This is the first post in a series focusing on growth, data analytics and best practices for scaling, aimed at post product-market fit digital businesses. We’ll mix it up with a variety of formats, including content pieces and interviews with operators sharing challenges and learnings – if there’s anything you’d be interested to read about or that you think we ought to focus on, please let us know!  

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Last year I wrote a post on Medium decrying the often less-than-smart approach to hiring taken by startups in Europe, and talking about how this was often impacting their ability to scale as a result. We held an event in July on hiring advice for Series A and B founders (video embedded below) – ahead of that, I thought it might be useful to revisit the topic and share some more of my thinking with you. You can read my original post here, but let me summarise my arguments for you again in case you’re feeling a little TL;DR:

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I am often asked how we managed to make Skype a success in one of the most challenging territories in the world – after all, much like Mordor, one does not simply walk into China. While there were many factors at play which conspired to enable us to establish Skype as a serious player in the Chinese market, I thought it would be helpful for founders to read a few of my thoughts on the lessons we learned whilst setting up – following the launch of ‘Europe Meets China’, our report into the games industry, it seemed timely to share these lessons with you. I hope you find them useful:

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Over the last few years traditional industries have embraced the power of technology. In 2016, two thirds of Europe’s largest corporates by market cap made a direct investment in a tech company, while one third acquired a tech company since the beginning of 2015. For many, their interest goes even further than transactions – 40% are running active tech-focused accelerator programmes and over half have their own corporate venture funds including Axel Springer, Allianz and Deutsche Telekom.

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This post originally appeared on Medium,  If you look at the six most valuable public companies in the world today, you will notice something striking. Five of them are the tech companies Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, founded on the West Coast of the US between 1975 and 2004, three of whom who have achieved this ‘most valuable’ status in the last five years.

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Pipedrive is something of a special investment for Atomico. During their time at Skype, many of our team experienced first-hand the outstanding talent and entrepreneurial spirit that’s fostered in Estonia, including Niklas Zennström, co-founder of both Skype and Atomico. Skype was built in Estonia, and Estonian talent was absolutely fundamental to the development and success of the business. We’re now delighted to be making Atomico’s first investment in an Estonian company – something of a homecoming for us.

The majority of small businesses still use spreadsheets and complicated manual tools to manage their sales processes. While there are numerous established CRM solutions for the enterprise market, the CRM market tailored specifically for SMEs is untapped, and huge (estimated at over $10bn).

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By Mattias Ljungman

I want to start by making a prediction: I believe that in the next 10 years we will see a $100B company with technology at its core emerge from Europe.

Back in 2006 when we started Atomico, investors thought we were nuts when I said we wanted to find and back Europe’s next billion dollar company. Fast forward to today and Europe has dozens of billion dollar companies, and now we even have two ten billion dollar companies in Supercell and Zalando. These are not outliers, they’re a taste of things to come.

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Technology is approaching the greatest inflection point that we have ever seen. As technology disrupts transport, food, financial services, health, real estate and more, all of the new value is going to be created by companies with technology at their core. At the same time, Europe is approaching an inflection point as an ecosystem. When Atomico started, very few people believed that Europe could produce multiple billion-dollar companies. Since then, there have been 44.

Europe has the right ingredients for far greater tech success in the decade to come. The funding is available, there is a healthy new crop of ambitious founders and, with over 1.6m developers across the region, we also possess the key talent. However, scaling a world-leading business is difficult and ambitious entrepreneurs still need guidance, support and advice from experienced tech leaders and experts.

That is why we have spent the last year transforming Atomico into a platform that brings together a critical mass of Europe’s greatest entrepreneurs, executives, and angel investors.

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On July 4th 2016, ChemistDirect.co.uk and Pharmacy2U announced merger, establishing a clear digital-only leader in the burgeoning UK online pharmacy sector. The move creates a business with a customer base of 1.5 million, and brings together a combined team with unrivalled experience in digital pharmacy services.

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We’re at a defining moment for European technology. We’ve proven beyond doubt that Europe’s entrepreneurs can achieve enormous success, with 41 European billion-dollar companies founded since 2003 – including 12 that reached the threshold since the beginning of last year alone. The question is no longer whether Europe can produce brilliant, global successes; it’s what we need to do to take it to the next level.

