Expansion part 1: Before you go

Guest Blog Post by Carl Fritjofsson in Creandum
fritjofsson.com | @fritjofsson | @creandum

This post was originally posted on fritjofsson.com/blog.

Starting a company in Europe comes with its particularities. Many of the domestic markets are not large enough for big ideas, and European entrepreneurs generally quickly think about expansion and internationalization. This is especially true in the Nordics. And when it comes to expanding your tech startup, the most important market for many of us is still 🇺🇸 . Partly because of the commercial appeal of a large (and reasonably) homogeneous market with high purchasing power, but more importantly because it’s the home of most major tech platforms and dependencies. At Creandum, we have seen many times that in order to become the world-leader in your domain, you need a US presence in one shape or form. This is why parts of our team, including myself, are based in the San Francisco Bay Area where we can support our portfolio on the grounds and tactically help you grow your business into this market.

Having scaled Wrapp into 18 markets across the globe myself, as well as getting inputs and leveraging insights from our awesome portfolio founders and friends, we have been fortunate enough to have learned a couple of things along the way. And since we invest a lot of time on this topic, in a 3 blog series during the following couple of weeks, I’m going to share some of the learnings and best practices to think about when expanding your company and setting up operations abroad. The structure follows a timeline and things to consider before, during and after you set foot into another market. The outlook is expanding from Europe and setting up operations in the US, although I believe most of these learnings may work just as well when entering into any foreign market.

This post is probably the most important one — 5 things to think through and do BEFORE you make a decision and start your expansion.

❓Understand why. First of all understand that splitting up a company across multiple locations adds A LOT of complexity. Therefore it’s not something to take lightly. Don’t be vain, and just expand for the sake of expansion. Instead try to figure out what part of your business goals you cannot accomplish from your local market. What can you achieve from home? Why do you even need to expand? Are you truly a company who needs local operations or can it be managed centrally? Why do you want to go to US and not China? With global distribution channels available from anywhere, many startups can come a long way and establish a large international customer/user footprint from their domestic market.

📆 Decide when. But many of us have international ambitions from the get-go with a business requiring local operations. In such cases you instead have to start considering the timing. Don’t expand too soon. Many companies who are successful in early fundraising fall into this. I did it with Wrapp. Finding the perfect timing of your expansion is a combination of product-market-fit, organizational maturity and financing. Until you have truly proven product-market-fit with sales or user growth, there’s no reason to start thinking expansion. The reason is simply because you don’t know your business and its requirements well enough yet. With traction the benefit is that you will have data and fundamental understanding about your business, but it also help guide your prioritizations. Huge customer interest from Germany, none in the US. Where do you go? Data is reliable, and can help your decision making. Furthermore, make sure your home market’s organization is ready for expansion. Any expansion should be spearheaded by senior leadership (more on that below), which means you have to ensure that your domestic organization is able to run day-to-day ops when such leadership go elsewhere. Organizational empowerment and a fair amount of processes and structure is key. And finally, setting up international operations costs a lot of money (especially in the US). Make sure to have the financing needed. Don’t expand with a slim wallet expecting to raise money in your new geography. Make sure you have enough runway to take a real stab at it, and prepare minimum 6 months before seeing any business impact. Create a budget, and multiply it with pi to get a rough estimate.

👉👈“Feel it out”. There’s a lot you can do before you actually move over to a new market. You start by going there…not once but many times. We see this a lot in Silicon Valley where people from all over the world frequently and regularly come here to network, learn and even grow their business before they have set up any local operations. The great thing about the Bay Area is that people are very helpful, and truly wants to help you if they can. And the unique thing about the Bay Area is that you have people who have done and seen it all. Also being an immigrant is part of America’s DNA, meaning it feels really natural to connect with people here. So get on a plane and start building your network and business before expanding. Go to your target market at least every quarter. Meet with your potential partners, investors, customers and even competitors. Start to understand the market in depth. Find out how it is different from your home market, because it will be. Understand what the major challenges in your new market are. The ambition is to learn and to gain momentum locally, so you can hit the ground running once you set up shop. Pro tip in case you’re visiting the Bay Area on a budget, is to get a motel close to the airport (right in between San Francisco and Silicon Valley) and rent a car. And when you do hit me up and let’s connect!

