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Nordic cooperation as a driving force

  • Publisert 05.02.2014
In november, seven Nordic startups and one Estonian, went to the USA to present their concepts to American venture capitalists in New York and Boston. Nordic Innovation has spoken with Trine Bretteville from one of the companies that went "across the pond".

The most difficult thing about being a growth company in Norway is to attract talent. There are plenty of skilled people – but to find skilled people that also are willing to work hard is challenging.

 

– At least our experience tells us that these people often are entrepreneurs themselves, says Trine Bretteville, executive VP and chief marketing & sales officer at RoomSketcher.

 

RoomSketcher was founded in 2007 and has its headquarters in Oslo. The company provides an online interactive house planner to its customers – an idea that originally came from working with visualisation of oilrigs.

 

Today RoomSketcher has partnered up with some of the leading providers of visualization services for the real estate industry in the Nordic region. They also have a collaboration with finn.no, the largest online marketing place in Norway.

 

Having a long-term investor has been a part of the success. This meant that they didn’t have to rush the profit, but could instead focus on building up the company slowly but stable.

 

– In the beginning, we made the mistake to hire lots of sales and marketing people, even though the product wasn’t ready for the market. We ended up having to let many of them go. This taught us how important it is to do a careful mapping of the customers’ needs before trying to sell a product.

 

Next big step

Now RoomSketcher is ready for the next big step: The US.

 

– The market over there is enormous, and as our product is already available in English and with American measures as well, it makes it very attractive to us in comparison with a much more heterogeneous European market. To enter emerging markets would demand better solutions for mobile phones and tablets than we can provide at the moment.

 

Considering future efforts, all recruiting processes already take place in English. Bretteville says though, that it isn’t a goal in itself to move the company across the Atlantic. In fact, RoomSketcher would be happy to keep one foot on Norwegian soil. The company has been able to use its home market almost as a test market, as Norway is very much in forefront when it comes to advanced technology for house planning.

 

– If something works here, it will probably work in other regions as well.

 

Joint Nordic inspiration

In November, RoomSketcher participated in a trip to New York and Boston together with seven other Nordic startup companies as a part of the Nordic-to-Global Initiative, aiming at supporting the internationalisation of innovative companies in the Nordic region.

 

– For us it was mainly to be able to practice on our pitch and reconsider our storytelling. It was an excellent way to see what works and what doesn’t when it comes to future investors and customers.

 

She is positive to strengthening the collaboration among Nordic entrepreneurs, and says that it could be particularly useful when it comes to inspiration and motivation.

 

– Norway is a small country, as are the other Nordic countries. It would be fantastic to gather the best entrepreneurs from around the region to share experiences and serve as a driving force for one another.

 

– Representing the Nordics

– The companies are not only representing themselves, but the entire startup scene in the Nordic countries. The ultimate goal is to raise interest in the Nordic countries among American investors, says Erik Johansson from the coordinating firm Nordic Investment Solutions.

 

The so-called US East Coast Activity 2013 is part of the Nordic-to-Global Initiative, aiming at providing a fast track to internationalization to Nordic innovative companies by offering support, relations and insights. Members of the initiative are the leading Nordic public early stage investors, which also picked out the eight startups based on strict criteria.

 

– One requirement was that the companies already were active, or in the process of starting up activities, in the US, Johansson says.

 

The delegation that headed to New York and Boston also included a number of leading Nordic private and public early stage investors.

Abonner på vårt nyhetsbrev

The selected startups

  • Bmobilized, Norway
  • CloudMe, Sweden
  • GreenQloud, Iceland
  • Netrounds, Sweden
  • Realeyes, Estonia
  • RoomSketcher, Norway
  • Videntifier, Iceland
  • VividWorks, Finland