In many years Silicon Valley has been known as the holy grail for startups. But as an ecosystem we tend to forget that we in the North are unique. In this article Avnit Singh advocates that we shouldn’t strive to be the “New Silicon Valley” but rather be proud of the scandinavian values – TheNordicWay, and inspire others to become the next Nordics.
For the past 50 years, Silicon Valley has been the most prominent, celebrated, capital-infused, job creating, and unicorn-breading startup ecosystem in the world. But its influence goes beyond tech millionaires and thousands of high-paying jobs in the Bay Area. Billions of Facebook users stay connected every day and navigate the wealth of information on Google from their iPhones. In other words, the tech giants from the valley play an integral role in shaping – even defining – everyday life for almost every person on the planet.
Big money and influence characterize this single startup ecosystem. As technological disruption continues to move into more sectors and industries, it’s no wonder that the hunt for “the next Silicon Valley” has intensified.
The Nordics may well be an ideal candidate. The ecosystem is notorious for punching above its weight. Unicorns like Tradeshift, Skype, Spotify, Klarna, Zendesk, and Supercell have already risen. While it may be tempting to label our blossoming ecosystem as “The Next Silicon Valley,” we shouldn’t.
Becoming the next Nordics
As an ecosystem, we tend to forget that we are unique. Scandinavia’s social model has been a hot topic in American politics for the past few years. Rather than adopting the “move fast and break things” approach that made Facebook a behemoth, we should celebrate our own core values.
Scandinavian countries are already some of the best at doing business. It’s easy to get started, the talent pool is highly-skilled, and if you fall through the cracks there is a safety net to catch you.
The society is open, people trust each other, and – at the same time – it’s highly digitized. This allows for a unique mix of data collaborations between startups, government, and corporations all the while respecting data privacy.
On top of our unique business opportunities, we have a tradition of maintaining a work-life balance, where parental leave and vacations are a mainstay of our culture. We know that new, meaningful businesses wouldn’t blossom without a healthy workforce and the opportunity to recharge the innovative batteries.
We shouldn’t strive to make the Nordic ecosystem the “New Silicon Valley.” Instead, we should be proud of the Scandinavian values we call #TheNordicWay, convert them into opportunities, and inspire other ecosystems to become the next Nordics.