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The most exciting experience this week was getting contracted to a speaker at Wolves Summit next month. This is the fourth edition of the biggest multinational startup event in Central and Eastern Europe. It focuses on networking and has a goal to build a bridge between investors, corporations, and promising startups.
Did you know that 500 Startups is shouting down their activity in Oslo and that Sean Percival is leaving? I am not sure what’s boiling here, but I keep you posted. Anyhow, earlier this week Are Traasdahl founder of Tapad launched his idea setting up an early stage fund of 1,2 billion USD and got standing ovations for his initiative.
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– Angels love the thrill of the hunt. We like learning how entrepreneurs are going to change the world or which is the new Unicorn that will go public and bring a 100X return. Perhaps this is why many stories about early-stage investing focus on the first part of angel investing – finding good deals, negotiating good terms, and due diligence.
– EQUITY Gap, a Scottish business angel syndicate, has reported strong investment activity in the first half of 2016. The syndicate has completed investment deals in include Insignia Technologies, Synaptec, Appointedd, Shotscope and Vert Rotors. The syndicate has rapidly grown from 15 original founders to 100 members, completing over 50 rounds of funding, since 2010.
– One of the big concerns about investing in a startup is the lack of liquidity, which means once you put in money, you’re pretty much locked in until a “liquidity event” occurs. Most angels want an outsize return on their investments, because this is a high-risk asset class, and you invest in it because you expect to get a high return in exchange for taking on that additional risk.
– In the previous post of this series, we described what financial modeling is and why it is important for startup founders to build their own models from scratch. Today, we’ll begin by diving into how to practically start building a financial model.
– Signia Venture Partners has closed its second fund at $85 million to lead early-stage deals in emerging tech startups mostly in and around San Francisco. For the unfamiliar, Signia is typically the first money in and the lead investor in the companies it backs, writing $1-2 million in seed stage deals or $2-8 million in later stage rounds.
Today we learned that 500 Startups are shooting down their activities in Norway, Sean Percival leaves, and the rest of the team is moving to Sweden. They are one of the leading venture companies in the world and has invested more than 1.6 billion in approximately 1,400 companies.
– Sweden has a much greater appetite for risk, and they are much better at marketing, commercialization, and internationalization, says Sean Percival.
– When I tried to raise money for our 15 million USD fund in Norway, there were very few who understood how venture capital works. They did not understand the mechanisms and they did not understand how they got the money back.
For every conversation I had, I started on the minus side, and had to spend time just to get to the starting line, and then I have to continue to get them to invest, he said.
It is tragic that 500 Startups not got underway in Norway. What Sean says, pinpoint our problems related to culture and lack climate for cooperation across national borders inside Scandinavia.
What worries me most is that Norway can have branding issues in the environment in Silicon Valley. It’s like a little duck pond and rumors going fast. This for sure a downturn and emphasizes once again the importance of tax incentives for investors in Norway. I assume that key politicians realize the seriousness now. As entrepreneurs, we must also put pressure on the government.
Norway must have conditions that are competitive and that can secure that startup projects have an opportunity to get financing. I think it’s unreasonable that we give a lot of grants from Innovation Norway, only for the next turn see the company flag out to get investors.
Also, we must all demand that our politicians have a vision for this country? The last thing we need is more commissions and committees. We need action!
Last week over 1000 foreign guests and I arrived in Tallinn for the Estonian ICT Week (27 May -3 June) including the “Industry 4.0 in Practice” conference and the “Green IT” seminar. I will write several blog post from my experience, but as a first taste, I will share a video with some of my pictures from the “Green IT” seminar and beautiful Tallinn.
ICT sector has been one of the most important industries in Estonia, starting with governmental e-services and ending with Estonian startups that are proved to have a global mindset.
Estonia is a tech advanced and agile society that gets things done fast. Therefore, a big effect is expected by encouraging the industrial and ICT sector to work together locally and internationally.
Recently, Malwarebytes, an internet security company founded in the US enlarged their office in Tallinn, because of the excellent location and awesome IT vibe. People from different corners of the world are traveling to work in Tallinn, and they expect to have 60 people in the office very soon.
If you want more information about moving your company to the heart of Europe or investing, you should contact Estonian Investment Agency (EIA), a part of Enterprise Estonia, is a government agency promoting foreign investments in Estonia and assisting international companies in finding business opportunities in Estonia.
