Dec 1, 2016 Hannu Verkasalo
I was part of the first Slush, back in 2008. I remember driving American VCs around Helsinki during that inaugural gathering, when there were just a couple hundred attendees. I really had to work hard to explain the strengths (and weaknesses) of the Finnish technology ecosystem – outside of Nokia, there was little knowledge of the Finnish scene or the companies within it.
Since then, things have gotten a lot easier: great interest in Finland and other Nordic countries has developed, and the Nordic venture ecosystem is now well-known beyond Finland and the other Nordic countries. In fact, according to an article published by Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish), in the past year, Finland’s startups have raised more venture funding against the total size of the economy than startups based in any other European country. Awareness of the Nordic countries has been increasing in key global tech hubs, such as San Francisco, New York City, and London – and this now extends into Asian markets as well; in recent years, Slush has launched sister events in Beijing, Shanghai, and Singapore.
Today, the Nordics represent 2% of the world’s GDP but 9% of the global billion-dollar exits, according to a recent Creandum report. The scene includes a number of unicorns, a healthy influx of early stage startups, and companies at every stage of development in between. According to Northzone’s Marta Sjogren,“The Nordics have a unique blend of a strong engineering, design, and data culture that goes back many generations, a small tech savvy local market which is a great test bed before going global, and most importantly a product-driven problem solving mindset that starts with the individual and goes all the way up to policymaking. A Nordic startup DNA of sorts is being formed.”
So, how many Nordic success stories we see in the digital industry (which is most heavily indexed among the Nordic startups and their chosen industries today)? We took a look at Verto’s Content Watch data from October 2016 to rank the top 250 publishers in the U.S., including companies creating content and software for PCs as well as for mobile devices. If the same publisher, e.g. Google or King, owns multiple brands, apps, sites, or games, we include these sub-brands for the respective publisher in our analysis and calculation of their reach, engagement, and frequency with American consumers. We categorized each publisher by home country and then ranked publishers by the total number of users their publishers collectively reach in the US, aiming to understand which countries dominate the list.
There were several groundbreaking insights we identified in this analysis:
Verto’s data confirms that Nordic companies are well-represented in the U.S., the biggest Western digital consumer market. And based on the increasing activity in the digital startup scene, these numbers seem set to grow even more over the next years.
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