About This Project
Reportage på engelska till årsrapport för Stockholm Business Region
“The best place in the world to realize dreams”
“The American Dream should be renamed the Swedish Dream. Stockholm is the best place in the world for an entrepreneur to realize dreams”, says Ashkan Pouya and Saeid Esmaeilzadeh. Together they’ve started Serendipity Innovations, a successful technology incubator that has founded and managed more than 15 companies since they began in 2004.
The recent decision to launch Serendipity Innovations on the Nasdaq First North list is perhaps significant of the ambition and drive that has the taken the two Swedes who were born in Iran and grew up in suburbs of Stockholm and Gävle to a smart office located on Stureplan, the most prestigious address in downtown Stockholm.
At least part of their hunger comes from their background, they say.
- It’s definitely based on a wish for something better. We have a background that makes us appreciate the opportunities that Sweden offers, says Ashkan Pouya.
- I think we’re good at discovering opportunities. Like the French chemist and biologist Louis Pasteur puts it “fortune favors the prepared mind”, adds Saied Esmailzadeh.
The definition of the word serendipity is “the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident” – though the name of the company is hardly a coincidence.
– The philosophy behind the name is that it’s difficult to predict the future, but what you can do is to create a structure that will allow you to take advantages of opportunities as they present themselves, says Ashkan Pouya.
Born through an experiment that went wrong
It all started in 2002 when Saeid Esmaeilzadeh, a professor of materials chemistry at Stockholm University, was working on an experiment that went wrong. Examining the results, he realized that the material produced had become extremely hard, durable and with a diamond’s angle of refraction. He turned to his childhood friend Ashkan Pouya, with a background in business economics, and together they founded Diamorph, producing advanced materials for demanding industrial applications. Diamorph was eventually incorporated in Serendipity Innovations, founded two years later.
Today, Serendipity Innovations is a technology house with specialist competence in innovation processes and niche technical services. Since its inception, Serendipity has founded and managed more than 15 technology companies within clean tech, life sciences, materials engineering, IT and medical technology as well as managed a large number of advanced projects for external clients and partners. The company has been profitable from day one and the turnover has grown continuously – from 40 MSEK in 2011 to 330 MSEK in 2014 and with a 20 percent yearly growth targeted.
A hotbed for international talents
- One thing we’ve learnt is that you don’t have to best at everything yourself. An important success factor is to be able to attract good people – and to make them happy and work towards the same goals, says Saeid Esmaeilzadeh.
Serendipidity’s Stureplan office bears witness to this attitude, housing 30 talented people from 15 different countries, including South Africa, Germany, Russia and Iran. The corporate language is English and the atmosphere international.
- Stockholm is a perfect place both to start and run a business, with good infrastructure, a great amount of competence, transparency, a good legal system and an optimal location right between New York and Tokyo, says Ashkan Pouya.
- It’s also uniquely beautiful, with water and nature right next to the city center, says Saeid Esmaeilzadeh.
The two childhood friends are now planning to take their company one step further. The listing will provide them with the necessary financial muscles to increase their growth rate and to acquire new businesses.
– Our aim is to strengthen our position as a leading innovation generator and to continue to be a model organization for the conversion of technical knowledge into marketable solutions for industry leaders. It also to create a well-managed company fit for a future listing on the large-cap list of the Stockholm stock exchange, says Saeid Esmaeilzadeh.
Ashkan’s and Saeid’s favorite Stockholm spots:
- Vanak – Persian restaurant in the suburb of Akalla for its excellent food
- Stureplan – vibrant market place downtown Stockholm, perfect for watching people
- Konstnärsbaren – legendary artist restaurant, located near Serendipity’s office
- Saeid’s orangery in his Stockholm apartment for reflection
- Coffee place in the suburb of Husby for their Persian baklavas