During my latest Helsinki trip, I had a very interesting conversation with Ville and Antti at Arctic Startup about what, if anything, is missing in the Nordic startup and VC environment especially compared to the US. One of many things that we identified was lack of successful serial entrepreneurs in the Nordic region.

I have often heard that successful serial entrepreneurs are tricky to invest in. Reasons include:

  • If they have been successful enough, they are not hungry enough the second time around
  • They will just try and repeat what was successful the previous time
  • Only young entrepreneurs are naive or crazy enough to be able to change the world
  • Luck never strikes twice

While I am sure we can find numerous cases where some or all of these statements are true, according to Josh Lerner, who has made significant research on the topic, in general this is not correct. Rather the opposite. In his research, Josh has found a strong positive correlation between the success of the startup and if the founders have been successful serial entrepreneurs. Another interesting aspect is that top VCs to a much higher extent invest in successful serial entrepreneurs than other VCs.

Also, successful serial entrepreneurs play an important role not only as founders of new startups but as business angels, board members, advisors and role models.

Unfortunately from a Nordic perspective, this is a bit of a chicken and egg problem. Until we have created enough successful startups, we will not have enough successful serial entrepreneurs. I still feel that we are on the right track with more and more entrepreneurs making good exits for every generation but it is also important that our state systems allow for people to be successful in our region so that these people stay on to either make it again themselves or helping others achieve success.