“It’s a crazy good education” says serial entrepreneur about Gothenburg Executive MBA

28 March 2023

Entrepreneur Johan Hallenby has been running Go North, the Nordic region’s largest and fastest growing Amazon aggregator, for just over a year. Goals for 2023 include more than a billion more in financing and the acquisition of at least 15 new brands on top of today’s 30. From 2017 to 2019, Johan Hallenby attended the Gothenburg Executive MBA programme, something he would encourage other entrepreneurs to do as well. “If you haven’t gone through the programme yourself, it is not possible to understand how much it actually gives you,” he says, emphasizing the personal development and the experienced network.

When Johan Hallenby started the Executive MBA programme, he had successfully run and developed a company in the fitness industry for several years.

“I had come to the conclusion that, sooner or later, I wanted to do something else and that it would be on a larger scale. So, I wanted to attend the programme to prepare for that.”

The Nordic region’s largest and fastest growing Amazon aggregator
During the programme, Johan Hallenby decided to sell his company. Around the same time as his graduation in the spring of 2019, his company was bought by the fitness chain, SATS. Johan Hallenby became Business Area Manager and launched SATS Corporate Onsite; a concept in which SATS facilities were established at larger companies to offer their employees first class, on-site training (the business model that SATS bought from Johan Hallenby). Soon, however, a desire to start his own new project came back. He started a company that developed products under their own brand names and sold them through Amazon FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon), a so-called third-party seller. After several successful product launches on Amazon in the US, Johan Hallenby decided with his team and investors to expand the business even faster and more efficiently.

“We decided, by bringing in more external capital, to acquire other growing and profitable brands on Amazon globally to continue to create economies of scale.”

Go North started in December 2021, when the first acquisition was made, and a year later the company had raised about one billion Swedish crowns (in both equity and loans) and added 30 brands to the group. Today (March 2023), Go North has 53 employees, most of whom are outside Sweden. And now the company is scaling up.

“During 2023, we will raise a at least another billion Swedish crowns and make at least 15 more acquisitions; acquisitions that will be bigger than the ones we made last year. The most important thing for Go North is to continue to drive profit growth across all brands in the group post-acquisition. That means everything to us and that’s what we’re good at. We will also continue to invest more in our tech foundation, which is crucial for a cost-effective development of the brands we buy,” says Johan Hallenby, who believes that the Executive MBA programme gave him skills and knowledge that are tremendously useful to him in his current role.

Holistic perspective on business
“It’s a crazy good education. At the time, I didn’t realize how good it was. The theoretical knowledge is valuable, but it is also a lot about the practical aspects. For example, the knowledge I gained through visits to factories and companies during the programme’s trips in India and China is enormously valuable to me now. The programme forced me to do and learn things that have given me very good knowledge across the entire breadth of business. Now, I can feel confident in the development of Go North because, in addition to my previous experiences in running a business, I now have an even stronger theoretical foundation on top of my previous master’s degree and, thus understand all the parts. Without that breadth, it would have been more difficult to run Go North as the hypergrowth company we are.”

A fantastic personal journey
The part of the programme that Johan Hallenby now, a few years after graduation, believes has meant the most to him is the Creative Leadership module.

“I am still impressed by how good the programme was, and how much could be learnt and understood in the 21 months while making a fantastic personal journey. In Creative Leadership, which was taught at IIM Bangalore in India, I learnt a lot about myself, and I still work with the tools we got there. I constantly strive to become a better leader, not least by leading myself.”

Challenges other entrepreneurs
In addition to the personal development, Johan Hallenby emphasizes the importance of the network that comes with the Executive MBA programme. As an entrepreneur, he value being able to discuss business development with experienced programme colleagues from large companies. He has made sure to continue to collaborate with several of his course mates from the programme – five of them are now part of Go North’s management team!

Johan Hallenby also believes that more entrepreneurs should take the Executive MBA programme and that they shouldn’t be put off by the theoretical or academic parts of the programme.

“As an entrepreneur, you often think in a different way than many of the other participants, which enriches the group and the discussions. I am very happy to challenge more entrepreneurs to dare to join the programme! There are few entrepreneurs who have the knowledge, strength and understanding to run any business in a more powerful way.”

Johan Hallenby


For more information on GU Executive Education’s leadership programmes, contact:
Peter Salomonsson, Sales & Business Development Manager
peter.salomonsson@handels.gu.se, +46 708 62 48 60

Håkan Ericson, CEO
hakan.ericson@handels.gu.se, +46 709 50 63 35

Read more aboute the Gothenburg Executive MBA Programme