Hi, I’m Tor Grønsund. I’m the director of Lingo Labs, a lecturer of entrepreneurship at the University of Oslo and BI Norwegian Business School, and blogger cited by Harvard Business School, UC Berkeley, INSEAD, among others, for musing on tech startups and innovation. Common to all is, I believe in spreading the knowledge and stories of innovators.
You should follow me on Twitter @tor
This is me at 5 years old on an IBM 5150, the first PC.
I grew up in an entrepreneurial home in the south of Norway and was fortunate enough to be exposed to the world of computers at an early age.
My true school wouldn’t be the classroom but rather the World Wide Web. Caught by the dot-com boom and intrigued by how the Internet put the world at my feet, however, I’d go on to study Information Science–at the intersection of Informatics and Media Studies–to learn about how people search, use, and share information. I never had a big knack for writing code (although I keep enough to prototype ideas). Instead, I’d develop a thing for bringing that technology to human kind. Marketing.
While still a grad student I ran my own market research practice, writing reports and analysis for management consulting, venture capital, and private equity firms. Following a few internships in tech startups, and investing most of my student loans in a dorm room WiFi startup, I had a couple of stints in market research at leading Internet search and media companies.
I then joined as one of the first employees at an Internet investment and advisory company, where I had the opportunity to work with everyone from garage entrepreneurs and executives at global Internet companies to leading politicians.
Essentially, that led me to start my own company, Lingo Labs. Our first venture, an Internet-enabled desktop environment for netbooks (remember those?), made millions of downloads and users in over 160 countries but not quite a business model. By making it open source, however, I learned a lot about open innovation, co-creation, and pay-it-forward culture, which remains my core ethos today.
Ironically I had started giving lectures on business model design and “failing” as a means of learning at universities and startup events across the continent. I found that traditional management books weren’t too useful in the world of entrepreneurship. Neither did computer science curricula teach aspiring entrepreneurs much about marketing.
So in early 2010 I launched this blog to share my thoughts on applying lean, design-driven approaches not only to product development but also marketing. Fortunate enough, my pieces on bridging the business model canvas and lean startup were soon picked up by Stanford University followed by leading business schools and startup programmes in the US and Europe.
Ever since that I’ve been trying to hack education and change how entrepreneurship is taught. Today I teach at BI Norwegian Business School and the University of Oslo, where I developed real world entrepreneurship courses based on design thinking and lean principles. My teaching philosophy is “learn to learn”, which to me is the true value of higher education.
Common to all is, I believe in democratizing entrepreneurship. I believe innovators who aspire to change the world around them deserve to have their stories told like any other. They deserve a discussion as ambitious as their own endeavors. And their stories, when told, help aspiring entrepreneurs–and intrapreneurs–take action and find inspiration in role models.
So currently I’m spending my evenings and weekends writing the Startup Vikings book. Through interviews with Nordic tech entrepreneurs about their personal stories and secrets to leadership and building products, the book is the closest you come to being behind-the-scenes at a startup, and to learn how it’s done the Nordic way.
Right, but what is a meth·od·ol·o·gist?
A methodologist is one who studies methodology. A methodology is the system of methods and principles used in a particular discipline. My discipline happens to technology innovation and entrepreneurship.
Creator of the first lean startup and business model framework.
Editor of Vevens Gang, a notebook dedicated to profiling the tech startup scene in Norway, in Norwegian.
Board member at betaFACTORY, the first tech startup accelerator in Norway.
Curator of the Norwegian Startup List.