Innovation News

Keep up to date will all the latest innovation news from Norway and around the world.

Global GPS
60David Nikel

David NikelFebruary 9, 2015

FourC Look to Connect the Dots

As the Internet of Things gathers pace and infiltrates every area of our daily lives, business opportunities are everywhere.

Trondheim-based FourC have designed an open infrastructure platform for large-scale IoT deployments. As with most technical solutions, it’s best explained with a use-case.

Consider public transportation. You wait at a bus stop, consulting the live display to see how long the next bus will be. You buy a ticket on your mobile phone, showing it to the driver as you board. The driver registers your journey on his touch-screen device. In the bus control centre, an operator tracks the progress of buses through the rush-hour traffic, watching out for potential problems. How many separate sensors and systems are in play in this example? The answer: almost too many to count.

FourC wants its Groovy M2M Cloud System to connect the dots in situations like these. Imagine collecting all the data from all these sensors, devices, computers and then analysing it in the cloud. The system would track using position sensors like GPS and enable “playback” of those, show the location of devices on maps, display statistics, allow configuration on-the-go and more. Such a system also frees the end customer to source solutions from the best provider, not necessarily the one that matches their previous hardware or software.

Trondheim bus map

Sigmund Henningsen, Business Development Manager at FourC, explains the benefits:

“On a bus you have several computers doing exactly what they are meant to do. The problem with that is you develop a system, install it on its own computer and that’s that. In a few years when the client wants new features, the world of dev tools has moved on and you have a problem integrating a new system onto the old system. Maybe they are using different suppliers or even a different operating system.”

“The basic idea of Groovy M2M is to provide the hardware layer, i.e. small computers, with a Linux operating system designed for distributed computers. The system is like VMWare, providing a messaging service to connect to the cloud and other applications. Each application can run in its container independent of other applications. We strongly believe you need to have a system that can handle different applications from different vendors and even Linux and Windows applications side by side.”

What will convince decision-makers isn’t so much the technical solution, but the business benefits of feature-rich asset management for thousands of devices. Automatic rollback, remote console support, one-click application installs, easy beta-testing of updates, faster development cycles, and sales teams who can offer more features and applications for the same hardware, will draw the bean counters to a solution like this.

B2B Marketing

For those marketers out there, FourC offers a great example of vertical marketing, with pages describing the benefits of their platform for different markets such as automotive, home automation, and healthcare and medical.

One of the more interesting potential applications for the Groovy platform is in healthcare, as Henningsen explains:

“Today, automated home technology can give alerts, cut power, cut heat to hobs, but there is little or no collection of data to share reports and spot trends. For example, if the heat to the hobs must be cut every day, then family or healthcare workers should be made aware of it.”

Striking partnerships with software developers will be key to FourC’s success, and I’ll be interested to see if they go after the end customer or take a partner-first approach. I also expect one or two markets to take off and wouldn’t be surprised to see FourC working solely with transport or solely with healthcare in a year or two.

The Groovy M2M platform launches this month.

Photo credit: Steven Kay

Technology Sector in Trondheim
60David Nikel

David NikelJanuary 21, 2015

The State of Trondheim’s Technology Sector

The Trondheim region is home to 554 technology companies employing over 10,000 people, generating more than NOK 14.4bn (USD $1.9bn) in revenues, according to a new report.

The Impello Analysis is an annual report from the Trondheim-based advisory firm Impello Management AS. Every year since 1996, the report analyses the state of the technology sector across the Trondheim region, which encompasses Orkdal, Melhus, Malvik, Leksvik, Stjørdal, Rissa, Midtre Gauldal, Klæbu, Skaun and the city of Trondheim itself.

The report highlights two companies for their impressive growth. Norbit ITS AS is one of the three leading European providers of road tolling systems. Their revenue grew by 209 % from 2012 to 2013. One Voice AS develop tools for risk management and crisis management and have seen 48% average revenue growth (CAGR) from 2009 to 2013.

What Trondheim offers the world

In addition to providing analysis on the raw numbers, the report asks key figures from Norway’s political and business environment challenging questions about the future of Trondheim as a technology city, providing a nice narrative to frame the report’s findings.

Monica Mæland, Norway’s Minister for Trade and Industry, says in the report:

“The amazing research and educational institutions are a driving force behind the technology industry in Trondheim. And not least, the close collaboration between those academic institutions and businesses. What happens in this environment fits nicely with the Government initiatives in areas such as oceans and energy.”