🙋 Decide what and who. As soon as you set up a new location, you will have two teams and they will from day one start growing apart. To manage this you will require strong leadership in the new location, ideally one of the co-founders. By moving one or several people from the management team you also help bridge the cultural gap that will exist, and it signals importance of the expansion to the domestic team as well as builds trust between the offices. Don’t feel like you should optimize to move people over to the new location because of their domain expertise about the market. It is much more important to have someone leading on site that knows the company, than someone that knows the market. And don’t simply consider seniority of the person(s) to move over but also functions. It’s really challenging to split the same function across two different locations, hence, move the co-founder who is destine to build and manage the function you expect to build in your new market. Keep everything else in your home market, and make a clear distinction between what belongs where and how the overall teams will operate. Because of the tremendous competitive market in the Bay Area for talented developers, I strongly believe in keeping engineering (and probably product) outside of this region and rather focus on building your sales and marketing in this part of the world.

💬 Communicate early. Communication is the holy grail of any organization spread across multiple locations. In fact it’s the most important aspect of any company. Be prepare to communicate more than you expect. Much more. Before you expand and when you start considering these plans, be very transparent to the entire team about what lies ahead and how it’s progressing. Make sure the whole founder/management team is 100% aligned in this story. Also start preparing the organization for more asynchronous communications than previously. Different offices, different time zones and different people means there will be very different and more disciplined requirements to the company’s communications. Start to document decisions, meeting minutes, status updates, and push communications into the open and in writing. Slack and the likes are kings to facilitate this. As founders, take the lead and set an example. Get ready for the ride!!!

Best practices during the actual expansion phase follows soon. Mad shout-out to these impressive founders, entrepreneurs and friends who contributed with input to this article series: Patric Palm of Hansoft, Heini Zachariassen of Vivino, Caroline Ingeborn of Toca Boca, Christian Wylonis of Fitbay, Oskar Kalmaru of Narrative, Emil Eifrem of Neo Technology, Louise Fritjofsson of Vint, Alex Arias of Omniata, and Jonatan Littke of Lookback. I’m always available to connect and discuss on Twitter at @fritjofsson. 👊 💪

TINC Fall 2016: From Kickoff to Graduation

If you have followed our previous posts about TINC Fall 2016, you would have got a general impression the participants and their experience of the program.

But in this post, we will outline in more detail what the program entails, from the initial kickoff in Oslo to the final Pitch Graduation and Reception at the Norwegian Consul General.

The response from participants during and after the program has been overwhelmingly positive and we are very proud to have been able to spend the last weeks working with such a talented, diverse and ambitious group of people.

Read more about the TINC Fall program and participants here:

Get Ready for TINC Fall 2016!
TINC Fall Profiles Ch. 1: TINCing about Media and Entertainment
TINC Fall Profiles Ch. 2: TINC for the new and experienced
TINC Fall Profiles Ch. 3: TINCing Head


We are also making preparations for TINC Spring 2017, with details about the application process available here. And keep in mind, the application deadline is January 10.

It has been absolutely mind-blowing. Being here has widely surpassed my hopes.
— TINC Fall Participant Deborah B. Lygonis, CEO and Founder of Friendbase

TINC Fall 2016, an Overview

For this program, we were pleased to work with 10 different companies. Four from Norway, four from Sweden and two from Iceland. The companies were involved in many different industries and products, but united in being tech startups with traction and ambition to reach the global market.

The program began with a kickoff in Oslo that gave participants information about what to expect and essential preparations necessary to get the most out of the program.

Next, the trip went to Silicon Valley where companies had four weeks of workshops, mentoring sessions, meetings and events. The topics covered were diverse, and gives companies solid knowledge of business model and product market fit, investments, PR, marketing, growth and story telling . All in all, the companies gained a solid understanding of what it takes to create a scalable business ready to tackle and achieve success in the domestic as well as global market.

We have received valuable feedback that has challenged us to think new and bigger.
— TINC Fall Participant Lars Flesland, Co-founder of FlowMotion

Mentors and Workshops

Our TINC mentors are experts in entrepreneurship, startups and Silicon Valley. To give participants the best and most hands-on experience possible, the program offers one-on-one mentoring sessions where feedback and advice is tailored to the goals, experience and progress of each company and participant.

Our program is one of the few that offers access to multiple mentors but also repeated sessions with the same mentors. This allows mentors to get a good understanding of what is necessary for each company to succeed.

In our workshops the companies take a practical approach to develop concrete goals for their startup and a tangible business plan. The information and approaches are varied and gives participants multiple perspectives.

Participants also attend talks and presentations by industry experts and investors. They learn about business and investor relations in Silicon Valley and the global market. The talks and presentations cover a range of the specialized knowledge gained from years of experience with entrepreneurship tailored for Nordic companies.

We have learned to communicate directly with the big players in the market and we now have a better company and product.
— TINC Fall Participant Karl Lillrud, Founder and CEO of Lizer Group.

Pitch Graduation and Reception

At the end of the four-week program, the companies tell their stories in front of an investor panel at our pitch graduation.

Companies have a chance to answer questions and gain feedback from the expert panel. The event is good training, but in many ways also the ‘real deal’ and provides companies with a chance to network and mingle with investors.

To finish of the program, the participants attend a reception at the residency of Norway’s Consul General to San Francisco. In addition to the TINCers, the event is guested by other people affiliated with the program .

If you are interested in scaling your company and enter the global market, remember to apply for next round of TINC before the application deadline on January 10! 

“It influences your mindset and energy. Nothing seems impossible when you’re here.”
— TINC Fall Participant Jon Anders Aas-Haug, Founder and CEO of Bluestone

FRAM Internet of Things

With TINC Fall 2016 taking up so much attention, it is easy to forget the range of other activities and happenings at Nordic Innovation House and with our partner organizations.

Earlier in November, eight Norwegian companies attended their final gathering as part of Innovation Norway’s program FRAM Internet of Things. The 15-month program was designed to enable and facilitate more efficient, successful and de-risked market access in the U.S. by leveraging leading local experts, networks and ecosystems.

“It’s a result driven ‘go to market’ project,” said Tom Albrigtsen, Chairman and Senior Partner of Advance and a driving force behind FRAM.

Through multiple meetings in the U.S. and Norway, FRAM contributes to help companies develop innovative growth and business strategies to speed up and de-risk their entry into new markets.

In particular, the focus has been on moving into the U.S. market, said Albrigtsen. In this case, FRAM has focused especially on education, networking and how to implement ideas.

“These are companies that have the potential to really make it big,” said Albrigtsen about the participants. “They can become significant employers in Norway.”

Choosing to focus this round of FRAM on the growing field loosely known as ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) was not accidental. This area of technological development and innovation is under rapid transformation and is expected grow significantly in the next few years.

Internet of Things

“We have just began developing new solutions and there are huge possibilities and market estimates,” said Albrigtsen. He pointed out how IoT will affect every arena of people’s lives and be a massive influence in both the professional and private sphere.

One such example is eSmart Systems’ solution for smarter energy systems. By using monitoring sensors, eSmart can help to significantly reduce power consumption and increase the efficiency of the system, said Intern Thomas Nergaard.

“It will optimize the use of energy,” said Knut E. Gustavsen, COO and Co-founder of eSmart. “It will be a revolution for the end user.” But he also emphasized how it will have a significant affect on infrastructure, governmental decisions and the power industry in particular.

“IoT is developing extremely fast without people really thinking about it,” continued Gustavsen who thinks the concept will become so engrained in society that it in many ways will become obsolete as a term.

Petter Quinsgaard, CEO at Abax agrees. “IoT is a trend not a market,” he said. “Everything we own will become interconnected. You won’t really have a choice about adopting this technology.”

Abax is the market-leader on Vehicle tracking and focuses on providing solutions to in Triplogs, GPS tracking, fleet management platforms and Equipment and Vehicle Control systems.

For Quinesgaard, IoT is best thought of as a social change rather than a market or technological development and even the term IoT does not sit easy with him.

Although Abax is already an international company with offices in numerous locations around Europe, Innovation Norway’s program and the time spent in Silicon Valley has been a valuable experience, said Abax’s Chief Project Officer Håkon Grønn-Weiss.

“We have learned how American companies think and received feedback on technical issues,” he said. He added, “There is a very special atmosphere here.”

Participants

eSmart Systems
A revolutionary Operational Intelligence solution that accelerates energy savings, optimizes energy investment and minimizes carbon footprint through faster, better, safer energy decisions. 

