Posts Tagged ‘startups’

Trondheim Tech Capital
60David Nikel

David NikelMay 24, 2014

Four Startup Awards for Trondheim

Trondheim’s position as technology capital of Norway was enhanced at the Nordic Startup Awards in Oslo last week, with four awards heading back up the E6. Not bad for a city with a population of just 180,000!

The general public voted on a shortlist of nominees from across the Nordic region, and the following Trondheim-based people and companies picked up national awards:

DirtyBit – Best Startup Norway & One to Watch Nordics

Dino Dash

The creators of multiplayer game FunRun, DirtyBit recently launched their latest release: DinoDash. The mobile game maker was launched by Erlend Borslid Haugsdal and Nicolaj Broby Petersen when they were at NTNU. Less than two years later, DirtyBit employ 8 people and are one of the most promising app developers in the country. In addition to picking up Best Startup in the Norwegian awards, the jury handed DirtyBit the “One to Watch” accolade.

NTNU School of Entrepreneurship – Best Service Provider Norway

NTNU Entreprenørskolen

NTNU’s Entreprenørskolen takes in some of Norway’s most promising talents and turns them into fully-fledged entrepreneurs in just two years. Their alumni list is impressive and the current crop includes fellow nominees DirtyBit and Feat.fm.

David Nikel – Best Startup Journalist Norway
Yep, that’s me! A big thank you to Technoport for letting me loose on its Playground this past year, and to all the fantastic startups I’ve met along the way.

A jury selected from the national winners of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, and although none of the Trondheim contingent won an overall prize (aside from DirtyBit’s One to Watch award), it was still a night to celebrate for Trondheim.

We must also mention the overall winner for best Service Provider was our Live Crowdfunding Experiment partners FundedByMe, and the winner of Best Startup Journalist was Greg Anderson from Arctic Startup, who joined us in Trondheim for Technoport 2014 last month.

Congratulations everyone!

The overall winners were:

  • Startup of the Year: Plain Vanilla (Iceland) – a software development company that delivers beautiful applications on mobile platforms, such as QuizUp
  • Best Newcomer: Jumpstarter (Sweden), a hosting platform to enable people to set up fully hosted web projects in less than a second
  • Best Service Provider: FundedByMe (Sweden), a crowd investment platform, connecting investors with entrepreneurs
  • Founder of the Year: Carl Waldekranz (Sweden), CEO and co-founder of DIY e-commerce website Tictail
  • Developer Hero: Jonas Bruun Nielsen (Denmark), creator of Screenmailer, the fastest way to record and share high quality screen recordings
  • Best Investor: Lifeline Ventures (Finland), venture capital firm that typically works with start-ups before they have launched their first product, taking it from inception to successful Series A investment and beyond
  • Best Startup Journalist: Greg Anderson (Finland), writes about startup companies as Editor at ArcticStartup
Nordic Startup Awards
60David Nikel

David NikelMay 6, 2014

Looking ahead to the Nordic Startup Awards

Get ready to be inspired – all over again!

Hot on the heels of Technoport 2014 comes the Grand Finale of the Nordic Startup Awards.

To be held in Oslo on 22 May, the Grand Finale will showcase the very best of the startup ecosystems across the Nordic countries – that’s Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland. The show itself will be a networkers dream, gathering together over 600 entrepreneurs, VCs, angel investors, students, VIPs, tech journalists and of course, the eyes of the global startup community.

Here’s the CEO Kim Balle to explain a little more:

The Norwegian shortlist will be revealed soon and you’ll get the chance to vote for your preferred choices. The awards up for grabs are:

Startup of the Year – The startup that has shown the greatest development over the last year, in the form of growth, sales, product or service.

Founder of the Year – This individual has shown great leadership in the past year. Notable achievements could be fund-raising, great customer growth, or good financials.

Best Investor – This person or organization has displayed the best investment acumen, i.e. an exit, early investment, or realization of an earlier investment.

Best Service Provider – A noteworthy company that deserves the recognition for its help, services and support to the startup industry in the past year.

Developer Hero – In partnership with EESTEC. This individual has been instrumental in the development community in the past year.

Best Newcomer – A noteworthy startup that has less than 12 months in operation and yet has managed to establish a promising track-record.

Startup Journalist – This person has displayed passion for the startup scene by providing insightful and impacting coverage as either a blogger or startup journalist.

Buy your ticket now!

roVsPWA
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 16, 2014

Technoport 2014: Dimension10 develops 3D scanner

At Technoport 2014’s Live Crowdfunding Experiment, the first of its kind in Norway, three promising young tech startups will pitch their company to a crowd of investors. This week we hear from each of the startups in turn. We’ve heard about AssiStep and Rom & Tonik, now we hear from Krister Fagerslepp of Dimension10, developers of a 3D scanner.

What challenge does your product solve, and how is your solution innovative?

Our solution solves the difficulty of scanning living objects by scanning the entire subject at the same time within mililseconds. Our solution is innovative because it’s purpose built down to the software that controls it. Our innovation also lies in the areas of use, and how easily we can achieve an automatic process from scan to result.

Why did you decide to develop this company?

The origin for my project is my interest for immersive technology/Virtual Reality. I developed software for Oculus Rift as well as building my own unit before the developer kit hit the market. The 3D scanner is a result of experiments I did to create characters/avatars for this system. I would say the seed for this project was planted around 24 months ago. However, serious work was not initiated until a while after this.

What have you achieved so far?

Our 3D scanner is working and stable, with generally decent quality. We have developed the software and hardware to control the rig ourselves. However, the quality of scans still need improvement in our opinion. This means mainly that we need to add more cameras and flashes, to get more angles covered.

Where has your funding come from before?

Funding has come mainly from our own pockets.

Why are you seeking equity crowdfunding?

In order to speed up development we need money for things such as more/better hardware and bigger office space. Selling equity seems like a good way to raise funds in this project.

Where do you see your company in 5 years?

We see ourselves having a working scanner system that is simple enough to operate that we can hire almost anyone to operate it. Once this achieved, the only demanding job is occasional software updates and maintenance.  If we can achieve these goals, we have more than enough ideas to pursue in the field that will keep us occupied and plenty of IP to keep us going. We have no doubt that we will never a dull moment, and firmly believe that our companies ability to produce revenue extends far beyond  5 years.

Check out Dimension10’s FundedByMe campaign here!

Want to attend?

Learn more about the Live Crowdfunding Experiment and register for Technoport 2014.

Photo credit: Dimension10 

IMG_7958_2
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 15, 2014

Technoport 2014: Rom & Tonik makes natural sound absorber

At Technoport 2014’s Live Crowdfunding Experiment, the first of its kind in Norway, three promising young tech startups will pitch their company to a crowd of investors. This week we hear from each of the startups in turn. First we heard about AssiStep, now up is Rom & Tonik, a company founded by Mats Solberg and Birgitte Røsvik.

What challenge does your product solve, and how is your solution innovative?

Our product is proven to be one of the most volume efficient sound absorption products on the market. We work towards reducing noise in office and public spaces to improve the working conditions. We are doing this through using natural rough wool as the actual absorbent. This is a whole different way to do it, and the unique felt that we produce in Mongolia is uniquely efficient. We have also developed a modular and very flexible system that allows the user a lot of freedom when configuring their FeltTile system.

Why did you decide to develop this company?

We wanted to start Rom & Tonik because we saw that there was a huge potential market in acoustic solutions for open offices and public spaces. We also saw the need to make use of the rough wool quality that the textile industry avoided in their products. Making use of a raw material that has a perfectly sustainable profile to solve a growing problem in the interior market made perfect sense. We decided to start Rom & Tonik after winning the regional finals of Venture Cup in Trondheim in the spring of 2012. The company was started in October 2012.

What have you achieved so far?

Since then, we have developed the profile of Rom & Tonik, worked intensely with developing our production and distribution line. We have been hard at work with finalizing our product design for FeltTile and finally we launched FeltTile and Rom & Tonik at Designers Saturday in Oslo Sept. 2013. In February this year, we were able to present FeltTile at the Stockholm Furniture Fair, the leading interior exhibition for the Scandinavian market. On a day-to-day basis we are hard at work with selling FeltTile and we have now sold more than 20 projects around Norway.

Where has your funding come from before?

We have received funding (etablérstipend) from Innovation Norway and Seed capital from Ålesund Kunnskapspark.

Why are you seeking equity crowdfunding?

After visiting Stockholm Furniture Fair we got interest from resellers all over the world. Now we want to start testing the Scandinavian market and establish our network beyond the Norwegian market. In parallel we are working with some very exciting new products with a very good supplementary potential to FeltTile. To be able to develop pilot projects with this new product, we will use some of the FundedByMe equity for product development as well.

Where do you see your company in 5 years?

In five years Rom & Tonik is substantial actor in the interior furnishing industry. The organisation has grown a lot, and we are the go-to company for acoustical solutions and soundproofing. We have our products installed in more than 20 countries in the world, and we have contributed to improve people’s working environment in every project we have participated in.

Check out the Rom & Tonik FundedByMe campaign here!

Want to attend?

Learn more about the Live Crowdfunding Experiment and register for Technoport 2014.

Photo credit: Mats Herding Solberg

AssiTech
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 14, 2014

Technoport 2014: AssiStep helps the elderly

At Technoport 2014’s Live Crowdfunding Experiment, the first of its kind in Norway, three promising young tech startups will pitch their company to a crowd of investors. This week we’ll hear from each of the startups in turn. First up, AssiStep – a company created by Eirik Gjelsvik Medbø, Halvor Wold, and Ingrid Lonar. 

What challenge does your product solve, and how is your solution innovative?

One of the biggest obstacles for the elderly and people with mobility issues is stair climbing. It’s one of the most common reasons that people need to move away from their home. At the same time, stair climbing is the most effective training method in your own home, but the consequences from falling can be dramatic, which is illustrated by the 50 casualties and 30,000 injuries from stair falling each year in Norway alone.

If we can solve this problem by adding increased support, increased safety and stimulate people to continue to use their stairs, our users will become more independent, get increased exercise, and continue to live in their own home for longer.

Why did you decide to develop this company?

Through a large number of interviews with users and therapists, we learned  how big the stair climbing problem actually is, and that there aren’t good enough solutions out there today. By creating AssiTech AS, we can make people more independent, and at the same time establish ourselves in a market with a big growth potential over the coming years.

What have you achieved so far?

We’ve established a passionate and ambitious team that really wants to make a difference by creating innovative and user-friendly products. We’ve raised over 2 million NOK in soft-funding. We’ve developed a lot of prototypes, and  at this point are ready to produce the first series of AssiStep. AssiStep is a trademarked and patent-pending product.

Where has your funding come from before?

We’ve raised over 2 million NOK in soft-funding to date, from Innovation Norway, NTNU Discovery, our biggest customer NAV, and the Tekna scholarship 2013, in addition to the equity we’ve put in ourselves. We’re now at a stage where we need to raise private capital, in order to initialise production of the first 60 products.

Why are you seeking equity funding?

Because we know that a lot of people out there really believe in AssiStep, and want to see it go into production. Equity funding makes it possible for ordinary people to make a difference, by becoming a shareholder in a company with growth potential. In order for us to start delivering value to users and customers, we need to raise capital for production of our first 60 products.

Where do you see your company in 5 years?

In 5 years our product portfolio have grown to something more than AssiStep, making use of our strategic distribution partners outside Norway. AssiStep is by then an established product also within markets outside Norway, and should be the natural choice for stair mobility. Our organisation consists of creative people that wants to make a difference by creating innovative products that solve big problems.

Check out the AssiStep Funded by Me campaign here!

Want to attend?

Learn more about the Live Crowdfunding Experiment and register for Technoport 2014.

Photo credit: AssiStep (from left to right, Eirik Gjelsvik Medbø, Ingrid Lonar, Halvor Wold)

Jonas Kjellberg Skype
60David Nikel

David NikelApril 7, 2014

Technoport 2014: Jonas Kjellberg talks startups

One of the big themes of Technoport 2014 is troublemakers: people who aren’t afraid to disrupt industries with new ways of thinking and new ways of doing business. One great example of a troublemaking company is Skype, the VOIP service and instant messaging client that transformed the way many businesses, entrepreneurs, and ordinary people communicate, almost overnight.

Jonas Kjellberg is well-placed to tell the story, having joined Skype’s co-founders during the very early days and steering the company’s rapid global growth. Since the sale of Skype to Microsoft, he has worked extensively advising other start ups as well as consulting and starting his own businesses. He lectures at Stanford University on sales cultures and how to bring product sales, profitability and the whole company together, and is co-author of Gear Up.

He’ll tell Skype’s story during Technoport 2014’s Troublemakers session, but I managed to ask him a few questions in advance to whet your appetite…

Can you tell us about your role(s) at Skype?

I joined the founding office in Stockholm and was initially responsible for the biggest region, which at the time was the Nordics. When the company grew bigger I became responsible for all revenues generated from clients.

Did you have any idea back then that Skype would be as successful as it has been?

I liked the product and the people in the team, and I had worked with them before. That it could become that successful, was not in the cards, It had been a very rough start of the project. But the product had a great global delight so there was a dream that we could hit it big. But competition was against giants like Microsoft and their MSN Messenger, AOL, ICQ, and all the telcos in the world, so there were many that hated what we did.

Why do you think the Nordics have been so successful at producing startups?

I think there is a tradition of product innovation in the Nordics that results from our traditional industries. But the more tech-based startups that make it big, the more people there are that have done the journey and know what it takes to build a high potential venture.

Can you explain what Gear Up Ventures is and who might find it useful?

Gear up is a framework that will help you create a high potential venture. It explains all the parts that need to be in place, to get the wheels spinning. The framework was initially developed at Harvard, and has been the backbone of teaching at Stanford, to foster and teach great entrepreneurs.

Should a startup think global first, or build up a successful business in their home market first?

A startup should always follow its own beliefs. My personal view is that you should try to think big, and get the global approach in to the DNA of the company from the start. It is hard to add that later.

American companies often have the world as their target market, and would never dream of having just one market at the size of Finland, as their only market. So it is a mental approach, but there is no right or wrong.

Want to hear more?

Jonas Kjellberg will be talking troublemakers at Technoport 2014. Want to join him? Register today!

NTNU Success Stories
3Eirik Gjelsvik Medbø

Eirik Gjelsvik MedbøFebruary 7, 2014

From NTNU to the World – Entrepreneurs Reveal All

Last month Technoport kicked off the semester for the cooperating villages in Experts in Teamwork, with inspirational talks from three young entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs shared how they have built up companies or organisations, starting as students or recent graduates, and what they have learned from that experience. The feedback from the audience after the talks was really good, so we thought we would share two of the talks with you.

Dynamic Rock Support

Gisle Østereng started and headed one of the most successful companies from NTNU to date, Dynamic Rock Support. He began the work having only a few years of experience after he finished his NTNU studies, when he met a professor at NTNU who had developed a new, more solid rock bolt for the mining industry.

Gisle shares how he and his colleagues, after a few difficult years, “cracked the code” and became the fastest­growing company in Mid­Norway in 2012. He talks about how they got investors, how they initially tried to sell the bolt, and the fact that “you don’t have to be smart to become an entrepreneur”, as he puts it. He also surprises by emphasizing that it was their least experienced salesmen who got the best results.

Engineers Without Borders

When Line Magnussen did a field trip to Bangladesh during her Developing studies at the University of Oslo, she discovered the need for small technical solutions to simplify the lives in developing countries. She then decided to study mechanical engineering at NTNU, with the long­term goal to develop a stove to be used in developing countries, and then start a Norwegian department of Engineers Without Borders. Along with several others, she managed to start Engineers Without Borders in Norway in 2011, but somewhat ironically, she still hasn’t developed the stove!