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This is the best time in history to be a technology entrepreneur in Europe, or indeed outside Silicon Valley.

Over the past decade, the start-up world has undergone huge change. As data we published last year showed, the majority of billion-dollar internet companies founded since 2003 were actually built outside the Valley. For me personally, the journey has been eye-opening – from the early days at Skype, when most people dismissed the idea of building a company from Sweden, to today, when Atomico is proud to be an investor in Supercell, Truecaller, Klarna, ZocDoc and other successful companies that started life in places like Helsinki, Stockholm, New York, London and elsewhere.

How has a change this dramatic been possible in such a short time?

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Atomico has always believed that great companies come from anywhere and we continue to be passionate about the ideas and innovation we’re seeing in cities across Europe. Our head office is based in London, and in January we announced that we’d taken space at Factory in Berlin. Today we’re thrilled to announce our third European base at Stockholm’s SUP46 – one of Sweden’s most exciting incubators. We’ve been actively involved in Stockholm’s ecosystem for a number of years investing in Klarna, Wrapp and Truecaller and now we’re excited to double down.

Sweden has always been close to our hearts. It’s home to our founding partners and it’s where Skype – the first billion-dollar technology company outside Silicon Valley – was born. But our commitment to Sweden and the Nordics is rooted in the huge respect we have for the innovation and ambition of its entrepreneurs.

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We’ve always believed that great companies can come from anywhere. In October 2014 we launched a first-of-its-kind analysis illustrating the international distribution of software companies that have reached a valuation of $1 billion.

Contrary to popular perception, over the past ten years the majority of billion-dollar software companies were actually founded outside Silicon Valley. In the first update to our research, published today, we see that the rest of the world is continuing to outpace the Valley.

This time, we’ve also looked at the leadership it takes to reach the billion-dollar milestone. New metrics reveal ‘founder CEOs’ are far more likely than ‘professional CEOs’ to lead a business to this level of valuation.

As we studied new entrants to the list and analysed the leadership of all 156 companies meeting the mark, some surprising trends emerged:

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We have always believed that great companies and entrepreneurs can come from anywhere. Like athletes and artists, the qualities needed to be a world-class entrepreneur – vision, courage, technical knowhow, the ability to build a great team, and a deep competitive streak – are not confined to any one country. And the spread of the Internet, open source software and cloud computing over the past decade has removed many of the traditional barriers to starting a technology business.

That said, there are still many who believe that the majority of truly successful companies come from Silicon Valley alone, and that the other emerging ecosystems are still reaching maturity.

Given the speed of technological change and the number of entrepreneurs founding companies around the world, it can be hard to get an accurate picture of what’s going on. So we combined data from multiple sources along with our own research, and for the first time looked at the global distribution of Internet and software companies founded within the last decade that had reached a valuation of over $1 billion. Valuation isn’t everything and is in many senses a crude yardstick, but the billion-dollar mark is generally accepted to represent truly phenomenal success.

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We founded Atomico to help companies scale disruptive products globally. As entrepreneurs ourselves we know the challenges this involves, and we brought together our Value Creation Team, which includes many of the initial global team that scaled Skype, to help our portfolio companies expand into new markets and hire the talent they need.

Effective communication is another key piece of the puzzle. As they scale, our portfolio companies see tremendous value in being able to tell a clear and compelling story about their vision and achievements, and in building a global brand that will resonate with users, customers, partners and employees from Berlin to Beijing.

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When we first met David and Siraj, the founders of The Climate Corporation (or Weatherbill, as the company was called back in 2007), we were immediately struck by their vision, courage, foresight and ambition.

The team had set themselves a huge goal: the use of technology to take on the global insurance industry. Long before "big data" became a ubiquitous buzzword, they had seen the potential for data to impact the many millions of people around the world whose livelihoods are affected by the weather. In many ways, the scale of their global, disruptive ambition felt a lot like our ambition when we started out with Skype. Although Atomico now focuses on hyper-growth, later stage companies, back then we felt an instant connection and decided to be an early investor.

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The Wall Street Journal’s Venture Capital Dispatch blog has produced an account of Niklas’s talk at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, which you can see here.

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