Upper Midwest chapter welcomes Norwegians
There is a misconception among Norwegian entrepreneurs wanting to expand into the United States that they must be in New York or Silicon Valley. Not true, says lawyer Ryan W. Marth, who is with Robins Kaplan in Minneapolis. Sure, for a handful of companies that may be the case. But for the vast majority, all they need is a place to get a foothold, to secure reference customers and early-round funding before they try to take on the entire U.S. market. He encourages Norwegian entrepreneurs to really research the best place to start.
Just one example of an alternate site, Minneapolis, boasts more Fortune 500 companies per capita than any other region in the United States, and has the added benefit of being populated with people with decades-old ties to Norway, eager to open their doors to Norwegian entrepreneurs.
So what is the secret for Norwegian companies to make it in the U.S. market? Norwegian companies have great—world-leading, in fact—technology but often put too little thought and resources into their international growth strategies at an early stage. Marth sees this in organizational structures that aren’t conducive to international operations, and a lack of attention to protecting intellectual property at the start. Failure to make these relatively minor investments early can slow growth when the companies are ready for it.
He can’t emphasize enough the importance of sales. “In Norway, technology sells itself,” Marth explained. “Norwegian entrepreneurs who come to the United States expect the same level of acceptance in the U.S. market. But our markets are sales-driven, and Norwegian companies that come over must make investments in pitching their products to partners, customers, and investors. Often, this means that they hire a U.S.-based sales professional much earlier than they had anticipated.”
Some business leaders offer testimonials to the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce Upper Midwest chapter for their assistance and resources.
• Devico is a Norwegian company that provides advanced tools and services internationally for surveying boreholes and performing directional core drilling for the mining and geotechnical sectors around the world. It received help when establishing a local American branch. According to CEO Erlend Olsø, “NACC Upper Midwest responded quickly to our request for assistance and information, suggested local companies we could work with to facilitate the process and has since also helped us to set up meetings with customers and local decision makers.”
• Another entrepreneur and founder who has received support from the chamber is Aleksander Farstad. His startup is eZSystems, a content management system provider. On the NACC’s home page, he says that it helped open doors, offered support and built networks. He looks forward to working with the chamber in the future.
• Telemark Trade Office (TTO), Norway, has assisted multiple corporations in establishing a presence in and doing business in the United States. Bjørn Forsdal, former director of TTO, highly recommends using the Midwest chapter of NACC.
“One of the most efficient and professional organizations to facilitate our success has been the Midwest chapter of NACC, led by Mr. Ole Koppang,” he said.
Through NACC’s high level of support, Norwegian businesses have received better opportunities and faster connections with the right partners and customers.
For more information about NACC Upper Midwest or NACC, visit www.naccminneapolis.org or www.naccusa.org. There are also chapters in New York, Chicago, Florida, Houston, Philadelphia, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. We hope to feature each chapter in future issues.
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 master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo, Norway.
This article originally appeared in the November 2, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.