In this talk, Line tells the story of how this plan played out, and what she has learned from starting a national humanitarian organization for engineers. She explains how her passion for the cause more than compensated for her lack of experience as a student, and the importance of talking about your goals and dreams when you try to get attention and help from others.

Do you have any feedback or questions? Don’t hesitate to comment below!

Photo credit: NTNU Engineering

Palo Alto
60David Nikel

David NikelNovember 19, 2013

Learning in Silicon Valley – The Norwegian 11

Eleven Norwegian startups recently completed a one-month intensive program of development at Innovation House in Palo Alto, California.

The TINC (Technology INCubator) program is designed to develop the international potential of Norwegian startups by plugging them into the Silicon Valley community. The chosen startups at various stages of development get access to accommodation and office space, the very best advisors and mentors, and a trusted environment designed for learning and networking.

It’s a terrific opportunity for all Norwegian innovators with global ambitions. Here are the 11 startups that were on the latest program:

Zwipe

Zwipe enables integration of fingerprint authentication on contactless cards. They sure made the most of their time in Palo Alto, signing a global OEM distribution deal and signing a lease on their own office in the Bay area.

Founder and CEO Kim Kristian Humborstad said: “Innovation House … have been instrumental in helping to guide and mentor us not only on industry and technology issues, but also on regional and global issues such as regulation and legislation. All of this support and advice no doubt helped us in signing the global OEM distribution agreement – it’s made all the miles travelled worthwhile.” (read more)

TapBookAuthor

TapBookAuthor helps authors and publishers digitise and enrich their children’s books. Norwegian publisher Samlaget has used the tool to produce a series of apps for the children’s book Jakob and Neikob.

Founder and CEO Sondre Skaug Bjørnebekk was looking for connections over investment and seemed pleased with what he found, writing: “Ironically one of the most promising meetings the coming week for me will be over Skype with a Nordic publisher that I was introduced to after attending the Nordic Entrepreneur of the Year awards event in Los Altos.” (read more)

CrayoNano

Trondheim-based CrayoNano is one of the long list of startups to be born out of research at NTNU. Their mission is to develop and commercialize new hybrid semiconductor technology – a material obtained by growing semiconductor nanowires on graphene. The international potential here is obvious.

OneTraffic

OneTraffic founder and CEO André Eilertsen is a former helicopter pilot and traffic reporter, so it’s no surprise to learn his startup is focused on solving the world’s traffic problems!

The global traffic collaboration system has a dual aim – to save its users time and money, but also to help people use existing transport infrastructure more efficiently, reducing pollution too.

Databeat

Databeat count Elkjøp, Lefdal, Bunnpris and Platekompaniet among its customers, so travelled to California hoping to develop their retail-focused digital media business beyond the Norwegian border.

Kikora

Innovation within education is evolving rapidly and the 13 staff at Kikora‘s Oslo HQ are at the forefront. Their cloud-based mathematics learning tool is already used in Norwegian schools, with high-profile supporters such as former Minister of Education Trond Giske, who said: “This might lead to bigger changes in Norwegian schools than we’ve seen in decades, maybe ever.”

Explorable

Staying on the education theme, the Explorable website attempts to make scientific research easier to understand. Future plans to develop the business include research tools for scientists and tools to help students learn about scientific methods.

Vippy

Vippy offers an easy-to-use video platform to customers including NHO, PwC and Hafslund. Their smart video player solution is designed for today’s mobile-first world, automatically detecting the user’s device to ensure flawless playback.

ConceptoMed

Innovations from ConceptoMed are designed to enhance efficiency and safety during everyday work-operations in the medical workplace.

Their ConceptoShield technology is designed for the 10% of people with a phobia of blood or needles, helping medical professionals do their job safely and efficiently.

Dossier Solutions

Dossier offers technology for HR departments, such as Onboarding, designed to assist in the process of welcoming and training new employees.

