Fireside chat with Norselab Founder Yngve Tvedt
Yngve Tvedt founded Norselab to create disruptive, fast-growing companies that capitalize on the power of the digital age.
A serial entrepreneur since his early 20s, Yngve has founded and co-founded eight companies. He now manages the Norselab office in Palo Alto, bringing Silicon Valley savoir-faire and financial backing to Norselab’s portfolio of companies.
The following is an interview with Yngve. We go through his experience in running a successful business that spans across many countries, as well as Norselab’s role in the Norwegian startup scene.
First things first: tell us about Norselab. How did it come about and what is it trying to achieve?
Yngve Tvedt (YT): Norselab is a venture foundry — or what is also known as a startup studio — that’s based in Oslo, Norway. As a venture foundry, we most often build technology companies from the ground up based on our own ideas. We also partner with industry experts to co-found companies with missions and business models we believe in.
Today, the Norselab team is over a hundred people strong, with teams and ventures spanning across six countries. Most of our companies operate in the B2B space; except for Skioo, which is an innovative app that enables skiers to access over 55 ski resorts with a single unique card.
What are the company’s biggest accomplishments to date?
YT: I must say, I’m quite proud of what the team has achieved so far. Over the last years, we’ve been able to build a strong portfolio of technology ventures and have created an awesome team of talented designers, growth hackers, business developers, and partners who are committed to founding and growing meaningful businesses.
What main challenges have you encountered in your journey so far?
YT: The Norselab journey has been nothing short of a series of ups and downs, but the setbacks we’ve faced ended up being necessary learning experiences. I’d say that the main challenge has always been about balancing the short term need for cash with long-term growth and profitability.
The Norselab journey has been nothing short of a series of ups and downs, but the setbacks we’ve faced ended up being necessary learning experiences.
Do you have any new developments on the horizon you can share?
YT: We’re currently incubating a food tech company, which will be based here in Norway. We’re also co-founding a productivity solution together with a fantastic team of Norwegian entrepreneurs, as well as making a competent investment in a mobile ad tech startup that’s based in the Silicon Valley.
All three companies have amazing founding teams, strong business models, and clear go-to-market strategies. I’m excited to see how these ventures will develop during the next six to eight months.
Can you tell us a little bit more about Norselab’s collaborations with other startups?
YT: Over the years, we’ve always been open to partner with great entrepreneurs who share a common vision for growing their businesses and building value over time.
One recent collaboration dates back to the spring of 2015 when my partner Aksel Lund Svindal introduced me to Erik Færevaag, the CEO of Disruptive Technologies, an innovative Norwegian startup that develops leading-edge Internet of Things (IoT) solutions.
The first time Erik and I met was in Tuscany out of all places, where both of our families were vacationing. After a couple of long hours chatting, we realized that there was a real collaboration opportunity at stake. A lot has happened since that first chat, and we’ve since taken great pride in building the cloud solution behind Disruptive Technologies’ new sensors.
Now tell us more about your background. What first motivated you to become an entrepreneur?
YT: It’s been so long ago since I started my entrepreneurial journey that I really don’t remember what first motivated me to get into the game! I just remember that I’ve been fascinated about the entrepreneurial world ever since I was a kid. I love seeing people work hard together to create innovative solutions and turn them into successful businesses.
In over fifteen years of being an entrepreneur, the most rewarding moments for me haven’t been about signing deals or getting money into the bank account. They’ve been about seeing people with whom I worked for a long time take on bigger responsibilities and outperform their own goals and aspirations.
Overall, I feel quite lucky to be able to say that I don’t see myself doing anything else than what I do today!
In over fifteen years of being an entrepreneur, the most rewarding moments for me haven’t been about signing deals or getting money into the bank account.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt since starting Norselab?
YT: Be humble, work hard, trust people, show them respect, take risks, and move fast.
You moved to Palo Alto in August last year to set up a Norselab office there. What prompted you to move to the Silicon Valley?
YT: I’ve always believed that entrepreneurs should aspire to get out of their comfort zone to stay on top of their game. The biggest drive behind my move to the Silicon Valley was for me to learn more about how successful startups over here operate and innovate.
Until you live in the Silicon Valley, you will never truly understand what makes this place the technology Mecca of the world. There’s such a concentration of technologies and fantastic talent gathered in one area. I felt I needed to be closer to this stimulating technology hub in order for my company and its ventures to stay ahead of their game.
What have you learnt in the Silicon Valley that has influenced the way you run your business?
YT: So far, the most important learning for me has been about how startups in the Valley are able to nail their funding journey and properly time the different steps involved in that process. Over here, startup founders are great at getting validation and funding from investors at much earlier stages than in Europe.
On another note, it’s been comforting to see that the level of our technical and design talent at Norselab is at least as good as that of the top talent over here.
As for the biggest difference between the tech ecosystem in the Silicon Valley and that of Europe, I believe it lies in the size and diversity of the Valley’s startup ecosystem and, of course, in the experience that entrepreneurs over here have accumulated over the years.
Finally, what are your thoughts about the Norwegian startup ecosystem?
YT: Although Norway is a nation of early adopters of new technology, tech entrepreneurship is still a relatively new concept for many — contrary to what we see in our neighbouring countries.
With the recent economic downturn that has hit Norway, we’ve seen greater interest in technological innovation and the role it can play in stimulating the country’s economy beyond oil and gas. We’ve recently witnessed an incremental growth in the number of Norwegian startups, as well as in the number of new players, such as incubators, accelerators, venture capital companies, and startup studios like ours.
Although Norway is a nation of early adopters of new technology, tech entrepreneurship is still a relatively new concept for many.
It’s quite refreshing to see that the country is undergoing great change and that the gap between entrepreneurs and industrial experts is shrinking. The financial community has also increased its appetite for investments in technology startups, instead of solely focusing on oil or real estate investment opportunities.
At Norselab, we’re delighted to be part of this thriving tech community and are always on the lookout to connect our ventures and partners with Norwegian investors and Business Angels.
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Check out www.norselab.com for more information.