WHERE THE WORLD MEETS THE NORWEGIAN STARTUP ECOSYSTEM
Kickstarting the Norwegian Investment Scene
Join hundreds of startups, investors, media and corporate innovators to learn about startup scaling, startup investing and how to engage with the startup ecosystem.
Networking with your next investment while rafting down a frothy river might seem like insanity. But Norwegians know that true relationships are not build by sharing business cards in a conference-hotel. Since 2015, hundreds of the best from the startup ecosystem has met up in June for the three day startup-event of the year.
Join us and the Norwegian Startup Ecosystem!
As part of Startup Norway, Angel Challenge helps investors learn startup investing by doing it. Because the term ‘angel investor’ is used in different ways, people ask us what investing in startups involves, and what is required. This article is designed to provide some answers.
Everyone has heard about investing in public companies. Less often, you hear about people investing in startup companies. These are ‘angel investors.
Who are angel investors?
Angel investors place their own capital and competence in early-stage companies in return for share or equity. This usually means an initial commitment between NOK 50,000 – 250,000. To diversify risk, more investments into a portfolio of companies often follow. There is a greater risk investing in a startups compared to public or exchange listed companies, but also a higher potential reward.
In Norway, we have a growing, dynamic angel investor community. Angel investors work actively to help grow the companies they invest in, often holding a position on the board.
Investing in startups requires a long term view. There is no guarantee of financial payback. The excitement, successes and even failures of bringing a product or service to market are part of the investor journey.
Sometimes investors have started one or more of their own companies and they understand the highs and lows. They work alongside companies they invest in, bringing expertise and experience to the team. The entrepreneurial spirit is part of their DNA.
Other times, investors come from family offices or advisory firms. One thing investors have in common, is competence and a network that can be used to help startups succeed and secure a better return on investment. This is the idea of ‘smart money.’
How to find good investment opportunities
There isn’t any one way to start. Sometimes the opportunity may come to you – a friend or connection that needs additional funding. Other times, you actively seek out high potential startups. Either way, gaining access to deal flow is essential for good investments.
One place to start looking for startup investment opportunities is through business incubators and accelerators. These organisations arrange events, such as demo days, to showcase up and coming startups.
Connect with other investors
You may already know startup investors or you may want to reach out. Business angels probably don’t list ‘Angel Investor’ on their LinkedIn profile, but they often have private investment companies.
Investors with similar interests, explore opportunities and new deals together. They may decide pool capital and resources, and invest together in a syndicate.
Go to startup events
There are hundreds of startup events each year. Some explore innovation in a particular high-tech industry while others are more general. Check whether the event is planned for entrepreneurs, investors or both.
Across Norway, startup, funding and investor organisations and communities work together to support each, and in turn their members and the public. Startup Norway’s Facebook page is one of many event listings and information sites.
Participate in workshops
Just like any skill, investors are continually exploring new methods and sharing knowledge about evaluating, growing, and at some stage, selling their businesses. Through hands-on workshops, investors meet, review deals and learn – at the same time. There is always a next step in managing deals and growing companies.
There is no guaranteed return on an investment, but taking courses and ‘learning by doing’ can improve your chance of success. At minimum you will come away knowing – ‘Is this for me?’
You can apply to join Angel Challenge at angelchallenge.com
Meet the best Norwegian startup at Startup Extreme 2017: startupextreme.co
Startup Norway is the organiser behind Startup Extreme, a conference/summit taking place in Bergen/ Voss each June. Here are the highlights from Startup Extreme 2016.
Last night saw the first in the series of national finales of Nordic Startup Awards, with the Norwegian Final being arranged by Startup Norway and Oslo Business Region.
Gathering more than 200 attendees at Gamle Museet in central Oslo, the evening was a celebration of an ecosystem that has been the little brother in the Nordic region, but which over the last year has shown tremendous progress, with the fastest growth in number of investments.
“We have never had more nominations of good candidates than this year – it shows us that the Norwegian startup scene is getting stronger and more active. Last year we saw Norway take home 3 prizes at the Nordic Final, and we hope to be able to take home at least as many at this year´s Nordic Finale in Reykjavik” says Maja Adriaensen, CEO of Startup Norway.
The winners in the Norwegian Nordic Startup Awards Final was chosen by a Jury, with the public voting also playing a significant role.
The winners were a mix of well-known names and some names probably new to the general public.
Photo credit: Noor Dawod Photography
Aaaand the winner is…
Best Bootstrapped: Socius
The first Award of the night went to media startup Socius. Despite no funding they have managed to grow a strong international team, and their customers include publishers Conde Nast and Axel Springer.
Best Exponential Startup: nLink
With their Mobile Drilling Robots they are revolutionising the construction industry, allowing manual labour to perform 5-10 times faster.
Best Social Tech Startup: No Isolation
Social tech startup No Isolation have gained much attention and praise for their avatar robots, aimed at solving the problem with isolation for kids with long term illnesses.
Best IoT Startup: Unacast
Unacast is the blood veins in the body of IoT and connects all sensors in the world to each other and to digital domains.
Since their launch in 2014 they have signed some of the world´s largest proximity companies.
CTO Hero of The Year: Christian Hager
Might be most famous for being the CTO and co-founder of Nabobil, where he has helped build the AirBnB for cars. Nabobil has fast become a favorite in Norway, where the sharing-society is getting a strong position.
He is currently the CTO of 3 startups, and the CEO of one.
Startup Media of The Year: Joacim Lund
As an established commentator in Aftenposten, Joacim Lund has for long time been an important critical voice in the age of increased digitalisation.
Best Accelerator Program: Angel Challenge
Not originally meant as a accelerator program, the founders soon after launch found out that the intensive 8 week-program functioned exactly as that, by supporting investors to accelerate with startup investments. As per today, 40 companies and 52 business angels have been part of their program.
Best Investment Company: Northzone
With offices both in Norway, Sweden and UK, Nothzone has become a well-known name in the Nordics. Last year saw them do 35 investments/follow-ons, of which 9 were new companies.
Notable investments include Spotify, Trustpilot, Avito, Lastminute, Pricerunner, Nextgentel, and Stepstone.
Best Business Angel: Kim Daniel Arthur
An angel investor since 2011, Kim Daniel is one of the more established angel investor in Norway. A succesful serial entrepreneur(EA Games acquired his company Playfish for 2.4billion NOK in 2009) he is not only investing in startups, but he is also commited to help build a stronger startup ecosystem, and is among the initiators behind FLOW
Best Office Space: FLOW
This Tromsø- and Ofoten-based coworking space is an exciting addition to the ecosystem in Northern Norway, and a good proof things are also happening other places than in Oslo.
As a partner in the total innovation ecosystem they do a great job in supporting and coordinating efforts to connect the Northern startup community with that in the rest of the Nordics.
Best Newcomer: No Isolation
Things have gone in rocket speed for social tech startup No Isolation.
In under a year they have managed to close their first 5million NOK funding round, launched their beta phase of avatar robots, and they are now also the winners of 2 Nordic Startup Awards.
Founder of The year: Are Traasdahl
Well-famous now for many as the founder of Tapad, the company acquired this February by Telenor for $3 billion, Are is a serial-entrepreneur with a background in sales and marketing.
Startup of The Year: Xeneta
With their ambition of disrupting the sea logistics industry, by bringing big data analytics into it, Xeneta have become a favorite both among media, investors and in the general public. Last year they raised a $5,3 million Series A funding from its previous backers Creandum, Point Nine Capital, and Alden, alongside new investor Alliance Venture, bringing the total raised to $8.5 million.
People´s Choice Award: VIO
People´s Choice goes to the Startup with the most public votes. So maybe not a surprise then, that VIO was the winner of this Award. Started as a student-project at NTNU, they have grown to become popular both among publishers and an audience of young tech oriented people.
About Nordic Startup Awards
Nordic Startup Awards is a series of events happening in the Nordic countries, aimed at promoting and celebrating the startup ecosystems in the Nordic region.
This is the 4th year it is arranged, and it´s also the edition yet which have engaged the most people, with more than 700 nominations and 18,000 votes.
Photo credit: Noor Dawod Photography
A thriving startup scene is dependent on many parts, but few get as much attention as the investments. Norway has not had a very large professional investment sector, especially looking at the ICT-sector. We have barely been mentioned in overviews from the Nordics, something that can be seen from Arctic Startup´s overview that lists 1 investment in Norway this January (the actual number is 5+).
We have been talking about this and what seems to be a change in the last year(s). Both the ICT-sector and other sectors where Norway has been stronger traditionally are growing. The infographics on the Norwegian startup scene in 2015 made in cooperation with Innovasjon Norge shows that investments are not constrained to a few industries, but are being made into a wide range, from medtech to drones to IoT.
Our friends at The Nordic Web has quickly become the most comprehensive source of data on the Nordic investment environment, and we are very happy to see Norway have a very significant increase quarter over quarter, and with an increase from 9 tech investments in 2014 to 30 in 2015. A significant 233% increase, and accordingly a great increase in amount of capital (246.30%)
There is no doubt that things are pointing upwards for the Norwegian startup scene, with Q4 being a record quarter in terms of money invested in Norwegian startups in 2015.
And with 5+ investments having already being made so far in 2016, and with Telenor acquiring Tapad, founded by Norwegian entrepreneurs Are Traasdahl and Dag Liodden, for $360 million, it looks like 2016 will be even brighter than 2015.
Although the total amount invested in Norway is still fairly low, investments in Norwegian startups are growing faster than anywhere else in the Nordics year on year, demonstrating its potential to become a significant hub in its own right
-The Nordic Web
Nominations for the 4th Nordic Startup Awards are now open, and we need YOU to nominate your Norwegian startup heroes.
Last year Unacast, Mesh and Dirtybit all won an Award at the Nordic finale, making Norway tied with Denmark for the most Awards. With a startup scene stronger than ever we should have strong contenders also this year. Help us get the best contenders at the Nordic Grand Finale in Reykjavik May 31 by nominating your favourites.
Deadline for nominating your candidates is February 25. Nominate here: http://nordicstartupawards.com/nominate
The categories are
Startup of the Year
Founder of the Year
Startup Media of the Year
Best Social Tech Startup
Best Business Angel
Best Investment Company
Best Office Space
Best Accelerator Program
Best IoT Startup
Best Exponential Startup
Join us on the #NordicMade Tour to LAUNCH Festival in San Francisco this March! Flight and accommodation are covered!
The #NordicMade Tour is part of an initiative to promote the thriving Nordic startup scene and connect with successful startup ecosystem. Previous tour was to Pirate Summit in Cologne, and this time to one of the largest startup conference in the world.
With 15K attendees, four stages, and 250 speakers focusing on helping founders build, scale and fund the next startups, this is a great chance to listen to great speakers, meet like-minded founders, talk to investors, get inspired and present your startup in the US.
Application is now open for startups to apply to be one of 30 entrepreneurs to go to the LAUNCH Festival (March 2-4). Open for startups with a launched product in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland.
Deadline of application is Jan 23rd. For more information and to apply: http://bit.ly/launchf16
This Tuesday the champion of the first edition of Angel Challenge was crowned.
It was a close race between five great startups, but as the evening reached it´s peak, Thomas Berglund, lead investor, announced Socius as the winner. Not only do they receive the investment of 1.3M NOK(€140 000), but also 26 investors with tons of experience on the team.
The investors deliberation is as follows:
“The winner has a strong team, the company is entering into an already existing global market with a new innovative service and solution.
There is always a risk with investments but throughout the program the winner has listened to the advice from the investors and turned some of those into good progress during a short 7 week period.
The winner has also proved its execution ability during the program, both signing customers and gaining investments.
Like all investors we would like to have good return on our investments and we believe the winning company is well positioned for a future profitable growth and success”
The winner takes it all
Socius provides tools that allow media to control social media and adopt the best content. Applications include expanding articles with content from the public, adopt micro content from its own reporters and running content marketing and competitions together with advertisers. Among their customers are publishers Conde Nast in the US, and Germany-based Axel Springer.
As per the value of Angel Challenge for Socius, Daniel Butler, CEO and co-founder says
“The Angel Challenge program has lead us to focus on the customers where we give the biggest value, and has helped us sharpen our communication to both investors, partners and customers. As the angels have pushed us on all sides of our business we are in a much stronger position to scale internationally in 2016.”
This round of Angel Challenge is over, but it will not be the last. A separate company will be established to expand Angel Challenge to include
2 programs in Oslo Mars & September
2-3 Mini programs outside of Oslo
Angel Challenge Alumni – Investor Network
Coordinate Deal Flow
Events & Activities
An active and vibrant angel community in Norway
Claes Mikko Nilsen from FiBAN pointed out Finland´s success in building angel networks driven by former entrepreneurs. Norway does not have a strong angel network, but in a time with big changes in the largest industries it is needed.
We need more private capital that also comes with competence and experience to help new entrepreneurs establish and scale innovative companies. The network from Angel Challenge is a good foundation for building an active and vibrant angel community in Norway, and by building on our success with the first edition, we want to facilitate the growth of such a strong Norwegian angel network.
Two intense days of pitching and Q&As are over, and 20 great startups have become 5.
Day 1, Wednesday 21st, kicked off at 10am with Startup Norway and lead investor Thomas Berglund informing about the event and the selection criteria for picking the candidates to compete for the 1,3M NOK investment and the angels´ attention.
For the startups the rest of the afternoon went to receiving intense mentoring from a selection of the angel investors, helping them tweak their pitches and preparing them for the investor pitch in the evening.
At 5pm the 20 startups and 25 investors gathered for food and mingling at Kunstnernes Hus, giving the startups the opportunity to getting to know the investors, and hopefully convincing them that they deserved to be among the 10 to go through to the next day.
Pitching time arrived, and dare I say, we were completely blown away by the energy and passion shown by the startups. Never have outdoor equipment, the GIS industry, social media tools or virtual reality for the workspace been more exciting than on stage at Kunstnernes Hus this evening. And these were only a few of the topics that were pitched.
But sadly, everything must come to an end, and after the investors had discussed and decided groupwise there were 10 startups that went through to day 2.
These were EdTech Foundry, Vio Media, Islero, Imerso, Systemapic, Socius, One Earth Designs, feat.fm, Hubro Education and Konsus.
Day 2 started with interesting talks and insights from both VCs and serial entrepreneurs. Bjørn Christensen of Alliance Venture talked about IPR for born globals, while serial entrepreneurs Ståle Løvbukten and Thomas Berglund shared insights and tips from their journeys from idea to exit, both with and without involvement of VCs (thanks for the insights, guys).
Then the startups were up for more mentor sessions, preparing them for the intense grilling in the evening, held at BI.
If the mood Wednesday had been intense, cheerful, if somewhat nervous, then the mood this evening were marked by the knowledge that by the end of this evening, 10 would become 5, and that though questions would have to be answered before these 5 were chosen.
While the startups had the choice to have a short presentation on topics they felt shold be underlined regarding their business (maximum 6 minutes), this evening was dedicated to the participating investors getting to ask questions to the startups, in order to better understand the business, but also to get to know the people behind (in total 12 minutes).
The selection of startups on Wednesday had been fairly coherent amongst the group. On Thursday, the opinions was more divided, and heated discussions occurred. In the end, the investors agreed on the top 5 to go through the whole program:
These will participate in 5 workshops before the Grand Finale December 1st, learning from experienced key speakers and working closely with the investors in making them ready for investment.
Rumours also has is that 2 of the runners-up are in talks with investors from the group about investments. So things can happen even if you are not among the startups fighting for the prize investment.
Curious to learn how the startups experienced the pitching days?
Systemapic have written about their experience and take aways from these days here.
