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Are Norwegians fat, lazy and beautiful?

This talk I gave at a local TEDx event, in Bergen produced independently of the TED Conferences. I am talking about the present and future of entrepreneurship in Norway and try to examine the challenges of Norwegian startup companies on the entrepreneurial scene. Why is it so hard for startups to survive and grow is such a rich and prosperous Scandinavian country?

I am working on refining this lecture and on a book focusing on challenges Norway have ahead, so all feedback and comments are of high value for me.

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19 year old Aurora Aksnes from Os, Norway, gets millions of shares on YouTube


  1. My main observation is that we here in Norway are not hungry enough, we have it too good
    So, why do we need to change anything… Norwegians think.

  2. Don Lang

    People who grow up in a wealthy country don’t need to struggle, but also don’t want to lose the social support their friends and family by being too ambitious or ‘greedy’. This is why so much innovation is done by immigrants, either to a city from the rural areas, or from outside the country. So if you want to support innovation and ambition, you need to support the ‘outsiders’ with entrepreneurial education, mentoring and financial support.

  3. Odd, – good initiative and some valid questions!

    I have been an entrepreneur since mid 70s, first in the Oil and Gas sector. Most of my career I have worked Internationally and I have been able to see, compare and experience the Norwegian entrepreneurship fade significantly, especially since the heydays of the Internet boom.
    Yes I agree that Norway is fat, lazy and beautiful. Interestingly there is money available in Norway, but the lack of entrepreneurial spirit, lack of entrepreneurial environment and lack of International experience is evident and some of the key factors why Norway is invisible. Sweden has always been the BIG brother in terms of successful innovation and entrepreneurship. There is a reason, just think about it! ….. Sweden has always had more than 10 times more expats at any time out in the world compared to Norway.
    When I attend any International events here in Geneva, I always run into a Swede at these events. In more than 8 years I have lived in Switzerland I have only met ONE Norwegian.

    Finally I left Norway exactly due to the fact that the Norwegian Government is the most selfish and destructive Government I have ever seen! No wonder when you know that more than 40% of the total employment in Norway works for the Government. In OECD the figure is 14% and in Switzerland 7%. Go figure!

    • Bjarne: “the Norwegian Government is the most selfish and destructive Government I have ever seen! “. Wow.. thats so off the mark its not worth commenting.

      I too have lived abroad a bit, 8 countries so far CH/Geneva inclusive.
      Lets talk about Geneva, rich people, banks, international orgs. and NGOs shall we? Most people I met there hate their jobs but their jobs are so well paid they dont leave. They refer to these jobs as “golden cages”. You get the idea. Being professionally lethargic is hardly being entrepreneurial I suggest?

      Also, I wonder if you are confusing VCs with entrepreneurs? There is a lot of money in CH/GE but not much in way of entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur might pop in on occasion to meet a VC company etc. But there is hardly no development in Geneva.

      When it comes to the 40% statement you are off the mark once again. Try 30%.


      30% is high, dont get me wrong but a fair away from your stats.

      I suspect you are not a great ambassador of Norway in your absence, do you consider that being entreprenerurial as a quality?

      Finally an open question: how entrepreneurial is it to actually end up with the worlds bigger pension when you are such a small country?

      Eric B.

  4. Ingrid

    I fully agree with Stefan and Don Lang! But times are changing, as you already indicated Odd in your interesting TEDtalk, so focus on young people, make them greedy, challenge them …f.e.(http://www.urbangreeners.com/nl/ondernemingen/drijfveer) and take a look at f.e.: http://siliconcanals.nl/category/startups/startup-offices/

  5. R Jagatia

    I moved to Aalesund (Norway) from London in 2015. I worked in sales in London, and am in sales in Aalesund. If someone can find me a salesperson in Aalesund who works over the hours of 9.05am (as they are ALWAYS late) and 3.55pm I will give them a hefty finders fee. I am ashamed of my team and seem to spend more time talking about TIME than anything else.

    it’s simple; these guys have everything theŷ need…..and much much more! And this starts with rich parents who 1) have not taught their children the aspect of financial survival, and 2) what work is, and 3) that the world owes them nothing.

    It’s a crisis. I am disgusted as I thought I was coming to the THE first world nation on earth.

    Just as an example, todaŷ I was TRYING to make a sales enquiry at lunchtime with my local newspaper. I called at 1.10pm and I was shocked; The voicemail said “Sorry we are at lunch everyday from 1pm to 2pm….please call back after”. Great sales force!

    I have been here exactly 12 months and have 3 words in mŷ head when I think about this: Good Luck Norway!

    Enter China, South Korea, India, Eastern Europe…..and soon South America. Once the oil goes up in flames, the scolded landscape will be rebuilt by the foreigners. And no one will be to blame apart from the Norwegians themselves. So get real mister and misses Norwegian!

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