The group from CBI that manages the program includes Sören Sjölander himself but also the researchers Henrik Berglund, Joakim Björkdahl and Magnus Holmén.
— The program was initiated by the Ministry of Industry, Employment and Communications, where Innovationsbron together with CBI will carry out the program and the work of finding scalable business models for young, promising, Swedish ICT firms, Sören Sjölander explains.
Serial entrepreneurs and risk capitalists nominated firms
The object of Born Global is to increase the ability of the firms to grow quickly and achieve good profitability and to carry out research within business model innovations and entrepreneurship. The firms are offered support from leading Swedish and international experts, entrepreneurs and coaches with long experience in business development within the ICT area. The participating firms have been nominated by renowned serial entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. In total, 97 firms were nominated and ten were selected to participate in the program.
— We asked people with great experience in working with or starting new firms to nominate the most promising Swedish ICT firms that were at an early stage. The nominated firms were contacted and informed about the initiative. The firms that felt they had needs in line with the program then applied. Several of the nominees were dropped here, as they were in the wrong phase in relation to the focus of the program. This gave us a “rough list” that we selected the firms from, Magnus Holmén and Joakim Björkdahl inform.
The program is based on each firm having a business coach who acts as a sounding board. At the end of last summer, a kick-off was held in Stockholm where the coaches met representatives from CBI and Innovationsbron to get an overview of the process and program structure. People from the selected firms participated in an evening mingle.
Inspiration from successful entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley
In the middle of September the firms travelled to Silicon Valley to get inspiration and exchange knowledge with ICT firms working according to the “customer-driven business development” concept. There they also got the opportunity to meet several thought leaders including Dave McClure of 500 Startups, Hiten Shah of KISSMetics, Sean Ellis of Qualaroo/Dropbox and Steve Blank, the serial entrepreneur and Stanford professor who coined the term Customer Development.
— Silicon Valley is the most interesting place in the world when it comes to tech startups, both because there are lots of innovative companies in the area but more importantly because of how they approach the startup process. We also have good connections to the local startup community. This in combination with the “pay it forward” culture that permeates Silicon Valley has allowed us to set up events with some very knowledgeable people, Henrik Berglund means.
One of the firms that are part of the development program is Greenbyte, which was started by the Chalmers students Jonas Corné and Oscar Winter. Greenbyte provides software as a service to the wind power industry. Before the trip to the US, Managing Director Jonas Corné had high expectations.
— We’ll travel to San Francisco with the expectation to meet people with an open attitude to new ideas and hope to return full of perspectives and inspired to think BIG.
Literature studies combined with action research
The research in the program is carried out in many ways, sometimes through traditional literature studies and interviews, but also as action research where the entrepreneurs’ own processes are affected in different ways. The results will be presented in a variety of forms, for example at company workshops but also as an item on the agenda for this year’s CBI day on December 4.
— We will, of course, present our results in the classical format of articles, but also use them to update the course contents when it comes to the actual student projects in the Management and Economics of Innovation Master’s programme. It’s just as well to directly give the students state-of-the-art as regards searching for functioning business models, without passing GO, Joakim Björkdahl says.
The next step is to commence the work of starting the second year’s program, which begins in the autumn of 2013. This year's program is about following up the feedback received from several leading Swedish serial entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.
The following firms are part of this year’s Born Global program:
• Help-IT AB
• Proj Tools AB
• ContentMap AB
• Percepio AB
• Yooba AB
• Roadroid AB
• Hawc International AB
• Paperton AB
Text: Annica Eijlinder
Translation: Eva Burford
Photos: Shutterstock, private