Nornir
Provides ad-hoc radio frameworks and coverage areas that enables advanced bidirectional data caption solutions for the Internet of Things. Through a Real Time Web marketplace, Nornir enables their customers to interact in a more direct, easy and safe way with clients, partners and consumers, saving money and effort in the process.

Abax
Develops and supplies Vehicle Tracking Systems, Fleet Management software and Equipment Control technology, to businesses who operate company vehicles, reduce the overall fuel spend eliminate the risk of tax penalties.

QiCode
The world's first machine-centric approach to managing the lifecycle of products currently focusing on giving easier, on-site access to operations, training, maintenance and cleaning information for the horeca vertical.

HP Vistech
Big Data visualization and Business Intelligence for industry and retail business. Adaptable solutions beyond traditional boundaries of visualization of large data sources. Cutting edge technology in large scale data management based on dynamic modelling of data flow.

Masterloop
Infrastructure cloud platform that connects devices with humans, other devices or automated computer systems. The platform provides developers with a single API for all hardware devices.

HomeControl
Deliver smart home control and management systems and devices.

APX Systems
Scalable systems integrator with current focus on logistics, traceability, processes and labeling in multiple market segments.

TINC Fall Profiles Ch. 3: TINCing ahead

And just like that, TINC Fall 2016 is over and the companies are getting ready to leave Silicon Valley. But although this round of TINC is completed, the work doesn’t stop.

The TINC Team are already now beginning to prepare for TINC Spring 2017, which will take place in from April 24 to May 19 with kick-off in Oslo in March. Take a look at the TINC page if you want to know more about the application process and information about the program. But keep in mind, the application deadline is January 10.

For the companies, their journey has just started and it is time for them to consolidate and implement the knowledge and ideas they have gotten under the four intense weeks of TINC. Some will stay in California, whereas others will be heading home to the Nordics.

And just as TINC Fall is at an end, this will be the last post outlining the participants. In this chapter: Lizer Group, Spintr, Watchbox and HR Monitor

Karl Lillrud and Fredrik Bolander,
Founder/CEO and Partner Lizer Group

Big Data is one of the hottest topics in the Valley, as well as the technology industry. Conversely, innovative ways to get that data is becoming increasingly important.

Bridging the gap between e-commerce and data collection is Swedish Lizer Group, represented at TINC by founder and CEO Karl Lillrud and partner Fredrik Bolander. And with Fredrik and Karl’s respective backgrounds in e-commerce and investment banking, the guys seem to have found their niche. 

The company works to simultaneously increase retailer’s online sales while collecting and analyzing consumer behavioral data. Lizer group hence offers solutions that help online retailers sell more at the right price.

Attending TINC was a way to “test ideas and hypotheses and get feedback from people in the tech industry,” said Fredrik. But he pointed out that even from the first day at the kickoff in Oslo, he realized that TINC has more to offer. And after four weeks in Silicon Valley, the company has undergone drastic changes that were needed to scale and expand the company.

“We have learned to communicate directly with the big players in the market,” said Karl, “and we now have a better company and product.”


Daniel Hagenfeldt,
CEO and Founder Spintr

Improving communications is one of the most important elements of streamlining a company and improving efficiency. This is not only true in customer relations, but also within a business.

For organizations and collaborators there are a multitude of tools available to share information, but information overload can sometimes be a problem. This is what CEO and founder Daniel Hagenfeldt of Swedish Sprintr has set out to change with an innovative way to improve intranet solutions.

“It’s a way for companies to communicate, collaborate and do less emailing,” said Daniel. He has over 20 years experience within software development and building user-oriented solutions.

“The goal is to reinvent the intranet and change the digital workspace.” He said. And in a world where online collaboration is becoming increasingly important, his product is ready to fill a big gap in the market.

Attending TINC has also helped Daniel develop a clearer vision on how to make sure that his product is noticed and a clear plan on how to navigate forwards.

Being in Silicon Valley, he said, has also helped him better understand how he can tap into the ecosystem, resources and knowledge available. He said, “Even as a modest Swede you can get really good perspectives from the networks here.”


