TINC Spring 2017 Graduation week

By Katja Kotala, Community Coordinator and Program Manager at Nordic Innovation House.

IMG_20170516_180451_edited.jpeg

Life is a celebration - especially during the final week of TINC! The participants have gone through the journey of getting an overdose of information, working on their focus, and finally getting “crazy busy” - according to Wiral - with accelerating their business. 

The program culminated in a Pitch Graduation night for the companies, where they got to pitch and get direct feedback from esteemed Silicon Valley investors from Funders Club, Alliance Ventures, Canvas VC and NewGen Capital. This is where they got tested on how well the teams have managed to hone their value propositions and relevant metrics of their companies.

The only workshop of the last week was another inspirational session with Julie Hanna. Some call these “psychology sessions”, because of the way Julie manages to bring up thoughts that stay with you long after the program. The group got to talk about issues involving the aspirations and values of a company and how they affect work culture. 

As always, TINC program ended with an impressive reception at the Norwegian Consul General in San Francisco. There the teams could finally lay back and enjoy time together, before continuing their respective journeys. Most of the companies have clear plans of continuing their business in the US and we will be sure to see them at Nordic Innovation House in the future!

Below you can read more about how the last three teams, Vibble, Winningtemp and Wiral, have to say as the four weeks come to an end.

 

Apply for TINC Fall 2017 now!

 


Vibble

Dag Langfoss-Håland, Erlend Drevdal Hausken, Pål Wagtskjold-Myran

Dag Langfoss-Håland, Erlend Drevdal Hausken, Even Brenna and  Pål Wagtskjold-Myran from Vibble

Dag Langfoss-Håland, Erlend Drevdal Hausken, Even Brenna and  Pål Wagtskjold-Myran from Vibble

Vibble team has taken advantage of spending four weeks together in the program, since the team is usually distributed in different locations back in Norway. It has been valuable to be able to focus and learn things at the same time.

“The most important thing in coming from Norway to Silicon Valley is the mindset, people work at a different speed here. Learning about the investor mindset is one thing, but another is the lean mentality which is more established here. It’s all about testing, making decisions and moving on.” Erlend explains.

Tristan Kromer’s workshop in Lean Startup was especially uselful for the team and Jonatan Littke from Lookback helped them to apply the Lean method to Vibble’s specific needs.

“Experiencing and learning about the lean work method within tech has been very interesting, it is the first time we really understood what it is all about. These mentors actually have real experience in it.”  
-Pål Wagtskjold-Myran

Not quite ready to go back yet, Vibble will stay in the area for a week more to follow up on meetings.

Vibble is a music app that helps people stop listening to music and start playing with it. Vibble lets you add cool sounds and effects from popular artists and genres, mix between songs and have fun with your favorite playlists, just by swiping a finger. 


Winningtemp

Pierre Lindmark, Mathias Hansson

Mathias Hansson and Pierre Lindmark from Winningtemp

Mathias Hansson and Pierre Lindmark from Winningtemp

Winningtemp was well prepared for their endeavor in Silicon Valley. They had a clear set of goals they had for the program and they have achieved them all. Nonetheless, they also felt overwhelmed during the first couple of weeks and it took some time for them to learn how to settle down and focus. A big help has been the peer support from the other participants and opportunities to share experiences with companies facing similar challenges.

It is easy to get stuck on fixing everyday challenges in your company, but in order to scale you have to think differently. “You have to continue learning, as well as be able to stop and be experimental.” Pierre says.

For Winningtemp the main takeaway from the program is the way they are forming their value proposition to suit different situations. They learned that in Silicon Valley it is all about putting your story into figures that explain the value you bring to the customer.

Another takeaway is the confidence the program has brought them. Coming to Silicon Valley can be intimidating, in Julie Hanna’s words you are moving from the regionals to the Olympics. But according to Pierre the journey has taught them that Winningtemp is on the right track.

“What we found here was confidence. To understand that in a global scale what we do is right. By going through this program and doing kind of exercises in the workshops and finding solutions to our challenges. When we go back we have a clarity that we didn’t have before.”
-Pierre Lindmark

Winningtemp is an app that visualizes people’s development and wellbeing in an organization. By using artificial intelligence Winningtemp can identify and intervene stress, anxiety and depression. Winningtemp helps managers to save time by getting insights on what to prioritize in their leadership.


