From Alpine skier to sports app developer

Aksel Lund Svindal uses his down time on Spond

Photo: Trysil / Wikimedia Commons  When Svindal was forced to take a break from competitive skiing, he turned the same concentration that made him a winner to the realm of entrepreneurship.

Photo: Trysil / Wikimedia Commons
When Svindal was forced to take a break from competitive skiing, he turned the same concentration that made him a winner to the realm of entrepreneurship.

Rasmus Falck
Oslo, Norway

Aksel Lund Svindal made a triumphant return to World Cup downhill at Lake Louise, when he recently won the season opener. He sat out of the World Cup in 2014-15 because of a torn Achilles tendon sustained playing soccer a few weeks prior to the season.

After being injured Svindal started looking for other interesting and inspiring alternatives to skiing. Through his career he had gotten to know people in different fields and environments. He’d learned that entrepreneurs, people who start their own business and companies, think a lot like athletes. They set high goals that are hard to reach, but they are willing to take the risk and reach for their goals. And they often do so with an energy and passion that he recognized from sports. So he quickly realized that this would be the perfect opportunity for him to keep his mind occupied while he was doing boring rehab training.

Spending time with experienced entrepreneurs, having fun, getting inspired, and maybe learning something at the same time. To find entrepreneurs he went to the Bay Area. San Francisco and nearby Silicon Valley is home to Facebook and Google, but more importantly it is full of innovative companies driven by people with a passion and vision to create what could be as important as Google 10 years from now. There he met some of Norway’s top entrepreneurs, visited global brands like Tesla, and talked to local entrepreneurs at Nordic Innovation House. Coming back he talked about his Silicon Valley experience on Norway’s largest talk show, inspiring young potential entrepreneurs.

Then Svindal went into entrepreneurship himself. He has been part of the team that has developed the Norwegian app Spond. Spond makes it easier to plan and organize meetings, football training, or other things. You can just send out requests to friends and contacts and get a correct answer. According to the entrepreneurs, it is as easy as sending a text message. Svindal himself has invested money in the startup. Over 2,500 people from sport clubs, boy scouts, schools, and marching bands have taken part in testing the app. The most difficult task has been to simplify it.

The company is located at the Startup­Lab at the Research Park in Oslo. They have a total of 14 employees in China and Oslo. The goal is to have 100 million international users in three years.

Before Svindal was injured he won eight World Championship medals, three Olympic medals, two overall World Cup and seven discipline titles, and 25 World Cup races.

“Being good at something doesn’t mean that you are good at something else,” Svindal says when asked about transferring skills from professional skiing to entrepreneurship. “But the way I would attack this would be to go in and make sure I go in and really want it. If I really want it, I would work really hard at it!”

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 11, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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