Shifter’s Norway Roundup #1: Solar, fashion, shipping and crowdfunding
Today is a special day. Shifter will for the first time begin writing for international audiences.
Since beginning on this journey almost three years ago, it has always been our goal to provide a window into the world of the New Norwegian Economy. While it has been a privilege for us to cover some of the most exciting tech news from Norway in Norwegian, these stories cannot travel without the bridge that English affords.
Our first English language content will be a weekly newsletter summary written by Kyle Havlicek-McClenahan, our new International Editor. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Kyle moved to Norway in 2013 to pursue a degree in Molecular Biology at NTNU in Trondheim. In the years since, he has worked on projects in communications, marketing, business development, strategy and operations, event management and journalism. Now he has joined forces with Shifter to spread the word of what’s going on in the Norwegian tech scene. We couldn’t be more excited.
The sun is shining on Norwegian Otovo
In Otovo We Trust
Norwegian solar startup Otovo and French In Sun We Trust are getting married! The recent news will bring their joint valuation to €64 million.
It’s no secret that solar is in vogue and perhaps not a moment too soon, but if it weren’t almost spring time it might seem counterintuitive that the future of Norwegian solar startups could be so bright. Founded in Oslo in 2015, Otovo has raised approx. €31 million to date. Their recent announcement of a merger with the French solar energy startup In Sun We Trust (ISWT) shows that even seeming logic can be overcome with the right leadership and some serious year over year growth.
Secret sauce or stable footing
In the past, throwing millions at solar tech has proven to be a wonderfully risky business model. With millions in government subsidies and growing consumer awareness, however, it would appear that Andreas Thorsheim-and-Crew’s plan to take over
the world Europe is well timed. And with the addition of ISWT’s novel satellite-driven tech and complementary platform model, Europeans everywhere may soon be choosing clean energy by default.
Convenience before behavioral change
Both companies have banked on new methods of service delivery to end-customers in their respective markets. One of the biggest challenges for the newlyweds, as well as their many competitors at home and abroad, is to provide price reliability and quality service provisioning through complex networks of suppliers and installers. Ultimately, consumers will have to decide for themselves whether the investment is worth the time and energy. Nevertheless, the news is a step in the right direction for Norwegian renewable energy. Shine on Otovo!
ISWT will retain its brand in the French market while joining Otovo’s management group.
Sustainability never looked so good
Fashion ≠ sustainable?
The fashion industry may leave a notorious environmental footprint, but let’s be honest, we aren’t going to save the planet if we have to give up looking fabulous to do so. It’s all the more reason to celebrate the Norwegian Female Founder of the year, Sigrun Syverud, for her fashion rental platform Fjong. And this isn’t the only accomplishment that deserves recognition.
Hundreds of investors are a good indication
Shifter covered the investor rush to get a piece of the clothing action last April. But the bigger picture is more important than that. In a country that is moving beyond the ‘why’ of gender diversity in entrepreneurship, Sigrun makes the ‘how’ look easy by attracting some serious female capital: Fjong’s next phase of growth will be propelled by 83% female investors. Now that is lookin’ good.
Shipping big deals and bigger ambitions
Public and private funds join forces
Over the last several years, few Norwegian startups have succeeded in taking Norwegian domain expertise global quite like the shipping darling Xeneta. In their newest financing round, the Norwegian state-owned Investinor has joined with existing financiers Smedvig Capital, Creandum, Alliance Ventures and Alden to bring the company’s total haul to over €30 million.
Fortune (500) favors the bold
Sometimes all it takes is an A-list of client companies like Unilever and Lenovo to fuel some proper disruption. And now that it’s been nearly a year and a half since Xeneta announced they would apply the same magic to the world of air freight, chances are high that this new money is about to be put to good use. For the rest of us mere mortals out there in startup land, there’s always the more traditional route to success.
Meanwhile, in the world’s most democratic country…
Something doesn’t seem right
It’s no secret that Norway prides itself on its democratic pluralism, but even the ‘utopia of fjord and fjell’ struggles with an identity crisis from time to time. Folkeinvest, an up and coming crowdfunding platform and “self help tool” hoping to democratise startup investing, is certainly feeling the contradiction.
Of and by the people, but for whom?
After the Finanstilsynet (Norwegian Financial Authorities) put the kibosh on operations last December, Folkeinvest is positive that an about-face towards licensing under a new legal framework will allow for a comeback by the summer. Because a democracy of the people, by the people, and for the people should probably allow you and I to benefit from investing in the country’s future.
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