I’ve been involved with the startup scene in Dubai for about three years now, and now that I have moved to Sweden for my Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Lund University, it’s been quite interesting to see the entrepreneurial drive of my fellow students here. Everyone here seems to have an entrepreneurial mindset, regardless of what they are studying. I’ve talked to quite a few students about the possibility of a 9-5 life, and they all had the same reply: while nobody seemed to have an issue with having a job or a boss to report to, their mentality was to look toward the successful entrepreneurs out there, and think: “If they can do it, so can I.” And I wholeheartedly agree with that ideology: we are not different that any of the most successful people in business out there today. If we set our mind to something and work hard at it, we should be able to achieve our goals- just like they have.
A few days after the program kicked off, I started to see entrepreneurs at work. The level of dedication and passion for entrepreneurship is just amazing. Once students recognize an opportunity, they immediately take initiative. There are three I found particularly interesting. Before I talk about the first example, you have to know that Lund is a very small city comprised mostly of students, and we all move around with bikes. As you can imagine, bikes are expensive and there’s a very high demand on them, so students end up buying used bikes from stores, or go to auctions. That being said, a group of three friends decided to drive to the Netherlands, and buy a batch of used bikes along with the necessary add-ons like lights and locks. They then promoted an auction around town and made a decent sale. One of the members of the group, Koen Grosman, said it made for a great learning experience.
Another idea that inspired me came from a student called Adrian Cares. Being a very organized person, he added his course schedule to Google Calendar, and asked around if anyone wanted the calendar shared. Before you know it, classmates started asking for this ready-made calendar for their course. This incident sparked some ideas for students to create an app to do just that, especially with the death of the once-popular app, Sunrise. Another idea that I thought has great potential was initiated by Martin Leon. As we are a group of international students with different backgrounds and experiences, Martin thought of creating a private network, with the aim to allow classmates to reach out, benefit each other and facilitate collaboration opportunities. It started out as a Google form, and he is now working on what he can do with it next.
As one can see, the level of involvement and initiative from students is high. This promotes a healthy environment for others to get involved, which is an indication of how Sweden got to where it is now in terms of innovation. If we compare Sweden to the UAE, we can see a few similarities in the mindsets and how business is done. Punctuality is important when it comes to meetings; you get what you need done on time and everyone’s happy. Another thing is that business usually depends on referrals and you’re given the benefit of the doubt, so this is your chance to prove yourself.
Entrepreneurship in the UAE is growing and the support for it is increasing. Investors are starting to realize the potential that those startups have and the impact they could make. I am proud to say that the UAE is home to two startups I’m involved with, Business Buzz and Jibber Jabber. Now that I am in Sweden, I plan on pursuing my next project here and grow my network, potentially building a bridge between the UAE and Sweden.
On a closing note, here’s a little note about Sweden from my friend, Mikael Näselius. During the winter months, it gets cold, dark, and depressing, so people tend to stay home a lot. This is when they are left alone with their thoughts, and the bright ideas are born- which is perhaps another reason for why Sweden has so many budding entrepreneurs!
Related: Sweden And UAE Partner Up For SMEs