Our guest blogger this week is Erik Paalsrud continuing the story of the first 100 days of CosyTech. You can read part 1 here.
We continue our story….
Our next step was to apply for Inven2Start. A competition designed to evolve an idea into a product. The prize was 130 000 NOK in start capital. Application was done and sent only a sharp hour after our Web Summit confirmation. The “JFDI” spirit was born. Just Fucking Do It.
We got in touch with Dogetek, a startup in Trondheim who delivers web solutions. We asked if they were interested in coming along on our journey, to help us build a web platform which we needed to manage the NFC tags. Much cool.
Lucky for us, they were!
Only a few days later, we had a vague first physical prototype. It was the top cover of a small 2″ paper box powered by a NFC tag. There was an Ylvis theme on it. It’d bring forth their website, play Youtube videos, Spotify songs, automatically load their Facebook page so you could follow them if desired and so forth.
Days were spent effectively. Full-time. Many hours were drowned in the coffee shop where everything originated, Mesh. We talked to as many people as we could to validate our idea and our half-assed prototype. Interest was legit and before we knew it, we had 10 pilot businesses who wanted our product in their venues, and received recognition from Valyou and Microsoft.
After attending an event at 657 Oslo, we met Physical – a group of skilled industrial designers. They wanted to help us out with better physical prototypes.
Websites came up, Facebook and Twitter handles were created. New team members joined the ship from NTNU, Westerdals and BI. We started to share our enthusiasm, but we also became more distant with our newfound friends at school. We no longer had the chance to attend the classes either. Dedication comes with a price, we found. In return, SPARK NTNU rewarded us as well with cash for our research.
Interview with Inven2 took place – and before we knew it, we were on stage receiving the 130,000 capital we sorely needed. Things weren’t stopping. So many meetings. So many late night workshops. Taking extra jobs and winging exams to keep up with the cash flow we needed to survive. We also met with StartupLab, who decided to house us with office space for the time being. It’s a place easy to fall in love with and it resulted in even longer hours. They were open 24/7 after all.
The cash was merely a tool to build the ship that would become CosyTech, but the real value was in the disruptive enthusiasm we shared.
Eventually our nicely developed prototypes arrived and we chipped them up with our NFC tags which contained some interesting content, ready for Dublin.
First week of November, we finally travelled to Dublin to attend Web Summit – among the world’s biggest tech conferences with 22 000 attendees and more than 1500 other startups. A month prior to the event, we got engaged in a competition which they held – “World’s Hardest Working Startup 2014″. It’s not like we expected to win or anything, but we went at it like we still had a pretty good chance. Perhaps I’m not entirely honest. We did expect to win and we gave it everything we had.
We landed in Dublin a monday morning. Got familiar with the place we stayed at before meeting up with some friends we met earlier at StartupLab for dinner and drinks Guinness. Guinness wow. It got late. Really late. Actually, it wasn’t late at all – we just started really early. Patrick Paddy Griffith had sent us an email while we were out consuming this immensely dark and brutal pride of Dublin.
So many thoughts were going through our heads. Luck as a macro-factor has a much bigger influence on one’s success than anyone would really like to admit, we thought. But truth is that anyone can play a round of poker and win – but to keep climbing the ladder and keep winning, you need a lot more than luck. The contest wasn’t based purely on success – it was about grit and passion as well! We never lacked ambition nor vision. Not in our perception at least. In our eyes (and Bono’s eyes), we were Rockstars! I can’t speak of other people’s perception, though. I’m sure we’re nutcases in the eyes of most people.
At home, we were being recognized. The word about our efforts started to spread. Perhaps not significantly, but we appreciated it by far, and it most certainly fueled our motivation even more.
Our tenure at Web Summit was nothing but amazing. We spoke to many interesting people, witnessed so much cutting-edge technology and aspiring talents who have dedicated lifetimes of work into amazing things. We got seriously bit by the startup-fever. This is where we belong, we thought.
Only a few days ago, we got invited to Collision 2015, a conference setup by the team behind Web Summit – in Las Vegas. People such as Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Tony Hawk, etc attend these events. It’s a huge arena for startups to share the floor with the big acts – and Collision is only looking for the most dedicated startups across the world to attend.
“A grand conclave of the tech industry’s high priests” – New York Times
We’re going. We’re fucking going
CosyTech consists of radically dedicated people whom are equally passionate about what we do. We even got our own R&D who create spectacular things we’re looking forward to show you. Things that bring new visions and new potential for both NFC and BLE technology.
This is our first chapter – our first 100 days – and our morale of this story is simple:
Our guest blogger this week is Erik Paalsrud from CosyTech.
CosyTech. Who the **** is CosyTech? We’ve been through a rough and intense 3 months, and we’ve never really had the time to stop and look back – nor time to explain or tell what has happened to us. We’d like to use this opportunity to express some of our thoughts by telling the story of how we came to be, what we’ve been through and what we’ve felt.
We started CosyTech briefly 3 months ago. 105 days ago, to be exact. This is not my first attempt on a venture, nor will it be the last – that’s for sure.
CosyTech started out like many other ideas out there, in a coffee shop with a couple of people. We didn’t know each other and we had just started studying innovation at the Oslo School of Management (Markedshøyskolen). We had been encouraged to start thinking about business ideas we wanted to chase throughout the semester.
“Wouldn’t it be cool if we had wristbands which automatically sends friend requests on Facebook when they touch?”
- Aleksander Owren asked in a sarcastic manner.
We actually experienced an epiphany from this “stupid idea”.
The natural next step was to start dig up everything we could find on NFC technology, to see if it was a feasible tech to play around with for this particular idea. Before we knew it, we had discovered so much about NFC that our initial idea had evolved into something else. Infact, it had pivoted about 4 times in a week. Such lean. Adaption was fast and vigorous. Intensity and engagement was high. We adapted to the point where we no longer saw the markets we aspired to disrupt. It was new turf. Unclaimed land. What we had did not exist.
When we applied to attend Web Summit’s Alpha Program, we hadn’t really thought everything through. Don’t get me wrong! Our idea was legit, but we didn’t even have a proof of concept. No graphical reference, no developers, just a handful of cash – that was supposed to be spent covering our school’s semester fee. It was one of our “fuck it” moments. I mean, it only took us two minutes to apply.
A week had passed when we got our first reply. I remember it well, because I read the email 6 or 7 times. They had wiped out 80% of the applications and we were still standing. 8 out of 10 had folded. Web Summit was the big blind, and it was our turn. We called the bet and wanted to see where it got us. Another two weeks had passed, interview process was done and we were waiting for Web Summit to bet. One day, whilst in a dialogue whether we wanted to fold or not, an email came in.
“Many thanks for speaking with my team over the past few weeks, great to hear what you guys are doing at CosyTech. We’ve had a huge number of applications, and have spent a great deal of time selecting the companies to join ALPHA. As you know, we can’t invite everyone.
However, I’m happy to say that it seems CosyTech are a good fit for ALPHA, the early stage track at Web Summit.”
The heart rocketed to the throat. Web Summit raised the bet so much we wouldn’t be able to call it. Was it an opportunity? Did we want to prove a better hand? Should we go all-in? We didn’t know any of the tricks. We were just students, right? We weren’t supposed to play in the big league. How could we ever hope to win without being able to match the bets on the table? At that point, there was another “fuck it” moment. We went all in. We put everything on the table. Semester cash, jobs, studies, social lives, everything – we threw it all on the table to match the bet. On that day, 16th of September 11:46AM – we decided to win. To make it.
Consequences had to be dealt with later.
To be continued…Part 2 will be published next week
This is a story of how dedication, hard work and a portion of serendipity brought the first Norwegian startup to 500Startups in Silicon Valley.
It was in September last year Paal Stian Aagenaes, Eivind Groenn, Sebastian Almnes and Mikhael T Ricker first meet and came up with the idea óf a platform for matching students searching for internships with SMEs looking for interns. Techpear was born, and the four founders have since come a long way in offering a solution to save SMEs and students both time and money.
They recently moved the company to Silicon Valley, to be part of the 11th batch of the 500Startups Accelerator in Mountain View. Techpear is the first ever Norwegian startup to be taken into the prestigious program. Even if serendipity also played it´s part, it was hours and hours of hard work that brought them to where they are today. Read full article
Last week we visited Vienna for Pioneers Festival. The program was packed with future technology, startup pitches and experience sharing. Limited to 2,500 people the festival was just the right size. For two full days the Hofburg Imperial Palace was buzzing and served as a great venue for housing both great speaker sessions and a tech salon showcasing tech startups. It was a truly great couple of days, catching up with old friends and connecting with new ones. Here is a recap of the things that took place.
Oslo Innovation week kicked off with Startup Weekend Oslo as an official pre event this past weekend, and the official opening monday at DogA.
Oslo Innovation Week (OIW) is the largest innovation convention in Europe. It is a significant meeting place to discuss opportunities and practices for growth and innovation every year. Oslo Innovation Week is managed by Oslo Business Region (previously Oslo Teknopol). Project owners are The City of Oslo, Akershus County Council and Innovation Norway. Oslo Innovation Week coordinates and markets the overall program, but the schedule is a selection of individually organised events that are of innovative relevance.
One of these events was the Norwegian Investment Forum that took place at Forskningsparken tuesday 14th of october. The forum aims at “presents the most interesting blend of promising startups” and ”offer an exclusive opportunity to meet the leading Norwegian and Nordic investors to share information and know-how about prospects, trends and key issues, and to make new business contacts.”
During the event Norway’s top start ups made their heartfelt pitches, mingled with VCs and everyone was was treated to pannel discussions involving some blue-chip names. In that regard, the 2014 Norwegian Investment Forum had something to offer for all stakeholders. Perhaps the cherry on the cake were the brilliant keynote speeches by Allan Young (of Runway) and Jonas Kjellberg (of Skype), that left Norway’s aspiring entrepreneurs with even more fire in their bellies.
During the after-party law firm Selmer gave out a special award, The Selmer Award to The Best Startup Company 2014. The winner was selected among the pitching companies at Norwegian Investment Forum. With many great startup pitches earlier in the day it was a close race, but Startup Summer alumni Edgefolio made the best case and was announced winner of this prestigious award.
“I’m humbled by this award. There were so many great startups today solving real-world problems, and that makes this award even more special. A huge thank you to the Edgefolio team, I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved.” – Leopold Gasteen, Founder and CEO
The prize was to go to a “standout Start-up company that has made a significant impact in the past 12 months”. The judging criteria was that “the company must be in an early venture, stage, have the potential to go global and should communicate a clear and understandable business model in a professional manner”.
In a nutshell, Edgefolio is like angel-list, but for Hedge Funds. Their platform empowers investors with fresh and relevant data on managers, and gives manager the ability to market themselves in a scalable and compliant way. The by-products are increased efficiency in cap raising, and heightened transparency something the Industry dearly needs
Receiving awards is not a new thing for the talented entrepreneurs at Edgefolio. They already have a great track record as a promising norwegian startup. They won no less than two prizes at The Nordic Startup awards, the national newcomer award and the founder Leopold Gasteen won the founder of the year award.
Born out of Gründergarasjen in April 2013, where he was given free desk space and a monitor, Leopold went about validating what his closest friends and family were calling a “crazy idea”. It was at Gründergarasjen where Leopold met his CTO Harish Narayanan, who balanced out Leopold’s wild ambition with extraordinary development talent and an intensely thoughtful approach to problem solving.
Fast forward six months Edgefolio was established as an AS, and team of A-players was built around it. Since then, it has been a story of growth and traction. They have maintained the same thoughtful approach to the problems they are solving, and as a result have created a name for themselves in the industry.
Well it’s now 9 days until the next Startup Weekend, and we now have an awesome lineup of speakers, judges and mentors from Google, Telenor, Spond and Ardoq. We’re stoked to have them on board!
Nicolaj Broby Petersen is the co-founder of Dirtybit, the company behind the popular game Fun Run. With over 45 million downloads, the company has established itself as one of Norway’s most promising mobile start-ups. With big ambitions and passion for entrepreneurship, Nicolaj looks forward to share the story of Dirtybit at SWOslo. He will be speaking during friday evening.
Terje Christensen, from Business Model User Group, Terje will be running a Business model workshop at 10.00 on saturday. Here you can learn how to use the Business Model Canvas
Martin Jensen, founder of Blink, will be runing a workshop at 15.00 on saturday titeled: How to nail your pitch! This session will help you master the sunday night presentation. Blink was the runner up at Startup Weekend Oslo october last year. After the weekend they got into betaFACTORY, an Oslo based accelerator. Martin have in the past year been pitching Blink at a number of national and international conferences.
Entrepreneur and investor
Alexander founded his first company Intergate with fellow math students at the University of Oslo. Later he co-founded The Growth Factory, a pan Scandinavian incubator and a seed fund, later acquired by the Møller Group (Katalysator) where he worked as Investment Director with focus on buy outs, before giving life to StartupLab. Alexander is very fond of skiing!
Early Stage VC at Wellington Partners
Linus joined Wellington Partners in 2014 with the Digital Media and Software team. His primary role is identifying investment opportunities and building relationships with the great entrepreneurs behind these companies. In addition to building a career in Venture Capital, Linus also founded TF Strategies, a Stockholm based consulting firm focusing on trend intelligence, market and external environment analysis, strategic direction, deal sourcing, screening and business analysis.
Entrepreneur and community builder, founder of Innovation House in San Francisco
Anne is an entrepreneur and community builder, and has led Innovation Norway’s San Francisco office since 2011, and founded Innovation House in the same city. She is an experienced member of the Board of Directors for startups, VCs and communities focusing on internationalization and global growth. She is passionate about helping companies scale their impact, and a believer in serendipity and the Pay-it-Forward culture.
Partner and Consultant at Brandlab
Monna is an serial entrepreneur that has been involved with starting and growing companies such as Scandiavia Online (SOL). She was involved in establishing internet in Norway as an advertising channel and internationalized Doctor Online. Monna launched Finn, founded design agency Misson and is currently partner and consultant at Brandlab.