David Simonarson and Kristjan Mikaelsson,
Co-founders Watchbox

Making companies a better place for employees is also the goal for Icelandic company Watchbox, co-founded by David Simonarson and Kristjan Mikaelsson.  Watchbox provides a fun and innovative way to increase employee engagement at the workplace.

Watchbox is an interactive screen for employees to easily share photos in the office. The solution operates in the same space as teambuilding companies, but is a low-cost and less time-consuming way for companies to improve social interaction amongst their staff.

87 percent of companies struggle with culture and “disengaged employees,” said David. Watchbox is a way to tackle this problem by creating engagement amongst staff. “We bring coworkers together,” he said.

Joining the TINC program is a way for the company to get a foothold in Silicon Valley but the decision to join the accelerator program was made easier owing to the fact that TINC does not take equity in participating companies.

Overall, Daniel and Kristjan are very pleased with the experience. In particular, the duo noted the extensive networking opportunities and the ability to gain local knowledge from people who have in-depth knowledge about how Silicon Valley really works.

“We are ready to sit down and take everything in and refocus,” said Kristjan.


Trausti Hardarson and Daniel Sigurdsson,
Chairman/COO and CTO HR Monitor

This was the first time Icelandic companies have taken part in TINC. In addition to Watchbox, the Nordic island was represented by Trausti Hardarson, Chairman and COO, and Daniel Sigurdsson, CTO, of company HR Monitor.

Taking a different approach to both efficiency and worker relations, HR monitor offers a way to monitor and gain information about the internal workings of a company.

TINC has worked as a “milestone,” said Trausti. “It’s the first step for us to touch Silicon Valley and the U.S. Market.”

“It’s like a crash-course for startups,” said Daniel about experiencing TINC. Coming from a technical engineering background, the program has been a valuable way for him to learn about the business, marketing and investor relations that are so crucial for companies aiming for international success.

Trausti is very happy about Iceland’s integration into TINC, which he also believes works to strengthen the tie between companies in the Nordics. Experiencing Nordic Innovation House has additionally inspired HR Monitor to take advantage of our ‘Softlanding’ space and set up a permanent presence in Silicon Valley.

Considering TINC over all, Trausti said, “Every software company in the Nordics should try as hard as they can to be a part of this program.”


But as the last few posts have shown, TINC is open to companies from a range of tech industries. Take a look at our requirements and application process if you and your company want to be a part of TINC Spring 2017. And remember, the application deadline is January 10.

TINC FALL Profiles Ch. 2: TINC for the new and experienced

TINC’s mentors and presentation holders have experience from every level of the business development process. This includes the initial development of product and investment relations, to growing and scaling a well-established company with existing market validation and traction.

This makes TINC suitable for startups in several different situations and with different experiences.

This chapter of TINC Profiles gives a glimpse into the different approaches TINC takes depending on the situation of each participant.

In this chapter: FlowMotion, Bluestone and Learnifier.

Julie Bauge and Lars Flesland,
Co-founders FlowMotion

Julie Bauge and Lars Flesland are multitasking. In addition to being busy with TINC, the FlowMotion co-founders are also in the process of launching their new smartphone stabilizer, which will be available on November 22.

Safe to say the Norwegian duo are busy. But even though they are in the final stages of product launch, participating in TINC has helped them refine their product and focus their goals.

“We signed up to learns about the American market and how to scale our company,” said Julie. Who pointed out that even in the later stages of development, TINC has been a valuable contribution to product development.

“It’s been very good to get out of the bubble,” added Lars, “we have received valuable feedback that has challenged us to think new and bigger.”


Jon Anders Aas-Haug and Borgar Hestad,
Founder and CEO Bluestone

Unlike the Flowmotion team, which is relatively fresh to the entrepreneur-scene, Jon Anders Aas-Haug of Norwegian company Bluestone is a veteran in the business.

Yet, despite 20 years experience in tech entrepreneurship, the Bluestone founder and CEO Borgar Hestad are still finding significant value in TINC.

“It is helping us to accelerate our new product to the international market,” said Jon Anders. He pointed especially to the program’s ability to offer both a physical and temporal space to buckle down and direct all focus on the business.

Jon Anders is also very happy about having returned to Silicon Valley. “It influences your mindset and energy,” he said. “Nothing seems impossible when you’re here.”


