Sweden, although small geographically, has produced many successful entrepreneurs. The country's entrepreneurial track record goes back all the way to Ivar Kreuger, who, during the early- to mid-20th century, was known as the "match king." Through savvy business endeavors, he controlled a majority of the world's match supply. Since then, there have been many Swedish entrepreneurs to follow in Kreuger's footsteps and achieve world-changing success. The following are the top five most successful Swedish entrepreneurs.
Daniel Ek is a serial entrepreneur whose latest venture is the extremely popular music company Spotify. Ek grew up just south of Stockholm with his single mom and started his first company at the age of 14. Two years later, he applied to Google, only to be turned down. To reconcile the rejection by Google, Ek did not sulk but actually tried to create his own search engine.
Ek briefly attended the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm before dropping out to start the technology startup Tradedoubler. It was there that he met Martin Lorentzon, his partner who helped co-found Spotify. In addition to Spotify, Ek has also been the CEO of the file-sharing company uTorrent and the chief technology officer (CTO) of both Stardoll and Jajja Communications.
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the co-founder and CEO of Klarna, an e-commerce payment solution that takes away risk for small businesses and individual consumers. The goal of Klarna is to create a level of trust that allows otherwise weary or paranoid consumers to make transactions online with their credit card information.
Siemiatkowski, similarly to Ek, showed his entrepreneurial spirit at a young age. Taking his childhood friend and eventual co-founder along with him, Siemiatkowski traveled the world for 143 days with almost no money and by vowing to take no airplanes. Upon returning, he took a job at a local Burger King, where the idea for Klarna was sparked. While many investors did not see the value in the company, Siemiatkowski forged ahead, growing the company into the 900-employee organization it is in 2015. Klarna is worth 6 billion SEK.
While Hjalmar Winbladh is known as the CEO of the company Wrapp, he too began as a young entrepreneur. Right after graduating college, Winbladh started a courier business called Pedal. From there, he started the first Internet mobile system called Send It, which was sold to Microsoft for $200 million in 1999.
Winbladh stayed on with Microsoft for a few years before starting his next venture, Rebtel Networks, a Skype-like service that allows users to make calls over the Internet. Rebtel Networks has seen a lot of success and is one of the largest voice over IP (VOIP) solutions in the world. While he still sits on the board of Rebtel Networks, Winbladh left as acting CEO to found Wrapp in 2011, a company he still leads in 2015.
Jacob De Geer and Magnus Nilsson
Jacob De Geer and Magnus Nilsson are two heady entrepreneurs who created the company iZettle, a mobile app that turns any smartphone or tablet into a credit card processor, similarly to Square. No credit card information is stored over the phone; it is instead processed through iZettle's encrypted connection.
De Geer started his entrepreneurial path as the first employee of Tradedoubler, learning from Daniel Ek himself. After meeting Nilsson, the two co-founders launched iZettle's first mobile app in 2011 to much acclaim. Soon after launching, the company was listed as one of Stockholm's top startups by Tech Europe.
While she ranks last on this list, Isabella Löwengrip is extremely successful in her own right. At the age of 16, Löwengrip ran a blog that garnered over half a million readers a week and was valued at 5 million SEK. From there, she started her first company, Blondinbella AB, and has four companies under her belt: a magazine, a clothing line, a blog network and an investment trust company. In 2008, Löwengrip was the most Googled Swedish celebrity, and she has parlayed that exposure and success into helping young girls love themselves.