• Sweden's news in English

'I invest my own money, take my own risks'

Maddy Savage · 26 Oct 2015, 06:38

Published: 26 Oct 2015 06:38 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
It was a postcard of the Swedish capital that first drew Shea Wilson away from the sunny beaches of California to chilly Scandinavia.
"I had never been to Sweden before I moved here," he laughs.
But he says he got inspired to explore masters programmes in the Nordic nation after receiving the memento from a friend who was away travelling, while he was stuck at home considering his next career steps amid a tough job market.
"I was working as a mechanical engineer in the US but it wasn't looking very good in a lot of industries, so it felt like a good time to study.
"My good friend Naureen sent me this postcard (...) it read 'it's really cool, I met some people from this university called Chalmers, you should check it out' (...) Up until then I had not thought of Sweden as a place to go."
Wilson scored a place studying product development at the prestigious university in Gothenburg, before being hired as a consultant by one of Sweden's biggest engineering firms, Scania.
He found his way to the picture-perfect Swedish capital on a nine-month assignment, working in the city during the week, while keeping his base on the west coast.
It was a move that would lead to the American's full immersion in Stockholm's tech scene.

A postcard of Stockholm drew Wilson to Sweden. Photo: Ola Ericson/Image Bank Sweden
Nestled in the cobbled back streets of Stockholm's old town (Gamla Stan) is a five storey building that dates back to the 14th century. Consisting of both shared dormitories and double bedrooms, it hosts 12 long term residents and short term tenants when there is space. Most work in the city's tech industry, although current housemates also include a lawyer and an actress. They work, eat and sleep on the premises.
The co-living space is called Hus24 and Wilson first stayed there as a temporary resident during his project for Scania, after spotting it on Airbnb.
"It's a good environment being around people you can brainstorm with or who just get what you are doing," explains Wilson.
In fact, he loved it so much that it helped inspire him to quit his job and set up his own consulting business. He later moved into the house full time.
"I had always wanted to start my own company and Stockholm felt like the place to do it," the Californian explains.
"I started out in the six-person crazy shared room (...) which is not as bad as it sounds," he smiles, adding that he has since graduated to a twin room, which he shares with a platonic female friend.
"If you're around people that you like, you don't need as much privacy," argues the 34-year-old.

Shea's bedroom. His roomate lives on the other side of the chest of drawers. Photo: The Local
Alongside his consulting work, Wilson has also launched his own software business since moving into the collective.
"I guess you could say I got bored with the nine-to-five very structured world of Swedish business," he says.
"Now my consulting is a steady income and it keeps me connected to industry and networks and the corporate world. But by working on my own I have a lot more flexibility and the chance to invest my own money in other projects, take my own risks."
Hus24 was devised by Swede Lisa Renander, 33, who stayed in a similar startup home on a visit to Silicon Valley and wanted to recreate the creative and entrepreneural atmosphere she'd experienced while avoiding "anti-social apartment life" in Stockholm. She found an investor for the project and the house opened its doors in 2013.
"There's a lot to do to make it all work," she says, listing everything from asking people to label food in the fridge to a rule which means guests must not approach other housemates if they are wearing headphones "as a sign that they want their own quiet private time".
She says tenants are also asked to find temporary alternative accommodation if they want to spend the night with a date or new partner.

Lisa Renander (centre) and Shea Wilson (far left) chat to two prospective tenants who have been invited to dinner. Photo: The Local
Wilson argues that such sacrifices have been manageable, although he's looking forward to experiencing what he calls Renander's "more grown up" next project.
The Swede is currently courting investment for a "tech farm" housing development in the Swedish countryside, designed for both singles and families who want to put down roots and be closer to nature, while remaining part of the startup community.
Story continues below…
Renander is exploring a number of locations within an hour from Stockholm, with the farm also set to include a "tech hotel" for entrepreneurs seeking a temporary base while they source accommodation in the city's notoriously competitive rental market.

Lisa Renander (far left) and early tenants back in 2013. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/Image Bank Sweden
Wilson says he plans to "stick around" in Sweden in order to be part of the project, although he hopes to mould his business in a way that will also allow him to spend time back home in California.
"I am so excited about the tech farm," he tells The Local.
"Hus24 has been perfect for this time in my life and I would definitely recommend it to others, but I am transitioning to wanting something a bit different, with some more space."
In the meantime, he plans to continue making the most of living in the heart of his adopted "beautiful, compact and accessible" city.
"I think that Sweden is the most amazing country. And you know I found that postcard from my friend the other day when I was cleaning and it made me really, really happy."

Maddy Savage (maddy.savage@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Facebook slammed for cutting Swedish breast cancer video
File photo of the landing page of the Swedish version of Facebook. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant removed a breast cancer awareness video because it deemed the images "offensive," according to the Swedish Cancer Society.

Pastor rapped for depicting rival as Nazi in church play
A different pastor. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The pastor allegedly found it funny.

In Pictures: Look inside this perfect Swedish island home
This modern Gotland home was designed and built by two Swedes. Photo: United Frog Studios/AB

Anna-Lena and Johan designed and built their home with tall beautiful windows, a smart heating system, and a separate section for their greyhounds.

Cannabis worth millions seized at Swedish port
A file photo of a Swedish police cannabis find not related to the story. Photo: Polisen

The 300kg haul was found by in a truck which drove off a ferry in Karlskrona.

Roll over Volvo: there’s a new Swedish car in town
Photo: Björn Olsson

Car developers in Gothenburg have given Volvo a new sibling.

Thaw trip: Swedish PM Löfven heads to Saudi Arabia
Margot Wallström was at the centre of the 2015 diplomatic crisis. She will not join the Prime Minister on his trip to Saudi Arabia. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

There are fences that need mending.

Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
This shot of snow in western Sweden may not be as far away as you think. Photo: Johan Eklund/TT

...and it's still only October.

Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
The new rules are unfair, say Swedish IB pupils. Photo: Berit Roald/NTB scanpix/TT

A new system for converting the grades of International Baccalaureate students in Sweden will make it almost impossible for them to get into top Swedish universities, it has been claimed.

Education doesn’t always pay in Sweden: study
Nurses are paid less than a lot of non-college graduates. Photo: Bertil Ericsson/TT

Half of Swedish graduates would earn more in their lifetime if they instead started work straight after high school, a new study shows.

What's On in Sweden
Five ways to discover something new in Sweden this weekend
Frank Zappa's symphonic works will be performed in Malmö this weekend. Photo: Anonymous/AP

From a performance of Frank Zappa's unheralded orchestral work to an intriguing combination of circus and opera, Sweden has some unique events this weekend.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Blog updates

8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »


6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
People-watching: October 5th
Must-watch: Incredible time-lapse video of Northern Lights in Sweden
The Local Voices
Why this Russian developer is committed to helping refugees - with tech
jobs available