The Embassy of Sweden and SACC-USA have once again mapped Swedish-affiliated companies and their economic impact in the United States. This is an updated third edition of this popular publication, and it shows that economic interactions with Swedish businesses and industry create more than 360,000 jobs in the United States. When you take subcontractors, infrastructure, and related services into account, the total reaches nearly one million jobs.
Swedish companies create jobs in all 50 U.S. states, and all 50 states export goods and services to Sweden. The economic ties between our two countries have never been more robust. Today, Sweden is one of the largest investors per capita in the United States and the 15th largest overall.
This report highlights the magnitude and depth of the economic ties between Sweden and United States and shows how this vibrant relationship creates jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. It profiles economic interactions and breaks down on a state-by-state level the number of jobs directly supported by Swedish companies or U.S. exports to Sweden, lists the three leading commodity exports to Sweden per state, and identifies Swedish companies currently operating in that area.
View the report here
Jimmie Berggren, previous president of SACC-SD is today the CEO of The Humble Company USA. SACC got the opportunity to sit down for a coffee with Jimmie and get to know him better and his journey of doing business in the US.
Jimmie was born and raised in a town called Helsingborg in southern Sweden. Since childhood, Jimmie has had a passion for sales and marketing. As a small boy, he used knock on the doors in his neighborhood selling biscuits and during high school he was a kick-ass seller of tickets to student parties. After finishing high school, he decided to move to Malmö where he studied strategic marketing at Lund University. During the summers, he completed several internships at companies such as Forex and Nordea. After finishing his education, he got an opportunity to start working with finance at a credit company in Denmark called Kommune Kredit where he was responsible for settlement of a range of the company’s financial products. His career in finance continued and he eventually moved on to work for Danske Bank, where we had the opportunity to learn a lot about hedge funding and SWAPS. However, the strong desire to work with marketing was still there, which was why he did not say no when he was offered a position as marketing trainee with a software company called Simcorp. For five years, Jimmie got the chance to try out all the different departments of the company and he was learning a lot about sales and marketing. Furthermore, he had the opportunity to live and work in London for a couple of months where he worked on cases with HSBC, Lehman Brothers and other similar financial institutions. As the company grew, so did Jimmie’s role and he became the global product marketing manager, which meant that he was responsible for the company’s global product strategy. As part of this new role, he was involved in developing the strategy behind the company’s launch in Luxembourg.
You can tell that Jimmie is a person who is very goal oriented and bold, which is why it is not surprising that he then decided to go his own way and started his own business. In 2010, he started his own company where he worked as a consultant in marketing and sales. In this capacity, he worked on various projects ranging from fashion to pharmaceuticals. Besides consulting, Jimmie also developed and managed two online platforms.
Why San Diego? Jimmie has since his first trip to California had a strong desire to go back. He felt that in California everything is possible. ‘The people you meet are extremely driven, passionate and open-minded and the business climate is fast moving’ explains Jimmie. In 2010, Jimmie and his girlfriend decided to move to San Diego.
When they arrived in San Diego, they both studied for nine months at a business school in order to receive their OPT. During his education, Jimmie did an internship at consulting firm, which focused on cross cultural differences between companies. This was an interesting and worthwhile period, and the internship eventually turned into a paid position. However, it was also at this point, Jimmie decided to focus on his own passion for entrepreneurship.
In 2014 he started his first company in the US, called Strategy Superb. Jimmie and his partner worked as consultants Nordic companies interested in an expansion to the US market. Since San Diego is a cleantech hub and the Nordic region in an innovation leader in the field they focused specially on cleantech and life science companies. Besides offering consulting services the company also imported products from Sweden and sold them on Amazon. During this period Jimmie was also engaged in the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce in San Diego where he was the president for two years.
As processes in the cleantech industry often tend to be complex and time consuming, in 2015 Strategy Superb expanded the numbers of industries they would consult in, the healthcare industry becoming very popular. They also started to focus more on long-term relationships with their clients, where they for example became the client’s country manager in the US market. This meant a lot of trips between the Nordics and San Diego. During the end of 2016, Jimmie came in contact with a client called The Humble Company, which produce an organic and sustainable toothbrush made of out of bamboo. They were very pleased with Jimmies work, and he and was consequently offered a stake in the company. Currently, he is the CEO of The Humble Company USA.