After been massively inspired by Chris Anderson’s great book released May 4, I have decided to ditch most of what I had preached and sold as the only true way to successful investor pitching. TED Talks is a must for everybody who are speakers, planning to do a talk or simply want to learn more about public speaking.
Chris Anderson has worked behind the scenes with all the TED speakers who have inspired us the most. He has in his book shares insights from such favorites as Sir Ken Robinson, Amy Cuddy, Bill Gates, Elizabeth Gilbert and dozens more — everything from how to craft your talk’s content to how you can be most effective on stage.
Learn more about the book and read other reviews at Amazon.com
I just wish that I could have had the opportunity to read this book before I did my TEDx talk in Bergen in 2014. Yes, I was informed about the format and did not extend my limited time of 18 minutes, but I was not well prepared, and my thru line was unclear. I also did som repetitions throughout the presentation. I had a lot of very positive feedback on my approach, and many of my predictions regarding the decline in the oil and gas sector in Norway have come through, but I am hundred percent sure I would have done better today after listening to TED Talks Audible version for totally 450 minutes.
The main idea behind a 4 – 7 minute is to cover most of the stuff that investors traditionally are looking at in their screening. The main subjects are the business concept, business model, team and why it will succeed, niche of the market, competitive advantages, uniqueness regarding intellectual property, traction, simplified financials, capital need and exit strategy.
My focus in preparing my next investor pitch will be to tell as story, concentrate at giving, unlocking empathy, stirring excitement, sharing knowledge and promoting our dream. Is it possible to do this and the same time gives the investors what they want? Yes, I think so. If I can provide the audience with the desire to learn more and meet us in the next break or networking, I believe that we have succeeded.
Most Norwegian are shocked looking at what is going on in American politics these days. Even the thought that Donald John Trump can end up at the White House is something we have huge problems understanding. Can Michale Moore’s new documentary give us some answers?
At the same time, we see that The Kauffman Foundation suggests policies that protect against entrepreneurial risks and economic hazards (and as they say it) might encourage more people to start companies. Is it even possible to raise such a debate in the complicated political landscape we see in the USA today? In Norway, we know it is critical to have robust safety nets to motivate people to take risks. The region has implemented “the concept of WE” with great success, wich I think is one of the key findings in “Where to invade next.”
Norway is very dependent on America both economically, as a superpower and allied, but maybe most important as a universal defender of some of the most important values in our society as freedom of speech, religion, and free enterprise. With great interest (especially from me) my son and I went to the screening room.
I know that most Americas also have problems understanding how the Norwegian model functions. Very often you hear the word “communists” used by most right-wing Republicans. Our two countries have very close bonds but are at the same time so different. Have a look at this interview with Michael Moore that maybe puts it all into perspective?
After we left screening the conclusion from my son was simple;
I am surprised that the American are treating their own people the way they do, but I still want to go there. My favorite city is Miami.
…and then we talked a lot and still have great discussions going on and he even involved his mom in the dialog. Where is the US going and is there some light in the tunnel?
Following the presidential campaign in the media it looks like the Americans also are struggling to understand what is going on and where the country is heading;
Anger at Wall Street. Anger at Muslims. Anger at trade deals. Anger at Washington. Anger at police shootings of young black men. Anger at President Obama. Anger at Republican obstructionists. Anger about political correctness. Anger about the role of big money in campaigns. Anger about the poisoned water of Flint, Mich. Anger about deportations. Anger about undocumented immigrants. Anger about a career that didn’t go as expected. Anger about a lost way of life. Mob anger at groups of protesters in their midst. Specific anger and undefined anger and even anger about anger.
There is a campaign to deliver a bid for GEC 2019 – The Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Oslo, and maybe if the region wins this battle we should use this opportunity to sell the Norwegian/Scandinavian model and “the concept of WE”? I think both the world and especially America need to know there are alternative roads ahead. We are for sure not perfect here in Norway, but we have some best practices the rest of the world should be aware. And by the way, it was all “made in America”, that gives us all the decisive touch we need to keep up the optimism.
By Berg Moe, March 30, 2016. Serial Entrepreneur, Angel Investor, Chairman Norwegian Entrepreneurs Association Oslo, GEW organizer and TEDx speaker.
Estonia is one of the fastest growing economies in Europe over the last decade. Both sales and sourcing possibilities bring Norwegian companies here. There is a good access to EU markets, including 85 million inhabitants in the Baltic Sea Region. The business environment is competitive: highly educated workforce, advanced technologic environment, low taxes.
