Facebook might have abandoned their old motto of “Move fast and break things”, but the idea still stands in the startup world. You have to be lean. You have to be agile. You have to launch quickly.
And here at The Hub we see hundreds of new companies pop up on a yearly basis. This puts us in a great position to keep our finger on the pulse of the startup scene. Not every single one of them will succeed, but we’re getting pretty good at hedging our bets on those destined for greatness – especially with our focus on specific nordic markets, like Norway.
Why The Norwegian Startups are Thriving?
Firstly, there’s the historic factor: After Norway benefited from a growing economy based on the large oil deposits in the North Sea, the drop in oil prices sparked a new wave of entrepreneurs.
These Norwegian entrepreneurs, who have a rich tradition of trading with nations worldwide quickly pivoted from resources to the tech sector, helped by:
- Pro-active government: initiatives like Innovation Norway or Investinor, backed a historically stable government, help entrepreneurs launch their new business ventures.
- Private incubators and accelerators: you have Angel Challenge, TheFactory, Startup Norway and many more.
- High standard of living: free healthcare, excellent schooling options, high level of trust, transparency and openness all contribute towards fostering an ideal work / life balance. This means better productivity, efficiency, and general satisfaction.
- Highly skilled labour: one of the benefits of that excellent school system
- Digitally literate population: Norwegians are a tech-friendly people, often pioneering early adoption of new products
- Excellent infrastructure: for both communications and transport. What more could you ask for?
- Ease of doing business: According to the World Bank Group, Norway ranks #7 for the easiest places to do business in the world.
- Low unemployment: Currently standing at under 4%
And last but not least, Norway is still one of the richest countries in the world, with the second highest GDP per capita. As you can see, the country is just one of those places where all the conditions are perfectly aligned to create the ideal startup environment.
So without further ado, here are the 15 Norwegian startups and scaleups we are looking forward to following in 2019 and strongly believe you should keep an eye on this year.
#1 Kahoot – Gamifying Edtech
Founded in 2011 by Johan Brand, Jamie Brooker and Morten Versvik, Kahoot is quickly transforming education technology through its intuitive, user friendly, and multichannel quiz creation. Of course there’s more to it than simply creating multiple answer questionnaires. It’s designed around a whole education philosophy of learning through play, is now home to 51 million titles with strong support in schools all around the world.
- Unique selling point: flexibility, ease of use, huge catalog of user-created content.
- Success stories: the platform will reach 100 M unique users in 2019. Their $15.4M funding from companies like Disney and Microsoft, amongst others, helped them reach a $300M valuation.
- Number of employees: 60-70
- What next: Kahoot is growing and adding more apps to its portfolio. It acquired math platform DragonBox for $18 M and VC-backed reading app Poio for $6.5M in May 2019.
- Job opportunities / more info about Kahoot
#2 CHOOOSE – The Platform for Climate Positivity
Chooose is pushing an interesting concept: subscription-based CO2 reduction. You pay a monthly fee, and the platform uses it to fund UN-vetted C02 reduction projects in developing countries. The startup, launched in 2017, received more than $900K in funding. It already offers plans for individuals and businesses, and reflects multiple strong Nordic values, such as using tech for positive change, concern ecological-awareness, and transparency.
- Unique selling point: Riding on a strong wave of climate activism, strong partnerships with companies willing to reduce their carbon footprint such as Slush and Norwegian National Hockey, and collaboration with UN-vetted organisations.
- Success stories: Choose helped reduce over 135,080,720 kg of CO2 through over 27.000 users
- Number of employees: 8
- What next: we’re seeing a lot new products and partnerships on the horizon for CHOOSE, such as the one recently made with climate-positive mobile services Tise.
- Job opportunities / more info about CHOOOSE
#3 Spacemaker AI – Building Better Cities Through AI
Spacemaker AI uses AI to explore and draw with the power, speed, and intelligence of one billion architects per hour. Their transformative AI engine combines expertise from a wide range of fields to improve and optimize building development with a focus on speed, efficiency, and sustainability. This technological advantage led them to partner with some of Northern Europe’s biggest developers, including Skanska, Obos and AF Gruppen.
- Unique selling point: using AI to maximize the value of any building site
- Success stories: Saved 1 year of planning for a residential development project
- Number of employees: 80+
- What next: the company is growing fast, adding new real estate developers, engineers and architects to their team on a monthly basis
- Job opportunities / more info about Spacemaker AI
#4 Appear.in – Frictionless Video Meetings
You’d think the online collaboration market is pretty saturated, what with Slack, Skype, Zoom, and a myriad of other services. But that won’t stop Appear.in from trying something new: removing the obstacle of installing a program to call someone over the Internet.
- Unique selling point: free, no installation-needed video chat software
- Success stories: reached 1M subscribers in 2018
- Number of employees: 17
- What next: Appear.in will continue to focus efforts on expanding its base of pro members
- Job opportunities / more info about Appear.in
#5 No Isolation – Using Technology to Reduce Loneliness
As society continues to rely increasingly on digital tools, human connections tend to suffer. This was the first insight that led Karen Dolva to create No Isolation in 2015, an innovative solution that aims to solve loneliness and social isolation through the use of consumer tech, in the form of cute, interactive robots.
The startup, which has offices in Oslo, Amsterdam and London, had a tough year in 2018 due to production setbacks. But we’re still confident No Isolation will bounce back and continue to innovate in the sphere of what they call “warm technologies”.
- Unique selling point: deep knowledge of software and hardware built for communication tools
- Success stories: founder Karen Dolva made the Forbes 50 tech women list.
- Number of employees: 70
- What next: No Isolation continues to develop innovative products that bring people together
#6 Otovo – Making Solar Panel Technology Accessible
Otovo CEO Andreas Thorsheim has big plans for his company: to be the number one solar retailer in Europe. And their backers agree, as the company raised 100M NOK in funding in 2018. So what is Otovo’s magic angle? Simplifying solar panel purchase and installation, and leveraging analytics to reduce costs and energy consumption for customers and companies.
- Unique selling point: expertise in simplifying and reducing solar panel installation costs
- Success stories: Won the “Oslo innovation award of the year” in 2018
- Number of employees: 65
- What next: growing, acquisitions, expansion, as seen with their purchase of French solar panel company In Sun We Trust
#7 Unloc – Digitizing House Keys
The Internet of Things is enabled in an increasing number of household items. For Unloc it’s door keys that are still a huge point of friction in your life. Their solution? Digitizing home keys so you can enable access remotely and to the right people, whether it’s a cleaner, delivery person, coworkers or family member.
- Unique selling point: fast, secure digital key sharing software compatible with any existing locking system
- Success stories: Their website lists the number of doors they’ve opened. At the time of writing, it’s above 30,00.
- Number of employees: 20
- What next: Unloc is pushing to be the number one solution for co-working spaces.
#8 Inzpire.me – Connecting Brands and Influencers
The appetite for influencer-generated content shows no sign of slowing down, which is exactly why brands can benefit from a strong middle-man to connect with the right online personalities. More importantly, the startup, founded by Mats Lyngstead and Marie Mostad, leverages data-driven tools to accurately measure campaign results and deliver better results for organizations.
- Unique selling point: powerful analytics and strong relationships with influencers of all sizes
- Success stories: 7 M NOK turnover in 2018. Not bad, right?
- Number of employees: 16
- What next: increasing collaboration with global brands, like they did with Coca-Cola, Nestlé and Boots in 2018
#9 Boost.ai – Norway’s First Unicorn?
The chatbot industry is booming, and Boost.ai is certainly a strong contender for becoming a leader in the field. Started only in 2016, the startup now employs 100 people, and is on track to attracting enough funding to be the first Norwegian unicorn.
The story goes that Lars Selsås, CEO & Co-Founder, had such confidence in his virtual assistant’s code that he left the university course where he started writing it so he could commercialise it. A smart bet if we’ve ever seen one.
