6 Scandinavian Startups Taking Over America

The consumer market in North America is notoriously hard to penetrate. Less than 5% of companies arriving in the US are successful. This is largely due to the wide variety of subcultures, and the small differences in business practices that foreign companies do not anticipate. However, there are a few companies who have taken the North American market by storm – here are six of the Scandinavian startups who have already made it, or are making it big in the USA.

1. Minecraft (Sweden)

Minecraft, cult videogame built around virtual blocks, has been in the news a bit recently. Its parent company, Mojang AB, made the headlines when it sold the game to Microsoft for a hefty sum of $2.5 billion in September. Minecraft was introduced in 2009 and has since sold more than 50 million copies for PCs, smartphones and videogame consoles such as Microsoft’s Xbox. The company’s headquarters will remain in Sweden for the time being.

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2. Falcon Social (Denmark)

This startup has its headquarters just around the corner in Copenhagen and recently opened its second location in New York City – a step which signifies the company’s rapidly expanding global presence. Falcon Social, as its name suggests, is a social media management platform specialising in the digital environment. The company was founded in 2010 and within just 18 months, Falcon Social’s team, known as Falconers, expanded from four employees to 130. Their client list includes names such as Carlsberg, Pandora, and Coca-Cola.

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3. Meltwater Group (Norway)

Meltwater Group started out in 2001 in Oslo with just $15,000 and a coffee machine. The company offers online media monitoring services, helping clients identify what information is most relevant for them. Not even 15 years later, the company has 700 employees, 55 offices across the globe, and over 18,000 clients worldwide. The company has a North American headquarters in San Francisco.

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4. Qlikview (Sweden)

While it is no longer considered a startup, Qlikview (formerly known as Qliktech) has been making waves in the United States since it expanded there in (year). The company, which sells business intelligence and visualisation software, was named as one of America”s fastest growing technology companies by Forbes. The company maintains its original headquarters in Lund, Sweden but also has a North American headquarters in Pennsylvania.

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5. endomondo (Denmark)

Endomondo, a sports and fitness network, is another startup success story out of Denmark. The company was founded in 2007 in Copenhagen by a few fitness fanatics, and has since expanded to include over 16 million users around the world. In 2012, Endomondo opened its North American headquarters in San Francisco with the goal of being able to connect better with its North American customers. The United States is one of Endomondo’s strongest regions for growth. What sets Endomondo apart from other fitness networks is its focus on the social aspect of health and fitness. The app helps users connect with fellow fitness enthusiasts in their home city or globally.

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6. upcoming: Klarna (Sweden)

Klarna is an Ecommerce company founded in Stockholm in 2005, and has been growing rapidly ever since. With big-name international clients such as ASOS, Zara, and Spotify using their services, Klarna sets itself apart from other online payment solutions by separating buying from paying – customers can buy now and pay later. Klarna set their sights on the American market and will be arriving in early 2015. This looks to be a good move, as online retailers stateside have not be satisfied with existing payment solutions due to poor user experience. As of September, Klarna had already hired a North American CEO and CMO.

Klarna Scandinavian Startup

Companies in Scandinavia are known for their honest business practices, innovative ideas, and a healthy approach to work/life balance. These are just six of the Scandinavian startups successfully doing business in the USA, and I am willing to bet that we’ll be seeing more Scandinavian startups stateside in the upcoming years.

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 Images from here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.


Anna Guastello
14 Oct 2014

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