“I must also say that Nobel Prize winners May-Britt and Edvard Moser are evidence not only for the outstanding efforts they have made in medicine, but also of Trondheim’s strength in research.” – (translated from Norwegian)

Following the report’s publication this week, Professor Johan E. Hustad, Prorector of Innovation at NTNU, said the focus of the University was paying off:

“This year’s report again highlights the importance of placing innovation and entrepreneurship high on the agenda at NTNU, to create spin-off enterprises from the work of our employees and our students. Turning cutting-edge technologies and new ideas into companies with global potential is of the upmost importance in a country that basically relies on natural resources like hydropower, oil and gas as well as fisheries and aquaculture.”

Revolve NTNU electric racing car

Revolve NTNU electric racing car

Bridging the gap

It’s in this space between knowledge and business that Technoport seeks to make a difference. Our 2015 conference will attempt to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset in Norway’s researchers, students, and others working in the “knowledge economy”, to help bridge the gap between great research and commercial success. Technoport CEO Gøril Forbord explains:

“Our goal is to stimulate innovation locally, nationally and internationally. We promote discussion about innovation and arrange conferences and events where people can meet. That’s it, simply because we believe innovation will happen when people meet. We can help to further develop Trondheim’s technology sector by innovating ourselves to create better arenas for networking and facilitate more connections between academia and business.

“One thing we can’t lose sight of is the needs of the individual entrepreneur. Technoport is funded by Governmental organiations and large businesses, but it’s important for us all to remember it’s people, not organisations, that create innovation.”

Discuss what’s next for Trondheim

Join us in Trondheim, Norway, on 18 & 19 March as we seek to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset at Technoport 2015.

Air India
60David Nikel

David NikelJanuary 12, 2015

Take Your Startup to India

The four-week TINC (Tech INCubator) program in Silicon Valley helps a bunch of Norwegian (and now, Nordic) startups get their foot in the door of the American market twice a year. NTNU alumni DirtyBit, feat.fm, Aalberg Audio, alongside the likes of Ensafer, Zwipe and Encap Security have all made the most of the program, which exposes your product or service to potential customers, investors and industry experts from Silicon Valley.

Following the success of TINC comes another Innovation Norway sponsored opportunity that’s arguably even better: a chance to learn all about the business environment in one of the world’s biggest emerging markets: India.

Why go to India?

I’m a big proponent of Think Global First and to me, this is a bigger opportunity than TINC for the majority of Norwegian startups I meet. I’ll give you a few reasons:

It’s well-known mobile is the first experience of the internet for many end users in emerging markets. But can you truly understand the implications of this for your startup (the design of your app, for example) without seeing it for yourself? Hold user interaction sessions where you can observe the behaviour of users for whom swiping and gesturing is more intuitive than point-and-click.

Forget the Nordic model. Investigate and understand cultural differences that could drive a totally different approach to innovation, design and development. Develop your emerging market business model based on real opportunities and real testing, not research or assumptions.

Generally, Indian startups are not well-funded at the early stage. See for yourself how to bootstrap a startup using lean and other methodologies.

To find out more, check out this interview with Marianne Jensen, Science and Technology Counsellor at Innovation Norway’s office in Delhi, on the Norway-India Chamber of Commerce blog:

“Some of the companies will dive straight into a deeper testing of their business concept and possibly initiate a partner search in India. Everyone will return to Norway with a lot of new knowledge and awareness of possibilities. I hope as many as possible start a process of fine tuning their business plan and head back to India or another emerging market again soon” – Marianne Jensen

The program

Entrepreneurship in Emerging Markets is an intensive eight-day program from 28 February to 7 March. Startups will undertake a combination of training, networking, customer dialogues and end-user interaction, with the ultimate aim of being better prepared to do business in emerging markets.

However, Innovation Norway have set strict criteria on the kind of startups eligible for the program. The ideal candidate for this program is a Norwegian startup that aims for global markets, particularly emerging markets.

Other criteria include:

  • High growth/scalable business model
  • Substantial market potential
  • Unique technology especially in the areas of ICT, applications, mobile media
  • Strong and coachable management teams

The application deadline has passed, but I’ve just been told that Innovation Norway is still taking applications until the program is full.

So get a move on and apply now!

Are you thinking global?

Join us in Trondheim, Norway, on 18 & 19 March as we seek to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset at Technoport 2015.

Norwegian oil
60David Nikel

David NikelJanuary 5, 2015

Life After Oil – Good News for Entrepreneurship?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, you’ll have heard about the oil price crash.

The price of a barrel of crude oil fell from over $110 to less than $55 in the space of just fifteen months.

It’s big news here in Norway as energy has driven the country’s economy for forty years.

Yes there will be short term pain, highlighted by the 7,000 job losses in the Norwegian oil industry last year. But I would argue the falling oil price can be good news for Norway and in particular the future of Norwegian entrepreneurship.

Put the problem-solvers to work

Firstly, Norway’s population is highly-educated and highly-skilled. Previously these technical experts simply rocked up to the oil industry and claimed their million-krone salaries. But with such jobs becoming less common, those skilled engineers could put their problem-solving minds to work on other technologies to change the world, in the energy industry or otherwise.

Persuading talented people to forego the oil industry in favour of risking it all on entrepreneurship has long been a problem for Norway. Perhaps we’re at a turning point.

Global competitiveness

Secondly, the Norwegian krone has dropped sharply against the Dollar, Euro and British Pound in the last few months. When I moved to Norway, GBP £1 bought roughly 8.5kr. Today, that same Pound buys 11.6kr. That’s quite the change. Norwegians might have to get used to spending more money on their holidays på Syden, but both incoming tourism and exports could flourish. In the space of a year, Norway has become more competitive on the international market.

If you as a startup founder price your product in US Dollars or Euro (and you should), the movement in the exchange rate will have been great news for your cash flow.

What does the future hold?

Is the currency movement temporary? Clearly linked to the big question of the oil price, really only time will tell.

Economic analyst and Forbes contributor Mike Patton has this to say:

“This current decline may cause some drillers to exit the market, especially if prices remain low for an extended period and their financial reserves expire. You see, there is a common belief (or hope) among oil companies that these lower prices are only temporary. Perhaps they’re correct. Perhaps they’re not. However, with fewer companies in this space, there will be less supply and if the global economy does indeed rebound, this combination could cause prices to trend higher. Maybe not back to prior levels though, at least not for a while.”

Whatever happens over the months and years to come, Norway seems to be waking up to the question of what happens when the oil runs out. For me, this is good news for Norwegian innovation and entrepreneurship.

Do you agree?

Is entrepreneurship the future for Norway?

Join us in Trondheim, Norway, on 18 & 19 March as we seek to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset at Technoport 2015.

Photo credit: Pete Markham

Eliot Peper Uncommon Stock
60David Nikel

David NikelDecember 11, 2014

Entrepreneurial Lessons in Fiction

Books about business and entrepreneurship are everywhere these days and tend to follow a simple formula: an entrepreneur shares their story about success or failure, what they learned, and how you can apply those lessons to your own startup journey. Some are good, many are bad. As a writer, my Kindle is full of both! I like to read both good and bad business books to inspire and amuse.

While listening to a podcast recently, something caught my attention: a fiction book about entrepreneurship. Within seconds I owned a copy and I’ve just finished reading it.

Uncommon StockUncommon Stock is the debut novel of Eliot Peper, and creates pretty much an entire new genre: the startup thriller.

James is an archetypal nerd, introverted and constantly wearing dorky t-shirts. Mara is a keen hiker and loves her college environment in Colorado with its access to the outdoors, her love of which she shares with her boyfriend Craig. When James approaches her with a business idea, she is plunged into the entrepreneurship bubble with little idea of the highs, lows and adrenaline rush to come.

Despite this being a novel, there’s elements of non-fiction learning in here too, as James and Mara’s mentors impart sound business advice throughout their journey. Although these sessions can seem a little unnatural at times, the book is better for including them.

I’m not going to give away the ending, but let’s just say there’s plenty of twists and turns (some expected, others not) along their startup journey and you are left desperately waiting for book two.

Thankfully, book two has just been released!

As a writer, I’m pleased to see innovation in the field with an author choosing to share advice through storytelling rather than yet another “boring business book”. Expect to learn about developing a business idea, validating customer demand, and the difference between angel investment and venture capital. I won’t go as far as to say it can teach you entrepreneurship, but this is a story you’ll remember, and is therefore the perfect conduit for learning these lessons.

Great job, Eliot!

