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Building great scale-ups: A look inside the Nordic Scale-up Lab

Lab Director Ola Ahlvarsson mentoring Jörgen Gullbrandson, CEO of Readily, while Growth Manager Natalya Tacheci is watching.
  • Publisert 14.11.2018
Through the Nordic Scale-up Lab, the Nordic Scalers companies learn the tools to succeed. We peaked inside to see what was going on.

Just a month ago, the third batch of Nordic scale-up companies in the Nordic Scalers programme began their 10-week long intensive work towards their common dream: To take over the world.


During those 10 weeks, the scale-ups go through 10 different modules with different content in what we call the Nordic Scale-up Lab. Some lab sessions are held through group meetings with growth hacking and inspirational speakers, while others are one-on-one sessions with their dedicated mentors, or so-called Lab Directors.


We joined the fifth lab session, a physical meeting in Stockholm, to see what was going on.


Read more: 11 new Nordic Scalers are here


Inspiration and mentoring


The day was a typical grey and drizzly Nordic autumn day that in no way resonated with what was about to happen in the bustling fifth floor location of Epicenter’s innovation community in downtown Stockholm.


A small crowd of ambitious scale-up entrepreneurs were sharpening their ears as they listened to the words of marketing and conversion expert John Ekman of Conversionista, interrupting ever so often with questions and comments relating to their own companies.


The clock was a little passed 11 and the fifth module of the Nordic Scale-up Lab had just begun. The participants all seemed eager to suck up as much knowledge as possible in their quest to manage and accelerate their high-growth companies.


Photo of speaker John Ekman at the Nordic Scale-up Lab in Stockholm

John Ekman of Conversionista teaching marketing to the scale-up companies.


Ekman continued his observations and learnings about successful marketing and online conversions for a while, answering questions and showing examples as he went along. After a brief working lunch, he then went on to analyse the participants’ own company websites, offering tips and answering inquires on how to approve them, like making small changes in copy to changing the order of call to action buttons.


Then it was time to delve deeper into things. The next hours were spent with one-on-one meetings between the Nordic Scalers mentors and the companies. Each company got to meet at least two mentors, as well as having time for independent work on their challenges.


This was a good chance for the entrepreneurs to get into the nitty-gritty of their companies’ specific challenges and follow up on their previous lab sessions, as well as picking the experienced mentors’ brains. All the mentors in the Nordic Scalers programme have vast experience with building successful scale-up companies.


The team from Quuppa sitting down with mentor Edgar Luczak

The team from Finnish scale-up Quuppa sitting down with mentor Edgar Luczak.



A unique insight into IPOs


After two hours of one-on-one and individual work, the entrepreneurs gathered again for a special programme post. Through the Nordic Scaling Advisory Board, Nordic Innovation had managed to get hold of Senior Managing Director of Nasdaq Nordic, Erja Retzén, to create a Nordic IPO Clinic. The clinic consisted of a panel of experts that discussed various aspects around IPOs – experiences from founders having successfully being publicly listed, potential legal hurdles and from investment partners. Retzén also moderated the panel.


The panel consisted of the following experts:

  • Dennis Forchhammer, CEO of Happy Helper
  • Johan Castevall, CEO of XM Reality
  • Joakim Falkner, Partner at Baker & McKenzie
  • Richard Goldman, Head of Corporate Finance at RedEye
  • Carl Armfelt, Portfolio Manager at Swedbankrobur


The panel of the IPO Clinic at the Nordic Scale-up Lab in Stockholm

The panel of the Nordic IPO Clinic, moderated by Erja Retzén of Nasdaq Nordic (far right).



The panel discussed a wide array of things, like what benefits companies have of being listed and what it takes, potential challenges and what investors look for when they deal with companies looking for an IPO.


“It was a tough process, but our IPO was a great way to get visibility and credibility and enabled us to grow even faster than before”, said Dennis Forchhammer, whose company Happy Helper – one of the companies in the third batch of the Nordic Scalers programme – recently went through a successful IPO.



"Our IPO was a great way to get visibility and credibility and enabled us to grow even faster than before”

Dennis Forchhammer, CEO of Happy Helper



And with those words, the fifth session of the Nordic Scale-up Lab was over for the third batch of companies in the Nordic Scalers programme. Disappearing into the dark and wet Stockholm night, they know that they are now half-way into the intense programme – and just maybe one step closer to becoming the next Nordic unicorn.


Photo gallery: See all the photos from the Nordic Scale-up Lab and Nordic IPO Clinic 

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Nordic Scalers

Nordic Scalers was founded by Nordic Innovation to test and pilot new tools and services at the Nordic level to improve Nordic scale-ups’ access to the necessary know-how, networks and capital. In doing so, it matches scale-up companies with experienced entrepreneurs and scale-up experts and offers peer-2-peer learning.


Nordic Scalers is run by a consortium of the following partners: