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60David Nikel

David NikelFebruary 17, 2015

From Oslo to NYC via Berlin

The whole notion of a startup being “Norwegian” or any other nationality is rapidly becoming out of date.

Sure, a company will always be incorporated in a specific country, but is a startup really American if its development takes place in Asia, its sales office is in Dubai, and its content marketing is done from London?

Socius is a great example of a modern location-mobile startup that already counts people from Norway, Germany, Russia, the UK and the USA in their ranks. Right now, they’re based in Berlin, but the idea was born in Norway and future plans lie stateside.

Co-founder Daniel Butler told me about the move to Berlin, and the challenges of running a startup both there and in Norway:

“In Oslo there is less chance for serendipity. There are less people, the scenes are small anyway, whether that be music, art or tech, people all know each other so you hit the ceiling quite quickly. The Axel Springer accelerator in Berlin was perfect for us. It’s run by a media house and as we are a media startup it made sense, plus its partnered with an incubator in Silicon Valley so you hit the ground running with international opportunities. Berlin is a cheap place to live and has significant spotlight as a startup destination.”

“The reality is even Berlin is not as buzzing as so many people think it is, but if you manage to ride the wave of publicity then it can be great.”

Right now, Socius is doing its best to ride that wave of publicity, having secured a high-profile partnership with the Berlinale Film Festival:

“Our experience with Berlinale has proven there’s a need for the curation of social content. Of the tens of thousands of posts tagged with the numerous festival hashtags, our platform showcased around 1,700 of them, whereas if you follow through the individual hashtags, you have to trawl through a whole load of repetitive stuff.”

The future is global

A lot of great ideas are born in Norway, but Socius proves you don’t have to restrict yourself to the outdated notion of a nation’s borders to succeed with a startup. The world is out there and Socius are going after it. Are you?

Join us at the Technoport 2015 innovation conference in Trondheim, Norway, as we seek to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset in Norwegian entrepreneurs, students, researchers and investors.

Beijing skyline China

Julie MalvikJanuary 23, 2015

An Internship in Beijing

Two Norwegian economics students from Trondheim Business School, Jakob Matthiasen (25) and Hilde Bøe Tjøm (23), have both been undertaking an internship at the investment company Origio Partners PLC in China´s capital, Beijing.

Talking to Technoport, they share their opinions and experiences on how it is to be a part of a working environment in one of the world’s largest economies.

Origo interns

Jakob Matthiasen (L) and Hilde Bøe Tjøm (R) at Origo

Why did you choose to undertake an internship in China?

Hilde: “I applied for the internship because I wanted to challenge myself in a country and a culture totally different than Norway. China has rapidly grown to become one of the world’s largest economies, and the country is an important trading partner for Norway and the rest of the world. Having the opportunity to work in a Chinese company for one month was therefore very appealing.”

Jakob: “An internship in China is a rare opportunity, and when you come across such possibilities, you have to grasp them. To dive head first into the second largest economy of the world is a privilege.”

Politicians are often out in the media to talk about the significance of studying or working in China, yet we have not seen Norwegian companies highlight the same importance. What can you offer compared to students that have not been to Asia?

Jakob: “I believe that China will play a central role in world economics and politics in the future. Having actually worked in China, and experienced Chinese business life first-hand will come in handy, as China is gradually internationalizing. Furthermore, having worked explicitly with Chinese equity markets and their importance and development, I might have a better understanding of anticipated shifts in global asset management.”

Hilde: “I am studying economics. In this context it is interesting to experience Chinese corporate culture and learn about Chinese business models that apparently has been successfully. I think everyone has something to gain from working or studying in a country outside the Western Hemisphere.”

Jakob and Hilde in traditional Chinese formal clothes

Jakob and Hilde in traditional Chinese formal clothes

Could you see yourself working in China in the future?

Jakob: “Maybe. China is bound to be one of the most important countries in the world in the near future, and to live in and experience the development China is undergoing will be fascinating,” Matthiasen said. However, there are downsides. “The pollution. I don’t think I can live in a city where I cannot see the sun and sky, or sometimes four, five blocks ahead, on a regular basis due to smog.”

Hilde: “Having spent two weeks in China without speaking a single word of Chinese, I realise that if I were working here I would definitely have to learn the language. However, if an opportunity were to appear at the appropriate time in my life, I could definitely see myself working in China for some years.”

Why would you recommend China to other students?

Jakob: “Beijing as a city is exhilarating. There is so much to do and experience, and never a dull moment. It is what you make it; you can sit in your apartment and watch series, which is nice after a hard day’s work, or you can go outside and embrace the unknown.”

“I did get around a bit, and got to do the mandatory tourist attractions like the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, the Silk Market and I even tried eating scorpion. On the other hand, Beijing is enormous, and we’d probably need years to really get to know the city.”

How would you would you describe working in Beijing compared to Trondheim?