Startup Lab Oslo
60David Nikel

David NikelDecember 5, 2014

A Look Inside Oslo’s Startup Lab

I first called in at Startup Lab almost 18 months ago to interview a startup based there. While I was impressed with their work, I didn’t take away a great impression of the environment.

Having heard whispers of change, I returned to Startup Lab this week and was greeted by an entirely different atmosphere. Based at Oslo Science Park (Forskningsparken), the incubator is home to 65 fledgling companies, with a further 17 having outgrown the facility and moved on. Some startups have private offices but many sit together in a giant open plan workspace, complete with moveable desks.

“We have a very flexible setup. It’s low cost, easy to terminate the agreement with just one months notice, and everything is on wheels. You can add or remove desks easily so there’s no need to commit to a certain size of office months in advance. On top of that is our value-add services, such as the Founders Fund, weekly workshops and free sessions with external experts” – Kjetil Holmefjord, Incubator Manager

Despite the feel of a coworking space, Startup Lab is an incubator and companies must apply, as over 450 have done. There is no automatic acceptance. In fact, Startup Lab feels more like the “next step” for those ideas that were conceived in coworking spaces. Just one in five applicants are accepted, so there’s a feel that the startups you meet here are genuinely “best of breed”.

“It’s not only the idea, but also the individual. Do we believe in that person’s ability to lead the project and grow the company internationally? If you only have the ambition to do something in one part of Norway then this is not the place for you.” – Tor Bækkelund, Partner at Startup Lab

Trondheim is represented by digital receipt startup dSAFE, presentation system SlideDog, and DirtyBit Games, all of which originated from projects at NTNU. Other startups that caught my eye include the social-focused film streaming marketplace Filmgrail and enterprise architecture documentation service Ardoq. There’s an interesting group of media startups too, including travel guide builder Stay.com, advertising network United Bloggers and journalism-startup BylineMe.

Startup Lab from above

Funding the next generation

A major project within Startup Lab is the Founders Fund, a new take on angel investment. Primarily intended for members of the incubator, the fund takes a maximum 15% equity but works as closely with them as if they were majority owners.

The Founders Fund offers a one-time investment only, although the group do help startups ready to raise more money with introductions, etc. And of course, individual investors from the Fund are free to invest further privately. The individuals certainly have the capability to invest further, as most are influential names from some of Norway’s technology success stories including Opera Software, Chipcon, GET and Mamut.

Resident companies

A window to the world

Much like we do here at Technoport, Startup Lab encourages its members to think global first. Despite having desk space at Nordic Innovation House, the partners encourage startups to get out and network on a trip to Silicon Valley.

“What’s the point in going to Silicon Valley for a month? It’s to network, test your idea, gain feedback, and improve your product, so why sit with fellow Scandinavians? We encourage startups to utilise our network of incubators and sit with Americans.” – Tor Bækkelund

Til Fremtiden!

Founded in 1984, Oslo Science Park began on the land of the University of Oslo with the aim of helping to grow existing businesses. In the early days of the internet a lot of internet companies were founded here, and the first node for Norway’s internet sits in the basement. Startup Lab itself was only founded in 2012, As much as the history of this site is important, it’s obvious the focus is on the future.

There’s lessons to be learned here for Trondheim and other Norwegian cities in how to build an incubator that puts the interests of startups front and centre. Bækkelund told me he believes the centre will produce several major startups over the next five years, and from what I saw, everything is in place to achieve that.

Open Desk Space

On pivots and pitches
60David Nikel

David NikelNovember 23, 2014

On Pivoting: Lessons from an Oslo startup

This is a guest post from Per Harald Borgen, previously of Propell and now of Disco Fingers

This year my company pivoted from from running a digital book club for kids, to building a music composition tool for non-musicians, called Disco Fingers. We made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot during the process. Now I want to share those lessons learned, with a view to preventing other founders making the same mistakes we did.

In the beginning of 2013, our three person startup raised a small seed round form angel investors and Innovation Norway in order to build a digital book club for kids. We spent half a year building the app and an editor for assembling the books, while also gathering a network of illustrators, voice actors, musicians and writers, so we could quickly create titles for the book club.

In the spring of 2013, we launched the app, and branded it as a ‘Netflix for kids books’, promising parents one new book every Friday for a monthly price of $8. The launch got a lot of coverage in Norway and the app quickly established itself on the top 10 list in the Books category on the App Store.

