May 16, 2022

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- You're risking too much

– You’re risking too much

The Norwegian entrepreneur community is not entirely clear and hides companies that could become a new Tandberg or Kahoot. DN is now mapping out which companies could become the big growth companies of the future.

This year’s initiative Innovators will map out growth companies, and the rule with all companies will be a good overview for anyone who wants to know what drives new companies, who raises money and how they’re doing, says News Editor Ann Schalberg.

Norwegian entrepreneurship companies can now register with their own profile. To date, nearly 100 companies have been registered.

The corporate base will also give us a better starting point for creating journalism about new companies, technology, trends, and which ones work and which don’t.

The companies are displayed in a searchable database. As summer approaches, the jury will select the Creators of the Year.

Here you can read about the criteria and sign up for your company This year’s creators

The judging panel includes chain founder and tech investor Geir Førre, project leader Ingrid Tegland Akai who manages the Hadean Fund and CEO Rolf Assev at Startuplab.

Assev has followed the entrepreneurial community for a number of years and was pivotal when DN was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 2019. In the previous round, companies such as Pexip, Otovo, Biovotec and Spacemaker were selected as Entrepreneur of the Year winners in the respective categories.

– This is the first time I’ve seen someone who hits well in all companies. Usually the best companies are the ones most interested in acquiring clients. Asif says the reason this award has done so well is because a large-scale jury evaluates companies rather than randomly performing on stage.

wide jury

This time the jury is also made up of people who know different environments across the country (in alphabetical order):

  • Espen Andersen, professor at BI, researches innovation and strategy.
  • Ingrid Tigland Akai, Physician and President of Hadean Ventures
  • Rolf Asif, Partner at Startuplab.
  • Tor Bækkelund, Kjell Inge Røkke’s partner at Runway FBU.
  • Geir Førre, the center of at least four billion successes as an entrepreneur and investor.
  • Karen Elizabeth Hescia, partner at Stavanger-based Blueleap, formerly DNB Venture.
  • Asbjør Lilletun, President of Norinnova in Tromsø and Member of the Board of Directors of Norway Health Tech
  • Bent Lu, Partner at Alliance Venture
  • Hilda Stoll Petersen, Partner, Momentum Partners, Bergen.
  • Øystein R. Skiri, Gustav Magnar Witzøe’s partner at Wiski Capital based in Trondheim. The previous founder.
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See overview above The first companies are here

extreme winner

In 2019, nearly 300 companies took part in the survey, and Spacemaker was among the companies selected by the jury. The following year, it was sold for 2.2 billion crowns to San Francisco-based Autodesk in 2020, just four years after starting the company. By that time, the entrepreneurs were able to employ 115 people and raised 290 million to fund growth.

There are many who ask us for advice, and we say they should think carefully before they do what we do. You’re taking a lot of risk by growing this way, says Carl Christensen.

Spacemaker develops artificial intelligence to design buildings in the best possible way. This is so technically demanding and the market is so big that they think they have no choice. They had to work hard to take a leadership position. It can provide great benefits.

Other projects require much less capital, Christensen says, and some of the DN-listed companies have been successful in raising money from clients, not investors. This includes Fotmob, which was started by two brothers in Bergen, providing information on football. Without a penny from the investors, they created a money machine that has a turnover of about NOK 40 million annually and generates about half of the net profit.

why View Fotmob’s special DN Base here.

In any case, close cooperation with customers is often a key factor, and Spacemaker had early close cooperation with major players in the construction industry, who also invested in the company.

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“We’ve received very good feedback from the market, so you get the confidence to invest,” says Havard-Hockland.

More success, more money

Parts of the Norwegian start-up community broke their backs after the dotcom era, long plagued by the oil-dominated economy, as the offshore industry attracted capital and talent. But after the oil downturn in 2014, an ecosystem of many companies and much more capital developed.

Of the nearly 300 companies in DN’s previous survey, a handful have gone bankrupt, and many haven’t reached their growth targets, but overall there’s growth, with ever larger volumes being collected and several big sales breakthroughs.

– There are increasingly better people who are becoming entrepreneurs, and in addition, more capital has come in which makes it possible to grow faster. Asif says Euronext’s growth in Lillebursen has also made it possible to raise money in Norway.

I contacted 176 mutual funds

Spacemaker believes that the Norwegian title is not an obstacle to raising larger sums, even though few international venture capitalists have established themselves locally. They received 220 million kroner in one round, which is a lot in Norway, but not among the really big sums in the international context.

To expand globally, without a parent company with strong sales channels, they will need more funds. They were in talks of up to 450 million crowns in a new round of financing when they were acquired.

If you have clear international potential, you will have access to international capital in Norway as elsewhere, says Kvåle.

– If you know the right people?

– They will find you. We were contacted by 176 international venture capital firms prior to the sale, says Kvåle.

It is believed that the distances became smaller during the Corona epidemic, and indicates that Autodesk bought it without a single physical confrontation.

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Searching for the next big thing

The survey is part of the DN Future technology initiative, which covers the most important technologies and trends that will characterize business and working life in the future.

So it’s also very important to get an overview of companies that are on the way up, that have either created something completely new or are surfing in a wave, says DN’s acting news editor, Ann Schalberg.

– It’s hard to predict what will happen next, but I hope it will be in the field of environmental technology, says Asif.

Norwegian startups in recent years have attracted a larger group of investors. Many former successful entrepreneurs are involved in financing new projects, not least profiles such as Geir Førre, Fredrik Halvorsen and Odd Johnny Winge.

The founders of Spacemaker also made a solid profit on the sale, and received many inquiries from Norwegian companies wanting advice and investments. They said yes to someone.

We don’t always advise people to do what we’re doing, but there’s often a lot that can be conveyed all of a sudden, says Christensen.

It’s incredibly fun for the Norwegian ecosystem to speed up, and it’s fun to be a part of hearing what’s going on, Hokland says.

Here you can read about the criteria and sign up for your company This year’s creators

See overview above The first companies are here
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