- Unique selling point: AI-powered virtual assistants with outstanding conversational abilities
- Success stories: automated 51% of DNB’s chat traffic, Norway’s biggest bank
- Number of employees: 100
- What next: more partnerships with global industry leaders
#10 Fjong- AirBnB for Clothes
Every wanted to throw all your clothes away and start afresh with a new designer wardrobe? This is more or less what Fjong offers, allowing you to rent, share, and borrow some of the most stylish vintage garments available in Oslo, and promoting sustainable fashion in the process.
- Unique selling point: AI-powered digital closets
- Success stories: founder Sigrun Syverud was recognised as Female Entrepreneur of 2018 by Innovation Norway
- What next: expanding to other capitals seems like the next logical step
- Job opportunities / more info about Fjong
#11 reMarkable – Digital Paper Done Right
There are currently two leaders in the digital paper market of consumer electronics. One is the gigantic Sony corporation, and the other is a relatively small Oslo based company named reMarkable, which sold over 50,000 of their paper tablets.
The interesting thing about reMarkable is that they have a whole philosophy behind the devices, claiming to fight against distraction-causing hardware and the loss of attention that seems to come hand in hand with digital technologies.
- Unique selling point: the amazing pen to screen hardware and software behind it
- Success stories: reMarkable closed 50M NOK in funding in 2018
- What next: continuing hard work on software improvements to refine the digital writing experience
- Job opportunities / more info about Remarkable
#12 Empower – Blockchain-powered Waste Collection
More than $10B worth of plastic ends up in nature every year, and the founder of Empower, Wilhelm Myrer has come up with an innovative way to reduce waste and actually monetize that waste. Using blockchain technology, they distribute tokens that can be exchanged at recycling stations, and later be redeemed for cash.
- Unique selling point: the blockchain technology that secures token distribution
- Success stories: made the Top 100 Nordic impact startups by Norrksen
- What next: Empower will continue establishing permanent recycling stations and create agreements with more countries around the world
- Job opportunities / more info about Empower
#13 Iris.AI – Redefining Scientific Research
Scientific research can be slow, tedious, and complex, especially when working between multiple disciplines. This is why Anita Schjøll Brede founded Iris.AI, offering a series of tools designed to facilitate interdisciplinary research thanks to Artificial Intelligence.
While headquartered in Berlin, Iris.AI has a distinctively Norwegian flair to its mission, as demonstrated by them joining the Nordic AI Alliance, which pledges to facilitate AI acceleration in the region.
- Unique selling point: powerful AI algorithms
- Success stories: Founder Anita Anita Schjøll Brede was listed in the top 50 Fifty Nordic’s most Inspiring women in tech
- What next: Unsurprisingly for a young AI-powered tool, Iris.Ai is all about refining its algorithms
#14 BlueEye Robotics – Accessible Underwater Drones
Founded in 2015, BlueEye Robotics creates drones designed to help everyone view, explore and learn about the ocean. Underwater exploration, they believe, is the last frontier, and also an important ethical imperative to understand preservation and ocean sustainability.
- Unique selling point: underwater drone software / hardware
- Number of employees: 20
- Success stories: Cofounder Christine Spiten was recognised in Forbes’ 30 under 30 tech entrepreneurs and Top 50 women in tech
- What next: launching production on their Blueye Pioneer
#15 TotalCtrl – Fighting Food Waste Through Tech
Food waste comes from many issues in the production, agriculture and distribution fields, but TotalCtrl believes they’ve found a good place to stop it: expiration dates. By giving retailers (total) control over their food inventory and analytics, they believe the solution can reduce waste by as much as 85%.
- Unique selling point: digital food inventory management solution
- Success stories: named a Top 100 Nordic Impact Startup by Norrsken
- What next: partnerships with large retail chains and food stores
- More info / job opportunities at TotalCtrl
An Exciting Time for Norwegian Startups
We’ve only focused on 15 companies, but hopefully they represent a good slice of the quality, breadth and optimism found in Norwegian startups. With a strong focus on sustainability, innovation and transparency, the values of these startups certainly seem to align with those of young, determined people everywhere around the globe.
It certainly is an exciting time, whether you are an entrepreneur, investor or just someone looking to help build the future of Norway, and, quite possibly, the entire world.
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