AppsCo

AppsCo was one of the youngest startups in the program, only founded in April this year. They provide an all-in-one platform to create, sell and use web based applications.

Photo credit: Jorge Luis Zapico

Startup Weekend Oslo
60David Nikel

David NikelNovember 1, 2013

How Startup Weekend teaches big business to innovate

“No Talk, All Action, Launch a Startup in 54 Hours”

That’s the rather bold statement of the Startup Weekend movement, the world’s largest entrepreneurial community. Entrepreneurs, coders, designers, and others come together to create a business concept in one hectic weekend. Some go on to run their businesses full-time, others continue working on their projects in the evenings, and for some it’s just a fun weekend, but every single participant learns something new.

I helped to organise two Startup Weekends in Oslo last year, where the enthusiasm, energy, and buzz was contagious. I felt drawn to like-minded people, and it’s impossible not to expand your network and learn new skills in such an environment.

Once the dust settled, I couldn’t help thinking – why isn’t the corporate world more like this?

My experience of trying to innovate in business (in both Norway and the UK) is not a positive one. When I’ve tried to improve a process or question a norm, I’ve been faced with a brick wall, barriers put in place by an arbitrary hierarchy, or a “robust” process that is anything but.

At Startup Weekend, the best ideas emerge organically, develop rapidly, pivot where appropriate, and reveal just how innovative we humans can be, especially given a tight timeframe and resource restriction.

Corporations getting in on the act

Earlier this year, global Startup Weekend sponsor Coca-Cola hosted an internal event, inviting 96 employees and 4 facilitators to “refresh innovation” at Coke. From 46 ideas, the 14 most popular were selected to develop, some Coke-related and some most definitely not. Following the usual Startup Weekend process of ongoing development, mentor sessions, refinement, and in some instances even complete changes in direction, four winners were chosen with one even able to pitch their idea to Coca-Cola’s operating committee.

“If you’re trying to figure out how your company can foster innovation, Ive never seen a better and cheaper way to do this, and I’ve never seen anything have such an impact” – Nick Seguin, Manager of Entrepreneurship at the Kaufmann Foundation.

Closer to home, Nordic Semiconductor partnered with Startup Weekend Trondheim to offer their Bluetooth low energy chips at a pre-event workshop, with a prize for the best app/idea utilising the technology. Letting talented entrepreneurs work out new ways to use your technology – sounds like a winning idea in itself!

Innovation in the Norwegian Public Sector

IKT Norge (ICT Norway) and Difi (the Norwegian Agency for Public Management and eGovernment) launched Apps4Norge earlier this year, offering prizes worth NOK 150,000 for the best apps and ideas utilising public data to benefit society. Although Apps4Norge was run over a longer timescale, the Startup Weekend concept – forming teams, providing resources (in this case Government datasets) and seeing what happens – was clear for all to see.

The individual Apps4Norge award went to Samstemmer, which takes real-time information from the Parliamentary Data API to provide a visual representation of voting patterns in the Norwegian Parliament.

Lessons for your business

Innovation events such as these are successful not because the individual ideas are groundbreaking, but because it shows everyone what is possible when people are allowed to step outside their day job and play.

Maja Adriaensen, the Country Manager for Startup Weekend Norway, agrees: “Startups generally work because of limitations, normally money. But there’s other ways to create those constraints, on Startup Weekend time is the limited resource. Mixing up staff, taking them completely out of their comfort zone, and creating fake constraints could help big organisations think and act more like innovative startups.”

The options for your company are numerous. Send a few employees to a Startup Weekend, held regularly in Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, and Trondheim. Volunteer your own time as a mentor or speaker, helping inexperienced entrepreneurs on their journey and maybe taking the infectious enthusiasm for innovation back to your workplace.

But remember, hosting an internal event is only worthwhile if you mix departments up, put constraints in place, and then allow people to fully express themselves without fear. This means no checking emails during the event! Outside facilitators are always a good idea, to prevent any bias or agenda-setting from internal management.

Is this something your organisation could benefit from? If not, why not?