Twenty-seven year old Carl Waldekranz came up with the ideal for his innovative ecommerce platform when he saw his mother struggling to find buyers for her ceramics.
He recalls: “She had sales but she wanted to sell more, but how could she get traffic?”
His response was to set up Tictail, a free-to-use platform that allows people to set up their own online retail stores. In two years the Swedish company had added 40,000 stores in more than 100 countries.
“This is a super-simple professional storefront for normal people. An ecommerce platform for people who don’t care about e-commerce platforms,” Mr Waldekranz says.
Tictail’s basic model is free; it makes money from selling additional services to its retailers. Although yet to make a profit, it has opened a New York office and attracted investors including Nick D’Aloisio, the London teenager who last year sold his app to Yahoo for $30m.
“This is only half-a-per-cent of where we want to be,” Mr Waldekranz says of Tictail’s success so far.
Mr Waldekranz started his first business at 19 the day after he finished school, designing an app that helped nightclubs manage their guest lists. He then moved into organising events and brand identity for clients including Spotify, the Stockholm-based music service.
The start-up scene in the Swedish capital has produced a host of creative companies such as Skype, the internet phone service, and King, maker of the Candy Crunch computer game series.
Mr Waldekranz puts the city’s tech success down to a strong talent pool and the “Law of Jante”, a Scandinavian idea that means no one person can be seen as better than another.
“It is not unusual in Sweden for the most junior employee to go up to the CEO and say, ‘I have some issues with the way you run your business’. This creates a very flat corporate structure, probably different from anywhere else in the world, and it also helps drive creativity from all parts of the business,” he says.