What you should know about U.S. Export Controls and Jurisdiction

Originally published at US Law for Nordics website November 24th 2017.

Meet US Law for Nordics and Roz Thomsen himself at Nordic Innovation House on Feb 8th!

Trade law is probably one of the things you as an entrepreneur want to spend the least time on. Still, in order to successfully run your business you need to know whether the goods or services you sell to or from the US market are subject to permits, licensing or contracting restrictions or regulations overseen by federal and state authorities. Also, you need to know if there are customs and fees applicable on your sales. Trade law is both technical and complex, and on top of that it’s international in nature. You must get it right in order to avoid fines and other sanctions, not only for your company but also for you as its founder and CEO. This blog post will give you a first overview of the legal system surrounding US export controls. It will be followed up by more hands-on advice in our future blog posts on Trade Law.

Who has the authority to regulate my international transactions?
Exporting from the United States is not a right protected by the Constitution, but rather a privilege governed by Congressional laws, Executive orders, and myriad regulations administered by numerous departments and agencies of the federal government. Sixteen agencies have authority to regulate or administer procedures involving exports, while another dozen or so have advisory or supporting roles.

What agencies are involved?
The three principal agencies having jurisdiction (i.e. the official power to make legal decisions and judgments) with respect to international transactions are the Commerce, State and Treasury Departments. The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security has jurisdiction with respect to “dual use” items having both military and civilian applications described on its Commerce Control List.  The State Department’s Directorate for Defense Trade Controls has jurisdiction with respect to “defense articles” and “defense services” described on its United States Munitions List.  The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has jurisdiction with respect to financial, economic and trade sanctions against certain listed individuals, companies and countries.

What agencies have specialized jurisdiction?
A longer list of specialized agencies retain jurisdiction with respect to specific industries. Life sciences companies frequently encounter the Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services and Interior.  Energy companies frequently encounter the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  All technology companies encounter the Patent and Trademark Office’s licensing procedures when filing foreign counterpart patent applications. The list goes on.

What is a typical transaction like?
A typical transaction may invoke the overlapping jurisdiction and regulatory requirements of multiple federal agencies. Let’s consider the simple export of a computer with software to a party outside the United States.  The computer may be a “dual use” item subject to the Commerce Department’s jurisdiction, but the software may be for the operation of a defense article subject to the State Department’s jurisdiction.  The proposed recipient may be a person who is subject to sanctions by the Commerce, State or even the Treasury Department.  The Census Bureau might require a filing through its automated export system, and the computer and software might be detained and seized at the port of departure by the Customs Service. The Justice Department might initiate a criminal investigation….

Furthermore, simply knowing which agency or agencies have direct regulatory authority is insufficient to advise companies with respect to regulatory risk. Multiple agencies sometimes have joint authority to make determinations that are critical to compliance.  For example, the Departments of Commerce, Defense and State jointly review and decide whether a particular product or technology is “dual use” (and therefore subject to Commerce’s jurisdiction) or a “defense article” (and therefore subject to State’s jurisdiction).  Some technologies have bounced back and forth between these two agencies, most famously commercial communications satellites and night vision technologies.

One infamous case, in which our firm represented the principal protagonist, involved the QRS-11 gyro chip, which ended up subject to the jurisdiction of both agencies simultaneously!
Even if the jurisdiction is determined to fall exclusively within the jurisdiction of a single agency, in many cases multiple agencies will be involved in decisions with respect to the issuance of licenses, permits or other approvals. For example, the Commerce Department consults with the Departments of Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, State and the intelligence community with respect to export license applications for “dual use” items, whether the intended recipient is located in a friendly country, like Canada, or a foe, like Cuba.

In the area of US export control, there are often overlapping jurisdictions, which can make it extremely difficult to know what rules will apply. In many cases, the trickiest part is to even realize when there is an export issue at hand, which needs to be looked into.

Posted by Roszel Thomsen
Roszel (Roz) Thomsen represents technology companies, from the “Fortune 100” to Startups, with respect to federal regulation of international technology transfers. Recognized as a leader among practitioners of export controls and economic sanctions law.

Ask your questions about US exporting/importing from Roz Thomsen on Thursday Feb 8th!

Nobody in their right mind would go to Helsinki in November...

Photo by Jussi Hellsten, Slush Media

Photo by Jussi Hellsten, Slush Media

...except for 17,500 tech-heads and Nordic Innovation House!