THE ORIGINAL 20 STARTUPS:
One Earth Designs
This article is written by freelance journalist and former editor of 3in.no, Ole-Harald Nafstad.
The Norwegian Startup scene is buzzing like never before. And just this spring Norway, for the first time, had more to celebrate than our neighbours at the Nordic Startup Awards.
A feat unimagineable just a year ago – and leaving some of the worlds best Startup ecosystems, i.e. Sweden and Finland, in the shadows of the night.
Startup Norway founder Maja Adriaensen thinks this clearly shows that the time is right to create new connections between the startup scene, investors and, more generally, well-off Norwegians.
– Four years ago we didn’t see any point in stimulating the investor side. Then, there was still so much to do, building the necessary culture of entrepreneurship. Looking back, it is quite unimaginable how much the scene has changed during the last four years, says Adriaensen.
So far Adriaensen, co-organizer Knut Wien and lead investor Thomas Berglund have gathered more than 20 investors to take part in the first Angel Challenge, a competition where Startups compete for an investment of 1 million NOK through a group investment.
Among these are experienced entrepreneurs like Kim Daniel Arthur (Playfish) and Ståle Løvbukten (Questback), as well as other experienced CEOs and investors.
– This is a unique opportunity to both pitch in front of a wide audience of potential investors, and to really learn what angel investing is all about, says co-organizer Wien.
Now both he and Adriaensen eagerly await applications from the startups.
– This is the place to be for startups who wants to test their business under intense inqueries by some of the best and sharpest Norwegian business minds for free, says Adriaensen.
Apply for Angel Challenge here! (Deadline: 23. september).
More money, more referrals, more voices
The organizers will invite 20 startups to take part in the first phase of the Angel Challenge, the pitching days on the 20th – 21st of October.
Then five of the startups will be invited to take part in the workshop and education program, together with the 20 investors – until the final where one of the startups gets selected for the one million NOK investment.
Lead investor and experienced serial entrepreneur Thomas Berglund will handle all the contact with the startup for the investors.
But the prize is really just the tip of the ice berg, of what the organizers thinks will be achieved by the initiative:
– Investments: The 1 million NOK is the main prize. But all the investors have more money to invest, if they find the right company.
– Referrals: The 20 investors all have their own network of experienced entrepreneurs, business leaders and investors. Startups making a good impression might get help to open doors to other investors, companies and mentors, who may help them on their way to success.
– Grooming new opinion leaders: Mark Andreesen, Ben Horowitz, Peter Thiel. The list of American investors putting tech in the lime light is long. In Norway there is none. Can Angel Challenge help foster the Petter Stordalen or Christian Ringnes of tech?
Adriaensen and Wien are sure they are about to find a new venture for Startup Norway. Requests for additional challenges – in different settings – have already been presented for them.
– We haven’t had the time to consider them yet. At the moment we’re just focused on making Angel Challenge a good experience for everyone involved, says the organizers.
New iterations of the concept will undoubtedly be a good way to encourage more money moving from oil and real estate investments to future-oriented tech ventures.
This week the best of the Nordic early-stage startups attended Pirate Summit in Cologne. Said to be Europe´s craziest startup conference, as well as the biggest invitation-only gathering in Europe, Pirate Summit is gathering early-stage startups and investors for 2 days of networking and shared adventures.
A Nordic presence
Startup Norway, together with Klak Innovit, SUP 46, Turku Science Park and The Nordic Web, had invited a selection of Nordic tech entrepreneurs to join them for the festival, as part of the Start Nordic.
To showcase the Nordic region and potential Nordic high growth startups on an arena with over 130 VCs and angel investors. By having the selected startups meet and network with European peers, and connecting with European and US investors, the aim was to reduce the barriers for scaling internationally.
Photos by Dan Taylor/Heisenberg Media
With in total 50 delegates from the Nordic countries participating in the conference, 30 of these being Nordic entrepreneurs, a Nordic presence was secured. Panels on the growth and current status of the Nordics gave people an insight into the investments and growth of each community. With good support from the research and analysis of Neil W. Murray this made sure to give the audience a good overview about what is going on in the Nordics.