Wiral

Andrea Holvik Thorson, Emilie Aabakken

Emilie Aabakken and  Andrea Holvik Thorson from Wiral.

Emilie Aabakken and  Andrea Holvik Thorson from Wiral.

Wiral has had crazy four weeks. “At the start the two first weeks had a lot of input, a lot of workshops, a lot of feedback and a lot of mentors. We were kind of overwhelmed with all this and how to act on all these points.” Andrea recalls. “We also got sent to a lot of different directions with the feedback from these different people and it took a while for us to decide the main focus.” Emilie adds.

At some point things got a bit more clear, according to Andrea a one-on-one meeting with the mentor Scott Barclay was the key session. “After that we got a lot of great meetings, we were really operating as a team and it felt like we were really accomplishing something. From that on we have been crazy busy and we haven’t really even slept.” 

The program has introduced them to a lot of relevant contacts that have grown into even more contacts. Andrea and Emilie even got a chance to drive down to LA and shoot the Nitro World Games qualifications with their cable camera.

“Everybody here has been so helpful with sharing their network and introducing us, now I feel like we can’t leave or we will loose it all”
-Andrea Holvik Thorson

Wiral will not be losing it, they will leave after the program but are coming back to California already the following week.

Wiral is making amateur filming look professional, by introducing new angles to filming in challenging environments. This camera system runs on a rope with the help of a remotely controlled motor. It gives you close up, follow camera shots in locations where drones are impractical, dangerous or worst case illegal. Wiral helps action sport athletes and videographers capture their most extreme moments in a dynamic and easy way.

Busy with business - TINC Spring 2017

By Katja Kotala, Community Coordinator and Program Manager at Nordic Innovation House

nonobject.jpg

After two weeks of intense program, TINC was set free! Well, not quite. The third week was dedicated to private meetings with mentors, partners and customers. Some of the companies also got a chance to pitch to an investor, Matthias Dill from Statkraft Ventures gave some of the TINC companies a chance to connect and pitch their ideas. Some might say that even without too much official program this week, the teams were busier than ever!

The TINC group gathered for a design workshop at Nonobject on Wednesday. Malin Leschly, Branko Lukic and Yvonne Ericsson guided the participants to think about the way their products and services could form positive disruption. Nonobject concentrates in the space between the product and the individual, a place where you create a “positive meaningful surprise”. They forced the companies to take a step back from fine tuning their product, and consider how their products and services are experienced.

In the evening TINC sat down for a casual fireside chat with founders from two local Nordic companies, Jonatan Littke from Lookback and Thomas Ryd from CFEngine. They have already gone through the hurdles of moving a business to the US and building it here. The focus of the discussion was on building teams and the challenges of managing people that are scattered around the world.

Gearing up for the last week of TINC Spring 2017, below you can read more what two of the participants Shoreline and Smart Plants have experienced this far.

Apply for TINC Fall 2017, now open for a limited time!

 

Shoreline

Ole-Erik Endrerud and Simen Malmin

Simen Malmin and Ole-Erik Endrerud from Shoreline

Simen Malmin and Ole-Erik Endrerud from Shoreline

“Exhausted but full of energy.”

That is how Simen sums up the general feeling when the third week of the program is well underway. During the program Shoreline has received confirmation that they have done a lot of things well, but they have also seen where they have made mistakes - like everyone else who has ever dared to build a company. Now they are working on their new strategy based on their learnings during the program, now that they understand better what it takes to make it in the US market. 

According to Ole-Erik, the setting of the program allows the entrepreneurs to accelerate the process of doing something about the challenges they have, instead of pushing these decisions to the distant future. The main purpose for Shoreline to participate in the program was to get in touch with great entrepreneurs, founders and mentors in Silicon Valley that are experts in their field. This is something they couldn’t find in Norway. “We came here to validate our case, to see if it is something that could be huge. And we have got that.”

Especially the “psychology lessons” with Julie Hanna have been amazing in Ole-Erik’s opinion. “She gives you the pure real insights. You have made a lot of mistakes, but you have to make them and come out stronger in the other end.”

Shoreline automates their customer's mission critical daily operational planning with their smart agent based platform, increasing profits by millions of dollars every year. Read more at www.shoreline.no

 

Smart Plants

Jon Rasmussen

Jon Rasmussen from Smart Plants

Jon Rasmussen from Smart Plants

Smart Plants applied for the program because they were looking for things that could help their company accelerate. This is both looking at the company internally, if they have the right processes and the right company structure, and externally, if they have a good product/market fit. “It has been a very interesting journey so far and the program has delivered in everything it promised,” Jon says.

