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Let the Users Pay
Marita Ljung, State Secretary at the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications. Photo: Ellinor Collin.
Publicerad: 2012-11-23

Let the Users Pay

The first week in October, ESBRI organized the ninth annual Sweden-U.S. Entrepreneurial Forum. This year’s theme was “From Idea to Market – The process of commercialization”. Some of the headlines were venture capital, the role of government, and crowdfunding. Among the speakers were entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and policymakers from both Sweden and the U.S.

The room buzzed with anticipation when Magnus Aronsson, Managing Director of ESBRI, Randy Mitchell from the U.S. Department of Commerce and State Secretary Marita Ljung greeted everyone welcome to the forum day in Stockholm on October 1.

“Commercialization is an important topic, where every step has to work in a good way. We see positive trends now in terms of entrepreneurship, especially among young people”, said Marita Ljung, State Secretary at the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications.

Crowdfunding, to finance your business or project with many small, often private, investments, is not a new phenomenon. But the emergence of social media has enabled us to take part in other people’s ideas in a new way – and invest money in them if we want. Daniel Daboczy, co-founder and CEO of the Swedish crowdfunding platform Funded By Me, explained the rules of the game.

“Ordinary” crowdfunding is about donating a sum of money to a prospective business. In return you will typically get a mention on their website or a copy of the product once it’s finalized. This is, according to Daboczy, “so 2012”. The next big thing is crowdfunding where you actually get a piece of the company. This is known as equity crowdfunding.

“We have gone from just being consumers to being involved in a completely different way. Many people want to be part of the next big thing, and are willing to invest money to assure they are”, said Daniel Daboczy.

A big challenge with crowdfunding is the uncertainty, especially when more money is at stake. U.S.-based company CrowdCheck is addressing this challenge by providing due diligence of entrepreneurs seeking private investors. Sara Hanks is co-founder and CEO of CrowdCheck:

“There are many benefits in crowdfunding. It is patient capital, more forgiving than other forms of financing. You do not have to have the ‘right’ contacts, or necessarily be in any of the hot sectors, to get access to money”, said Hanks.

The forum day was followed by a seminar day in Stockholm on October 2. After that, the U.S. delegation continued north to Umeå for a forum on October 3. The final stop of the tour was Gothenburg on October 5. In Umeå and Gothenburg, regional co-organizers and actors in the innovation systems joined in. All together the 2012 Sweden-U.S. Entrepreneurial Forum had over 750 participants in the activities that were carried out during the week.

The Sweden-U.S. Entrepreneurial Forum 2012 was organized by ESBRI, the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications, and the U.S. Department of Commerce. This year’s main partners were Tillväxtverket and VINNOVA. Innovationsbron was a partner. Networking partners were SACC USA and Venture Cup. Regional co-organizers were Chalmers, Connect West, the University of Gothenburg, Umeå Municipality and Umeå University. Media partner was the Entreprenör magazine.

More about this year’s forum, including web TV from the first day, can be found at www.esbri.se/sweden-us-2012. On esbribloggen.blogspot.com are several posts from the week. During the week we used the hashtag #sweus on Twitter.


Text: Jonas Gustafsson


 
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