By Ingvild Sørlie, Intern at Innovation Norway San Francisco
TINC WISDOM OF THE WEEK
"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 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 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.”