Jon is the only person from Smart Plants participating in the program, but he has been active in keeping the rest of the team up to date. According to him every time there is a session that brings up something they should change in the company, they activate this in the company as well.

“Since it is time and money we could have used for other things, it is very important that we bring the learnings from this program back to the company.”
- Jon Rasmussen

For Smart Plants it has been very important to get input from external people, how they interpret the company and how their message is coming across. “Are we saying the right things and are we presenting our company the right way? We have got a lot of feedback and we are doing some changes in our messaging and our campaigns.”

Smart Plants turn your commercial building into a smart building in 15 minutes or less.  It is a full-stack IoT company working with industrial IT-solutions. They empower building owners to make better business decisions by collecting and processing data that already exist in their physical assets. Read more at www.smartplants.io

Setting up for funding with TINC Spring 2017

By Katja Kotala, Community Coordinator and Program Manager at Nordic Innovation House.

This week TINC got HOT. The participants learned about how to identify risks, but also how to deal with investors and set up their funding models. And the reason why they were hot - there was a comfortable 90 degree (+32 Celsius) heatwave hitting the SF Bay Area.

Tristan Kromer put the companies to work straight away on Monday morning with a Lean Startup workshop. With a hands-on approach, Tristan walked the companies through customer development and segmentation, risk evaluation and channel development.

The main theme of the week was funding models and working with investors. The TINCers got to talk with Carl Fritjofsson, an entrepreneur turned into an investor at Creandum. Carl answered questions about how startups should prepare for trying to get funding and how to stand out and beat the competition.

Julie Hanna took the discussion deeper into the relationship entrepreneurs and investors have - and how to cultivate it. She emphasized the importance of trust, credibility, and relationship in making business. It is all about the people, because they stay the same even if ideas and markets change.

Many of the companies have experience in seeking funding back in the Nordics or in Europe, and now try to figure out the setting in the US. Arne Tonning, a partner at Alliance Ventures, was there to answer these questions with his experience in working in both markets. 

To top it off, Shomit Ghose, a partner at Onset Ventures, digged even deeper to the Silicon Valley VC mindset. He made the group understand that it is not just startups who have to face challenges and risks - also VCs can end up eaten by the sharks. The way to convince an investor starts with understanding their realities and constraints.

There is not one right way to make it in Silicon Valley, and pleasing investors is only a part of it. That is why we invited Samir Smajic, the CEO of GetAccept, over for a dinner at Nordic Innovation house. He shared his experiences from starting the company, attending the renowned Silicon Valley accelerator Y Combinator as well as getting funding and running a company both here in San Francisco and in Sweden. After a week of investors giving the TINCers a hard time about the challenges of getting funding, it is great to see that some actually make it.

Read below more about how some of the TINC participants are doing after the second week.

Data Dwell

Olafur Thorkelsson and Skarpi Steinthorsson

Skarpi Steinthorsson and Olafur Thorkelsson from DataDwell

Skarpi Steinthorsson and Olafur Thorkelsson from DataDwell

For Data Dwell applying to TINC was all about the timing - and the location. When you are having a product launch and your main customer is Salesforce, what a better place and time to be in Silicon Valley.

They have also taken advantage of the mentors in the program by getting answers to some burning questions.

“Everybody can get something out of this, but you should help yourself too. Go and get that information while you’re here”
-Olafur Thorkelsson 

According to Skarpi the mentors back in Europe tend to have an outdated way of thinking. “Here the approach is so different. Back home there’s a more product heavy focus, here it’s all about distributing, selling, marketing, and doing it fast,” Olafur adds.

But it’s not just the mentors, the program offers also great peer support. “There’s been really helpful collaboration with the B2B companies in the program and we have been learning from that,” Skarpi says.

Data Dwell Sales Athlete empowers sales teams to succeed with the best marketing content in real-time-- directly in Salesforce. Track key insights of your highest performing marketing content and match it to the opportunity stage. Read more at www.datadwell.com

Mavenoid

Shahan Lilja

Shahan Lilja from Mavenoid

Shahan Lilja from Mavenoid

Shahan Lilja has been pleased by the value that the mentors in the program bring to the companies. He was looking for getting something more than you can get by just reading books and watching videos, and that is what he got. 