Are you interested in getting an office in the US? Participating in amazing accelerator or incubator programs in Silicon Valley or New York? Connect with us at Smash or Slush in Helsinki, November 28th - Dec 1st!



Nordic Innovation House

Katja Kotala, Community Coordinator and Program Manager




Hartti Suomela, Senior Advisor Finpro Silicon Valley




Nordic Innovation House - New York

Silve Parviainen, Community Director



Find us at these Nordic events in Helsinki!




Kattilahalli, Helsinki Nov 28th-29th

Smash is a new official Slush side-event dedicated to sport, technology and start-ups. Smash is an arena for curiosity, meeting and developing, where new perspectives, ideas and partners are waiting to be found. 


Nordic Sports Tech Challenge - Final


@Smash, November 29th

Smash, together with Nordic Innovation House, are proud to present the finalists of the first ever sports technology startup contest of the whole Nordic region. From over 100 applicants the jury selected 10 finalists to pitch at the final competition.


SLUSH SPECIAL! #PAUSE by KIRA-digi: Silve Parviainen

Kira-digi event.jpg

Maria 01, November 29th

Wednesday morning SLUSH SPECIAL with SILVE PARVIAINEN, the Director of Nordic Innovation House in New York. The location is renowned Starter Restaurant at Maria01 startup hub. Guaranteed deep talk about entering the US market from the Nordic countries.


Nordic Underground Party

Nordic underground party.jpg

Kaiku Club, November 29th

the Nordic Underground Party, an evening dedicated to meet friends, entrepreneurs and investors from all around the Nordic region and beyond. Must have Slush pass - CLAIM YOUR BADGE AT THE NORDIC UNDERGROUND PARTY!



Messukeskus, Helsinki, November 30th - December 1st

Smash newsletter.jpg

Held during the darkest time of the year in Helsinki, Finland, Slush has always been characterized by a unique energy and enthusiasm. The very core of Slush is to facilitate founder and investor meetings and to build a world-wide startup community. Slush is a student-driven, non-profit movement originally founded to change attitudes toward entrepreneurship. 


Once a TINCer...

By Ingvild Sørlie, Intern at Innovation Norway San Francisco

TINC_ing 8.JPG


"Once a TINCer, always a TINCer”

– Anne Lidgard, Vinnova

So, TINC is over for this round, and it is almost too empty at the Nordic Innovation house. It has been a week since the TINC program ended and we already miss our 10 fantastic companies, but they are heading home to do great things. We hope they take with them all the experiences they’ve had and adopt some of the global ambitions of Silicon Valley. The next time we meet they are probably running the world but hopefully they will still remember us. Cause like the head of the Swedish Team said on the last day, “Once a TINCer, always a TINCer.” See you all at the next TINC alumni event!

Here we go, the last TINC-week recap. Hold on tight, this can become a little emotional. 

On Wednesday, it was time for the final TINC-challenge for the companies, the much anticipated TINC Pitch Graduation. With the companies feeling a mixture of anxiety, eagerness to impress, and being ready to kick ass, they were probably all happy to finally get to present after four weeks of work hard. Our awesome panel consisted of our inhouse investor Arne Tonning, from Alliance Venture, Scott Barclay, our mentor and partner in data collective, Jayni Shah from Menlo Ventures, and David Lee from 451 Media Group. Our dear mentor Sean Percival was the moderator of our panel and steered us with his dry humor through the night. 

After a very successful pitch graduation, nothing was better to close of the TINC 13 program than Julie Hanna. Here to answer all the questions that have yet to be answered in the group, and thankfully all of the TINCers still had questions they wanted answered. The main theme for the session was focus and prioritization of tasks, the process of asking themselves what is the most important thing to take your company forward. A very relevant discussion for us Nordics who are trying to serve every request that comes in and not turn down any customers. After the final inspiring session of the program, we were graciously hosted by our Royal Norwegian General Consulate in his home in San Francisco for a proper closing ceremony. Unfortunately the content of the ceremony is non-disclosable, so you will just have to come see for yourself next spring. 

TINC_ing 9.JPG

TINC might be over for the thirteenth time but we are already planning for the next TINC. In the spring of 2018 a new bunch of Nordic ambitious startups will take Silicon Valley by storm. They will be questioned, they will be confused, they will be inspired and they will get to test their product and business model in the most competitive tech ecosystem in the world. Traveling to Silicon Valley is almost like entering the Olympics for tech startups, are you ready for that?