Nordic countries are the largest investors and trading partners for the Baltic region, Norway has made the fastest growth over the last years. Today, there are over 1000 companies with Norwegian capital and thousands of Norwegian companies with business partners in the Baltics.
Nordic countries are the largest investors and trading partners in the Baltic region, and Norway has made the fastest growth over the last years. Today, there are over 1000 companies with Norwegian capital and thousands of Norwegian companies with business partners in the Baltics.
Estonia is geographically and culturally close to Nordic countries. 75% of Norwegian businesses in the Baltics and Poland are satisfied/very happy with the results according to Deloitte study.
Europe is number 1 market for Norwegian green business globally, as this sector depends on public regulations. The Baltics have EU regulations in combination with extensive EU funding, which are the drivers for the development of the market.
IT cooperation has grown primarily with Estonia, who has focused Norway Grants on green IT – IT for energy, transport, and logistics, production and trade, e-health. These IT subsectors are critical for solving local challenges, as well have global growth potential according to a Ernst & Young study.
Today, Estonia is regarded as one of the most advanced e-governments in the world.
The use of technology and digital services is widespread in both the public and the private sector.
Estonia is the first country to offer e-Residency (a digital identity) to anyone interested in administering business online. e-Residents can digitally sign documents and contracts, verify the authenticity of signed documents, conduct e-banking and remote money transfers.
Estonia’s tax system is unique and the most competitive tax code in the OECD. First, it has a 20 percent tax rate on corporate income that is only applied to distributed profits. Second, it has a flat 20 percent tax on individual income that does not apply to personal dividend income. Third, its property tax applies only to the value of land rather than taxing the value of real estate or capital. Finally, it has a territorial tax system that exempts 100 percent of the foreign profits earned by domestic corporations from local taxation, with few restrictions. More at http://taxfoundation.org/article/2015-international-tax-competitiveness-index
Two years ago I was in Moscow for a week attending GEC 2014 at the same time as Putin, and a group of senior followers was celebration the takeover of Crimea at the square outside Kremlin. After many trips to Russia over many years, I could feel that there was a dramatic change in the air, and the rest is history. When I the stumbled over Starta Accelerator on LinkedIn it created an interest and an urge to learn more. Many of my investor’s friends and entrepreneurs in Russia have been escaping the country the last years.
Starta Accelerator (www.StartaAccelerator.com) was initiated by Starta Capital VC fund and its founder Alexey Girin. Starta Capital is one of the leading VC funds in Russia. It has received prestigious awards granted by Russian Venture Capital Association, National Venture Industry Award, and National Association of Business Angels award, so they have a quite a reputation to bring to the table.
The Accelerator’s main mission is to introduce startups with East European R&D roots to best practices, trusted advisers and mentors, and overcome cultural differences through a customized educational program that help startups to gain traction in U.S. and become part of the local startup and investing ecosystem.
I have been a coach for several companies from Russia through Seed Forum International and have observed that there can be serious cultural challenges involved. Just to be clear, it is the same challenge for us heading eastbound and maybe even harder.
My chat with Ekaterina (Katya) Dorozhkina;
Katya is the Managing Partner at Starta Capital & Accelerator. The author of Zero Budget Marketing and Making ArtWork, A ROI-Based Marketing Guide for Entrepreneurs and Startups. Co-founder of @DenArtStudio.With over ten years of experience in the field, she has been on both sides of the brief, helping large corporations and small start-ups with marketing, business and product management. Past clients include Samsung, Casio, American Express, American Airlines, and others.
Katya received her Master’s in International Economics and currently finishing up her Ph.D. She lives in NYC, where she spoils her adopted dog, Bucks and her goldfish, Cash. Katya donates all of the income from her books to a charity fund called Change One Life, which helps connect orphans with families.
I have a strong hypothesis that the entrepreneurial environment in Russia is a little bit difficult right now. Are there many Russian entrepreneurs fleeing the country?
-Indeed, the economic situation has recently declined dramatically. The market liquidity along with the prospect for the future is questionable for many startups and entrepreneurs in general. This pushes entrepreneurs to get out of their comfort zone. They are forced to consider new strategies for their businesses, or they try to move towards more attractive markets that can provide a better future for their businesses and products.
I imagine cultural barriers are an important consideration for these entrepreneurs. What are the main challenges?
