Social Impact: Making It Big
22 November 2018 - Cathy Xiao Chen

Earlier this month, our team was hosting the Unconference Space at the annual Social Innovation Summit in Malmö – a meeting place for people in the Nordics to gather to identify major social challenges and develop new knowledge about social innovation. I sat down with the Founder of Impact Hub Stockholm – Jesper Kjellerås, to see what his key takeaway was. 

“There was a notion of the challenges that we have ahead of us. It was even more serious (than before). This year’s theme was making it big but there are very few people who can make it big. How do you make it big? And how do you have a big impact? We talked about all of the unicorns in the startup  ecosystem and tech. There’s this hype. It’s a bubble that will burst. If you build a movement, it’s much more resilient and you can have a huge impact. How do we build the infrastructure for movements instead of providing infrastructure for unicorns?”


At our most recent event with Otivr for Sthlm Tech Fest, Romit Dasgupta – CEO of Globsyn 3rd Life asked why startup communities put such a focus on chasing after the unrealistic goal of creating unicorn companies when we all know that unicorns aren’t real. His amusingly-worded argument was that we should instead be aiming to create what he referred to as “cockroach companies that can survive a nuclear apocalypse”. He makes a good point.


#BlackLivesMatter grew out of Impact Hub Oakland. Impact Hub Birmingham is working closely with local communities to change their city. Stockholm Food Movement is based right here under our own roof, but even long before that began, we supported the idea of public information by Julian Assange who was a member for a brief stint in 2008 or 2009. Most recently, we housed the founding team behind Initiativet – a new political party that aims to bring a new kind of democracy to Sweden’s political system. Unicorn startups are few and far in-between, but whether or not a company can reach a billion dollars in revenue gives very little indication of the impact that it has on the society surrounding its reach.


Impact Hub is itself a movement that began with the notion of building a growing network to create social change through the establishment of work hubs for responsible businesses to gather and collaborate to grow their impact together. Many of the impact companies you know of today started their journey at Impact Hub Stockholm where we gave the teams and founders support when they were at a very early stage. We give entrepreneurs and changemakers the key to our community, and to our network. We give them a place to feel supported in where everyone has the ability to reach out to peers. The most important part of what we need in building this ecosystem is providing a space where people don’t feel threatened by competition and can find people to collaborate with instead.



Cathy Xiao Chen is the Community Manager at Impact Hub Stockholm. With a background in food sustainability, she advises and connects startups with collaborators to maximise impact.