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.
Berg Moe, Trond Giske and Bjørn Kjos at the opening of Gründernes Hus (The Entrepreneurs House) in Oslo.
Sometimes, I wonder if the Norwegian entrepreneurs are allergic to selling and prefer to innovate and write business plans. Repeatedly I saw they have written grand plans but has done little get in touch with the market through sales.
I think that first has to sell your product/service before you spend too much time and energy on developing and writing business plans. Time is a precious resource = money, and many times it is possible with simple means to speed up time to market and through feedback from real customers do a product and service that the market wants.
Here are some examples;
Case A: I received a visit from some friendly people with an idea I liked. When I heard that they had spent one and half years to write a business plan and had not spoken to a single customer, I was ill.
I asked if it was ok that I called to a potential customer that would be interested. It took me a few minutes to find a candidate and called up and drove a short 3 minute pitch.
They were enthusiastic and wanted to have a meeting, and they became not only a customer but would also finance part of product development and to be a contributor.
Case B: I always used to say that it is good to have a draft contract/letter of intent lying in the cloud if you are looking for customers or investors. I’ve done it several times myself, and it speeds up the process.
Sometimes in meetings it is a “turning point” where the hot prospect says “this is interesting, and we would like to more into this”. That’s when you pull out an LOI (letter of intent) and sells it and close it on the spot.
Ones we had 34 meetings during seven days in Eastern Europe and returned with 22 LOIs. The tour was also a critical factor for us to raise 4.5 million in seed funding.
The Gründernes Hus (The Entrepreneurs House in Oslo) we will have a focus on sales and acceleration of the process to get to market. We will also use our global network and expertise, providing power to kick-start the growth of the companies.
We are developing a roadmap that we will be complete during the summer, but already have four companies on they way into the system and much more in screening and pipeline.
The official opening of the 3rd-floor Accelerator is at the same time as the official opening of the 1360 m2 house. We have not written a business plan so far, but just taken action and focused on business and has sold close to 100% of what we have on sale so far.
Soon we sell memberships for Kafékontoret (Co-working space on the 1st floor). It’s just to get ready if you want to be a part of a great environment.
Startup Weekend, whose mission is to kickstart and foster startup communities worldwide through events and networking sessions, had a very lively 2011.
According to internal statistics shared exclusively with TechCrunch, the organization held a total of 260 events in 202 cities, in 67 countries (you can find the obligatory accompanying infographic below).
All in all, the ‘startup weekends’ attracted some 21,316 people, who collectively formed 2,817 teams.
Startups that were incubated at its events raised at least $30 million in outside funding in the course of last year, although Startup Weekend CMO Joey Pomerenke tells me there were probably more fundraising rounds completed that they simply don’t know about yet. Read more…
Seed Forum International Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation working out of London, and it is the international collaboration entity for the national Seed Forum not-for-profit foundations in various countries.
VikingAngels.com uses these events as physical meeting spots for our network.
Events in January: Singapore 17th, Shanghai 19th and Malmø 24th. Contact manager if you want to be invited to one of these events.
An EU court adviser said on Tuesday that copyright protection cannot be claimed on software functions. The implications of this statement are huge, especially considering the fierce parent wars currently consuming the mobile world. Reuters reports:
The non-binding opinion by Yves Bot, an advocate-general at the Luxembourg-based EU Court of Justice (ECJ), is in line with a verdict reached by the High Court of England and Wales in July last year. ECJ judges will rule on the case next year. SAS Institute took legal action against World Programing Ltd (WPL) in 2009, saying the British software company had infringed its copyrights by copying its programs and manuals — even though WPL had designed its products without access to SAS’s source code.
In my personal opinion, the decision this adviser made should be heavily considered by not just EU judges, but US judges as well. Why is that, you ask? Companies like Apple are patenting things left and right without having really invented anything. I can see someone patenting a new physical mechanism on a device, but to patent software ideas is just silly, as they’re usually obvious aspects of a software program. In addition, software patents essentially disrupt the innovation that keeps software from evolving into its next useful iteration.
This company has signed a contract with Lerøy Vest to build a “Extended Smolt Farm”. The Preline Fish Farming patented technology solves all the known problems in this industry and promise no lice, reduced feed cost, higher growth rate, more muscle, reduced fat rate, reduced mortality and increased capital turnover. We think they can be a game changer in an industry with high growth potential if the environmental issues are solved.