Jakob: “Beijing as a working environment surprised me. It was a lot less formal than I thought beforehand, and just not that different.”

“Beijing is a major international business hub, with nationalities from all over the globe, yet it felt like I could have been at work back home in Norway. Which was comforting; there is no shortage of feeling lost when you move outside the international business areas.”

Do you have the mindset to succeed globally?

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

Featured image credit: Trey Ratcliff

Think global
60David Nikel

David NikelSeptember 1, 2014

Think Global First

On my journey around the coworking spaces, Startup Weekends and other events that make up the Norwegian entrepreneurial scene, I continue to be astounded by the talented people I meet. People with great ideas and the drive to deliver on them and make a real impact.

But so many times I’m saddened to see the entrepreneur restricting themselves to their home market. The population of the world is an estimated 7.1 billion people. Norway’s population is just 5 million, or to put it another way, 0.07% of the world’s population. By focusing your innovative idea on Norway alone, you are missing out on 99.93% of the world.

I get it, I truly do. There is a high average disposable income and the language barrier (which does exist in Norway, despite the high comprehension of English) means it’s easy to replicate a successful business model from elsewhere in the world by just implementing it in Norwegian. But for truly innovative ideas, ideas with the potential to disrupt industries, consider going global first.

Here are some markets to consider.

The United Kingdom

London Heathrow

The rise of low-cost airlines such as Ryanair, Norwegian and Flybe means the UK’s capital is now just as easy to reach from Oslo as any Norwegian city. Think about that for a moment. 65 million people and Europe’s biggest tech startup cluster on your doorstep without any real change in your travel habits or budget.

London’s tech startup scene is centred on the Silicon Roundabout between Hackney and Islington. Cisco, Facebook, Google, Intel and McKinsey & Company have all invested in the area to help create Tech City, an umbrella organisation driving the area’s growth.

Tech hangouts and coworking spaces litter London, offering space to network and a calendar of events all year round. The Trampery, Soho Collective, and TechSpace are just some to check out. As for the type of startups that can succeed in London, a recent “Tech City pulse” survey revealed the following breakdown of London’s digital economy:

London Tech City breakdown

One success story of using London as a platform for growth is the game-like educational tool Kahoot from Mobitroll, originally developed at NTNU.

Silicon Valley

Palo Alto

Not a market in itself, but Silicon Valley gives you access to one of the biggest markets of them all: the USA, and of course, venture capital money, but it’s notoriously difficult to get noticed amid the ever-increasing number of wannabes. However, if you are serious about targeting the US, there are ways in.

Innovation Norway operate the TINC program a couple of time a year, offering 10 Norwegian companies a unique business development and networking opportunity in the heart of the Valley. Keep your eyes peeled on the Innovation House blog for news.

Another networking organisation worth tuning into is Silicon Vikings, who boast 5,000 members and publish a Twitter news feed of goings on from the Nordic involvement in the Valley.

Successful Norwegian companies with a foot (or more!) in this corner of California include the collaborative video creation software WeVideo, the gesture recognition system of Elliptic Labs, and identity management innovators ForgeRock.

Will you take the advice of serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist Jon Medved and get your butt over to the US?


Shanghai, China

The UK and USA are relatively easy to do business with as a Norwegian due to shared language and, to a certain extent, culture. Neither can be said for the world’s second-largest economy and home to over 1 billion people, China. Although the risks may be high, but the rewards of looking east are potentially enormous.

Now far more than the “workshop of the world”, China has a lot more to offer than cheap labour or cheap imports from Alibaba. Innovation Norway are attempting to repeat the success of their Silicon Valley operation and have opened Innovation House Shanghai, to connect Norwegian entrepreneurs and SMEs with the relevant networks in China:

“The country faces an historic shift from labor intensive industries to knowledge-based capital-intensive industries and as part of this transformation, the services sector will replace the industrial sector as the pivotal driver of economic growth. The Chinese Government strongly backs the increased openness towards international business and is building a hypermodern infrastructure across the country, surpassing that of many western countries, to facilitate this change. Wages are still relatively low compared to Norway, which also can make business very profitable.”



You may be surprised that I’m suggesting you check out one of Europe’s economic disaster stories, but some enterprising Norwegians are benefiting from the estimated 50,000 Norwegians living and working in Spain.

Several Norwegian entrepreneurs have set up call centres and other business support services in the Canary Islands and areas of high Norwegian population on the mainland. There’s a steady supply of Norwegian speaking staff despite the substantially lower salaries (though still above the Spanish average) because of the attractiveness of the Spanish climate, particularly in the Canaries. Lower salaries of course means the call centres can undercut their competition based in Norway.

Act local, think global

There’s nothing wrong with starting your business in Norway, but plan global from the start. It makes things much easier if and when you decide to expand, and you may be surprised how quickly things develop.

Photo credit: Yuya Sekiguchi