Do unicorns exist? In the startup world, they do.

A "unicorn" is a startup company valued at over $1 billion. For example, you may recognize these unicorns: Uber, Airbnb, Snapchat, SpaceX, Lyft, etc.

Of course, Silicon Valley is known to be the capital of "the unicorns," but what many people don't know is that Stockholm, Sweden, is the second most prolific tech hub on the planet, per capita.

In fact, one of the most fascinating unicorn moments happened just a few years ago, and all lights were on Stockholm. Apple, one of the "kings" of Silicon Valley and the geniuses (pun intended) behind the music industry's massive shift into the cloud, launched Apple Music.

Why?

Because a six-and-a-half-year-old company started by a young entrepreneur from Stockholm had accurately predicted (and executed masterfully) the next big step for music: streaming music.

Apple wanted to compete with Spotify, the Swedish startup that quietly took the entire industry by storm.

Now, maybe the historical reason as to why Sweden remains the quiet breeding ground for billion dollar companies is because of what is known as The Law of Jante. Jantelagen is "the description of behavior toward individuals within Scandinavian communities that negatively portrays and criticizes individual success and achievement as unworthy and inappropriate."

Sparknotes version: You don't boast about your success. Ever.

A "carrier" of unicorns, Telia Carrier, is one of the leading companies in providing the actual network infrastructure that enables these high-growth tech startups to flourish in Europe. And they are equally as fascinated as to how a small country that spends the majority of its calendar year in darkness has become such a capital for tech innovation.

In fact, to explore the story themselves (and shed light on their country's culture), they have launched a web series exploring what they like to call, "Unicorn Syndrome."

Speaking with the CMO of Telia Carrier, Rickard Backlin, he shared a unique experiment the company is working on with Swedish startup hub, Sup46.

"Knowing that Sweden is filled with talented, creative individuals, we wanted to see what would happen when we removed one of the big barriers to entry on the tech industry, so to speak. We have forged a relationship with Sup46 and given them and the startups within their hub access to excessive amounts of network space. We're in the business of helping businesses," said Backlin.

He went on to explain that people are rarely aware of the backbone infrastructure on the Internet that is required for these unicorn companies to exist and operate in the first place. So even though Telia Carrier does not touch the end users (like an Uber or Spotify would), they assist by providing the backbone required for those digital ecosystems to survive and thrive.

"We want to carry the big ideas," Backlin said--and he means that literally and figuratively. "Connectivity breeds innovation. So, we might not be the ones coming up with the unicorn ideas, but we can certainly be the ones that allow those ideas to effectively operate, scale, and ultimately change the world."

Published on: Dec 2, 2016