This article is written by freelance journalist Ole-Harald Nafstad, formaly editor at 3in.
The Norwegian Startup scene is buzzing like never before. And just this spring Norway, for the first time, had more to celebrate than our neighbours at the Nordic Startup Awards.
A feat unimagineable just a year ago - and leaving some of the worlds best Startup ecosystems, i.e. Sweden and Finland, in the shadows of the night.
Startup Norway founder Maja Adriaensen thinks this clearly shows that the time is right to create new connections between the startup scene, investors and, more generally, well-off Norwegians.
- Four years ago we didn’t see any point in stimulating the investor side. Then, there was still so much to do, building the necessary culture of entrepreneurship. Looking back, it is quite unimaginable how much the scene has changed during the last four years, says Adriaensen.
So far Adriaensen, co-organizer Knut Wien and lead investor Thomas Berglund have gathered more than 20 investors to take part in the first Angel Challenge, a competition where Startups compete for an investment of 1 million NOK through a group investment.
Among these are experienced entrepreneurs like Kim Daniel Arthur (Playfish) and Ståle Løvbukten (Questback), as well as other experienced CEOs and investors.
- This is a unique opportunity to both pitch in front of a wide audience of potential investors, and to really learn what angel investing is all about, says co-organizer Wien.
Now both he and Adriaensen eagerly await applications from the startups.
- This is the place to be for startups who wants to test their business under intense inquiries by some of the best and sharpest Norwegian business minds for free, says Adriaensen.
More money, more referrals, more voices
The organizers will invite 20 startups to take part in the first phase of the Angel Challenge, the pitching days on the 20th - 21st of October.
Then five of the startups will be invited to take part in the workshop and education program, together with the 20 investors - until the final where one of the startups gets selected for the one million NOK investment.
Lead investor and experienced serial entrepreneur Thomas Berglund will handle all the contact with the startup for the investors in the first round.
But the prize is really just the tip of the ice berg, of what the organizers thinks will be achieved by the initiative:
- Investments: The 1 million NOK is the main prize. But all the investors have more money to invest, if they find the right company.
- Referrals: The 20 investors all have their own network of experienced entrepreneurs, business leaders and investors. Startups making a good impression might get help to open doors to other investors, companies and mentors, who may help them on their way to success.
- Grooming new opinion leaders: Mark Andreesen, Ben Horowitz, Peter Thiel. The list of American investors putting tech in the lime light is long. In Norway there is none. Can Angel Challenge help foster the Petter Stordalen or Christian Ringnes of tech?
Adriaensen and Wien are sure they are about to find a new venture for Startup Norway. Requests for additional challenges - in different settings - have already been presented for them.
- We haven’t had the time to consider them yet. At the moment we’re just focused on making Angel Challenge a good experience for everyone involved, says the organizers.
New iterations of the concept will undoubtedly be a good way to encourage more money moving from oil and real estate investments to future-oriented tech ventures.