2015 was not just an important year for the Nordic startup scene, it was also a significant one for The Nordic Web, as we grew from a hobby project to being one of the go-to resources for discovering what's happening in the region.
In this post I'll outline what I felt went well in 2015 for us, what didn't go so well, and what we have planned for 2016.
This is not your typical The Nordic Web article, but I feel that it is important to explain to you, our reader, what our plans for the upcoming year are and to give you an update on our current situation, so please bear with us.
What went well in 2015?
The Nordic Web Weekly
Last week we sent out the 100th edition of The Nordic Web Weekly, a weekly newsletter which curates all of the funding news, exits and top stories that happen in the Nordic startup scene.
When we started the newsletter we had to search around for news and stories in order to make the newsletter worthwhile, these days we have to figure out what to leave out, and the newsletter is more than double the length than when it first started.
We put some effort into growing the list last year, encouraging people to sign up to it at the end of each article, this has paid off with 2015 seeing 70%+ growth in subscribers for The Nordic Web Weekly from 2014.
Our newsletter has also led to at least one investment that we know about, with Playfair Capital hearing about Mapillary through a story linked in The Nordic Web Weekly and subsequently participating in their seed round alongside with Sequoia.
People rely on our newsletter as it is the most comprehensive round-up of Nordic startup news available, and we will strive to ensure that it remains the number one resource for those looking to keep up to date on what's happening in the region.
Not a subscriber yet? You can fix that here.
2015 saw us not only report on the scene but begin to impact on it as well
We went from reporting on the influencers to inadvertently becoming one, as our analyses and reports were used as case studies to impact policy and to attract investment in startups and entrepreneurship in the region.
We were also regularly quoted and featured in more traditional media in the Nordics, with Denmark's, Norway's and Iceland's business and financial papers regularly featuring our work and bringing it to a wider, more mainstream audience.
Although hard to measure, impact is an important metric for The Nordic Web, and this is an area that we will continue to focus on in order to judge how successful The Nordic Web ultimately is.
Our Quarterly funding and exit analyses
Our quarterly funding and exit analyses are now firmly established as the most comprehensive and accurate reports on Nordic startups, as we continually improved the way we captured this information throughout the year.
We work hard to ensure there is no better resource for keeping track of how much investment each country is getting, how many investments each country is getting, what verticals are being invested in, what the average seed round is in the region etc, you can judge for yourself with our newly released 2015 Nordic Funding Analysis.
Speaking opportunities and brand awareness
The Nordic Web's brand continued to grow in 2015 and I was personally asked to speak and present at more and more conferences as the year went on, as our position as an authoritative voice on the region was cemented.
What didn't go so well?
We started the year offering our readers the chance to support The Nordic Web and the time that goes into it by opening up yearly pay-what-you-want memberships. This was hugely successful in terms of sign-ups with 160+ of you deeming us worthy enough for you to financially support us, so thank you. A word of appreciation should also go to our partners, 500 Startups, Atomico, Founders, Nordic Innovation and Stockholm Business Region who also financially supported us in 2015, so thank you.
However, there was a failure with membership, but one that occurred on our side, as we were unable to regularly keep to the monthly exclusive articles which we proposed to our members, which although frankly unacceptable, was a result of the fact that we were only able to work on The Nordic Web part-time due to our other commitments. We will be making amends to resolve this issue going forward (see below for more on this)
Inconsistent posts and reader numbers
Part-time also results in irregular posts, which subsequently results in irregular monthly uniques. Reader numbers have never been, and never will be overly important for The Nordic Web as we don't rely on traditional advertisement for revenue, even so, it would be nice to regularly grow our readership and expand our reach. I believe the inconsistency between the reader numbers and posts to be heavily correlated, so by improving the regularity of posts in 2016 we should also see a big improvement in reader numbers too.
What's in the works for 2016?
My full time focus and commitment
As alluded to earlier, the fact I was running The Nordic Web part-time in 2015 contributed to a lot of the things that didn't go so well last year. As such, I have taken a difficult, but what I ultimately believe to be right decision in resigning from my role at Tech.eu, in order to run The Nordic Web full-time. I had the opportunity to join Tech.eu full-time and while I strongly believe in both their mission and their company, I felt that I have only just got started with The Nordic Web, and that there is so much more to be achieved with it. The only way that this will be possible though is if I give it 100% focus, so from the end of this month onwards, I'm all in on The Nordic Web.
A Revamped membership scheme
As mentioned above, this is an area that needs dramatic attention and improvement in 2016.
Firstly, in order to hold us more accountable and to allow our subscribers more flexibility, we will be switching from yearly memberships to monthly.
Secondly, as we make the transition from The Nordic Web being a part-time project in need of financial support in order to justify the time being spent on it, to a full-time business, in need of revenue to ensure its sustainability, we will be moving from pay-what-you-want to a monthly $10 fee.
All existing subscribers will remain on their current plan up until its natural end, unless they want to switch over beforehand. Subscriber perks will also be improving, in order to ensure that our members get the maximum benefits possible for supporting us.
If you would like to become a subscriber, then you can do so here.
There are plenty of interesting stories, data points and potential analyses in the Nordics that we simply didn't have the time to look into last year. With more time available, you can expect a higher output in terms of interesting analyses and insights into the startups in the region. We'll hopefully also see more articles in 2016 due to the next bullet point.
Our first hire
If the year goes as planned, then 2016 will see us make our first proper full-time hire (other than myself) in order to help us deliver more content, and to cover more stories than we currently do. However, our focus will remain on quality, and just because we can write more stories, we won't be writing for the sake of it. In saying that, an extra person will enable us to cover more than we do right now, and there's hardly a lack of interesting things happening in the Nordics.
Our current layout is not conducive to additional content , so we will be working on rolling out a redesign in the first half of this year in order to make The Nordic Web a place which is a delight to go to, rather than a chore.
Our first event
After two years of existence, we are going to finally dip our toe into the world of events. Although only at the planning stage at the moment, I'm prepared to reveal that we are intending to organise an annual invite-only event, with the first tentatively planned to take place at the end of this year. As it stands, our plan is to run just the one big event each year, with no further plans to organise more, as we feel our energy is still better off focused on our content. It's no coincidence then, that our planned event is tied deeply to our editorial. We'll announce more details on the event as the year progresses.
Despite its shortcomings, we achieved an incredible amount in 2015 considering we only ever could commit half of our time and resources. With 100% of my love, focus and attention on The Nordic Web, I'm confident that 2016 see us deliver more than double the impact, quantity and quality. Thanks for indulging us by reading this far and for being a reader of The Nordic Web, we hope you'll stick with us throughout the year, it's going to be a good one.
If you really want to keep on top of what's happening in The Nordic startup scene, then sign up to our weekly newsletter where we curate all of the need-to-knows news from the region