Wilhelm Joys Andersen: Principal Software Engineer
Andreas Gilstad: Product Manager for Grouper at Telenor Digital and spare time entrepreneur
Svein Hermansen: Senior Language Specialist, Nordics at Google
Maja Adriansen: Founder of Startup Norway
Lars Klundby: Senior Analyst at Google
Silje Gabrielsen: UX & Design Director at Spond
Magnulf Pilskog: CEO and CO-founder of Ardoq
Martin Jensen: CEO and CO-founder at Blink
Terje Christensen: Founding partner at Odin Systemer
It will be organised at Startup Lab again, as with the previous Startup Weekend and Startup Summer.
The facilitator for this edition of Startup Weekend is Kathleen Fritzsche. Kathleen is fascinated by the startup community since attending her first Startup Weekend in 2010. In 2011, she co-founded StartUp Stuttgart, the main startup community in Southwest Germany. Meanwhile, Kathleen works for her own company Accelerate Stuttgart to foster entrepreneurship and to bring startup culture and innovation into public institutions. We are incredibly excited to have her on board!
Judges so far are Alexander Woxen and Linus Dahg. Alexander founded his first company Intergate with fellow math students at the University of Oslo. Later he co-founded The Growth Factory, a pan Scandinavian incubator and a seed fund, later acquired by the Møller Group (Katalysator) where he worked as Investment Director with focus on buy outs, before giving life to StartupLab. And SWO will have Wilhelm Joys Andersen as one of the mentors. Wilhelm used to make web browsers for a living. Today he runs a small development agency building some of the busiest sites in Norway. Oh, and he’s a W3C chair.
The organiser are working hard around the clock to give you the very best 54 hour of your life.
Watch this space for more info, or better yet, click and register at:
We are always in the lookout for not only exciting startups but also one that can open ways for collaborations with other countries, especially in the Nordics as a start. That’s why we are excited to hear about Workaway.
What caught our attention was this pitch:
20 entrepreneurs get together for a week in a beautiful remote house north of Barcelona, to focus on their project, get feedback and new perspectives.
A camp for entrepreneurs, Workaway is the brainchild of Danish entrepreneur Nikolaj Astrup Madsen. Workaway has been organised several times.
A great number of participants have come from various parts of the world, such as US, Ireland, Italy, Denmark and Sweden, and as far as India and the Philippines. Sessions and feedbacks has been more valuable with diverse participants.
But as we talked to Nikolaj, so far there has been no participants from Norway yet. Having especially neighbouring countries would also open opportunities for close collaborations, something that we greatly encourage. So we’re calling all Norwegian entrepreneurs out there to go out and camp with fellow entrepreneurs.
There is still time to register for the next session, held in October.
Startup Summer has started last week in Forskningparken and is now entering the second week. We have 25 participants working on 9 exciting startups. Each day started with pitching exercises to different target audience, then a masterclass and mentoring in different topics.
Speakers that has shared their expertise and experiences were Benjamin Sommer, Leo Gasteen, Thomas Kjemperud, Satya Witoelar, Guillaume Leygues and Panayiotis Lipiridis. The participants also had to practice pitching and get coaching in presenting in front of investors. The first week ended in a fun race for the team to go to several startups ecosystem in Oslo.
The quality of startups that participates is improving each year, which is an encouraging sign for the startup ecosystem in Norway. And the background of the participants are quite cosmopolitan, with participants and speakers that have come from countries outside of Norway, such as Denmark, Sweden, Albania, USA and Indonesia, and organizers all the way from Spain and Australia.
Here’s what one startup has to say about Startup Summer:
“We envisioned and validate the solution in our everyday lives. It’s Startup Summer that is connecting, and assisting us to validate it all. From the very investors and startups in the market, directly to us.Shing.systems is receiving a fresh bath of valuable info every single day!”
This week the participants will receive further masterclasses and workshops and will have an incredible opportunity to present their startup in front of selected investors.
An upcoming event for startups this months is Startup Summer!
What is Startup Summer?
Startup Summer is an intensive 2 week accelerator program for early stage startups to kickstart their business. It is aimed at young entrepreneurs that has started or wants to start a business. They bring in great ideas, a kickass team and lots of energy and will get the chance to validate their concept and understand the customer’s problems, learn through masterclasses and connect with other aspiring entrepreneurs.
Tomorrow at StartupLab in Forskningparken is where the exciting, inspiring, and crazy fun Startup Weekend will happen. 54 hours of frenzy in creating your own startup with fellow aspiring enterpreneurs.
SWO IX features Ingrid Ødegaard, who will talk about the butterfly effect that grew the number of daily appear.in users; Jose Iglesias, who oversees all UP Global activities in Europe; and Peter Inselseth Jørgensen, founder and CEO of EduKarma, who will also coach at the event.