See the full article on ArcticStartup.
TechCrunch recently published a timely article questioning if Norway is leaving its tech startups out in the cold. Here’s why the discussion needs another angle and the problem in fact is the problem.
Mike Butcher starts out comparing the ones of Spotify, Rovio, Tradeshift, and Everbread to the lack of evidence of successful startups from Norway, even pondering upon Opera as a half-fledged success. The arguments are as half the truth as pointing at Bipper and Wonderloop (both Norwegian semi-expats) as examples of the opposite.
Not very different from the case of Siri, Norwegians seems to take their startups elsewhere. But there's more to it.
Consider San Francisco-based DoubleTwist which Norwegian founder rose funding from Northzone and Index Ventures. Flattr was co-founded by the Norwegian co-founder of The Pirate Bay and is headquartered in Sweden. WooThemes and its Norwegian co-founder are virtually global. Attentio, by the founder of Zoomit, (later Kelkoo/Yahoo) is based in Brussels. Gauss was started by the co-founder of Plone and operates out of Cologne. Soundrop is now looking at New York. Maybe not yet media darlings, but they are Norwegian founders eventually bringing home experience.
If international presence isn't considered a step in the right direction, what is then?
So it seems that Norway isn't that disconnected to the international tech scene after all.
Playfish, co-founded by a Norwegian and operating offices in Tromsø, was acquired by EA for $400M. TrollTech, Funcom, NimSoft, Chipcon, and Falanx, to mention some, all had their exits. cXense is founded by the former founder of FAST, which was acquired by Microsoft. CFengine serves clients such as Facebook, Google, Cisco, and AT&T. Meltwater should need no further introduction -- all once startups and international at large.
Taken into account - in a culture that doesn't recognize success, there is no success.
As usual Innovation Norway takes the hit. Not only looking at international cases, I wouldn't blame them too much.
Unfortunately governmental funding has become a "sleeping pillow" to many aspiring entrepreneurs. Instead of hunting customers, too many entrepreneurs put their efforts and existence in chasing governmental grants. Subsidies do not make a startup, customers do. And with customers comes funding. In fact, the Norwegian VC market is still measured the largest and most active in the Nordic region.
Whether migration or displaced success is due to legislations, tax policies, the Jante Law, oil bonanza, a small home market, or access to the right capital - founders targeting international markets and getting down with real customers might be exactly what the Norwegian startup scene needs.
PS: For the CrunchBase stats I'd be happy to donate this list of Norwegian startups. The question is, is anyone at TechCrunch listening?
What do you think? Can Norway make startup migration sustainable?