Lerøy Seafood Group is the leading exporter of seafood from Norway. The Group’s core activities are distribution, sale and marketing of seafood, processing of seafood, production of salmon, trout and other species, as well as product development. Operating revenues in 2010 was 1,5 billion USD.
If you’re starting a company, one of the most important decisions you’ll make early on is the selection of a co-founder. Some might advocate just “going it alone” because finding a great co-founder is hard and fraught with risk. It is hard and it is fraught with risk. But going it alone is harder — and riskier. Startups are very challenging and having someone to share the ups and downs with, to be a great sounding board for ideas and to just help get things done is immensely valuable.
One additional thought: I’m an introvert. I don’t enjoy being around people very much. If you’re like me, the notion of just doing something all by your lonesome might seem appealing. And, it is — but I think it’s a mistake. Even for introverts, having someone on your side is useful and fun.
Shaojun Wang, founder of Beijing Capital Investments, gives his view of recent PRC regulation changes affecting the private equity market in China and discusses the Beijing Capital Growth Fund, the first fund ever open to foreign investors to co-invest alongside the investment arm of the Beijing municipal government. Read more here.
There are roughly 265,000 active individual angel investors. If you want to go the route of tapping an angel network — a group made up of up to 150 individual investors who pool their finances and share the due diligence work — there are more than 300 of those. In short, there are lots to choose from and they’re ready to invest. The challenge is finding the right angel investor for you and your business.
What a lot of founders don’t realize is that not all angels invest for the same reasons. Backing a startup is a bit like shopping for a car: Do you want a sports car that does zero to 60 in four seconds? A dependable sedan? A Prius that appeals to your environmentally friendly side? Keep in mind that monetary gain may be a secondary reason for some investors.
Here are three of the most common types of angels and what motivates them:
• Hedonistic angel investors are attracted to what they perceive as exciting ventures, seeking the thrill that comes with risk and innovation.
• Angel investors looking for a significant ROI seek companies that have the likelihood to be bought out by a large corporation or the ultimate prize of going public.
• Altruistic angel investors are motivated by a desire to support new companies and entrepreneurs, community development, and job growth.
• Start by researching the backgrounds of individual investors to identify their motives. Once you know what they’re looking for, here are five more things you should take into account before you approach them:
1. The investor’s experience. Most angel investors are not only looking to provide their money, but their insight and guidance as well. You can bank on the fact that they will probably want to be involved with your company should they decide to fund it, and thus selecting an investor with market-specific experience makes it easier to speak the same language.
2. Geographic location. Investors in close proximity to your business are more likely to invest because it makes counsel easier. It is not a coincidence that in venture capital, most VCs are in New York, Texas, and California because they’re close to the action. Investors like to grow where they’re planted.
3. Rate of return. Does your projected rate of return meet their objectives? Does your company have the potential to pass their investment criteria? Each investor has different requirements.
4. The needs of the market. Investors always evaluate the market’s needs and consider whether your product or service will carve a niche for itself. Can you demonstrate vast growth potential, uniqueness, and an unfair competitive advantage? An investor is looking to see if you’ve done the research to show that you can make it happen.
5. Their investment portfolio. Investors have a comfort zone. Investors’ past actions guide their future decisions, so the most likely fit will be with someone who has previously invested in opportunities similar to yours. Even within the technology sector, some investors prefer to see innovative applications of existing technologies as opposed to brand-new technologies.
Bloomberg TV’s new reality show TechStars follows a half-dozen entrepreneurs through the TechStars three-month accelerator program. The six-episode show focuses on the New York TechStars branch as it takes its first group of entrepreneurs through the intensive start-up program, which combines mentoring with a little seed funding and access to heavy-hitting potential funders. See the shows here.
Oct. 3 — With Demo Day approaching, the companies focus in on raising money. Venture capitalist Mark Suster analyzes their pitches. One company has trouble hiring; another can’t find a business model; a third nearly blows up. The winning team meets AOL CEO Tim Armstrong. Tuesdays at 9pm ET/PT. (Source: Bloomberg)