Ladies Who Launch Stockholm - Thank you Stockholm for a warm springtime welcome.
What a night! Thank you Stockholm for a warm springtime welcome.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead as quoted by Stina Ehrensvärd Founder of Yubico
As part of saying thank you to everyone who gave their time and effort, I wanted us to take a moment to reflect. Each new event brings a new launch of relationships started, communities built, new learnings given, and of course inspiration felt! If you want to follow along and join us on our Ladies Who Launch journey, check out our website for more information on upcoming events - next up Denver. We’re also actively building out content with the hopes that we can be a small part of helping to get women across the globe launching successfully!
So back to Wednesday evening, and I’ll start with a huge thank you to Goldman Sachs and Nordea Bank for sponsoring - the first time we’ve worked with partners. Wow, what an outcome!
Stina Ehrensvärd Founder of Yubico started us off with the amazing Margaret Mead quote above. She founded Yubico with her “geek” husband and they quickly realized they needed a big vision - to secure the world’s Internet! She also dug into the importance of getting close to your customers. In her case moving countries and continents to be close to the ones that mattered. If you want to secure the Internet you need Google, Facebook, and Microsoft to be bought in and buying. We also learned how parenting made the difference for her - from climbing trees as a kid - her parents never wanted her to shrink back from taking risks, to making her kids a part of the build of her company. Yes, women balance it all, but I believe we have it right - you need that work life integration to stay healthy and stay in flow.
Word of the night - going with “need”. It is clear that Stockholm/Sweden and I’d broaden that to the Nordics, don’t have much of this type of female networking and female connectedness in place today. It’s always interesting to see and feel the vibe of the night. In events from just the past year, St Louis honed in on authenticity while Dublin talked about advocacy. San Francisco, finding purpose, Belfast you are enough.
For the Marketing Hustle panel, we brought together Sophia Bendz, part of the founding team of Spotify and now a partner at Atomico, Hanna Lindblad from Houdini Sportswear, Nina Wennerstrom founder WeSport Sports Management and Stina Andersson Founder and CEO of StinaaJ. In all cases, a big and often very personal mission was the starting point. In many cases, it was because of a lack of women that a product was born. For example. Nina is the first woman to represent athletes in hockey, and now soccer. Her grit to push through in such a male-dominated arena was apparent. “We know that every inch, every fraction of a second, every last little detail, will make a difference in the end.” She also suggested a business coach (not that surprising from someone in the world of sports!), and a number of others agreed. Stina’s story of shoes designed by men, but never worn by men, became the push for her to think differently and reimagine glamorous but chic shoes. Kelly and I are testing our new StinaaJ shoes right now….will keep you all posted! Hannah spoke to no ads for marketing, just working with influencers who live your brand. We love Houdini’s current “Power to the People” campaign. She also spoke to the power of sustainability in the product as a means for differentiation in the market. Sophia’s path at Spotify often lead them to be scrappy on how to get the app into the hands of their customers. Her example of the ice cream man going from concert to concert, and also persuading bands to record something unexpected that only Spotify had access to. In all cases telling the background stories of the brand was vital; stories that are authentic and translate the uniqueness of the product.
For the Show me the money: Business and Financing Strategies for Founders panel, Stephanie Cohen from Goldman Sachs moderated Aurore Belfrage, Entrepreneur and Investor, Nina Adam from Nordea Bank’s Start Up & Grow Unit, and Anna Wretling founder of Power Woman. Anna started us off in style, again talking about how deeply personal Power Woman is - the authenticity of the beginning and how she had financed this business from a prior business outcome had everyone on the edge of their seats. She also spoke to how hard it is to build and grow a business, even when you have had prior success. Her comment on “angels truly are angels!” had everyone nodding. Perhaps a good nugget for us in the Ladies Who Launch community on how we could help each other with early financing. Stephanie drew upon her experiences with Launch with GS to tease out Aurore’s stories on the “theatre” of financing. Her advice was clear and concise - the decision is made in the first 90 seconds - make sure you have a good pitch! Aurore also reminded us all not to take it too seriously - it’s rarely brain surgery! Again good to be reminded that in the end we have to remember the why, and not overthink what we are striving for. Nina offered tangible advice on trading off bank debt versus equity or friends & family funds. Essentially noting that banks are often much later in a company’s financing journey.
Finally we closed with two old friends in conversation. Such an honor to have my friend and partner at Goldman Sachs, Anna Skoglund interview me! We couldn’t have had a better lead in from the prior panels, where Aurore and Stephanie had talked about how women often didn’t ask each other for help because they worry about damaging the friendship. When Anna asked me what she could do to help with Ladies Who Launch the answer was Stockholm! And she really brought it, alongside her friend Annika Sigfrid of Nordea. The final question on what I’m reading brought out Trillion Dollar Coach and the entrepreneurial quote I think of frequently and how “the marvelous is as permissible as the matter-of-fact” in launching a business.
“Walk on Air Against Your Better Judgement”.
Seamus Heaney is the poet and here’s how he described his thinking. A person from Northern Ireland is naturally cautious. You grew up vigilant because it’s a divided society. My poetry, on the whole, was earth-hugging, but then I began to look up rather than keep down. I think it had to do with a sense that the marvelous was as permissible as the matter-of-fact in poetry.
One of the superpowers of LWL is helping women see that they are not alone in their entrepreneurial journey. We seek to provide a safe and authentic space to share ideas, failures, future hopes, and tough lessons. Business challenges are rarely novel, and the power of mentors is that they have usually walked in your shoes. So while they may not have the answer, they can at least provide perspective.
Finally, we had numerous night of moments were the women of Stockholm embraced this idea of networking more and creating shared spaces and shared experiences. Here are some comments in their own voice.
“Thank you for having me at yesterday’s Ladies Who Launch, an initiative truly lacking and needed in Stockholm. It was such a privilege to hear your stories, realise that there’s so many life experiences I share with you, and understand that the best way forward is to be supportive and help others where possible.”
“I met a remarkable woman tonight and I'm excited by the network possibilities that she presented, and it was fantastic to be in the company of ALL women. That makes a huge difference.”
“Thanks you for supporting female entrepreneurs. Left with a feeling that anything is really possible yet calm “it’s not rocket science after all!”
"The event was flawless and the speakers were fabulous. I left my job a month ago to join an entrepreneurial accelerator program (<10% women!!) and this event couldn’t have been more timely. I left the event feeling so inspired."
Thank you all – especially those who volunteered their time and made it all seem so seamless and simple. A big shout out to the women, and the man, from Nextdoor who in the midst of a country launch embraced another community and volunteered night of. Onwards to Denver and likely Toronto and finally Belfast. Still top of mind is our own scaling and ways to create more ongoing and long lasting conversations between all of the amazing women we’ve met along the way - we’d love any great ideas or advice you have to build and support this community!
Sarah, Kelly, and Nuala