Startup Extreme is a three-day «conferencival» with a focus on learning and networking. As the name implies, extreme sports is part of the mix that aims to put the Norwegian Startup scene on the international map.
Translated by: Mads S. Andersen
The event offers a packed schedule, where investors, startups and others in the entrepreneurial scene have learned about venture capital and other topics that will be vital for Norway ahead. Startup Extreme is intended to become one of Norway’s foremost arenas for networking, and Innovation Norway CEO Anita Krohn Traaseth took the occasion to announce Pål Næss as the new startup director of the state-owned development company.
Day one took place in Bergen, and was the conference part of the event with several great presentations, pitches and panel debates. A lot of great new startups had their chance on stage, many got to meet HRH Crown Prince Haakon, and others met investors and potential partners. More than a thousand people made their way to BI Norwegian Business School campus Bergen where the conference took place, and the new Innovation Norway startup director Pål Næss expected more great things to follow:
– I hope we see more of this! We need stability in Norway, and we need a few large scale events where it is profitable and desirable to attend, for investors, entrepreneurs and journalists alike. By focusing on this, Startup Extreme will be able to make it even better. This year was better than last year, and next year will probably be even better. So I hope this is going to last!
HRH Crown Prince Haakon opened the event with a funny and informative speech, where the heir apparent was both a standup comedian and a visionary. He went through the history of innovation in Norway, from when we invented the clock and started being late for everything, to the modern era with its exponential growth. There were many other great presentations and panel discussions, from venture capital to startup risk management. If you missed it this year, make sure you go next year.
As far as the pitches are concerned, there were too many to list. Having so many great startups gathered in one location was eye-opening introduction to what Norway has to offer. They included smart houses, social platforms, drones that follow you around, avatars to help children with long-term illnesses, innovative fish food, camera stabilizers and a marketplace for cleaning services. The list is long, and if the reader wants regular bite-sized information about innovation in Norway we recommend following this startup. Day one was aptly summarized by Kimberly Larsen Winther from Time to Riot:
– As entrepreneurs you often come primarily to meet investors, but once you get here you get so inspired by seeing all the other great startups, and start to see opportunities for working together. This is simply a great time to be a startup.
After a long first day for the 1000+ attendees, about 150 people went to Voss for the next part of the event. Thursday and Friday was devoted to alternative networking activities; extreme sports. Options included skydiving, archery, river rafting and wind tunnels. Whether you were an entrepreneur, investor, partner or sponsor, there was widespread agreement that this was a new and exciting way to network. Tictails CEO Carl Waldekranz was one of the many happy attendees.
– I went skydiving for the first time, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Taking part in an activity like that, alongside some of the most amazing entrepreneurs from all over the world, it gives you something to talk about which is not just about your company. These conversations creates real relationships, unlike networking events where everybody is just trying to sell in their business and what they are currently working on. At Startup Extreme you are not trying to sell anything, you are just trying to get to know each other. And that is amazing!
Judging by the mood of the crowd, it is beyond dispute that the extreme sports activities massively contributed to forming bonds beyond what you get at most conferences. When a large group of people, both friends and strangers, have to complete difficult tasks together, you take away more than a business card. One of the organizers behind Angel Challenge, Thomas Berglund, says it is the closest you can get to a large family. It is hard to disagree. The Startup Extreme organizers concur, and say that it has been a lot of fun to put together the event.
– This is an event for the community, and we have created it with the community. We have cooperated with large corporations, the Norwegian co-working spaces, Nordic partners, the investor community, and the global Startup Weekend scene. It is an happening that is very satisfying to work with, as the goal is to include the entire community and work on a project together. A lot of people have been involved in sending out invitations, putting together the program, volunteering, and generally creating a lot of joy and involvement, says Maja Adriaensen