PriceEdge At the end of the four weeks I finally sit down with the king of pricing, Frank Melander, who founded Priceedge because of his frustrations working as a pricing manager. Now, Priceedge is the dream pricing software for pricing agents! 

Rickard Nilsson, his partner in TINCing, has unfortunately gone home to Sweden before the last week, but the whole founding team has actually been present at some part of the TINC program. “Having the founding team over here throughout TINC is probably going to make it easier to pin point where to go next when we come back home. It has also made it easy to focus and take time away from the busy day to day life. Previously we tried to do everything that came at us, we realized we have to focus and start saying no. The third week our CTO was over so we focused on our product and kind off created a focus week to reflect and implement the learnings from the first two weeks.”

Frank agrees, the first two weeks were intense. “But they were good for the team and we spent the evenings discussing the workshops. We discussed our target customer, and we have decided to retarget that during TINC. We used to target the pricing manager in the sales process. After the lean startup workshop with Kromatic and sales with Scott Sambucci we decided to target the business owner when selling our product. The product is still made for the pricing agents.”


Headshed Magnus Hoem Slørdal and Torbjørn Slørdal are not just brothers in business but also in biology. And having you brother and business partner with you on TINC is always a good support, which was maybe especially important for Magnus. “It has been sort of a traumatizing experience,” he says while his brother lets out a little laugh. “You get challenged and put on the spot for a lot of things you maybe took for granted. You get a lot of input on how your product fits into the world. The product is a representation of us, and when that gets chewed up and spit out, it is uncomfortable.” 

But the brothers are not scarred for life, rather full of ambition and optimism. “Although it is an emotional rollercoaster and you get thrown around a lot, it has been a good thing. We needed it, and we came out on top with a realization that we need to be more focused in everything we do. And I think we are able to do that.” Headshed is a sales tool, but now the brothers want to take on the EU GDPR challenge that will inevitably change the lives of many businesses. Although, making that pivot is not straight forward and there are still things to figure out when they get home to the rest of the team.

And they are both ready to go home, mostly to see their families again. However, they do value the friendships that they’ve got out of TINC. “Being an entrepreneur can get lonely, but being in a group you realize that there are others dealing with the same struggles. When going back, we are going to be more open and share more with other companies in our co-working space. We want to take this culture from Silicon Valley with us back home. “

Fons Juris.JPG

Fons Juris was created because of two lawyers’ frustration with the legal research, and now it is a legal research platform for 70% all lawyers and law students in Iceland. And our lawyers have ruled, TINC is worth it. Einar Sigurbergsson and Sævar Guðmundsson TINC they got great value from the program, especially from the people that they were exposed to. “We got the opportunity to reach out to the legal technology environment in Silicon Valley, including establishing a connection at Stanford. There is also great value in meeting people in a similar position, the other entrepreneurs in the program. You get a different perspective and realize everyone has the same problems and that everyone is still moving in the same directions.”

Also getting out of the Icelandic bubble and entering the very competitive and larger arena in Silicon Valley has been important to Fons Juris. “Here, everything is brewing. The next step for us now is taking things back to our bubble, especially the structured and focused thinking that is much more goal oriented. We are now going to prioritize and decide the exact things we want to do. Not let the day to day work be a distraction from the main goals, but take breathers and refocus.” 

And if they can say one thing to anyone TINCing of joining the program, here is the message: “Just do it! You’ll have a rollercoaster of experiences and feedback, and you won’t regret it. You will really grow as a person.”

Mentor TINCing

By Ingvild Sørlie, Intern at Innovation Norway San Francisco

TINC mentors Daniel Kjellen, Victor Belfor, and Scott Barclay sharing their thoughts  

TINC mentors Daniel Kjellen, Victor Belfor, and Scott Barclay sharing their thoughts


How do the mentors TINC?

“Silicon Valley is a great place where mentors and friends of TINC will engage you as an early company and try to help and give ideas and even advice. It's your job, as founders, to figure out what advice to implement. Only you know your team, your customers, your business.” – Scott Barclay

Every week of TINC, all the companies have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with four different mentors for one hour each. If your quick at math, that’s a total of forty hours of mentoring each week during TINC, and that’s a lot. But the mentor sessions are also what is emphasized when the TINCers answer what they value most about the program. So, this week we have dedicated the blog to the mentors.