“I am really happy about the non-obvious knowledge transfer”
- Shahan Lilja

“For example Julie Hanna gives great anecdotes that make subtle distinctions and then she gives these hacks sometimes,” Shahan says.

For Mavenoid Silicon Valley is a great place to be since they work with AI. Whenever they get a chance to demo their product to a potential partner or a customer, things start happening.

What they are doing is more about amplifying human beings instead of replacing them. Shahan explains that “it’s a deep principle that permeates all levels of our products and our company and why we started it.”

Mavenoid is an intelligent troubleshooting assistant that helps industrial organizations repair any machine in a few minutes, for the least amount of money. It's the fun, smart, interactive way to fix complex machines. Read more at www.mavenoid.com
 

Applications for TINC Fall 2017 now open!

Kicking off the first week of TINC Spring 2017

By Katja Kotala, Community Coordinator and Program Manager at Nordic Innovation House

The first week of the month-long accelerator program TINC was guaranteed to meet high expectations. The No-nonsense, get-your-hands-dirty, forget-your-jet-lag mentality kicked off the program with daily workshops, mentor meetings, and networking opportunities.

On Monday the group got to know one another, the mentors, and people at Nordic Innovation House. Nathan Gold was there to help the companies to tell compelling stories of their journey - it is not all about the 3-minute pitch, you really need to be able to create interest in what you do.

A half-day workshop in San Francisco with the amazing Julie Hanna dived deep into the challenges of developing a business. This is an exceptional opportunity for the founders to bring up issues that keep them up at night and get insight from someone so experienced that she was appointed by President Obama as Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship.

Wednesday was a full day of workshops at Stanford with Aoife Kimber, Kimber PR, on PR and communication, Nir Eyal on Behavioral Design and Sean Percival on marketing. After another full day of one-on-one meetings with mentors and a founders talk with Lasse Andrese, ForgeRock, on Thursday, the participants got to enjoy well deserved refreshments at the networking mixer organized at Nordic Innovation House. Over fifty people gathered to hear what the latest TINC batch has to offer.

Quite amazingly the whole TINC group made it to the last day of the week with great enthusiasm, which was pumped up with high fives by the always energetic Scott Sambucci, SalesQualia. The topic might have had something to do with keeping up the motivation even on Friday - scaling sales is of great interest to all startups. The cherry on top for the first week was a casual afternoon session with one of our mentors Victor Belfor, where the companies could discuss whatever issues the week had brought up.

Below you can read more about what some of the companies are thinking after the first week in Silicon Valley.

1928 Diagnostics

Kristina Lagersted and Wilhelm Paulander

Kristina Lagerstedt and Wilhelm Paulander from 1928 Diagnostics.

Kristina Lagerstedt and Wilhelm Paulander from 1928 Diagnostics.

Kristina Lagerstedt and Wilhelm Paulander from 1928 Diagnostics are excited to be in Silicon Valley. In addition to the packed schedule, the participating companies have lined up meetings with potential partners and customers already before getting to Silicon Valley. 

“We realized that to make the most out of these four weeks we need to be active ourselves."
-Kristina Lagerstedt

"The mentors, as well as Åse and Anne,  have been great in making introductions with relevant people,” says Kristina. “We will also stay after the program to have more time for meetings.”

Kristina and Wilhelm have been impressed by the mentors, who go out of their way to help the companies get the most out of the program. “The mentors and speakers have been very high quality and the workshops have been very hands on instead of just theoretical.” Wilhelm says.

The participating companies are in different stages and in different fields, but the program is tailored to suit needs that are common to all of them. “I want to learn more about business models and how to scale,” Kristina says. “There’s a lot of great knowledge in Sweden but I think you need to think out of the box. We have a lot to learn and look forward to these remaining weeks.”

1928 Diagnostics’ SaaS is a one system approach for hospitals to trace and diagnose antibiotic resistant bacteria. The SaaS ALEX revolutionizes infection diagnostics by enabling complete diagnosis in hours instead of days or weeks. Read more at www.1928diagnostics.com


Authenteq

Claudio Tiranno and Kari Thor Runarsson

During the first week Claudio has managed to get into the Silicon Valley mindset while at the same time fitting in the daily work he has to do for back home. According to him the program has been improving day to day. 

