A subjective summary of STHLMTech Fest

techfest_product and designYesterday I  (Sophie Landwehr Sydow)
had the pleasure to take part at the STHLM Tech fest – the Swedish answer to web summit, ad tech, dmexco etc. etc. taking annually place around the world. What these events have in common is that they circle mainly around big names, both company – and people wise and ticket prices are skyrocketing from event to event. They are good for getting people to network, see what industry has to offer, discover new startups and promoting your i.e. company/brand/product. The organizers of this years STHLMTechfest kept calling Stockholm a unicorn factory and didn’t try to hide the fact that Stockholm managed to produce more billion dollar tech companies than any other European city in the past decade as the Financial Times mentions online [1]. In a recent study Atomico points out that “on a per-capita basis, Stockholm is the second most prolific tech hub globally, with 6.3 billion-dollar companies per million people compared to Silicon Valley with 6.9” [2], which was also mentioned multiple times throughout the event. Maybe this explains some of the proud and enthusiastic approach STHLMTechfest was going for – or maybe it’s just a very American way of doing events.

In summary this years STHLMTechfest focused on “the future of…” adding different branches were technology already made and are most likely to make a further impact in. Hourly panels, divided on two stages focused on the the future of: media, gaming, product and design, retail, investing, financing, health and transportation. The panels were then filled with experts, coming exclusively from industry, with a tendency to highlight Swedish (and Scandinavian) entrepreneurship. In the end of each panel two fitting start-up companies pitched their product to both panel and audience and an often chaotic conclusion wrapped up the panels.

techfest_gamesDuring the first half of the conference I stated on twitter that there was “a lot of selling/branding my wonderful company/product/team” going on instead of real insights into the companies past, present or future. Actually the whole event was lacking in future orientation despite the proposed session titles to do so. Instead the focus relied on industry representative mentioned state-of-the-art products, success stories and occasionally some suggestion on what the future might hold specifically for their company. The most interesting panels proofed to be the panel on “The future of financing” where old (Bank representatives from SEB and Swedbank) clashed with new (founders of Klarna and iZettle), exposing different approaches to a market still comparably untouched from a major market and game-change. Here comparing to UEBER’s impact on the Taxi business, AirBnB on the travel industry or Spotify in the music industry, all being digital service providers disrupting existing markets.

techfest_robot_CEO_MTGx_RikardSteiberMaybe the most notable insight is the variety of platforms and markets, technology is making an impact in already. This becomes even more visible in the diversity of the panels chosen topics. Even if future itself wasn’t tackled as much in this industry-glorifying event, the future of tech might be which branches it will enter next – which problems will occur and which solutions it’ll find.

Most impressive: The spot-on talk Jason Calacanis had with Daniel Ek (founder of Spotify) for more than an hour, which felt extremely real and honest.

Most important: Pointing out equality on numeral occasions but still having an unbalanced stage- and speaking time ratio; plus the event had an arguable women-only registration agenda which might have helped rising equality in the audience at least

Most fun: Media panel were the MGTx representative as “robot” turned into a delightful sidekick.

Most promising app: dreams – an innovative and creative approach on money-saving

Most tweeted on: The lack of free coffee throughout the event. In SWEDEN – common!

Most annoying: overbooked (too little seats) and unorganised at times

Most missed: Any sustainable or foresighted ideas

Most ironic: The every solution: AN APP

[1] Ahmed, Murad (March 2015) Stockholm: The unicorn factory in Financial Times online. http://on.ft.com/1DkRKzD (retrieved: 03/09/2015)
[2] http://www.atomico.com/explore-d3 (retrieved: 03/09/2015)

Reflections by / Sophie Landwehr Sydow, PhD Student in Mediatechnology

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