Hi, I'm Tor Grønsund. I'm head of Lingo Labs, a new media incubator based in Oslo, Norway; a lecturer of entrepreneurship at the University of Oslo and BI Norwegian Business School; and a blogger cited by Harvard Business School, UC Berkeley, INSEAD, WSJ, among others, for democratizing the new methods and tools of building new ventures.
Common to all is, I believe in the power of entrepreneurship and design thinking to solve real problems and make impact on people's life.
Feel free to say hello at @tor
A little more about me
This is me at 5 years old on pop's 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 with how Internet search put the world at my feet, however, I’d go study Information Science to learn about how people search, use, and share information.
I never had a big knack for writing code, though (although I try to keep enough to prototype ideas). Instead, I'd develop a thing for bringing that technology to human kind. Systems and design thinking.
Design Thinking is matching people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and viable as a business strategy. - Tim Brown, IDEO
That led me to take on a MSc in Innovation and entrepreneurship, concentrating in Informatics and Human-Computer Interaction.
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 at tech startups in Norway and the US, and spending most of my student loans on a dorm-room WiFi sharing startup, I had a couple of stints in market research and M&A at leading Nordic Internet search and media companies.
Listening to my own entrepreneurial vocation, I soon joined as one of the first employees at an online media investment and advisory company, where I had the opportunity to work hands-on 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 revenue model. By making it open source, however, we learned a lot about co-creation and pay-it-forward culture, which remains my core ethos as of today.
Ironically I had began giving lectures on business model design and lean startup, or "failing" as a means of learning, at universities and startup events across the continent. What I found was, 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 design-driven approaches not only to product development but also marketing. Fortunate enough, my pieces on bridging the business model canvas and lean startup methodologies were soon picked up by Stanford University followed by leading business schools and startup programmes in the US and Europe.
Since then I've been trying to 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 startup principles. My teaching philosophy is "learn to learn", which to me has become the true value of higher education.
Connecting the dots, I believe in democratizing entrepreneurship. I believe entrepreneurs 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 an interview collection - Startup Vikings. 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?
The Methodologist is the former title of this blog. More concretely, a methodologist is one who studies methodology. And a methodology is the system of methods and principles used in a particular discipline. My discipline happens to be systems and design thinking into entrepreneurship and innovation.
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.