Running a start up in a small country also includes going international, very often on an early stage. The obvious choice for many companies are either the US or Asia. But what many companies don't realise that being located in Scandinavia you have a 130 million inhabitants market just around the corner - the BSR region.
The countries around the Baltic Sea are interesting for many reasons:
- high buying power due to stable financial situation in most of the countries
- easy access, most places within a one hour flight
- no complicated visa processes
- establishing a company is easy
- cultural heritage, long historical tradition of trade within the region
- early adopters, most countries are really ”tech-friendly”
So, what countries are we talking about?
With almost 40 million inhabitants Poland is a market that is worth discovering. The economy is raising (actually one of the most stable in Europe) and the tradition of trade with for instance Sweden is long going. The region around Warsaw has a well developed ICT sector, but also places like Poznan, Gdansk, Stettin and Krakow has well developed ICT companies and the possibilities to collaborate with polish companies is high.
Northern Germany has a long tradition of trading within the BSR area and is the strongest financial sector in the region. Many Swedish start ups has discovered Berlin as an alternative to Silicon Valley when it comes to seed funding and the large german companies still have high demand when it comes to new ICT solutions.
The Baltic countries
After the financial crisis the Baltic countries have re-established their economies and the states are now investing again. Countries like Estonia where one of the first in the world to introduce public digital services and also for instance mobile parking solutions, so for those who are looking for early adopters or test beds the Baltic states are close and easy to access.
Even though Finland has suffered from the difficulties that Nokia has had during the past years, it has also resulted in a vibrant start ups scene in Helsinki and Tampere. Investors have discovered Finland as a place to find new ground breaking solutions and the fact that the conference Slush attracts over 23 000 visitors shows that Finland is on track again.
Denmark and Norway
As mention in a earlier blog, these are already big export countries to Sweden so every start up should take a look at these markets before anything else.
So - how should I do it?
There is a large number of organisations working with the BSR region that can provide help, besides of course the normal inward invest organisations that for sure will help you. For those interested the Swedish agency Tillväxtverket has a number of BSR related activities. Also cluster organisations are very common in the BSR region, look for instance on the European Cluster Collaboration site to find potential partners.