Innovation in Sweden: The start-up revolutionising the live entertainment industry

As part of our Innovation in Sweden series, SI News introduces you to companies leading the change. This week, we caught up with Hedvig Ahlgren, co-founder and COO at experience design platform Stagecast.

Innovation in Sweden: The start-up revolutionising the live entertainment industry
Photo: Stagecast

Founded in 2016 by KTH masters students, Stagecast is on a mission to revolutionise the live entertainment industry.

Founders Hedvig Ahlgren, Jonas Hermann, Markus Wallentin, Robin Bugdahn and Stefan Hellqvist are united by a single aim aim: to enhance live event experience by letting attendees engage with the show on their smartphone before, during and after the event.

“We’re offering a platform for live interaction where event organisers can connect, involve with their audience, but also use it for brand activation to up-sell to their sponsors,” says Hedvig.

Photo: Stagecast

Stagecast’s mission stems from Hedvig, Jonas and Markus’ insights into the entertainment industry while studying Innovation Management at KTH.

“We started looking at the live entertainment industry where we saw an odd phenomenon of organisers banning phones from their shows, simply because it creates a distraction,” Hedvig explains.

As tech enthusiasts, they started questioning this policy.

“What we saw was that very few organisers were utilising the fact that people have these powerful phones with them, so why not try to make something useful out of it to enhance the experience?”, she asks.

In this lightbulb moment, the concept for Stagecast emerged as the perfect pitch.

Winner of the 2017 Stockholm Innovation Prize, Stagecast was celebrated for its involvement within the creative industries. Connecting and gathering people during events is what the young start-up is dedicating its work to.

“The whole reason we started Stagecast and keep on building it is because we, as a team, believe in making a difference and creating something new that brings value,” says Hedvig.

She adds that “I believe the most important thing is to believe in the vision, cause and what you are trying to achieve. If you lose that, it gets harder to be innovative.”

Stockholm – and its many incubators such as Norrsken House and SUP46 that hope to breed the next significant innovative start-up –  is home to Stagecast. Being based in the capital has certainly helped the company’s fast growth believes Hedvig.

“This ecosystem with startups and innovation has helped us. I often believe that if it weren’t for all the incubators, networks and people trying to help out, we wouldn’t have made it this far,” she says.

The then-students’ concept immediately got picked up to be immersed in the KTH Innovation Incubator, with a dedicated mentor and a co-working space.

However, Hedvig explains that it’s the mentality of people within the Stockholm start-up scene that has helped them break through.

“Stockholm is full of people who happily help out for the pure motivation of giving back to the ecosystem which has previously helped them.”

She further explains that “for example, we were accepted into a coaching program driven by Telia called Coach Your Business, which has given us credibility and fueled our motivation to push forward. We’re still in contact with them, and the partnership with Telia has led to a lot of great things for both parties.”

The cooperative spirit of the Stockholm startup scene is what makes the city so attractive for young entrepreneurs. And networking is part of it for Hedvig and Stagecast.

“I regularly attend meetup events within the startup community here in Stockholm – you never know who you’ll meet. Maybe your next investor, co-worker or someone who happens to know your next potential client is there.”

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Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

Ronoh Philip, who is studying for his masters degree in Infectious Disease Control at Södertörn University, explains why he thinks the Swedish concept of 'lagom' is the best way to achieve good social health.

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

During my one week orientation program on August 2019 at Södertörn University, we were presented with many aspects of Swedish culture and practices. One of the new aspects that I learnt was the “lagom culture”, As I quote one of the presenters about applying lagom to our studies, he said: ”Lagom will reduce your stressful burdens of hectic lecture schedules and ensure that you spend equal time of working and socializing in the university.”

So being a student with a background in public health and society, I got interested and searched for the deeper meaning of lagom, and how it can  apply to society and health. I found out that it is a Swedish way of life, it is a concept which means not too much and not too little, just enough. I learnt that it came from a Viking tradition laget om which means 'around the group' and was allegedly used to describe just how much mead or soup one should drink when passing the bowl around in the group.

If this concept is applied to achieve social health goals, it would really fit well. So, what is social health at first? Social health is how you interact with other people and adapt in different situations, it deals with how people in society deal with each other. It is important to note that there is a close link between good social health and improvement of the other aspects of human health, this can lead to the achievement of SDG goal of good health and wellbeing. It also leads to self-satisfaction and happiness; no wonder Sweden is ranked as one the happiest countries in the world. It is ranked 7th in 2019, according to world happiness report. I believe lagom has a big role in this achievement.

In the country where I come from, Kenya, one of the greatest challenges we face in our society, is the ability for people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to interact and form positive and cohesive relationships with each other. From my perspective, when I finish my studies and return, lagom will be worth implementing in the workplace, the place where I live and the society as whole, as it is the best way of finding simple, attainable solutions to our everyday worries like stress, eating better, having downtime and achieving happiness. It’s a balance of work and life, so everything is in sustainable existence with each other.

My goal during my entire university studies at Södertörn, will be to learn more about the lagom principle and also be able to apply it on our SI NFGL Local Network platform, because it is surely one of the best ways to achieve a good  work-life balance, reaching consensus with my colleagues and adapting a team minded approach in dealing with issues in an organization and the society.