Staffan founded Creandum in 2003 and is one of our General Partners based in Stockholm. He spends a lot of time building our franchise as well as working with his companies. He has mostly worked with companies in the SaaS domain and in addition, leads our climate practice while doing a lot of work specifically in electrification.
It was in the Stanford dining hall where it all started. I was in San Francisco as a McKinsey consultant, trying to help with the problems of the - I realized then - losers of tomorrow, i.e. +100-year-old European companies. Guy Kawasaki, the former chief evangelist of Apple, held a dinner speech, telling us the Silicon Valley way, and as a side note mentioned; “just so you know, in the Valley only bus drivers wear ties”. I felt that something was happening that I wasn’t part of. And that I was wasting my time not being part of it.
Staffan and Peter Ramsey (on the screen) in our Stockholm office
Growing up in the countryside taught me to work hard and take nothing for granted. But it also provided a limited perspective of the outside world. I knew very little of that world but was prepared to work hard to see it. Having excess energy I did a ton of different things as a kid, trying all possible sports and having a large number of side jobs to get along. Among them a well-paid job as a sanitizer at the nearby nuclear power plant. At age 15 we moved into the nearest university town (Lund). I studied business administration but surprisingly the words entrepreneurship, startups, and venture capital were never mentioned. Everyone was thinking a big company career, preferably in a large Swedish industrial company, was the way to go. My dad suggested a traineeship at ABB...
Simon and Staffan
Without thinking much, I followed the same path with jobs at IKEA, Procter & Gamble, and eventually McKinsey. Parallel to these jobs my sports interest made me take on roles such as President of the Swedish Field Hockey Association, a mediocre but enthusiastic coach of different sports teams, and as adviser to the 2004 Stockholm Summer Olympic bid.
Sports taught me how to work in teams while consultancy taught me that problems are more effectively solved together.
Ginger, Lisa, Iris, and Staffan in the office
Spending time in the valley also made me think, if it could be done there why shouldn’t it be possible in Europe? Back then, the European startup ecosystem was very small, and very few companies made it big, but I always felt that if the Americans can do it, why can’t we? Solely by size, Europe has an almost two-to-one talent advantage over the US – and in the end, talent is all you need.
Always faster than the competition
I started my first venture firm in 1999 which was the first VC globally to focus on mobile internet. But even though the Nordics were strong in mobile telephony given that both Nokia and Ericsson were headquartered there, mobile internet simply hadn’t come yet. In fact, it didn’t arrive for another eight years as the iPhone only started in ´07.
Staffan in Texas
The timing was not right and I decided to build a generalist tech VC instead, hence Creandum was born. Today, Creandum has raised multiple funds, and has backed some amazing European entrepreneurs proving what I felt 20 years ago: Europe is about to become one of the greatest startup ecosystems in the world enabling great entrepreneurs to build the future of tech. And when people ask when Europe will produce a tech giant like Google or Facebook - for me it’s just a matter of time.