However, both the app and the market itself grew much slower than anticipated. By the winter, it became clear that we would run out of money before reaching profitability if something didn’t change. We tried several different marketing tactics, but none proved scalable and affordable enough to gain sufficient growth.

In addition to this, the deadlines for publishing new titles forced us to compromise on the quality, which started eating away at our motivation. In our eyes, our product had failed.

As we weren’t 100% honest – maybe even to ourselves – about our sinking motivation, people around us kept encouraging us to improve the titles, continue marketing the service, keep on expanding to international markets, and more.

All these would have been good ideas, if we were still motivated.

Cut the cord

So around Christmas 2013, we decided to disappoint them both. We changed the subscription service from weekly to monthly updates, while cutting the price by 60%, which freed up 95% of our time, as we basically froze both the production and the technical development. We stacked up a bunch of titles, so that we didn’t have to think about the book club for over a half year.

As a result, a few subscribers got angry and ended their subscription, but all in all, the transition went pretty smoothly.

Our investors were super supportive when we spoke to them with complete honesty. We hadn’t communicated well enough how tired we were of making medium quality kids books, but when we finally did, their only reaction was: ’Ok, thats fair. What will you do next?’. Had we been more honest earlier on, we could easily have saved 2-3 months.

Lesson learned: Be completely honest to everybody (including yourself) about your motivation. If the team start losing motivation, and you know it won’t change, you are doing everybody a disservice of you keep pushing in the same direction. Don’t even care about the customers you have pre-comitted yourself to. Do whatever it takes to change. Because if you don’t, your company is dead.

You are a startup, not a consulting company

During our pivot, we also tried to get some relevant consultant work, so that we could buy ourselves more time. We called tons of agencies and companies, went to a bunch of meetings and got a few jobs.

However, this disturbed the our identity as a startup, and due to mix of skills. Plus, our team and mix of skills weren’t suited for doing consultant work. As a result, the gigs ended up costing more than they paid.

The solution we ended up with after our pivot was much more viable. We basically decided that every Tuesday was ‘consultant work’-days, so that each one of us could make the extra money on the side. Every Wednesday is a motivational boost, returning from boring consulting stuff to our exciting new product. It also turned out to be a lot easier for us to find work separately, than it was to find jobs that all three of us could contribute to.

Even though we have gotten several relevant job offers today, we say no to all of them. When the three of us work together, we are a startup, not a consulting firm.

Lesson learned: Be a 100% startup when you are at the office together. If some founders need more income, it’s better to take one day off per week to make some extra money on the side. This might not work for all companies, but for us, it has been critical.

One chance to pivot, make it count

When we decided to pivot, we spent a lot of time thinking about what we should pivot to. As a startup, you are always moving 110 miles per hour. While that speed is great for the highway, you must slow down when you are doing a turn.

At first, we tested out a couple of directions, which turned out to be dead ends, for many reasons.

This wasted even more of our precious time.

It wasn’t until we sat down with an outside mentor that we started figuring out the right direction. We slowed down completely, and analysed why we had lost our motivation, what we had done wrong, and why the hell we were doing a startup at all. We had to dig deep and find our inner drive.

It sounds like a cliché, but it’s really important.

We finally landed on a path which led us to the product we have been working on for eight months and finally launched, something which seemed unthinkable a year ago.

Lesson learned: If if it’s not clear what direction you are pivoting too, slow down and spend some time finding the right path. Consider getting someone from the outside to help you with this process. If you pivot in the wrong direction, you probably won’t get a second chance.

So if I am to sum up our hard learned lessons, they are: be completely honest with yourself and others so that you can take action as soon as possible. Try to stay away from consulting, but if you have to do it, consider letting everybody do it by themselves rather than together as a firm. Finally, slow down when you are pivoting, it’s really important to choose the right direction.

If you are in a similar situation and want to chat with us, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Disco Fingers.

Photo credit: Dean Meyers

Skjermbilde 2014-11-20 kl. 11.38.12
14Hermann Ørn Vidarsson

Hermann Ørn VidarssonNovember 20, 2014

Call for Pitches

The Live Crowdfunding Experiment last year was a success. More than 1MNOK was raised for the 4 companies participating last April. And we are ready for a second run, but not as an experiment, this time it is an experience.
At Technoport 2015, you have the chance to get attention from investors, valuable investments and the network to accelerate YOUR business.

