur to handle the occasional setbacks that comes along with entrepreneurship. He told the story about the worst day in his life as an entrepreneur which was when he started Let´s deal in Norway and they had a large campaign together with a car company. They sponsored the campaign with three cars and there was going to be a lottery where three winners got to buy the cars for half of the price. The lottery somehow resulted in nine winners and Alexander had to buy SIX more cars from the car company for full price to cover for the catastrophe that almost led to the end of Let´s deal. It was his optimism that led to the survival of the company. The most important lesson he had learned from being an entrepreneur is how easy it is to get things done if you just do it. JUST DO IT.

In between the lectures, there was an exhibition where different paying services, shipping solutions and business platforms such as Klarna, Budbee, and Pyramid attended where they tried to make new business.

After a short break out in the exhibition hall, it was time for the second speaker which was the founder of the paying system DIBS, Patrik Müller. The main focus he had was the really interesting annual report about nordic e-commerce. The most interesting finding, according to me, is the very different online paying habits between the nordic countries. The most popular paying method is by card in every nordic country except for Finland where they use online banking which is way down the list in other countries. Paying by invoice is very popular in the nordic countries except for Denmark where the last thing people want to do is to give up their social security number. These things are really important when trading internationally since the next biggest reason for canceled purchases in e-commerce after “shipping price is too high” is that the preferred paying method is not included. Other than the report, he also spoke about some new toothbrush innovations as an example of new thinking. One company sell toothbrushes with exchangeable brush heads, another company had developed a dental splint that brush all the teeth in 10 seconds for people that really are in a hurry, and one company that offered the buyer teeth health insurance together with the toothbrush, as long as the user connects the toothbrush to a cloud and registers every time the brush is used. Clever ideas! He ended the lecture by speaking about the “retail shift” which is the shift from classic retailing to experience-driven retailing. He does not believe in the end of physical stores as a consequence of the growing e-commerce, but on the contrary, it can be seen that many brands that only have been available online are starting to open physical stores to meet the screaming costumers need for a deeper relationship with the brand. Examples of companies that have done this are H&M that open café’s inside their stores and a company called Marine Layers that has an apartment just above one of the stores that is being rented on Airbnb to guest that are invited to hang out in the store. The message taken from Patrik was “point of experience, NOT point of sale”.

The third speaker was the advisor and author of the book “Maxa snacket: så når du framgång genom digital kommunikation” Karin Zingmark that spoke about leadership in a connected world. The old model of hierarchic leadership has developed into non-hierarchic cooperation that is more complex. Leaders need to provide the employees with the resources that are needed to climb the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. She went through all the steps and how to achieve them to reach the top and thereby full potential. She also gave 7 quick tips to make your brand more personal:

  1. Think about who you are and what you stand for. What is your passion?
  2. Identify the goals you want to achieve.
  3. Choose your platforms.
  4. Build your profile.
  5. Build relations.
  6. Be generous, take a stand and be persistent.
  7. Measure success.

She ended the lecture by talking about the stress that is related to being connected all the time. Since everything is connected you will find your job in your email, your social media, etc. even when you are not at work. She partly solved this problem at home by not allowing phones in the bedrooms.

The last speaker that everyone had been waiting for was Anders Borg that lectured about the current world economics. He is certain that there is no economic crisis ahead soon due to three factors. The first one is that there are no big differences in economic situations between countries. The second factor is that there is no inflation observed. This can be seen in banks that are decreasing their interest on loans. The third is that world productivity is increasing, especially in the US. These things have to lead to that the consumer society will experience the biggest shift in history. 2,000,000,000 people are improving living standards from poverty to middle class in various countries e.g. the Philippines. A bizarre example of the wild consumer society is the game Angry birds that reached a larger group of followers in 35 days than Christianity has reached for as long as it has existed. He also spoke about the singularity tendency regarding A.I. and e-commerce. Since “genuine” A.I. is extremely expensive to develop there will only be the giants left like Amazon that will conquer the market. According to him, companies that claim that they use A.I. in Sweden are lying. When it was time for questions there was one about what he would invest in if he had a million SEK today. His answer was “it depends on how many other million SEK you have”. The most humble answer I have ever heard. After the lecture, the evening continued with dinner and entertainment in the form of the a capella group Solala. Club DIBS then rocked the rest of the night with Patrik Müller as DJ.

Sorry about the long post. I will finish by making it even longer with a photobomb. XOXO