An Interview with Johan Englund, Partner at Industrifonden, one of Sweden’s most active VCs

Johan Englund is a venture capitalist at Industrifonden, one of the Nordics largest and most experienced VC firms focusing on life science and technology. He is a board member of several companies, including Soundtrack Your Brand, Footway and Soundtrap.

With Industrifonden having been involved in some of the biggest deals in 2017 so far (Amra, Qapital and Soundtrack Your Brand) we thought we’d catch up with Johan to learn more about what companies and ideas excite him most currently.

What start up verticals interest you most right now?

Right now, one shift that makes me excited is the ongoing consumerisation of the enterprise. While consumer applications are taking giant steps towards better usability and simplicity, enterprise software is in most fields lagging behind. Much of the legacy enterprise software out there offers terrible user experience and poor performance. A catalyst of this is our portfolio company Starcounter – a team of software engineers and business visionaries with a mission to make software development much faster and easier. It is an example of the opportunity to “appify” B2B software development.

Edtech (education tech) is a large and in many ways untapped area with a great deal of promise. Globally, the school system is still in the early days of digitalisation. The potential we see here was crystallised last year when we backed music/edtech company Soundtrap, a Google for Education-partner.

However, the tech trends of today are poor predictions of tomorrow’s best opportunities. As an investor, it is crucial to adjust over time and move with shifts as they happen and focus more on the originality of the idea, the people behind it, and the potential.

What are your biggest predictions for the next 12 months?

I’m certain we will see more exciting developments in the enterprise space. The big B2C unicorns have enjoyed tremendous success in recent years, while B2B is less hyped and might not deliver the extreme returns if successful. Investors are going to discover further opportunities in this space though, as it tends to be more predictable in terms of go-to-market and business models.

In terms of funding, the Nordics is experiencing an all-time high in the amount of venture capital available. I expect to see more companies raise funding but also a greater failure rate. I would really love to see more leading Swedish companies innovate through acquisitions to improve the home market for exits. US companies have really embraced that in a big way.

Are there any specific company ideas that you really want someone to build and would potentially fund?

One of my personal hobbies is sports, in particular soccer. Sports possesses huge untapped potential – especially in terms of the passion people have for it. I’ve not yet seen many ideas that would scale globally in this space though.

If you could wave a magic wand and instantly have any imaginable solution to a problem you’re facing (personally or at work), what problem would you solve?

The inevitable everyday problem of time. Imagine how much you would save with an intelligent house that completely maintains itself!

Neil S W Murray founded The Nordic Web in 2014 in order to provide the Nordics with the quality coverage it deserves. As well as being Founding Editor of The Nordic Web, Neil is also an active community builder in the region, participating in a number of initiatives, and has previously worked for Tech.eu.