From Oslo to New York: Investing in Norway’s businesswomen
Nordic Startup Bits
When visiting Oslo Innovation Week last October, long-time business development investor Jeanne Sullivan was intrigued by the potential she found in various presenters, taking note of one company in particular.
Bubbly, founded by Marianne Hindsgaul from Oslo, is a startup introducing an IoT kiosk to the market that utilizes data collected from customers in a retail store. The company has developed a new idea enticing customers to communicate with retailers right on the spot before leaving the store—generally thought of as an impossible task.
One of Bubbly’s special features is getting feedback from visitors who did not make a purchase, a game changer for businesses.
“I instantly knew this company and team was worthy of financing and scalable,” Sullivan said, trying to encourage Hindsgaul to move to New York.
Hindsgaul did. After six months of traveling back and forth between Oslo and New York, she finally made the Big Apple her permanent base, with her husband and co-founder, Kim, and son, Benjamin, in tow. Bubbly Group has now moved into new offices in Madison Avenue for the new accelerator, the Propeller Program. The program is initiated by Norwegian entrepreneur Are Traasdahl, who was awarded entrepreneur of the year at the Nordic Awards this year.
Supporting women entrepreneurs
Sullivan has been the lead mentor for Bubbly Group in New York, giving advice on all aspects related to establishing a company in the U.S., including how to raise capital. With her 30 years of experience as a business developer and investor in technology and SaaS startups, she knows what investors are looking for.
According to Sullivan, the number one issue for high-growth women entrepreneurs is access to capital. Therefore, she is giving advice related to capital needs and explaining how to distribute and scale, as well as providing introductions to resources such as team members, customers, and potential investors.
“Thankfully, there are many men and women who realize there is an untapped resource of dynamic women entrepreneurs, and we are supporting and advising these women and making a difference,” she says.
Her impression is that entrepreneurs like Hindsgaul are well represented in the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in Norway. Having visited Oslo several times, she has been able to compare and contrast the journeys of the two cities toward becoming tech centers.
“Norway is following New York’s lead, as New York City became a tech center with its focus on entrepreneurship and many accelerators and incubators, programs, and seed funding for entrepreneurs,” Sullivan says.
The challenge is figuring out how can Norwegian startups enter into the U.S market successfully.
Expanding to the US market
Sullivan believes that Bubbly has what it takes to make it in the U.S. and says the company already has successful customer relations in Europe with a strong and experienced leadership and team. This is a distinct advantage when looking for investors, she says.
Aside from the new office in New York, Bubbly Group has offices in Norway and Denmark and has major customers such as Thon Hotels, McKinsey, and Carlings.
“We have always thought of doing something bigger, by expanding internationally,” Hindsgaul says. “It was really just about putting the base pieces in place on a solid foundation of product, customers, team, and financing.”
She is thrilled to have Jeanne Sullivan on the board of directors in Bubbly Group.
This article was originally published on Nordic Startup Bits at www.nordicstartupbits.com/2016/09/26/jeanne-sullivan-female-entrepreneurship-oslo-new-york.
This article originally appeared in the Nov. 4, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.