More Nordic startups should consider London

In a guest post, Rasmus Groth, CEO and founder of Veridu, a Danish startup, elaborates on his opinion that more Nordic startups should look to London.

London is often over-looked as a place where Nordic startups can flourish, attract some much-needed capital and move up the ladder. I know this, because the majority of the funding for Veridu comes from London-based investors. And I have discovered first hand that they are very interested in what Nordic startups have to offer.

In Denmark we often hear that there’s a love for Scandinavian TV-series like Borgen and 1864 in the UK. What the media fails to tell is that the same goes for the interest in our startups.

That’s unfortunate for the entrepreneurs because there’s a lot more risk capital laying around in the UK. This is due to a very liberal and foresighted tax structure where SEIS & EIS tax relief means that investors can deduct their investment from their taxes for a significant tax relief.

When I founded Veridu back in 2014, I managed to get a couple of Danish investors on board who believed in us and what we’re bringing to the market. Thanks to them and my own capital from earlier successful exits, I was able to build the minimum viable product needed to prove my idea and get the next round of funding.

London is perfect for what we do

At Veridu, we believe in bringing trust to the Internet by analysing the footprint each of us leaves behind when we use social media . To do this, we use the data from the most popular social media sites when the users grant us access. The data is then run through some very advanced algorithms to calculate a score on how trustworthy the online profile in question is. We believe that while it is definitely possible to fake an online profile, you can’t fake a whole life online.

What my team and I have learned along the way is that there is a huge market for this technology. It’s fast and inexpensive compared to other and more traditional, cumbersome methods of proving your identity. We also quickly established that our technology can support financial inclusion by offering unbanked and underbanked segments of the population an alternative way of proving their identity. With over 2.3 billion active social media users globally this is a great resource for firms operating in markets where official identity documents are lacking and/or access to formal financial services is low.  

Since London is one of the most important financial centres in the world, very early on it turned out to be a perfect place for me to find new investors, clients, and potential partners. Things can happen very quickly there.

On the other hand it’s not like Denmark where I think we’re much better at networking and sharing our experiences with fellow entrepreneurs. When I meet an entrepreneur for a business lunch in Copenhagen, I often get introduced to someone else, who turns out to be CEO or CTO of some high-flying startup.

In that regard I find Danish entrepreneurs to be much more willing to open doors for you than I’ve experienced in London. It’s a tougher game in the UK, but once you have the investors they are very willing to help you grow and can often present you with a network of business contacts from all over the world.

Being a Danish entrepreneur in London

People from the Nordics typically have a similar sense of humour as the British and Brits are always fun to be around. At the same time, however, they are also very determined and constantly focused on moving things to the next level. It pushes you as an entrepreneur to always deliver your very best.

And while I think that the mentality in Denmark and the Nordics is changing for the better, to me, there’s no doubt that British investors are much more willing than the Danish and Nordic ones to take a financial risk to build a huge company.

From what I hear, the British investors in general find Nordic entrepreneurs to be well-educated, creative in their approach to solving problems, and investable. So that definitely also calls for Nordic entrepreneurs to look to the UK to get to the next level of their business.

It comes with a price tag, though. British investors often want you to bring the headquarters to London. It’s expensive and also means that you’re expected to move to London or — as I do — fly to London every week and work at the office for three to four days. That’s the high price of being an entrepreneur, especially if you have a family. But it’s rewarding on so many levels and I would definitely recommend other Nordic startups to follow in our footsteps.

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