Mentoring startups

Tapad’s Propeller Program helps companies from Norway get off the ground in the US

Photo courtesy of Bubbly Group AS
Marianne Hindsgaul’s Bubbly system offers customers something in return for their data, giving clients information they can use.

Rasmus Falck
Oslo, Norway

Entrance to the competitive, crowded U.S. startup market can be overwhelming. It takes cultural acclimation, considerable resources, and a deep network.

In order to ease the way, Tapad, founded by Norwegian Are Traasdahl, has started its new Propeller Program. One of the participants is Bubbly Group. The company was founded in Oslo by Marianne Haugland Hindsgaul and is an internet-of-things platform that makes it possible for stores to collect real-time data and feedback from customers who visit the store. The feedback gives valuable customer information that can be used to help increase sales.

Last year Tapad invited five early-stage companies from Norway to their headquarters close to Madison Square Park in New York. They share their workspace, help the startups establish a U.S. base, and provide introduction to key players, C-level guidance, individual mentors, and more. They even introduce them to venture capitalists. Participants had to have a proven business in their home country of Norway, seed or series A funding, and around eight to 15 employees.

Tapad is the leader in unified cross-device marketing technology. The company was acquired by the Norwegian Telenor Group last year. Telenor is one of the world’s largest mobile operators with 214 million subscribers in 13 countries. Tapad is renowned for its breakthrough unified cross-device solutions. The company’s system connects millions of consumers across billion of devices. The world’s largest brands and most effective marketers entrust them to provide an accurate, privacy-conscious, and unified approach to connecting with consumers across screens. They have won numerous awards including Forbes Most Promising Company and Best Entrepreneurial Companies of America.

According to the founder and CEO of Bubbly, Marianne Haugland Hindsgaul, the clients can forget surveys that provide low conversation rates and meaningless mystery shopper data. They will effortlessly gather valuable, real-time information that allows the client to understand their customers better.

Hindsgaul says the mentoring sessions have been very valuable and have given guidance on how to best enter the U.S. market. Learning to do business in the U.S. is not something you can necessarily learn from a book; the most impactful lessons are based on real-world experience, and that is what this program has given them.

Traasdahl says that mentor relationships are critical for strategic growth, and he is proud to be able to pay forward the experience he has gained as an entrepreneur through the Propeller Program. The entrepreneurial mentorship initiative has already seen positive results, and the five startups have gained momentum in establishing a U.S. presence. Bubbly has signed deals with one major retail brand, one major toy manufacturer, and a major global consulting firm.

Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo, Norway.

This article originally appeared in the June 2, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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