What is equity crowdfunding?
Funding a company by selling shares to crowd investors
in exchange for partial ownership. Equity crowdfunding
investors are entitled to dividends from future profits
and receive a share of the value when shares are sold.

Why live crowdfunding?
Your company will get valuable exposure through the presence
at Technoport 2015. You get a forum to speak
to potential investors, and the opportunity to pitch
in front of a crowd ready to commit. In addition, your company will be featured on FundedByMe,com, a European funding platform.

Who can participate?
Startups that wish to participate should
– Be technology related.
– Be registered as a limited company (Aksjeselskap)

How do I apply?
To register your interest, simply send an application to
aleksander(at)fundedbyme(dot)com. You can also send him
questions or call him at +47 45 15 32 85

The application must include:
A one-pager describing:
● Your business
● How much capital you are seeking
● The valuation of your business
● What you will achieve with this investment
After the deadline an independent jury will pick the most
promising companies with the best/highest potential for
success in the Live Crowdfunding Experiment.

The chosen startups will receive:
● A free campaign on FundedByMe and counseling throughout the campaign preparations
● Two delegate passes to Technoport 2015
● Stand at Technoport 2015
● Participation in “pitch camp” to perfect your pitch

Skjermbilde 2014-11-20 kl. 11.02.17

Future of journalism
3Marie Jacobsen Lauvås

Marie Jacobsen LauvåsNovember 19, 2014

Future business models of online media

“Digital is as different from print and television as print and television is from each other, and folks are barely starting to understand that”, I heard Henry Blodget, the Editor-In-Chief of Business Insider, says in a discussion with Vox Media and The Times.

The shape of media is changing as users shift from desktop to mobile. Today content providers need to focus on different formats, shorter stories and new monetization models. With the viral consumption of online media I believe we will see a future of new emerging business models among the online media players, and a natural question for many will be: “how can we make sure that we get across with the story we actually want to get across with to the audience?”

Adapting to the digital generation

We live in a viral ‘buzzfeed’ era and sometimes I feel overwhelmed when trying to consume the most relevant content trending my feed. There is always something new and exciting and I never run out of well written curated content. We want to be continuously updated at all time, but sometimes I need to break out to avoid a viral fatigue.

As a writer, social media is an incredible source for distribution and consumption of media, but it is hard to differentiate among all the players. Jim Bankoff, CEO of Vox Media said: “One thing is that you have a new digital generation who prefers to read content driven by brands that are natively digital, written by talents that are natural digital writers.”

I agree that the format and length of stories play an important role because we today want information to be on-demand, on the go and to-the-point. However, I still have some trustworthy homepages (read: free press) that I occasionally return to when I want to read reliable news.

Many media players call this period the golden age for digital journalism, but with a hub of competing players with a constant need to curate new content, I question how companies will continue to build and monetize on their brand?

Brand building in the viral buzzfeed era

Henry Blogdet explains brand as such: “Homepage is more of a stream. Content that you want to consume and engage with instead of randomized content … before people would say: you’ve gotta figure out how to imprison the people on your site, but thing is, it is a terrible idea! Internet is the distribution channel.”

Jim Bankoff explains it this way: “People still go to good homepages because they have affiliated with the brand. If they have discovered content and they like it, they will go to our webpage and then we will get them as our customers … What we find is that marketers want to act like publishers in a way that they need to build in order to brand, they need to tell a story, they need to create a mythology around their product. How do they do that? They are creating content and makes sure that content finds its audience. What do we do? Exactly that. Thus we can now apply the processes that have helped us become a big media company to help marketers as well.”

90% of Norway’s population uses the National broadcast channel on a daily basis. However, the service is dependent on license fees to keep the service free from advertisements. As media companies today become more and more dependent on advertisers, the increasing percentage of marketed content makes me question whether or not I will be able to consume ‘free press’ articles in the future. As Jimmy Maymann from Huffington post predicts 50% of their content will be sponsored content in some time, it becomes vital to dig deeper into the changing role of advertisements.

The changing role of advertising

“There is a huge amount of advertising money out there, and a huge amount of it is going into programmatic. It is a huge advantage for them and it removes a lot of hassle for us, because we are not trying to protect prices that are the old analogue of print prices, thus the model works for us,“ says Henry Blodget from Business Insider.