Mattias Borg and Jerker Klang,
Co-founders Learnifier

Jon Anders and Borgar are not the only veterans seeking new impulses through TINC. Co-founders of Swedish company Learnifier, Mattias Borg and Jerker Klang are TINCing for many of the same reasons.

Having already validated their business model in Sweden, Learnifier is looking to become a “global niche player,” said Mattias.

Learnifier offers online training tools for business clients, partners and employees in several segments ranging from leadership to software. As a new and dynamic approach to knowledge-sharing and learning, the product holds many of the same qualities that define both TINC and Silicon Valley.

“I am very impressed by some of the mentors,” said Mattias. “There’s a big difference in being able to experience something and not just knowing about it.”

TINC Fall Profiles Ch. 1: TINCing about Media and Entertainment

TINC Fall is through its third week and we are very proud of the hardworking participants we have had the pleasure to get to know. The TINC profiles will give you a chance to get a glimpse into the individuals behind the companies and their thoughts on their experiences in Silicon Valley so far.

In this chapter: Time to Riot, Inzpire.me and Friendbase.

Kimberly Larsen,
Founder Time to Riot

After spending years in the media industry, Kimberly Larsen recognized the need to radically change the structure of the business. This was the beginning of Time to Riot, a Norwegian tech-startup working to match freelancers with employers and companies.

“I saw both a lack of available jobs and a lack of freelancers,” said Kimberly. Her ambitious goal is to fix this paradox and improve the efficiency of the media business.

TINC has been both inspiring and challenging, she said. “It’s incredible how well the mentor’s actually works to get to know and understand your company.”


Marie Mostad and Mats Lyngstad,
Co-founders Inzpire.me

Taking a different approach to matchmaking, Marie and Mats co-founders of Norwegian startup Inzpire.me, work to pair influencers with brands.

Joining forces in 2016, Marie and Mats are already experiencing traction outside Norway and work with influencers in 60 countries. The TINC program is further helping them to strengthen their international presence and grow their market.

“We’re learning that there’s not just one solution,” said Mats, “but we are getting great advice and insight into new approaches.”

Marie pointed out the TINC-mentors emphasis on flexibility and adaption. She said, “you are given advice based on their background and perspectives.”


Deborah B. Lygonis,
CEO and Founder Friendbase

Also in the media and entertainment sector, Deborah Lygonis of Swedish Friendbase is a veteran in the startup-scene and business development. 

But even after 20 years experience, Deborah said TINC has given her new input and thoughts on how to grow and develop Friendbase, a virtual world for young people aimed to foster friendship in a safe and fun way.

“I have so many ideas now and so much I want to do,” she said about TINC. In addition to the workshops, mentor sessions and presentations offered directly through TINC, Deborah has taken advantage of the flexibility to explore the rich and dynamic Silicon Valley environment on her own. Having spent only a few weeks in the area, Friendbase has already got new collaborators and connections.

“It has been absolutely mind-blowing,” she said, “being here has widely surpassed my hopes.”

#NordicMade Breakfast TINC Edition

The smell of coffee filled the upper level of Nordic Innovation House as people gathered for the monthly members event #NordicMade Breakfast.

This month’s breakfast was dedicated to the TINCers, who are already half way through the programs second week. In addition, we had some very special visitors from the Swedish parliament, who are currently on a study trip in Silicon Valley.

This was a great way to let the TINC participants introduce themselves and get to know the permanent members and friends of Nordic Innovation House. In addition, it also served as way for us to make sure our members and guests are well fed, caffeinated and ready to take on another hectic day in Silicon Valley.

Get ready for TINC Fall 2016!

With less than a week to go, the countdown for TINC Fall 2016 has officially begun.

On Monday October 24, ten Nordic tech startups will attend the 11th TINC Silicon Valley program in Palo Alto. The startups will spend four weeks in Silicon Valley attending workshops, mentoring sessions and events offered in the program as well as meetings with potential partners, customers and investors. We are very excited and looking forward to welcoming everyone here to Nordic Innovation House in Silicon Valley.

Anticipation and Networking

“We look forward to meeting inspiring people and getting a kick in the right direction,” says prospective participant Julie Hella Bauge from Norwegian FlowMotion Technologies.

