Susanne was on Sweden ski resort in 2009, while racing down the hill, she fell and broke her neck. Doctors said that she was just a millimeter from the nerve cutting down. Susanne called it the defining moment of her life. She believed that she got a second shot of life. She said that “I realized that life is too short not to follow your path, to do the things that you’re passionate about.” After this life turning experience she decided to quit her promising career in Procter & Gamble. And that is how a near fatal skiing accident embarked on her path as a serious entrepreneur.
Susanne Najafi was born in Rinkeby, an immigrant neighborhood of Stockholm. Rinkeby is renowned for its high concentration of immigrant ancestry. Her Parents emigrated from Iran to Sweden. Her father has been her business mentor since childhood, she learned everything from her father throughout her upbringing. Her father kept reminding her “You need to work four times as hard as any Sweden to get the same result.” This kind of connection shaped her business personality, she picked a business career for herself. This influences her to study in Stockholm school of economics. She always credits her father for her success. At that time, when she was a student-she stepped forward to taste entrepreneurship. Later on she started work with big international business brands – developing her marketing career with Procter & Gamble. Suddenly life hit her so hard that changed her entire career. A skiing accident, near to death experience prescribed her to realize her dream – become an entrepreneur.
A journey begins to start a new business. As Susanne Najafi is knowledgeable about consumer products and market, she decided to start an ecommerce business. Since then Susanne has started almost seven companies, within e-commerce and technology.
Now Susanne’s career is on Roller coaster ride. She launched seven ventures with time, not all her early ventures were successful i.e. pharmacy business. But some of the projects went pretty well. She actively attends entrepreneurship events and inspires newcomers. About her early failed ventures she said “The timing was wrong, everything that shouldn’t happen, happened.”
In 2012, she had a successful business- Unity Beauty Group– that expanded aggressively. Along with her main business, she bought a beauty chain parallel, launched an online store later on and merged it with another online beauty chain eleven.
The combined turnover of all projects is 130m kronor. That was pretty awesome. She never stopped here, she opened a warehouse in a couple of years and things have moved really fast.
In recent years, Susanne only invests in different ventures and the time comes when she decides to launch her own investment firm- Backing Minds. In this journey Sara Wimmercranz, founder of Swedish shoe retailer Footway– is her partner in business.
Sara and Susanne, both were among the few women in venture capital securing the investment in the country. They invest in an entirely remote start-up, in an area mainstream companies never look at such as immigrants, people living outside Stockholm etc.
As first women founders of an entirely innovative venture capital, things are not easy for them. There is an immense amount of social pressure and gender bias problems on the way. But they did not step back to their dreams. Backing Minds has so far sponsored eight companies. One is money transfer firm Transfer Galaxy, based in VI Valla, a mostly-immigrant community, in western Sweden. The team had pitched to more than 100 investors without success. Now it sends 100m kronor through its platform each month. A huge success! She says “I was forced to be so creative that way, actually a base of my new ventures that I had.”
Susanne says that she plans now to expand Backing Minds not only outside Nordica but all over the world. She is very satisfied about her journey. She set a precedent of how to start a new business? After more than a decade as an entrepreneur. She says “I am actually proud of both my successes and failures, because they have equally led me to where I am.”
Cover Image Credit: backingminds
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