May 7, 2019

Startup employees in Denmark earn a massive €70k a year

Sweden and Finland are falling behind Denmark and Norway in terms of pay, according to the Nordic Startup Salary Survey 2018.

Mimi Billing

3 min read

Startup employees looking for a hefty salary should definitely think about moving to Denmark.

Regular employees there earn €57k a year while senior ones earn €70K, making it by far the best paying country in the Nordics for startup workers.

This compares to €43k for senior employees in Sweden and €46k in Finland. Danish startup workers are on average paid around a third more than the rest of the region.

This is all according to the latest Nordic Startup Salary Survey, conducted by the incubator Arkwright X and Danske Bank. The survey asked 733 startups across Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark about their work and salary.


Here are 5 other takeaways from the report:

1) Finns work less

Money isn’t everything. For those that are keen to keep a good work-life balance whilst working for a startup, Finland is definitely the place to be. In comparison to the other Nordic countries, the average employee works 42 hours a week – 7 hours less than in Norway.

In Finland, startup employees work on an average less than in the rest of the Nordic countries. Credit: Nordic Startup Salary Survey 2018.

2) Equity does motivate employees

Stock options are a way of sharing the success of a company with employees. Some also argue that it motivates staff to work harder and care more about the company.

According to the survey, that seems to be the case, with the study finding that people with stock options work 8 hours more a week on average than staff without.

3) Gender pay gap still big in the Nordics

The Nordics are often seen as leaders when it comes to questions of gender inequalities. However, this report shows a big pay gap between men and women in the startup ecosystem across Scandinavia.

Within all functions at the startups, independent on size of the startup, women earn less than men. For senior employees, the pay gap is as much as €10k (yearly average). That makes the pay gap 23%.

According to the survey, the pay gap is larger at startups with more than 50 employees than at startups with 1-10 employees. For larger startups the difference in average salary between men and women is €15k or 26%.

Also, when it comes to share options, women more often go without. 55% of the female respondents had equity in the startup they worked for in comparison to 77% of the men. Women also work 4 hours less a week than their male counterparts.

Women earn less than men across the region.

4) Sweden pays badly

When looking at the pay between the countries Denmark is the overall winner with the best average salary both for regular and senior staff. Sweden, which is often seen as the leading startup country in the Nordics has the worst salaries in this study.

However, Swedish companies were also the worst to submit answers. Only 115 respondents, 17%, are based in Sweden.

What the countries had in common was that the bigger startups overall pay more than startups with less than 50 employees.



423K DKK  (€57K) regular employee

523K DKK ( €70K) senior employee


541K NOK (€55K) regular employee

648K NOK (€66K) senior employee


€40K regular employee

€46K senior employee


384K SEK (€36K) regular employee

463K SEK ( €43K) senior employee

5) Founders don’t get paid more

According to the survey, there is no difference between the pay of founders and non-founders.

However, the founders, with more equity than the employees, will put in a lot more hours. On average a founder will work 50 hours a week while a non-founder will get away with “only” 42.

To see the whole report, visit Arkwright X's website.

Mimi Billing

Mimi Billing is a senior reporter at Sifted. She covers the Nordics and healthtech, and can be found on X and LinkedIn