However, David Carr from the NY Times sees it in a different way: “What buzzfeed does is taking the inefficiency out of the system. And in NY Times we would name that inefficiency ‘profit’.”

According to Mike McCue from Flipboard, marketers buy predominantly one out of two things:

1. Scale and reach, or
2. An initial audience

Content marketing and storytelling is growing. We create content and then target its audience. Mike McCue adds: “ There will be algorithmic curation as well as human curation. People should be able to pick up and share great curated information.”

With the ability to personalize and target audiences media players can now offer more efficient pricing models to advertisers. However, as the pricing models become more effective this will also require more efficient content production and distribution for the publishers, thus media players all over the world are now trying to look at more effective models to monetize on their brand.

The opportunity window

Jimmy Maymann and Mike McCue predicts that the most successful media players will be the ones that are most able to target, repackage and program creative content when the audience is there.

Mike McCue explains: “If you think about the world we are moving to as a network of people they may or may not know that your publication exists. You design an article to be read and consumed by specific audiences and repackaged in a lot of different ways. That applies to your business model as well, because you don’t want people to be dependent on coming to your web page.”

Promising startups aiming to disrupt

Several startups are now focusing on efficiency in terms of storytelling, content marketing, branding, native content, marketing, pricing and distribution. I met some promising new ventures in journalism at the Web SUMMIT and some interesting new business models are:

  • Crowdsourced payment (groupon model) for in-depth articles (rapport.fi, etsuri)
  • Personalized mobile news aggregators (Zycks app, Newsanglr, Dashbook, Etalia, brickflow, lekiosk)
  • Branded social open spaces (shore.li)
  • Crowdsourced and location based news (nunki, storyhunter, newstag)
  • Targeting for reach and scale (newsatme.com, 8bit, feedspy, wordlift, buzzfeed)

David Bauer just visited Trondheim and he has compiled a whole lot of new players at (http://www.davidbauer.ch/2013/10/20/an-unfinished-list-of-ventures-in-journalism-you-should-be-watching-and-why/)

The last few months I have helped to write some stories for the news aggregation site Trondheim Tech, a site compiling regional news within technology and innovation, and I clearly see a need for innovative monetizing models in the field. I believe there are several ways to differentiate and I believe we will see more and more niche media companies emerging in the future. Someone still needs to write the story and someone needs to think outside the box.

What do you think?

Startup Weekend Trondheim
60David Nikel

David NikelNovember 13, 2014

That was Startup Weekend Trondheim

A new technology to drive better online discussions won Startup Weekend Trondheim last weekend. The team want On Topic to be adopted by newspaper and magazine websites, so users can immediately get a feel for the discussion without wading through a long list of comments.

Key to their victory against five other strong ideas was their presentation, which communicated the concept quickly and clearly.

Team spokesperson Jørgen Foss Eri was thrilled and is often the case at Startup Weekends, the idea wasn’t the one he was hoping to work on:

“It was a happy accident! I came to pitch a different idea but ended up pitching this one too. It’s my first Startup Weekend. Having someone to go with made all the difference to me and gave me the confidence to pitch.”

“The team management aspect was the crucial part. Working with complete strangers for the weekend is a challenge! At times we were split in all different directions but we worked through it. We spent all of Saturday pinning down the concept.”

Winning team On Topic

Wild Wood Design was awarded second place for their hardware idea to reuse and recycle waste wood into design-led furniture for hotels and restaurants. The team were hard at work in the DIGS workshop all weekend and managed to produce a table that impressed judge Tommy Dahlen so much that he lay down cold hard cash to purchase it. A great start for their business!

Wild Wood Design

Technoport was a proud sponsor once again and our CEO Gøril Forbord was on the judging panel:

“It was really fun, I love Startup Weekend! At Technoport we are working to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset and I know of no better way than this. Being a judge is tough because you have such a short time to evaluate the ideas, but I do think some of these ideas could go forward to become real businesses. It’s important for some of them to talk with real customers as soon as possible.”

It’s awesome to see the Trondheim event finally gaining momentum, with a great mix of skills and ages ranging from 12 to 70!

To keep in touch with the organisers and be first in the queue next time, simply like their Facebook page. If you can’t wait until the next event, check out Startup Weekend Bergen, starting this Friday.

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Mentoring at Startup Weekend

Photo credits: Victor Kleive & Stina Liland Nysæther