Being part of the young entrepreneur-scene in Norway, Julie knows many people who have previously attended TINC Silicon Valley and gained valuable knowledge and insight into business development on a global scale. “Everybody recommends it,” Julie says.

Julie takes the program seriously and has already been in the Bay Area a month to establish relationships and networks in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. “You never know who you’ll meet when you’re in Silicon Valley,” she says.

Learning to build and scale

Among the former participants still in Silicon Valley is Nicolaj Broby Petersen of Megacool. He participated in the TINC program during the winter session in 2013.

The greatest benefit from the program, Nicolaj says, is the skills and knowledge available from TINC’s experienced mentors and advisors. He especially emphasizes the importance of understanding how to go from just having a product to having a full business.

“TINC helped us develop new and bigger goals and working actively towards it,” he says.

Preparations and hard work

TINC is always a hectic and exciting period at Nordic Innovation House, 

“Its kind of like Christmas, 4th of July , and May 17th all at once the day we welcome a new batch of TINCers,” says TINC Program Director Åse Pettersen Bailey.

Since 2012 almost 100 companies and more than 150 entrepreneurs have attended the program. We are thrilled to be able to make an impact and assist in the journey of so many amazing Nordic entrepreneurs. We are also very happy to welcome Icelandic companies to the program for the first time this fall. 

Companies


CEO Huxon's HR-Monitor is a measurement software system for Chief HR Officers that functions the same way that financial software works for CFO's.  It literally takes the "pulse" of the company for HR management. Think of it like taking an MRI of a company, it lets you see what is happening inside.


Watchbox helps companies make their employees happier and more engaged at work.


FlowMotion empowers people to capture their memories in the best possible way. With FlowMotion ONE, our high quality and affordable stabilizers for smartphones and GoPro cameras, anyone can capture perfect and smooth videos. Developed with extreme sports in mind, ONE is compact, versatile and water resistant.


RIOT is a one-stop shop for the creative industry, making it easier to buy and sell creative services, showcase your work and find any tools you need to run your company - thus giving easy access and saving time for employers and providing predictability for freelancers.


Inzpire.me is a fundamentally new way for influencers and brands to connect, communicate and scale their collaborations. It's a marketplace platform with all necessary features to utilize influencer marketing - including reviews and endorsements, an easy way to communicate and manage campaigns, and a safe and predictable payment system.


Bluestone is software company that offers the next generation of Product Information Management (PIM) solutions that will support the API driven omni-channel world of tomorrow.  The service will help our customers to sell more and faster in multiple channels.

 


Learnifier makes it possible for organizations of all sizes to set up their own Online Academy in minutes. Being able to set up a beautiful Online Academy that is easy to use is valued by clients from from over 20 countries. Learnifier is used for delivering everything from longer leadership programs that are delivered as blended learning to shorter online programs in for example software training.


Friendbase is a virtual world where young people can hang out in a fun, friendly and safe environment with a mission to make the online world a friendlier place. Friendbase has users in more than 200 countries, the largest being Brazil and the US.


Lizer Group increases online sales conversion by giving retailers the ability to optimize item by item pricing according to what consumers actually want and are willing to pay. With a unique way of collecting and analyzing forward looking consumer behavioral data, the company can offer solutions which help online retailers sell more at the right price.


Intranet as a cloud service. Minimize the project risk with your new intranet, and get all the functionality directly.

Nordic Innovation House Two Year Anniversary

Last Thursday, Nordic Innovation House was packed full with our friends who joined us for a fabulous celebration of our second anniversary as a Nordic tech incubator in Silicon Valley. We would like to give a huge thank-you to all the people who took the time to stop by and help us make this celebration special.

Our wonderful team gathered outside Nordic Innovation House headquarters at 470 Ramona

Our wonderful team gathered outside Nordic Innovation House headquarters at 470 Ramona

And there were many things to celebrate. The occasion also marked the one-year anniversary of our wonderful Community Manager Paula Salomaa, the launch of our new webpage, and a great chance to catch up with our growing network of friends and partners in Silicon Valley.

A growing community

“We feel like we have been able to truly build a community here,” said Innovation Norway Director Gro Eirin Dyrnes. “Interesting companies are able to really get so much more out of integrating with each other.”