“One of the most valuable things has been the one-on-one meetings with the mentors, that’s something really to get value out of. Direct feedback is very, very helpful, that is what takes you forward and helps you improve your business.”

One of the main goals for Authenteq during TINC is to validate some new ideas. It is already obvious that people in the valley and the US have quite different views compared to people in Europe. “This is very exciting because it is challenging us how to solve these issues for every target market without changing the company core,” Claudio says.

Kari Thor Runarsson and Claudio Tiranno from Authenteq.

Kari Thor Runarsson and Claudio Tiranno from Authenteq.

It has also become clear that for locals it is extremely important that the company has presence here.

“We are getting attention from people and companies that are very hard to get in touch with, just because we’re here participating in the program.”  
-Claudio Tiranno

For Claudio it was interesting to see how accurate the stories about US business culture are and he seems to be positively surprised. “I thought that “pay it forward” was just something people say, but it is something that is really done. People actually live this.”

Authenteq eliminates identity fraud and scams online by issuing you a government grade biometric digital passport on your smartphone. The Authenteq ID is kept on the blockchain and only the user has access to it. The user has total control and ownership over his own ID and data.

Read more at www.Authenteq.com
 

Apply for TINC Fall 2017!

Getting ready for TINC Spring 2017

By Katja Kotala, Community Coordinator and Program Manager at Nordic Innovation House

Picture: TINC Spring 2017 participant companies at the kick-off event in Oslo, Norway


This is what we've been waiting for...

The sun is out and flowers are blooming, this must mean it is spring - TINC Spring 2017! In a week Nordic Innovation House is going to be buzzing with an energetic group of Nordic entrepreneurs who are ready to make a difference. They have done a lot of work to be here, but the best (or worst) is yet to come. TINC is an intensive 4-week accelerator program, designed to take Nordic startups for a ride after which they will never be the same.

 

“It’s like a crash-course for startups”
“It influences your mindset and energy”
“Nothing seems impossible when you’re here”

 

These are just some of the ways previous TINC participants have described the program. We see it everytime, the entrepreneurs get pumped up with the Silicon Valley vibes and go through a transformation of bringing their product, business, and mindset to the next level. Nordic Innovation House serves as a hub for these innovative ideas, and we are always excited to get the TINCers distrupting life in Palo Alto. If you have a Nordic startup and want to join the fun, apply for the TINC Fall 2017 here: http://www.nordicinnovationhouse.com/tinc

Meet the startups

Here are short introductions of the nine amazing TINC Spring 2017 companies. Rest assured, you will be hearing a lot more about them during the upcoming weeks - not to mention once they have taken over Silicon Valley!
 

 

1928 Diagnostics’ SaaS is a one system approach for hospitals to trace and diagnose antibiotic resistant bacteria. The SaaS ALEX revolutionizes infection diagnostics by enabling complete diagnosis in hours instead of days or weeks. www.1928diagnostics.com

 

Authenteq eliminates identity fraud and scams online by issuing you a government grade biometric digital passport on your smartphone. The Authenteq ID is kept on the blockchain and only the user has access to it. The user has total control and ownership over his own ID and data.

 

Data Dwell equips sales teams with enablement tools to close more deals. Data Dwell provides sales reps with the automated intelligence to match the most targeted marketing collateral at each stage of the sales cycle.

 

Mavenoid helps organizations troubleshoot machines in minutes, with super-human accuracy, by combining sensor data with asking people intelligent questions.

 

Shoreline automates their customer's mission critical daily operational planning with their smart AI platform, increasing profits by millions of dollars every year.

 

Smart Plants is a full-stack IoT company working with industrial IT-solutions. They empower buildings owners to make better business decisions by collecting and processing data that already exist in their physical assets.

 

Vibble is a music app that helps people stop listening to music and start playing with it. Vibble let's you add cool sounds and effects from popular artists and genres, mix between songs and have fun with your favorite playlists, just by swiping a finger.

 

Winningtemp is an app that visualizes people’s development and wellbeing in an organization. By using artificial intelligence Winningtemp can identify and intervene stress, anxiety and depression. Winningtemp helps managers to save time by getting insights on what to prioritize in their leadership.

 

Wiral is making amateur filming look professional, by introducing new angles to filming in challenging environments. This camera system runs on a rope with the help of an remotely controlled motor. It gives you close up, follow camera shots in locations where drones are impractical, dangerous or worst case illegal. Wiral helps action sport athletes and videographers capture their most extreme moments in a dynamic and easy way.

