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Swedish Startup Brisk Finds Second Home in Toronto

Swedish Startup Brisk Finds Second Home in Toronto

Posted by PanamericanWorld on April 28, 2016
It hasn’t taken Swedish entrepreneur Madelen Arnesdotter long to adjust to her new home in Toronto. “I’ve never felt home somewhere, on a work level, like I’ve felt here – people are the same but they just speak another language,” says the head of customer success for the Malmö, Sweden-headquartered Brisk. “There’s a very welcoming and growing community of startup people.”
Madelen moved to Toronto in January after a few months hopping back and forth across from her Nordic home. The relocation was part of a wider plan to establish a sales team for Brisk – which seamlessly processes and prioritizes real-time data from Salesforce, Gmail and other sales tools – in a strategic location.
But the initial drive to set up an office in Toronto was established much earlier when the company’s CEO and co-founder, Hampus Jakobsson, was running The Astonishing Tribe (TAT) – a Mobile User Interface company acquired by Blackberry in 2010. He left in 2012 to launch Brisk with Alfred Gunnarsson, Andreas Pålsson and Mikael Tellhed.
“He lived in Waterloo for a few years and really fell in love with Canadian culture (which) is very similar to Swedish culture in a lot of ways,” says Nicholas Kewin, business development representative, and one of two Canadians on Brisk’s four-person Toronto team. “So, I think that when it was time for this company to move somewhere in North America, Toronto was where he (chose).”
With the six-hour difference between Sweden and Toronto, and three hours between here and the West Coast, the city is a perfect waypoint for the North American market, says Kewin.
But the parallels between Malmö and Toronto abound.
While the Danish capital Copenhagen – 20 minutes away from Malmö – has held the spotlight for the region, the Swedish city has seen a spike in intrigue from startups in step with the growing ecosystem in Toronto. There are other parallels to, like Toronto’s promixity to Waterloo-based RIM, the Malmö region is home to its own massive enterprise company, Ericsson.
It creates a trickle-down effect, says Madelen. “They give people a lot of knowledge, a lot of experience, and then suddenly those people want to create something of their own,” she says. “So they start working on their own ideas and their own vision and they have so much experience that they’re actually able to take the steps to start their own company.”
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