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.
A good portion hard work
Techpear worked hard to validate the idea, and customer interviews lead to pivots and iterations on the original idea. It was around Easter time this year the team came in contact with Startuplab, the Oslo-based incubator. Techpear realised the great value of being sited in a community of other hardworking entrepreneurs and access to experienced mentors. At the first meeting they promised to have a demo ready for a second meeting right after Easter.
Considering that the demo was far from ready at this point one would think that they had made too big promises. The resourceful team did not let this stop them. They made sure to work day and night, and in order to save time, they moved into office. Sleeping under the desk for a couple of nights did the trick and come first week after Easter the demo was ready to show.
The Startuplab team was impressed by the dedication and potential of the team and startup, and offered Techpear office space at the incubator. After months of hard work, Startuplab’s seed-fund Foundersfund offered Techpear investment. Being called out as the wildcard in the deck of investments, Techpear aspired to work even harder to ensure to be the best investment Foundersfund ever did.
Where serendipity plays it´s role
This August Startup Norway went abroad for two weeks, eager to check out the vibrant startup scene of San Francisco. During our stay we made sure to book a meeting with Dave McClure, founder of 500Startups, as we wanted to personally invite him to come to our Startup Extreme Festival next year.
It was as we were heading into his office that Sean Percival, the partner in charge of the Mountain View accelerator, was walking out. Sean were to travel to Stockholm a few weeks later for Sthlmtech fest, and Dave thought it would be a great idea to introduce Sean to the three Norwegians that had just entered his office.
Sean were already considering stopping in Oslo on his way back after Stockholm, and this serendipitous meeting lead to Startup Norway hosting a Monday morning meetup at StartupLab while Sean was visiting: “Fundraising in Silicon Valley” with 500Startups. Many entrepreneurs came to listen to his talk, amongst them the ambitious founders of Teachpear. After the meetup, they got to meet with Sean, and made sure he had a face to the name when they sent in their application.
A few Skype interviews and a meeting between Sean and the StartupLab team in SV later and they were in. It all happened fast, and they had just a week´s time to decide on seizing the opportunity and move to Mountain View. “We accepted the offer to join 500 Startups immediately, this is a big opportunity that few people get.” -Paal Stian says
Paal Stian and the team were not the only ones excited about them joining 500 Startups.
“We are extremely honored to have Techpear as the first Norwegian company to enter our accelerator program. Special thanks to Startup Norway who introduced us during my recent visit to Oslo. They are now here in Silicon Valley learning about product, marketing and fundraising all while building connections that will benefit their business for many years to come.” Sean Percival, 500 Startups
From what we hear the Techpear guys are doing great and their own recent update from Silicon Valley reads: “We at Techpear has recently gone through redesign of the website. Focus will be to sell the service to businesses in Norway and the US, and create success stories.”
We at Startup Norway wish Techpear all the best of luck in the program, we are excited to follow their journey and will make sure to keep you all updated.
500 Startups are currently accepting applications for their San Francisco based Accelerator, you can find more info and apply here.
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