Getting feedback from the mentors has been described as confusing, frustrating, inspiring, epiphanies and mind changing. There’s a lot of feelings involved when your company is getting some honest feedback from the mentors, but it’s also one of the best parts of the TINC program. We in the TINC team like hearing that our TINCers are confused, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. If you haven’t been challenged and questioned what you’re doing at least once a week during TINC, then you’re not really TINCing.


Daniel Kjellen is our newest addition to the TINC core mentor group and already he has shown extremely valuable to the companies. Daniel’s expertise lays mostly within fintech and payment but for our companies working towards the e-commerce B2B market he has also been an invaluable resource. Daniel also focuses on marketing, product fit and strategy, and is a well-connected guy in Silicon Valley who sees connections from the second you tell him what you do, almost like a TINC matchmaker.

Victor Belfor is the big bear in the group of mentors. He can be so direct and brutally honest it’s almost scary, for that reason he has been nicknamed “the butcher”. But as the big bear he is, he also cares greatly for the companies. He has deep experience in “the front of the house” with business development, revenue generation, and frameworks. He is currently working as Senior VP of Channel Sales and Business Development for Conversia, a leading AI-powered business developer and sales agent.

Scott Barclay’s expertise is in health and big data, in his own words he “helps build companies at the intersection of health and data”. Scott is also our expert in letting you lead a meeting. Scott is very set on not giving the companies a direct answer to their business, rather letting them take control of the mentoring and use his expert advise to guide them to find the answers. After all, the companies must make their own decisions of which advise to follow when the TINCing is over.

Sean Percival is our metrics guy, but as is with metrics there is so much more to Sean. Sean has over 12 years of online marketing experience and has formerly worked with 500 Startups, Topix and Blockchain. Sean is a veteran when it comes to accelerator programs and preparations for fundraising, and he is currently the operating manager of the Oslo based Katapult Accelerator.


Since this was the week with main focus on mentoring, there were no workshops on the schedule. However, we still managed to fit in some inspiring group activities. For the stressful day-to-day life of startups, a session of meditation with James Brown was very welcome. Even though we didn’t fully master the art of meditation in one hour, the session helped remind us that when you take time to take care of yourself, you become better at your work. The same day we also had a founder talk by Jonatan Littke from Lookback, to learn about building teams and culture in your organization. The weekend was kicked off with a meeting with Carl Fritjofsson from Creandum. A founder, turned VC gave a candid look into both sides of this complicated co-existence.



TicketbirdThe Ticketbirds are the TINCers with the best merchandise, but the eagle, CEO and founder Daniel Hedberg claims he has been reborn during TINC. Maybe a phoenix is a better bird now? The rest of the Ticketbird team Magnus Vigren and Roger Eriksson agree. “TINC is nothing like we expected. It has just been a rollercoaster. We have been discussing a lot about who we are, why we do what we do and the core problems we want to solve. It has been all over the emotional scale. It has been demanding, frustrating, we have argued, hugged, felt anger and joy. It has been a very dynamic process.”

Ticketbird is an online customer support service that uses AI to improve the answers to customer questions. They came here to validate and challenge product market fit, and have been working hard with just that. They feel it has been so many impressions and ideas the first week, so they haven’t really had time to realize what has happened or process and use their newfound knowledge. But now Ticketbird has seen the light, and as all successful startups do once or twice, they have pivoted. “We had a meeting with the mentor Daniel and that gave us an epiphany. His reaction to a part of our value proposition gave us the inspiration for this pivot, and by focusing on a small part of our value proposition we can actually widen our possibilities.”



Sweetzpot is the sportiest company attending TINC this fall with their hardware that measures breathing as an alternative to heart rate during exercise. Håvard Bjor and Arne Laugstøl, are excited to be in Silicon Valley, not just for the contact with the American market but also the culture that exist in this area. “Silicon Valley is kind off the Olympic arena for startups. This is the perfect place to understand what path to choose to get to that level and into this community. The kind of mindset that we get here, there are big thoughts, global aspirations, and it really triggers something in us.”

The American market was however one of the main reasons for Sweetzpot to decide to attend TINC. They wanted to test product market fit and validate and tune their product for entering the market overseas. And as everyone else, they found focus.

“When we came, we thought we were focused. The initial market response was completely different than what we expected. But we are still working on it, and we have some rough ideas but we still need to investigate. So, we’re going to use the last week to select one of the three paths we’re looking at.“


Coala Life Philip Siberg is attending TINC by himself, but his family is keeping him company in Palo Alto. And even though bonding with Mark Zuckerberg over parenting on Halloween was a highlight, TINC has been even better. Coala Life makes it easy for consumers to monitor their heartrate with their portable sensor and a smartphone, and Philip’s heart really beats in rhythm with Palo Alto.  “It has been very inspiring and exceeding my expectations. TINC has also given time for reflection and not just getting caught up in life. This is the first time I’ve had a few weeks out of my busy life and it has been great to have time think about the big picture. “

But it hasn’t just been ups, there’s also been some downs. “I had my second week trauma where I felt like: wow, we suck, what are we doing, we’re completely focusing on the wrong things. I really felt the down period that everyone talks about.

Then, at the end of week two I pitched for an investor. He said: “this is amazing and this could work in SV”, and then I was back on top of the world again. “

Philip says he came to TINC to get feedback on his business model and create the worlds smartest business model for his company. The feedback from the market has been very positive, however, cracking the code with the smartest business model he is still working on. But he has come a very long way in these three weeks.

Apply to TINC Spring 2018!

Norwegian Refugee Council in Silicon Valley: More Technology in Humanitarian Aid

By Jeanett Sandmo, Senior Advisor Startup Division at Innovation Norway and

Kristina Hallvik, Intern at Royal Norwegian Consulate General in San Francisco

Innovation Norway SF Silicon Valley hosted Norwegian Refugee Council at Nordic Innovation House

Innovation Norway SF Silicon Valley hosted Norwegian Refugee Council at Nordic Innovation House

Last week several friends of The Nordic Innovation House, among them angel investors, Impact investors, tech experts, and entrepreneurs, met with Norwegian Refugee Counsil at Nordic Innovation House to discuss how technology can help humanitarian aid

The Secretary General in NRC, Jan Egeland shared with the group some of the challenges they are facing daily in NRC’s humanitarian work and stories from the lives of displaced ones in Syria, Congo South Sudan, and Yemen among many countries. He also shared some of the biggest challenges where NRC believes there is existing technology today that can both help them help more people and help solve challenges they still don’t have solutions to.


Long term solutions

Egeland pointed out how aid work must also take into account the long-term needs. For example, it is important with educational training in refugee camps so that refugees can return to their respective homes with new knowledge. This is important because previous professions are no longer relevant in war-hardened areas, where large lands have been destroyed and people's needs have changed. On the other hand, there is often a huge need for professions like engineers and doctors.

If we can contribute with education through technology in refugee camps, refugees and displaced people will be able to contribute to society when the refugee status ends. The Dadaab camp in Kenya was drawn as an example, where former farmers and shepherds from Somalia left the camp as computer engineers. Refugees must qualify for new occupations before returning, and here, Impact Investors and entrepreneurs with innovative solutions could be a huge asset.


Technology for better communication

The Internet is available in large parts of the Middle East, but not in all countries in Africa, such as South Sudan and Congo. Egeland discussed with some of the guests how the internet could be made available to several, which is important both for refugee aid to communicate better both internally and externally. And to be able to communicate with the displaced, and to understand what their actual needs are, instead of assuming.

"We are no longer there that we pretend we know what a Somali mother-in-law with five children needs. We must ask her. "
- Jan Egeland (26.10.17)


Technology and identification

Lasse Andresen, CEO of ForgeRock, Jan Egeland, Secretary General of NRC  and Gro Dyrnes, Regional Director Innovation Norway Americas

Lasse Andresen, CEO of ForgeRock, Jan Egeland, Secretary General of NRC  and Gro Dyrnes, Regional Director Innovation Norway Americas

Finally, technology for electronic ID cards and identification of refugees was discussed. The Founder and CTO of the Norwegian company ForgeRock, Lasse Andresen stressed that the technology already exists for face detection and fingerprints.

Use of such technology, such as immigration authorities, will eliminate the potential for ID theft. Together with use of "big data", technology can secure information about education, past work and criminal background etc. This is not unproblematic in terms of forgery of documents and ownership of personal information, but the technology for better solutions exists.

Engaging a larger ecosystem

During his days in the valley, Mr. Egeland also engaged the academic side with a key note at Stanford’s Handa Center on the topic  “Global Displacement: Conditions inside Syria for those who have been left behind”. In this talk, by Jan Egeland and Dr. Farida (last OB/GYN in Aleppo) the focus was on conditions inside of Syria for the millions who have been internally displaced and whose narratives haven’t been addressed in the media. It was also discussed areas in which Stanford could intervene to help alleviate the global displacement crisis. 

A full interviewed with Mr. Egeland about the Syrian Refugee Crisis can be heard on this recording from KQED.

Nordic Innovation House and Team Norway are honored to be involved and will continue to give input as to how technology and our network can be leveraged to find better solutions so support NRC in their very important work.

TINCing on

By Ingvild Sørlie, Intern at Innovation Norway San Francisco

TINC_ing 4.JPG


“The TINC program is about the people. No fluff, they all speak from real experience.” – Vala and Stefania, Viska

If you want more wisdom from Viska and the other TINCers, keep reading!


It is week 3! How everyone made it through the two first weeks packed with challenging, confusing, inspiring workshops and mentor meetings, no one knows. It seems we have all adopted the necessary motto, just keep on TINCing on. But before we dig down into TINC week 3, here is last weeks recap.

TINC week 2 started out with a workshop on PR and communication with funny and direct Aoife Kimber from Kimber PR, who was there to help the companies tune their message and spread it to the world. Monday was continued by the expert sales guys Scott Sambucci from SalesQualia, the ball of energy that is always a great highlight for the TINCers. Teaching the companies how to scale and grow while generously handing out highfives, this Monday really kicked off the week with a lot of TINC energy.

It had only been four days since last time we saw her, but we were all ready for another round with Julie Hanna. This time we started out with an inspirational video of a memorial speech made for Steve Jobs by his colleague and friend Jony Ive, before we segwayed into other inspirational stories and what they all have in common. The short answer is; they were all disruptive and never stopped breaking the rules of the hierarchy. On a final note, there is a tsunami of exponential development coming our way. Or actually, it’s already here. We can always count on Julie Hanna to challenge our TINCing.

Shomit Ghose

Shomit Ghose

Wednesday was investor day with two investors with different experiences. Their insight from the other side of the table and view of the ecosystem in Silicon Valley is always a great input to the TINCers, fundraising or not. Shomit Ghose, managing director and partner at Onset Ventures gave us the American perspective of a VC. With Shomit’s great humor he also gave the TINCers a reality check, it’s a scary world for both founders and investors, but the rewards are great.

Arne Tonning, partner at Alliance Venture, brought the Scandinavian perspective of a VC’s role to the TINC table. He gave valuable insight to how investors make decisions. And even though it might seem like investors use a crystal ball to make decision, according to our in-house investor Arne that is not always the case.

In the middle of all this investor talk we also managed to fit in Nir Eyal, author of the Hook, to teach the TINCers how to get their customers hooked on their product. But Nir also wants the TINCers to hook people responsibly, because with great TINC-power comes great responsibility. Also eager to join the TINCing fun was also Peter Eriksson, Swedish Minister of Digital Development and Housing, who got to hear about the program and a short pitch from all of the companies.  

For Wednesday evenings fun, we had invited this week’s founder Lasse Andresen from ForgeRock. He inspired the TINCers so much that there was no need for a presentation. The questions kept coming thoruhg the hour and beyond, and after two beers we were all best friends with Lasse. When asked if his idea has changed through the years Lasse joked that they started with an idea and lots of Gin&Tonic, and both the drink and the idea has stayed the same. The Norwegian success story of Lasse truly inspired the TINCers, and gave hope. If you just keep on TINCing on, your dreams just might come true.

Again, we wrapped up the week with Nathan Gold, our rock and guide to lead us safely into the weekend. Story telling is a tricky thing, but with Nathan’s help the companies are improving rapidly. And we all can’t wait for the TINC pitch graduation.


Viska is the youngest company attending TINC but Vala Halldorsdottir and Stefania Bjarney Olafsdottir are not rookies. Their previous company gathered a lot of traction and money, from among others Sequoia. But no matter how skilled they are, they still feel like they’ve benefited loads from TINC.


