Scandinavia is well-known throughout the world for being the home of minimalist design, cleverly crafted interiors and clean, simple décor. Of all the Scandinavian regions though, Sweden is definitely best known for making strides in the world of interior design and home improvement. The country is basically synonymous with IKEA at this point, a company that prides itself on sustainability and functionality, as well as beautiful designs and – as the adverts say – the wonderful every day.
As great as IKEA is though, it is by no means the only company or export that Sweden should be celebrated for. Here, we’ll be looking at some of the other major products that Sweden has created.
Let’s start with an easy one: H&M, the high-street clothing equivalent of IKEA which you may have not realised is also Swedish. The fast-fashion company was created in 1947 by Erling Persson, with the first store ever opening in Vasteras. At the time, the shop was called Hennes (“hers” in Swedish), and it wasn’t until 1968 that the store began selling menswear after Persson recruited Mauritz Widforss. From there, the company grew in leaps and bounds. Now, H&M operates in 62 countries, has over 4,500 stores and employs thousands of people. As of writing this piece, H&M is the second-largest global clothing retailer in the world, second only to Inditex, who is most famous for owning Zara.
Next up we have online casino Mr Green, an iGaming platform created in Sweden that is now available in countries across the world. It was in late 2007 that Swedish entrepreneurs Fredrik Sidfalk, Henrik Bergquist and Mikael Pawlo founded Mr Green before it went live in 2008. At that time, it was one of the first online casinos to offer games from a number of different casino game developers as well as to offer a seamless wallet solution for players. A decade later, the online casino is home to over 700 games from a variety of top games developers including NetEnt, Microgaming and Playtech.
Over the last few decades, Sweden’s entrepreneurs have been looking to the internet for inspiration. By far one of the most successful online businesses to be developed is Spotify, the online music streaming service that you yourself probably use regularly. The company was founded in 2006 by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon and allows users to stream music for free on a variety of platforms. Of course, with the introduction of Spotify Premium users can now pay for an even better Spotify experience, something that has allowed to company to expand even further.
Finally, we have Skype, a company founded in 2003 by Swedes Niklas Zennstrom and Dane Janus Friis. In a time when making overseas calls was costly and often times difficult, Skype allowed people to not only chat to each other for free but actually see each other while doing so. The free video call technology was revolutionary, becoming a priceless tool for long-distance families and friends. The company was so popular that it was bought by eBay in 2005 as well as by Microsoft in 2011 – the latter spent $8,500 million on the acquisition.
Each and every one of these companies is incredibly successful, some even more so than IKEA. So next time you’re asked what reminds you of Sweden try to give these impressive companies a little credit, as well as IKEA of course.