17 – the network for women with businesses worth millions
“To become a member of 17 you must be able to show that you have founded one or more companies that have, or have had, an annual turnover of at least SEK 50 million and can verify this with annual accounts or equivalent.”
Source: 17 website
Lund alumna Carolina Faxe (School of Economics and Management, Lund University 1992-1996, Master of Science in Business and Economics, Finance) is one of the 46 successful entrepreneurs in the 17 Network. The network was formed to influence the entrepreneurial climate in Sweden. All told, the members of 17 have 100 companies, 6 000 employees and a turnover of SEK 10 billion. All the members are women (of course).
Sound and sustainable entrepreneurship
The power in Swedish business has for too long been with men at the top of the pyramid. 17 wants to inspire women to build big companies, as big companies affect that power situation. And with power also comes responsibility for sound and sustainable entrepreneurship, which is one of the network’s important driving forces.
Time in Lund was a formative period
Carolina Faxe is the owner of TicTac Learn, the leading supplier of EdTech (educational technology) in the Nordic countries with a turnover of SEK 63 million in 2021. The time in Lund was a formative period for Carolina, in which she learned to think critically, aggregate a lot of information and see connections.
“I have always liked doing business and was involved in LINC, where we had a great interest in shares and were pioneers with one of the first Bloomberg terminals in Sweden. We were a bit nerdy, but things have gone very well for most of those who were in LINC.”
In 2009, Carolina had been CEO of Travelstart for just over three years and profitability was increasing. The company grew from SEK 400 million to SEK 1.8 billion in three years. But when the company’s owners wanted to take back the CEO role, Carolina had to go.
“This event gave me a considerable driving force to build and own a company myself. I understood that it is the owner who has the real power. My aim was to build a company worth SEK 100 million. I usually say that Travelstart was a fantastic schooling in entrepreneurship and I am very grateful for the time I spent there, both as a leader and an entrepreneur.”
Why don’t more women dare to invest the time and effort?
Only 30% of Sweden’s entrepreneurs are women, even though many studies show that companies with a gender-balanced management are more profitable and more sustainable. But why don’t more women dare to invest the time and effort?
Carolina believes there is a change going on. Of course, the more role models there are, the more women will become inspired.
“A lot has happened in recent years concerning the focus on female leadership. I believe the conditions are good, but daring is crucial. Women are generally a little more careful but at the same time are very willing to assume responsibility.”
Go for it!
Carolina’s own company takes social responsibility very seriously. Young people, women entrepreneurs and human rights are particularly close to TicTac Learn. Carolina considers that if Sweden and the world had more female entrepreneurs, the business sector would be more pleasant and more exciting.
“My advice is to believe in yourself and GO FOR IT! As an entrepreneur, you have to solve different situations all the time and that’s something you can’t prepare for or study beforehand. Set up clear goals, be stringent, have patience and surround yourself with a good team.”
17 also has an investor network, which works on highlighting interesting companies in the expansion phase. The investors consist of members plus a number of selected angel investors and VC companies.