“It was not easy making the decision to put our company on hold for four weeks to come here, we felt like we didn’t need to learn more generic things about start ups. But talking to an alumni of TINC convinced us, and TINC is not like other programs. We are so happy that we came!”

The ladies say the program has exceeded expectations and they would recommend everyone to attend TINC.

“Through our entire process, we have been focused on avoiding the traps that we could fall into, but we still fell into them. TINC has reminded us of the traps, but also inspired us to think big and return to our original vision and be more focused.”

Now the weeks of intense workshops are coming to an end, now the important meetings should be booked and the right people should be hunted down. “The first two weeks you throw everything up in the air, you start to doubt everything. We hope that for the remainder two weeks we maybe start to pull somethings together so we have a better understanding for going forward. “


Prindit In our second week, it is time to meet the brainiest people attending TINC. With more than ten years of research experience within innovation between the two of them, Anders Wikström and Stefan Cedergren really know what they’re talking about with Prindit. So, what have these smart human beings thought about TINCing the first two weeks?

“TINC has exceeded our expectations! At home, we focus more on the product, here the focus has really been on the business model, and that is great for us. And it is less specific to the US than we thought coming here, which is a positive thing.” They emphasize the mentors when asked what is so different from what you can get back home. “Here you really meet the experts, they’ve been involved in many successful startups and are still active. They have so much real experience to share, and they all have a different point of view. And when you get so much different input you get challenged on a different level.”

Even though the first two weeks have been wonderfully chaotic, the TINCers are now ready for things to settle down and maybe they can start to process some of the many inputs they have gotten the first week. “For these two weeks we have really scrambled everything, now we are ready to turn over the puzzle pieces and start putting them together in a new way. “

TINCing Hard

By Ingvild Sørlie, Intern at Innovation Norway San Francisco

TINC_ing 3.JPG


Having a great product is necessary but not sufficient for success.
– Julie Hanna

If you would like to tap into more of Julie Hanna’s fountain of knowledge, join us at TINC Spring 2018 - applications open soon!

Week one of TINC has come and gone, it has been a fast-paced and energizing week with a lot of hard work. The companies quickly learned that there is no ordinary nine to five in Silicon Valley. Here, jet lag is utilized to close a funding round at 5am, get a reality check from a mentor by lunch, and still have time to make new connections over dinner and a beer. No wonder the days fly by fast when you’re TINCing hard. 

For you poor souls not being able to experience this, let me paint you a picture. Monday morning, twenty new people walk into the Nordic Innovation House. They are served coffee, KIND bars and fruit. The smell of excited nervousness is in the air. We are ready for lift-off. Nathan Gold, our long-time pitch coach and mentor was as always there to welcome the companies. But today it’s not about the 3-minute pitch, it is about storytelling. The stories you tell people in line for coffee, and the stories you use to draw in new people by telling them something memorable. In a sea of startups, it’s all about who remembers you, and for what. 

So what do the TINCers want to be remembered for? You would probably remember the guy who had his first startup by the age of 8. And you would never forget the guy who was the heaviest baby born in Sweden. And you might remember that one of our talents that turned down Y-Combinator, and is now attending TINC. This was just a teaser for all the interesting people you will hear about on this blog, so stay tuned for more!

TINC_ing 1.JPG

Tuesday was the day to meet the mentors, an intense day with lots of input. The perfect lead up to Wednesday, the day for creativity and lean TINCing. Nick Noreña from Kromatic, held the full day workshop forcing our companies to TINC outside the box, focus and prioritize.

After a full day of focus, the time had come to relax. Just kidding, it was of course time for the first networking event! Alliance Venture had graciously invited their local network and TINC to a fireside chat with Borge Hald from Medallia over fancy wine and great food. This gave the TINCers an opportunity to introduce themselves to the SV community, finally!

It is hard to sufficiently explain the setup and value of Julie Hanna’s workshop that took place on Thursday. What everyone tells you, is that it’s simply the best. The companies were told to come with an open mind, to be ready to take advantage of the brilliant brain of the woman who was appointed by President Obama to be the Presidential Ambassador of the Global Entrepreneurship. As the workshop goes on, more and more people understand. But still, it is not something you can explain, it is not something you should even try to explain, it is something you need to experience. 

So these are the team’s take-aways and impressions of the first week. But what do the companies really think about their first TINC-week?

