The crowd has changed, and the music industry are in town! Tuesday 17 March was the first day of SXSW Music in Austin. At the Oslo Lounge Oslo Business Region had teamed up with Music Norway and invited music industry people and fans for a networking event – featuring a set of beautiful music from Norwegian artist Hanne Kolstø and her band. There is now music everywhere in Austin, and at the Oslo Lounge we are happy to be part of the party!
Based on the quality of the pitching companies, the skills of the jury and the enthusiasm of the audience, a Nordic pitching battle is the way to combine startup-entertainment and -insights.
This evening produced a great picture of the blooming startup scene of Oslo and Copenhagen, and some deep insights into the forefront of tech development, as the pithces covered a broad spectre of areas ranging from music tech, to gaming based edutech, and adtech.
The Nordic startup stars were: Unacast, Audiocase, Shute, Livetake, Saxo, uCommerce, Wallbreaker, Kahoot!, Volt, Feat.fm, Wonderloop and Recho. See the startup presentations here.
The audience was engaged in the selection of a winner by scoring all 12 pitching companies on the same three variables as the jury:
1 Presentation delivery and how well the message came across
2 Business potential and scaleability
3 Idea uniqueness and innovation
And the audience favourite and first place was shared by the two MASHUP.no companies Feat.fm and Recho, both music tech companies.
A well experienced jury had a bit of a different take on the score. They were all mesmerised by the rhetoric skills and content of Kjartan Slette´s presentation, and gave his company Unacast the first place.
The jury consisted of Henrik Lie-Nielsen/Knowit, Jan Larsen/Technical University of Denmark, Aya Zook/Microsoft Ventures, Jeremy Harper/Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator and Will Levitt/Northside Media Group
At last, the third event at The Oslo Lounge March 14. The competition for attention is massive at SXSW, but we seem to be doing alright, as the Oslo Lounge filled up well for the Opera and AppearIn happy hour. Oslo has become a cluster for cutting edge web and video technology. Leading browser vendor Opera had teamed up with up-and-coming video service appear.in and hardware startup kubicam to put together a special demo for this evening, including showcasing the power of Web Real-Time-Communications (WebRTC) through a live call with Kubikam in Oslo.
SXSW Interactive day 2 was an eventful day for Oslo, with no less than three events at the Oslo Lounge. The people travelling from Oslo and Norway are definitely not in Austin just to have fun. We do a lot of that, too, of course.
Unacast used the Oslo Lounge to launch the world´s first network for beacon technology and had invited some of the most innovative companies within proximity and context, Pulsate, Signal360, Location Based Marketing Association, VG to a conversation about the impact of the fast-moving introduction and use of beacons to connect the physical and the digital worlds.
There will be outcries over privacy issues, but as Joacim Lund of Aftenposten says, there is no reason to freak ot, as this will happen no matter what.
Unacast´s Conclusion: If we as an industry look past “the shiny objects” and deliver use cases with real value, proximity will unlock the potential in Internet of Things by interconnecting physical and digital.
The Unacast session was followed by a series of short stories by tech startups and the investor side, brilliantly led by Fred Schmidt of the Austin-based tech incubator the Capital Factory. Opera, AppearIn, Unacast, Recho and Kahoot were on the spot from the startup side and Alliance Venture from the investor side, all sharing their stories and journeys.
Today, Vice Mayor Hallstein Bjercke from the City of Oslo, journalist Cecilie Asker (Norway’s biggest daily newspaper) and entrepreneurs Jostein Svendsen CEO from WeVideo and Kjartan Slette Co-founder and COO of Unacast had a panel at the SXSW Startup Village to discuss the Oslo startup story.
A small country up in the north that has based most of their wealth on selling a commodity that is quickly going out of style. Oil, the black gold that transformed Norway into the world’s richest nation has been both a gift and curse. The gift part is obvious, and the curse was the size of the gift. There is no need to innovate or push boundaries when you have more money than you can spend, amassing in a joint national bank count.
Just outside Norway’s borders we have seen the Nordics release a tidal wave of innovative products, features and new companies upon the world, with Sweden and Finland taking the lead with (literally) game changing companies like e.g. Spotify and Supercell. And the financial valuation of those companies reflects the uniqueness of them. As an example, of 800 million dollars invested in Nordic startups last year, only 3 % was invested in Norwegian companies.
So why would anyone look to Oslo? Oslo is the fastest growing capital in Europe, and just like Austin, Oslo sees innovation as the new oil. This has lead to the Creative City alliance between the two cities, and an exchange of talent and networks.
We have the money, the work staff and the technical know-how, with many of us highly trained from decades working with sub sea engineering. And now we also have the urgency and dedication, as the nation increasingly comes to terms with the fact that oil won’t carry us into the future. We have done it before, when we first found oil, and now we are doing it again. Turning our nation around to fit the marked need.
Oslo is a small world city with great reach. The short distances geographically, hierarchically, socially and culturally – bonded with a high level of trust, makes collaboration possible and get´s things done in a speed unparalleled to none. When Oslo sees an opportunity, it seizes it. Like the X-Games dialogue starting in December 2014 turning into a decision already in March 2015.
The people of Oslo are tech-savvy, with high education and high income, holding multiple devices, and willing to spend money to try things out. This makes Oslo a very good market for piloting ideas. Oslo is a time machine to the future.
And not to forget – Oslo is considered one of the best places in the world to live, thanks to a very high quality of life.
An investor that fails to include the Norwegian startup scene in the portfolio composition stands to loose out of a lot of money. And miss out on the next part of Nordic tidal wave. An army of new innovative companies is about to take over the world. Xeneta is changing the global container freight business model, Kahoot is changing class learning and education forever, WeVideo is moving video editing up in the clouds and Unacast is changing the global ad industry by merging online and offline behavior.
And these are just a few of the many companies that are hungry to prove that we are more than oil, turning Oslo into an incubation city.