STHLM Tech Fest

Insights from Martin Johnson and Robert Lindström.

2015's STHLM TECH FEST was a whole day filled with inspiration talks, open discussions, angel investors, entrepreneurs and brilliant ideas. As for what happened in those sessions, we connected with our business lead Martin and design centric Rob to elaborate further with what they have learned and discovered in that day.

“In California, three years ago people didn’t really talk about Sweden as they do today” says Jason Calacanis, angel investor at Waterfront last week. Today many calls Stockholm the “The Unicorn Factory” having 7 tech companies with valuations over $1 Billion.

What did you find to be fascinating at Stockholm Tech Fest? And why?

Martin: For me it was the energy in the startup scene bursting out of Stockholm. With Spotify, Klarna, King & TrueCaller following in the footsteps of Skype — there’s some entrepreneurial conditions that are driving lots of high growth companies. Great opportunity to network through that scene & meet with passionate, product focused people!

Rob: The big inspiration for me was to see our old friends (Johan Ståhle & Co) from Monterosa presenting their new startup Dreams. It’s vision is to help all us save money in more practical ways. Granted, I may be a little bias since I know the guys, but I love the concept. Otherwise Tesla, their story is beyond everything. I can’t stop being impressed by the people behind Tesla and their history. In the end, the best inspiration from Tech Fest was the overall vibe. Sthlm is hot!

Jason Calacanis interviewing Nami Zarringhalam from Truecaller

Tech Fest covered many different themes from Finance, Games, Transportation, Retail, Media, Etc. Of those themes, which one did you leave feeling will be the most disruptive in the future?

Martin: The fact that one of the biggest fashion retailers in the world still sends 5,000 CD’s to its global store network shows just how far the digital experience layer really needs to come in this space. The overall picture was that a lot of retail infrastructure & practices just seem very old — certainly predating the mobile first revolution. Simple things like getting real time, data driven analytics in-store are coming very soon — it’ll allow the same level of detail you get on a web page but will be completely geared around optimizing buyer behavior. Privacy is likely to be a big hurdle I suspect — but the combination of physical show rooms with digital services seems to be coming up very quickly. The future value space will be somewhere very much ‘in-between’ the virtual & physical world. Most likely — as so many things are — enabled by pocket sized computing power — and some people with a very clear design vision.

As for finance, there’s clearly a lot of distrust among the old banks. This is a very lively debate. There also seems to be a bizarre amount of trust for the device we carry around in our pocket. This smart, human centered approach to finance & technology looks like a classic place where the old world will be forced to change by the new. There was a lot of talk among the big financial players around collaborating with these nimble new service providers & it will be a very interesting (and fast moving) transition that will happen in the short/medium term. Let’s hope it brings a more competitive environment & that the end winner is the consumer.

Rob: For me, it felt like all the speakers in each theme were speaking the same language. For the first time, I felt industries can begin to get interwoven with each other. The game industry is inspiring the finance thinking and retail. The future of transport are using more forms of media and new digital techniques within their industry.

Overall, I was pleased to see investors making more mature decisions. Even if we are talking about many new kind of start ups popping up taking risk everyday because I don’t see the crazy days of throwing money in the air like it was in the web industry 10 to 15 years ago.

After all the talk, if you could choose one. What theme would you want to tackle and push further?

Martin: Just as a general theme to get more involved in I’d have to say that the startup scene here in Stockholm is very inspiring. There’s a rich ecosystem emerging, it’s dynamic & becoming recognized as one of the best environments to start a tech company in the world. The overall takeout for me was that of change & the extremely fast paced nature of this change. It makes me more aware than ever of how we need to help our clients stay ahead as this change continues to accelerate. There’s been so much discussion around how we will look back on this time as being something akin to a new industrial revolution. When you have this many hungry people wanting to tip the balance & change up the way business is done it feels like a truly tectonic shifting of the plates. Hearing the different perspectives from different categories was really interesting & some have definitely been hit harder than others. The seismic shift that we’re going through really hits home when you start seeing transport, finance, media, retail, and investment all under one roof — talking about what they are experiencing & then being pitched the future by hungry start ups.. This overall theme — that of constant threat — makes me laser focused on helping our clients evolve — at pace and at scale — to help them disrupt rather than be disrupted.

Rob: I have always been passionate about Product & Design, and still believe it’s a big part of everything that is happening today. However, I love where the future of transportation is going and very much want to be a part of trying to envision the next generations transportation experience! What Tesla is doing right now is amazing. They are pretty much transforming the car industry much like what Apple did to the mobile phone industry.

I have been working with interactive design for over two decades now and I feel we are at that point in time that Chris Anderson explained so well; “If the last 10 years have been about exploring whats possible with new techniques on the web then the next 10 years will be defined by the application of these techniques to the physical world.”


To keep in touch with Martin Johnson and Robert Lindström. You can follow them on Twitter at @mjsverige and @designchapel.

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