Jonas & Marco

Jonas & Marco

Droshi does dropshipping for e-commerce, but is probably the least Swedish company at TINC. Jonas Salminen and Marco Real are more comfortable in the fast pace environment of Silicon Valley than back home in Sweden. They have high ambitions and the goals is to become a competitor with Amazon and Alibaba within the next ten years. As the founder Jonas says; if not then why even do this business. They are great guys with big dreams. And they have really gotten into a flying start.

“The first thing we felt was energized, everyone here is continuously working passionately. For us Jet lag is no problem, we are using endorphins as fuel rather than sleep.“ And they have no plan to slow down. They say the energy that comes with Silicon Valley and the TINC program just fuels their ambitions. “We have no problem keeping up the pace for the remaining three weeks of TINC and when we get home we just have to keep going.” In fact, one day after landing back in Sweden they are launching Droshi 2.0 on the 15th of November. Sleep they have scheduled for two days of January in 2018. 


Learnlink is the youngest company at TINC and therefore claims the best stamina. Which is a good thing, as they sleep in bunkbeds at a hackerhome. “It not the best quality sleep, but we really feel like we’re living the Silicon Valley lifestyle.”

Learnlink is an online platform for tutoring and since all the platform they use on a daily basis come out of the Valley they figured there was something to learn from coming here. “Right now we are just six guys who do a lot of things we don’t really how to do. Through TINC we want to become more professional, learn how to do things the right way.”

The three young guys, Johannes Berggren, Andreas Ferstad, and Aleksander Røe Strømshoved, were surprised by the high level of the presenters and mentors in the program. They knew the volume of work but didn’t expect the quality to be so amazing.

The most valuable portion of the first week for Learnlink has been the lean startup workshop with Nick, helping them focus and prioritize, putting all the less important stuff further down on the todo-list. “And I actually hate workshops, but this was great value. The other guys are going to be really surprised when we get home and I say “Today we’re gonna have a workshop.” Cause we are going to start doing workshops in Learnlink now.” Already, TINC has changed the way of life for Learnlink. 

Get “the legal stuff” right from the start

By Olivia Gorajewski, Maria Ingelsson, and Sara Maxence


Ok, so you’re a Nordic company who just arrived on the US Market, or maybe you are still thinking about entering the US Market. Feeling a bit nervous? What about world-wide US taxation and million dollar law suits? Not sure what questions you need to ask your US advisors? Not even clear on who’s the right advisor to ask?


Let us introduce uslawfornordics.com. Founded by three Swedes – two lawyers and one marketer – with our own experiences from starting up a business in the US. Sure, we made some mistakes of our own, but we also learned a lot along the way. Creating this community based website is our way of paying it forward. One thing we know is that if you don't get the legal and administrative parts in place early on it might come back to bite you later on, causing delays in execution, funding and sales.

Legal guidance

We won’t give you all the answers, but we will point you in the right direction. The heart of the website is its blog posts, written by our US lawyer friends, focusing on the questions we continuously get asked about by Nordic companies setting up shop in Silicon Valley. We have created the website we ourselves would have wanted to find when we first came here. In short, we’d like to give your business a head start!

We want to make uslawfornordics.com the “go-to place” for anyone considering entering the US market. It’s for the CEO preparing the Board of Directors pitch for US entry, the VP of Sales getting inspired by a new multi-billion market, and for the cofounders around the kitchen table who believe that the Nordics is just too small for their world-changing solution.

We want this community to help bridge the legal gap between the Nordics and Silicon Valley, and create a platform for connectivity, learning and experience sharing. We want to ensure that “the legal stuff” never stands in the way for your expansion to the other side of the Atlantic!

Olivia, Maria and Sara



Weekly “Ask-the-Lawyer”


Starting on November 7, we will be at the Nordic Innovation House on Ramona Street in Palo Alto, every Tuesday 10 am to 12 pm (PST). If you have any questions regarding establishing your company in the US, feel free to ping us, or simply stop by! You will find our contact information on uslawfornordics.com/contact.

Launch Party October 26 at NIH

We are throwing a launch party for uslawfornordics.com on October 26th at the Nordic Innovation House. We will serve light food and drinks and Richard Söderberg, former patent lawyer for Tesla, will share his experiences and discuss why start-ups need to get things right from day one. We will also host a panel with some of the most interesting Nordic start-ups in the Bay. They will share their war stories – the good and the bad of failing fast in Silicon Valley.

Sign up for the event here!