Now, if you know Jimmie at this point, you’ll figure out he is not the person to turn down a new exciting challenge. Not only was it the challenge that triggered him, also the fact that the company has a great social impact. The Humble Company has a foundation for children called the Humble Smile Foundation. They help children in need of oral care in the most vulnerable areas in the world. Every Humble purchase goes towards funding an oral care project.
The company is very successful in the European market where they are market leaders in the bamboo toothbrush industry. As the CEO of The Humble Company USA, Jimmie is responsible for the overall success of the company in the U.S. He also manages both the brand and the people involved with The Humble Company USA. In less than three months they have already succeeded in selling it B2B and to smaller retailers. Quite impressive!
The advantages of the bamboo toothbrush are many. They work just as well as a plastic toothbrush, lasts just as long and costs almost the same. However, they are better for the environment than their plastic counterparts, and by purchasing one you help the less fortunate. “Why would anyone ever buy a plastic toothbrush again?”, wonders Jimmie.
Jimmie’s future looks very bright, and SACC is excited to follow his journey!
Jimmie’s 3 best advices for starting your own business:
1) Motivation: Why do you want to do it? Do you have a drive and feel a passion for your business? Having your own company is hard work and will require working outside office hours. In the long run, being truly passionate about what you do is more important than the urge to make money.
2) Listen to the advice of more experienced people: Are you a younger person? If so, take advantage of people with previous experience of running their own business. It is vital to be curious and learn constantly, and taking advantage of the more experienced is one way of achieving this.
3) It is a lifestyle: Your passion created this lifestyle. You might work from home or around the world, but you will work a lot and when you’re not working your competitors are. To be successful, you can’t treat your passion as your job – It’s a lifestyle. It’s not a goal or even the path to the goal. It’s your life. Be responsible for your own life and success.
Henrik Nilsson was born in a small town called Halmstad in the south of Sweden in 1976. At that time, no one could expect that he would work all across the globe in four continents before an age of 35. From Stockholm to Cape Town to San Diego, to mention a few of the several working destinations Henrik has experienced during his journey at the company Education First (EF). Quite impressive! But how did it all start? What was it in the big world that tempted him? I got the opportunity to listen to Henrik’s story.
Since his childhood Henrik has always had a passion for people and services, which was why an education in hospitality management felt natural. When you meet Henrik, you can tell that he is a curious person who likes adventures, which is why I was not surprised that he decided to study abroad. He spent four years in Switzerland, studying at the leading university for hospitality management: Ecole Hotèliere de Lausanne. After finishing his education, Henrik’s plan was to move overseas to the United States to kick-start his hotel career. But as in most cases, the plan didn’t turn out as he´d thought. Instead, he received a call from his cousin who had worked for EF and thought the company would be a perfect fit with Henrik’s experience. So he did start in EF Stockholm as a Sales Coordinator, and he loved the company! However, the desire to go abroad was still there, which was why Henrik didn’t say no when he got the opportunity to work at the headquarter in Luzern in Switzerland as a Communication Manager. As the Communication Manager he was responsible for all internal communication, sales statistics and sales events.
Two years later, Henrik was asked to broaden his responsibilities and move to London. The new position in London implied responsibility for finding and opening of new EF schools around the globe, which was a completely new and different task compared to previous work. The challenges did not wait. After a couple of days Henrik was asked to fly over to Cape Town in South Africa to find a location to open a new EF school in a short period of time! Stoked and nervous at the same time, Henrik grabbed the first flight available. Did he manage to solve the task? You bet he did! Since then, Henrik has been involved in opening schools in places like Paris, Malaga, Chicago, and San Diego to mention a few.
One day his manager walked up to him and said ‘I know your dream job always has been to run your own hotel… Now I would like you to run your own school!’ ‘Do you want to go to Hawaii to open a brand new school or go to San Diego to run an existing school?’ What do you think Henrik answered? Of course he chose Hawaii where he had the chance to build a completely new team and put his own mark on it. To cite Henrik: ‘Nothing is Impossible’. In only three weeks he managed to open a school in Honolulu for over 200 students. Henrik and his family spent two years in Hawaii before he got promoted as a Sales Director in the new headquarter in Zurich, Switzerland. In 2011 he got the chance to find a new location for the EF school in San Diego that was supposed to open in the beginning of 2016. At the same time, the school was looking for an Executive Director and they found Henrik to be the perfect match. Since 2016, Henrik has been running the EF school in Point Loma in San Diego. Being the Executive Director means not only a responsibility for staff and students, but also the entire facility, safety and off course the financials. Henrik is pretty much now running his own ‘hotel’.