 

Stay tuned to follow these amazing companies as the program goes on!

Traveling Sauna and the Ambassador of Finland Kirsti Kauppi at Nordic Innovation House

By Thuong Tan, Director Tekes Silicon Valley

@TeamFinlandSiliconValley

Traveling sauna blog pic 2.jpg

Finland celebrates 100 years of independence in 2017 with centennial events throughout the United States. On March 27th, Ambassador of Finland, Kirsti Kauppi welcomed the crowd to experience Sisu Traveling Sauna and celebrate Finland’s centennial year at the Nordic Innovation House in Palo Alto.
 

There were almost 100 people who gathered at Nordic Innovation House to hear about Finland’s 100 year journey and where it is going next - speech given by Ambassador Kauppi. Finnish delicacies such as Karelian pies, salmon pie and cream puffs were served to boost up the Finnish vibes.
 
Sisu was parked in front of the Nordic Innovation House, accompanied by local Finnish startup community’s own Silicon Valley Sauna Bus. Team Finland Silicon Valley managed to host yet another event without a visit by City of Palo Alto’s police or fire departments - despite the smoke coming from the saunas and all the people in the street wrapped only in towels. It might have helped a bit that one of us invited the fire marshal to attend the event while in line for coffee at Coupa Café.
 
The Traveling Sauna is a centennial mascot that travels across the entire continent, from West Coast through Mid-West to East Coast, over 12,000 miles in one year. Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi inaugurated the sauna in January in Minneapolis. The project is executed by Ice Cold Marketing representatives Jouko Sipilä and Risto Sivula. The sauna is built and donated by the Finnish-American company TyloHelo, one of the world’s leading sauna manufacturers.
 
The sauna includes a shower, changing room, front porch, as well as a wood-burning sauna stove and it fits up to 5 people. Companies can reserve the sauna for private events, and the general public has an opportunity to bathe in the sauna during many centennial events throughout the country. Besides in Palo Alto, Sisu was also in Albany, Sonoma and San Francisco while in the SF Bay Area.
 
You can follow the sauna’s journey on social media by using @TravelingSauna.
For more information about the sauna and its route, as well as pictures of the sauna, please visit: http://www.travelingsauna.com/ and http://travelingsauna.blogspot.fi/
Press inquiries: Chief Sauna Ambassadors Jouko Sipilä and Risto Sivula, info@travelingsauna.com, tel. +1 (203) 918-9920 or +1 (651) 278-1398

New Cleantech Initiative for collaboration between Silicon Valley and the Nordics

By Katharina Paoli, Program Manager for Nordic Cleantech

Photo: Thinkstock

Photo: Thinkstock

The Nordics are ranked as global leaders on innovative climate solutions and sustainable development. The five countries of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland are home to one of the most forward and innovative cleantech sectors in the world. Thanks to close collaboration between industry, academia and government the Nordic cleantech sector is blooming and features an innovative and attractive opportunity for international collaboration and growth.

Nordic Innovation House are happy to announce that we will be launching a new Cleantech Initiative 2017.

The new program aims to promote and strengthen Nordic cleantech solutions connecting the Nordic ecosystem for cleantech with Silicon Valley.  The Nordic countries have over the years many times sought to join forces rather than just act as individual nations when promoting our countries in the Bay area.

By focusing more industry specific we hope to form a collaborative platform for Nordic Cleantech and leverage the impact and opportunities for business, innovation, networks and growth. Both for Nordic cleantech startups, the Nordic cleantech industry, government supported initiatives and the ecosystem surrounding it all.

Would you like to take part? We are open for ideas, collaboration and to hear how we can support you. Please contact us for more information and join our facebook group link to join the network.

Contact our Program Manager, Katharina Paoli for more information. paoli.katharina@gmail.com
+1 408-610-0336 
+46 (0)31-3609009

#NordicMade GDC Breakfast: The possibilities of E-Sport

By Per-Arne Lundberg, Senior Wallenberg Fellow at Nordic Innovation House

GDC Breakfast pic.jpeg
 

Nordic Innovation House gathered up at K&L Gates San Francisco office for our annual #NordicMade GDC Breakfast, on Tuesday, February 28th. The topic this time was E-sport and the lineup was amazing, both from the audience and panelist. Over 120 people, not counting the panelist had registered to take part in the breakfast.
 