-As with any cross-cultural exchange, it takes a time to get used to the new cultural rules. For businesses, cultural differences can present an obstacle to developing and growing business. The challenge that we face at Starta Accelerator is to help Eastern-European founders adapt to a U.S.-oriented mindset within a short time. In general, it takes years to adjust culturally to a new place, but adapting to U.S.-business culture is our focus for the first month of the program.
-One of the main cultural differences between U.S. and Eastern European founders is how the path to success is imagined. European founders are more careful and cautious. They still live in the “waterfall product development” process—they’ve been taught to create the product first, then sell it. However, in the U.S., startups are all about being lean and agile. U.S. founders market and test ideas first, and then create products and raise money. In both scenarios, making mistakes is unavoidable, but it should not prevent you from trying.
There are many accelerators in NYC. What make your initiative unique?
-For startups, our business model is narrowed down to the particular challenge of Eastern-European companies entering the U.S. market. There simply is no other accelerator with this focus. The accelerators in NYC do a fabulous job, but they are only accessible to local startups or companies with sufficient local experience. These startups already participate in the U.S. startup ecosystem, and they are familiar with the local rules. Other accelerators just cannot predict or assist with the challenges facing Eastern-European companies that are trying to join the U.S. startup ecosystem.
-Our one-on-one coaching program also sets us apart from other accelerators. In addition to mentoring by industry leaders, our founders receive individual coaching on Business Communications, Marketing, Business Development & Sales, Product & UX, and Investment Relationship.
-We also provide more value to investors as we select more mature startups with MVP, traction and powerful R&D teams that operate from Eastern Europe usually at a much lower cost than in U.S.
You have a demo day coming up. What kind of startups will we meet?
-At our demo day, you will meet startups from various industries in multiple stages of growth. As I mentioned, we have companies with proven traction in Europe. Some have already raised sufficient money, and some are in the early stages of looking for seed and pre-seed funding. These companies span various tech products and services—from deep techs like VR or navigation technologies to fintech apps and much more. You will have to check it out to see them all!
Working closely with startups on a daily basis can be a challenge. Where do you get theenergy?
-Good question. Sex, drugs and rock-n-roll?
-Joking aside, I just love what I do—and in a way, my passion for startups is a kind of drug. Working with startups comes with a whole slew of emotions—from frustration to excitement—but ultimately it is rewarding. Seeing the determination and hard work of these startup founders is inspiring. It keeps me going and makes me do my best to help these guys succeed.
-Plus, I get some kind of peer-to-peer auto-recharge. Our accelerator is like a solar panel, when our group of energetic, smart and determined founders work side-by-side on a daily basis, they give each other—and me—a special natural energy and support. They are not competing against each other. Rather, they are all united by the same goal, and that lifts everybody up.
Where do you see yourself in three years? What are your personal goals for Starta?
-My personal goal is to create a new form of accelerators that will create a new player in the market or change the VC/Startup world completely.
-Right now, it looks like a zoo: unicorns, cash cows, “foxes” and “hedgehogs.” (A study from Columbia University placed VCs and angel investors into two categories, “foxes” and “hedgehogs.”)
-Instead of breeding a new animal, I would like to create a feeder for all. Or, better yet, convert the zoo into an amusement park with positive experiences for each of the players, not just a rollercoaster for startups.
-My professional goal is to finish fundraising for Starta Accelerator Fund for the upcoming four classes over the next two years, which will help to support about eight startups per class and increase the chance of creating an Eastern-European unicorn success story.
First book project – Launching March 31st at “Kickstarter” is “Artic Recipes”. I have several hundred recipes from my late mother, Borgunn. Many of them are handwritten and represent wild arctic cousin at its best. I will make the food myself, take beautiful pictures and finance the work at “Kickstarter”. Goal: To make people aware of the fantastic food that we have in the North of Norway.
My challenge, as for all the projects that are launched from different crowdfunding platforms every day is to get a critical mass of people showing up with their credit card. To get influential people or just friends on Twitter and Facebook post automatically the same day as you go live is what Thunderclap offers. Under the hood, there are interesting features I am testing out right now. You will have more details and how this launch went in a new post first week of April.
I am looking for an editor to Borgunn Publishing (#indiepublishing #startup) that can help me related to several book projects that I work on right with now. Want a flat rate (50% at startup / 50% per 30 days after publication) plus commissions linked to sale as a business model.
I am looking for a person with drive, commercial mindset, and experience from editing, at least, one successful international publication.