Dressed up as Vikings, and handing out exotic Nordic flavors like Aquevit at the Wheel of Fortune and Forhelvede Bar, the Nordic delegation also made sure to draw some curious attention from the more than 1000 attendees.
Moving, connecting and promoting Nordic Startups
Although Stockholm has been recognised as one of the hot spot cities when regarding entrepreneurship, the Nordics as a whole still has some way to go. This is not due to lack of startups; on the contrary, the startup scenes in the largest Nordic cities are buzzing, with many exciting tech startups and a good support system.
What is lacking is international visibility and awareness.
This is why Nordic Innovation initiated the Start Nordic project. Aimed at moving, connecting and promoting Nordic Startups, the partners across all Nordic countries work together towards strengthening the brand of the Nordic startup scene internationally and improving its competitiveness on a global scale.
Read more about the Start Nordic- project at startnordic.com
Who were the Nordic startups?
CHECKD: Will revolutionize the construction industry one of the worlds largest industries. A visual control tool for a visual industry.
Filmgrail: All movies in all cinemas, streaming services and TV-channels. Filmgrail makes your movie experience smart, social and easy. The only movie app you need.
Tagbeat: Tagbeat`s vision is to let fans and artists in a easy, social and fun way share picture & video stories accompanied with music from Spotify.
Viva Labs: Viva is a turnkey smart home solution. The Viva platform is built to help partners in the broadband and utility industries quickly and easily start selling a smart home solution under their own brand.
Swipe.to: Turns your presentations into conversations. Present and interact with anyone, anywhere, on any device.
Sponsta: Connects cool brands with popular Instagramers. Sponsta have created a tool that makes it easy for brands and Instagramers to do business together.
Sure: Helping you be sure about the choices you make for yourself, the society and our planet.
Sure make sustainability accessible and enable you to act more responsibly at your own pace.
It’s your first virtual friend you can trust to guide you through the great alternatives around you.
Kidup: Your online parent-to-parent marketplace. Helping you to find things that fit your family.
Lix (Formerly Unipegma): A textbook marketplace for publishers to distribute their content on, and for students to access their course material in the fastest and most effective way.
Teller: Email that works better when you check it less.
Sqore: The most exciting way to compete for countless real opportunities
Oceans: The social network for scuba divers and ocean explorers.
Airinum: Fighting one of the greatest global health concerns of our time: air pollution.
It’s My Styl: an E-commerce peer to peer Fashion Community that delivers a “can’t-live-without” experience to a global market of young women and teens interested in sharing their personal style.
Airdate: Simplifies media planning and buying for SMEs by replacing tedious manual processes with an easy to use SaaS product.
Watchbox: The Watchbox app makes it easier for people to share every-day photos and short videos with friends, groups and even communities.
Radiant Games: Creates playful learning experiences that spark children’s interest in coding.
Breakroom: The ultimate virtual reality workspace environment.
Datasmoothie: Cloud-based statistical analysis and reporting tool for data scientists.
Tagplay: Let businesses update their website using social media.
Identio: Builds a web application that improves academic equality and prevents marginalization by identifying dyslexia.
SketchMyApp: Helps enterprises using outsourcing to be as agile as startups. Automatic Photoshop prototyping that enables rapid design iterations and user validation before committing to development.
Tuiske Productions: Soft launching their first game, Armadillo Adventure: Draw & Roll, this month. In the game they use the unique Magic Finger mechanism, with which the player can draw any shape into the 2d environment, and this drawing becomes a real object to the game world. Gameplay trailer:
YogaMe: Bringing the benefits of yoga to individuals, workplaces and hotels through effective, tailored yoga breaks made as SaaS.
Belightful: Combines interacting with nature to aesthetic design consumer good, Butterfly feeder, which has built-in green values. It offers easy user experience with recurring element, nectar capsules and a digital community with fun and educational content.
Treamer: Tackles the youth unemployment with a mobile app that households and companies can use to outsource any small jobs and tasks to the students in their neighbourhood.