E-sport is not just showing signs of a global mainstream market, it is growing uncontrolled. Media rights for broadcasting the sport are projected to 7-fold within 4 years. Non-endemic brands like Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas are signing sponsorships with teams, leagues and events.
 
All these signals are showing that we are in for a disruptive moment. Traditionally the normal viewer of sports is considered to be a formal practitioner of the sport itself. This won't be the future. Now we will see more people than ever both engaged in spectating as well as active practitioners. Studies have shown that more than 60% of the spectators are active players themselves. This is way higher than for the average sport spectator. In addition, there are trends like Paris SG and Dallas Cowboys moving in and acquiring their own teams in the household E-sports names like League of Legends (LoL) and Defense of the Ancient (DOTA).
 
Asia being the biggest player in E-sport isn't actually a shock to anyone. E-sport has been relevant industry for well over 10 years in Asia, but it is interesting to see that this will shift when it comes to revenue. The US is estimated to be the largest monetary market - still outperformed by Asia in headcount of course.
 
With this back drop, Patrick Walker from Eedar entered the scene with absolutely latest data from VR / AR and E-sport. Besides the usual run downs in numbers, Eedar also confirmed that VR didn't take off in 2016 and the projections for 2017 are probably still too high, waiting for that killer app to boost the hardware sales. As a side note, less than 30 VR games on Steam has generated more than 250K USD in revenue!
 
Veli-Pekka Piirainen and Juri Juskevits from Critical Force gave us a good overview on the industry focusing on their awesome growth and scaling, with the closing quote on E-sport: “It will be huge”!
 
Tom Giardino and Erik Peterson from Valve held a discussion on their new Steam Direct-service. They have an interesting idea of letting game developers “buy” a timeslot that will guarantee a release. The flipside of this is that for quite a big audience the threshold to afford this slot might be too high. As a consequence, we will most likely see less games published on Steam. Is it good or bad? In my opinion, it could be bad for the early independent game developers out there, and maybe good for the some that can afford it. Steam has never considered having too many games in the store a bad thing. Or as Tom said it: “You’ve never heard of a library that has too many books - have you?”
 
A closing panel with Tim Ebner from Supercell, Heini Vesander from Super Evil Megacorp, Rickard Frisegård from Stunlock Studios, Siw A. Hødnebø Espeland from Encircle Games and Patrik Nybladh from Gumbler talked enthusiastically about the challenges and upsides on E-sport. All of course convinced that E-sport will conquer the world. The entire panel shared the belief that the challenges for any E-sport startup is the same as for any game startup. It is a game about customer acquisition, customer retention and monetization.

Feminism 4.0

By Anita Krohn Traaseth (CEO) and 40 female colleagues at Innovation Norway. 

Photo from original article in Norwegian VG.

Photo from original article in Norwegian VG.

For the twelfth consecutive year UN reports have shown that Norway is the best country in the world in which to live. We top the list of countries that are ranked by the possibility of a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and standard of living. In 2016 we came second best in The Economist's glass ceiling index, which combines data on higher education, labour force participation, wages, child-care costs, maternity leave, paternity rights, representation in management positions and more. 

These indicators tell what generations of Norwegian women and men, politicians and organisations have fought for, not only ensures the rights of women in Norway and the strength of our economy: it puts Norway in a unique position.  It is a competitive advantage. 

Feminism has never been "just a women's thing". 
In Norway, we have to a large extent basic rights and conventions in place. This is something that so many other countries lack. But it is not that long ago that women in Norway could not vote or matriculate. A completely unimaginable scenario for our daughters. We should consider the story of Ida Cecilie Thoresen. After attending Nissen Girls School until 1879, she wanted to take the examen artium (the qualifying exam for admission to university studies), but it was not possible as women were not admitted to universities. She then applied to the Ministry of Church Affairs for admission, but was refused. She allied herself with the left-wing politician Hagbard E. Berner, who proposed a private bill in the Norwegian Parliament.  On March 30, 1882, the law was passed and in the same year Ida Cecilie took the examen artium with honours. Hagbard Emanuel Berner was also one of the people behind the foundation of Norway's oldest feminist organisation, the Norwegian Association for Women's Rights (NKF), which was established in 1884. Along with Gina Krog he brought together 171 famous women and men, including five Norwegian prime ministers,to, "work for securing the future rights and place of women in society". One of our greatest feminist heroes, Betsy Kjelsberg, was very engaged in economics and leadership. She was not only involved in establishing voluntary associations, but also made the decision to take on senior management roles in the public sector. In 1909 she became Norway's first factory inspector.  She had both domestic help and childcare for her six children. 