The celebration gave us a great chance to reflect on the last few years. We have quadrupled the amount of companies hosted at the house and have welcomed more non-Norwegian companies into our family. Participants in our accelerator programs REACH and TINC are increasingly from a larger range of Nordic countries.

Nordic Innovation House has grown with 400 percent in only two years

Nordic Innovation House has grown with 400 percent in only two years

We are increasingly including more Nordic countries into our family here in Silicon Valley

We are increasingly including more Nordic countries into our family here in Silicon Valley

“We see that working together as Nordics provides us with better companies in our group, a bigger network, and increases the interest from the local network here,” said Gro.

She added, “I want to emphasize the importance and the utility of cooperating when we can and competing when we have to.”

Accelerator programs and cooperation transcending national boundaries

Our Nordic project is unique in its success in facilitating international and inter-regional cooperation across national boundaries. We have increasingly gained recognition for our innovative work from a range of countries and many people from all over the world take the time to visit us to gain insight into how we work.

“We don’t really think about how unique it is,” said TINC’s Program Director Åse Pettersen Baily, “but we have received a huge amount of positive mentions and feedback.”

Åse is particularly busy this period with the new session of TINC starting up on 24 October. She has been part of building up the program since 2012 and has watched going from solely Norwegian to Nordic.

“I think we have a great group joining us this session,” she said. “And it’s extra exciting that we for the first time will have Icelandic companies participating.”

Steady commitment over time

In addition to TINC, the Reach program led by Arne Tonning has just completed its first session.

“The first round was very successful,” said Arne, “so we can just hope that the second round will be as great as that.”

Concerning the growth of Nordic Innovation House, Arne is a firm believer that the secret to the success is nothing less than steady and hard work over time. “There’s no magic to it,” he said.

For Arne, the most exciting thing at Nordic Innovation House is the big results some of the companies are beginning to experience.

“I really believe some of the companies will begin to get the really big breakthroughs soon,” he said.

The real meaning of community

The party on Thursday was a way to celebrate our efforts, companies, network, and staff. And the occasion was especially important to mark the one-year anniversary of Community Manager Paula Salomaa.

“My first big party here was our first anniversary,” she said. “It’s really fun to celebrate again.”

Joining Nordic Innovation House one year ago, Paula noticed how much the House differs from regular co-working spaces in its emphasis on being a softlanding community.

“It really gives more to the companies than just being a regular co-working space,” she said.

But the rapid expansion has also given her something to think about in terms of including more companies while maintaining the flexibility and support that individual companies need when they establish themselves in Silicon Valley.

“One interesting thing to think about is if we need more space,” she said.

But expansion doesn’t just mean more companies. In the tight-knit environment at Nordic Innovation House, expansion is synonymous with more friends, more contacts, a bigger network and more opportunities.

“The real meaning of community,” said Paula, “is a wonderful new thing that I have learned here.”

Alliance Venture Social Get-together at Nordic Innovation House

A laid-back evening here at Nordic Innovation House yesterday as Norwegian Alliance Venture gathered investors, bankers and entrepreneurs for schmoozing, food and refreshments.

With about $100 million in funds under management, the venture capital firm focuses on early-stage Norwegian tech-startups with prospects for international expansion. The firm is one of the companies hosted here at Nordic Innovation House and was our first sponsor back in 2011.

 
 

“We look for companies with unique technologies and global potential,” said Alliance Venture Managing Partner Jan-Erik Hareid. Alliance helps drive Norwegian companies onto the global stage. A presence in Silicon Valley, with its network of investors, tech-specialists and entrepreneurial infrastructure, is vitally important to achieve this, he said.

Alliance Venture Managing Partner Jan-Erik Hareid

Alliance Venture Managing Partner Jan-Erik Hareid

In Norway, Alliance Venture is at the frontier in early-stage investment in tech-startups. Investors include some of Norway’s biggest companies in telecommunications and banking and Alliance’s diverse investment portfolio numbers a range of international companies. Some of which, such as Arundo Analytics and Fusetools, are based at NIH.

“It’s a mix of all sorts of roles in the tech industry,” said Alliance Partner and REACH Project Manager Arne Tonning about the evening’s attendees. Events like these are important in strengthening the VC’s relationship with the Silicon Valley network through both maintaining old and forging new friendships and relations, he said.

Tonning added, “It’s nice to get to know the people, our colleagues and friends.”