I was very curious to know where he finds his motivation and energy. Henrik lets me know that two of his biggest sources of energy are to do what he is really passionate about and to be surrounded by people he likes. ‘I love my job and the people I work with, which make me smile every day I go to work’. Furthermore, he explains that his supportive family has been an important factor for his successful career. Another thing that fascinated me is the fact that Henrik has been working for the same company for more than 15 years. ‘The EF culture and the infinitive career opportunities have been the contributing factors’ says Henrik. He explains that the atmosphere is very friendly and relaxed but there is still a high tempo and high goals. The fact is that if you want to go abroad and explore, there is nothing that holds you back, as long as you prove that you work hard.
Lastly, I asked Henrik about the future and at the moment he seems very satisfied with the present. ‘I love my work and I enjoy San Diego’s weather, its cool atmosphere and the fact that you have so many nice places to travel to just next door’. But If I have gotten to know Henrik right, I am convinced that his journey will continue to several new cool places and positions, and I am truly curious what’s next to come in his career.
A Working Day:
6 am Exercise – Jogging, gym
7 am Breakfast – Coffee & Yoghurt
7.30 am Arriving at work – Going through emails, reports, and having a stroll around the campus
12 am Lunch in the Cafeteria with the students
1 pm Customer Service Training
4 pm Meeting
7 pm Dinner with the family
We had the opportunity to sit down for a coffee with the founder of the consulting company GoToMarketUSA which recently became a member of the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce in San Diego. GoToMarketUSA was founded by Torbjörn Milläng in 2003 in Sweden. After many years working in several of the major consulting firms in Sweden, where he was helping large firms and corporations with business strategies and expansions, Torbjörn saw a gap in the market for small and mid-size companies who wanted to expand their business overseas. With his background in international business and studies at the prestigious University of California, Berkeley, Torbjörn decided to start his own consulting company GoToMarketUSA. In 2006, Torbjörn moved to Orange County in California and since then GoToMarketUSA has been present both in Sweden and in the states. What characterizes GoToMarketUSA and make them stand out are:
Partnership and Collaboration
A close collaboration with their clients is at the core of GoToMarketUSA's business model. They believe that trust and transparency are keystones in a successful partnership, which is why theclient always is involved in the process from day one until the product is fully launched.
Shared Risks and Rewards
Taking the business overseas can be risky. GoToMarketUSA helps their clients evaluate their products as well as the U.S. market, and takes responsibility for the result. By sharing risks, they increase the chances of succeeding together.
Local, Customized U.S. Team
GoToMarketUSA sets up a local, customized team of experts in the U.S. to ensure that the client succeeds. These teams consist of professionals within all operational areas such as sales, marketing, accounting, legal, manufacturing, distribution, and more.
Creating Traction and Revenue
GoToMarketUSA believes in lean start-up models and being open-minded about adjusting thebusiness model according to the U.S. customer’s needs. This allows them to ensure that pilots will be successful, making it possible to quickly generate traction and revenue, and develop a track record early on in the project.
GoToMarketUSA works mostly with business-to-business clients. They provide industrial solutions, IT, and software applications and they are very experienced in industries such as cleantech and medtech. An example of a project GoToMarketUSA has worked on was to bring a robot glove to the U.S. market. They helped the company change focus from the health sector to more industrial workplaces where the opportunities to succeed were greater. Thereby, they created a new market for the glove which is now being tested in California. Another client they have worked with is the company Cortus, which they assisted in raising 5 million dollars to bring their products to the U.S. market. This proves their capabilities and their capacity to work with different types of challenges.
The future for GoToMarketUSA looks bright. The demand for their services is increasing, and thecompany is growing faster than ever. The Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce is looking forward to following their success and is very proud to have GoToMarketUSA as both a member and partner!