None of this would have been possible without strong pioneering women in collaboration with powerful men in established positions and at home. Feminism has always been about cross-gender collaboration. It has never been just a "women's thing".

Are we done with equality and feminism in Norway?
It takes generations to shape and change women's social roles and status in society.  This includes Norway, where on paper we have largely adapted. We are still stuck in gender roles that mean that after finishing education we make traditional employment choices. Norwegian women take more sick leave than men and work more part-time. This has consequences for the Norwegian economy.  Very few choose to go into senior management or follow a path in investment or entrepreneurship.  We lack women with decision-making and investment power in the private sector.  It has consequences for the balance of power in society.  Norway is also a society that is constantly evolving, where we are welcoming new girls and women from very different nationalities and cultures who also get the same basic rights that all other women in Norway already have. Their struggle to live out these rights is also our struggle. 

What does feminism mean in 2017?
“The most dangerous thing we do is to define feminism as a term applicable to all with content defined by few”, wrote one of my female colleagues when I asked what feminism means to them personally. I could have asked men too, but fell straight into the trap, of thinking that this is about women's views. We are still there.  It is women who are interviewed on the front pages of Norwegian media on women's day; very few men.

- “Feminism in 2017 must be understood in the context of many individual cases, moving forwards step by step.It's not about the one big campaign alone, we have many small, important steps to go now”, said one colleague. 

- “Feminism is to see the world through glasses that do not distinguish between genders”, said another, “And the most important thing we can do now is to teach our children to have this as a fundamental attitude.”

- “Not going back on the struggle for women's rights and the rights that women before us have fought for, is one of our most important tasks. It is everyone's responsibility to vote, raise their hand, and show that someone cares about the way the world goes”, said a colleague.

None of my colleagues disapproved of the term feminism. But some believe it is more difficult for them to be engaged than it was before. This is both because the fundamental struggle for voting rights and the right to education has been achieved, but also because it is perceived as if the debate is reserved for the few, and to bring in their own "wrong" perspective is a risk. Therefore they stand back.  


So what do we do now from a feminist 4.0 perspective? Here are seven suggestions from my colleagues:

1. Each of us must take responsibility ourselves. Both in our choice of career and in everyday life. We must escape the control many of us still face both at work and at home. Drop your shoulders. Lead forward with ambitions, emerge from the "comfort zone" and sign up for demanding tasks and roles.  

2. Each one of us also has a responsibility to share with our children as early as possible, what Norwegianfeminist history has given us and the shoulders we stand on. 

3. We have legislation and basic rights in place in Norway. But not all women in Norway are experiencing this in their daily lives.  

4. Let more men participate in the debates; let them speak as leaders, investors, directors, grandfathers, fathers, brothers, husbands. 

5. "Senior management feminism" must also be socially acceptable. It is about power-sharing. 

6. Accept that different countries have not come as far as us and that our solutions are not necessarily the right ones for all countries. 

7. We have to move forward and set a good example. 

We are constantly striving to move forwards in our own organisation. We have 54 percent women in the entire company and 50 percent in senior management. 26.5 percent of our colleagues originate from a different country. On March 7, Innovation Norway enters for the first time a global innovation partnership with UN Women and on March 8, we are promoting female technology entrepreneurs with the prize Female Entrepreneur of the Year in Trondheim. 

But we also have areas for improvement.  We can use our international offices as ambassadors for value creation amongst women. According to McKinsey, full female participation in the labour market could give rise to a global growth of up to 26 percent by 2025. We can also introduce better rights ourselves, especially in countries where local laws do not provide good rights in connection with maternity leave. 

It is a commitment to be a world leader on feminism and gender equality. We must also move forward and demonstrate equality. We really only have to listen to our own king, said a colleague: 

"My greatest hope for Norway is that we will take care of each other. That we will continue to build this country - on trust, fellowship and generosity. That we shall know that we - despite all our differences - are one people. That Norway is one,” and maybe we can dare to add: That the world is one.

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. 👊 💪