LessONs iN eNTrepreNeurship
ice man cometh
Yngve Berqvist used his skills and contacts to create his unique ICeHOTeL. Stuart Read and Saras Sarasvathy report
fter five years working for a mining company in Kiruna, sweden, Yngve bergqvist realised that he did not want to spend his life working for a big organisation. His colleagues’ lack of enthusiasm for the job grated on him. And he found it impersonal being referred to by his employee number. bergqvist was an outdoorsman and, as an outlet from his job, he took up river rafting. One day, a tourist asked him for a ride on the river. suddenly, he was in business. He began going to the tourist office on weekend mornings and nearly always found clients. bergqvist ultimately resigned from his mining job, and gradually expanded the rafting business to 40 summer employees and 30 boats. The OTher NiNe MONThs but summer in sweden is short, and rafting on the river in winter is impossible as it is frozen solid. bergqvist needed to find a winter business to supplement his summer earnings. He had heard of Japanese tourists visiting Alaska in winter to see the northern lights. in 1988, he travelled to sapporo and Hokkaido in Japan for the snow festivals, and there he met an ice sculptor from Asahikawa. The two men planned a winter ice-sculpting
workshop in sweden. The workshop received a lot of press, as numerous international artists, spectators and local people flocked to Jukkasjärvi. WiNTer rAiN bergqvist recalls that the evening before the exhibition opened was cold and clear. "The next morning, i woke up at 6 and heard something strange," he says. "it was raining and it was plus seven degrees. Our tours started at 11 and i was terrified about would happen to the ice. Two of my people were standing with sheets over the ice art. They asked me, 'What should we do? This...