The thing that elevates a startup ecosystem is individual startups that are highly successful. There’s no shame in failure, but it is startup success that drives progress as it brings in more highly skilled people, attracts capital and starts the next cycle of startups.
The Stockholm ecosystem is home to some seriously successful startups over the last ten years, with Spotify and Klarna in particular going from startups to large companies (in terms of revenue, employees and valuation).
But my sense is that Stockholm’s relative strength compared to other ecosystems, which led to the “most unicorns per capita outside Silicon Valley” mantra, is weakening.
I’m not sure exactly why that is, but momentum is extremely powerful both ways (positive and negative) so it is important to be ambitious and avoid negative momentum.
On a daily basis I think one good way to ensure that future startups are successful is to have high expectations on the startups, the founders and other actors in the ecosystem. The combination of a strong ecosystem and high expectations should continue to be a winning formula.