TINC Talk with Lasse Andresen of ForgeRock

On Thursday Lasse Andresen, Co-Founder and CTO of ForgeRock visited Innovation House and shared his experiences with our TINC companies. Headquartered in San Francisco, ForgeRock delivers an open source identity stack for “securing anything, anywhere, on any device”. The company was founded in 2010 and is now counting 150 employees, with offices in San Francisco (USA), Vancouver (USA), Bristol (UK), Grenoble (France) and Oslo (Norway). Today they power businesses like Geico, Thomson Reuters, Salesforce  and Norwegian Tax Administration (Skattedirektoratet).

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“If you have a global product, GO GLOBAL!”, Mr. Andresen made clear. And the sooner, the better. “We wanted to go fast and global, and I realized we needed funding. Organic growth takes too long time!”

The ForgeRock logo is inspired by Kjerag, a famous Norwegian mountain near the company’s founding headquarters. Lasse encouraged the audience to keep their roots, and good people wherever they are. “Our American competitors fail in Europe. They don´t understand the culture. And investors value that we’re a true global company.”

Regarding funding strategies, the former CTO for Sun Central and Northern Europe had some good advice: “Pick an investor based on your strategy, long or short run. Do you want a quick exit? But don´t fall in love with one investor. Make them all fall in love - I´ve kissed a lot of frogs!”

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“Why didn´t you just get funded in Norway?”, the audience asked. Lasse laughed a little, and replied: “Norwegian investors weren´t interested. Because we didn’t do anything with salmon or oil.” When it comes to location of the company, you don´t necessarily have to have all activities in Silicon Valley. “We have looked for places where people like to live, and where there are good universities. But we are still headquartered in San Francisco.”

Games for Learning

Last Friday Tekes hosted an EdTech event called “Games for Learning: Transforming Learning and Assessment with Digital Games” together with Cicero Learning and GlassLab. One of the speakers, Peter Vesterbacka, “Mighty Eagle” from Rovio Entertainment, gave the listeners an exciting recap about how Angry Birds have become what it is today and how they think when they make educational games.

DSC_0402_edit“Making school days longer is to me the worst idea ever”, Vesterbacka stated to a laughing audience. “In Finland we have shorter days, no homework during weekends or holidays, and still we score equal or better than Asia on educational tests. We deliver the same educational level less expensive and less time consuming!”

It is even shown that boys in Finland speak better English than girls. Not because they decided to do so, it happens by mistake because they play more games!

- Do you start with the learning or the fun when you design a game?
- Always start with the fun! There´s no reason that all learning can´t be fun!

Jessica Lindl from GlassLab talked about how crucial the business model is for who you are trying to target. And when developing games, you should follow the 3 E´s:

  • Easy-to-use
  • Effective
  • Engaging

After the speaks and a panel discussion, the participants were able to attend a networking session with a lot of players in the same space.

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RSA Networking Lunch in San Francisco February 27

February 27th we hosted a networking lunch in San Francisco for our portfolio companies and -partners attending the RSA Conference 2014 from February 24 to 28.

Robert Rodriguez, Chairman and Founder of SINET, held an inspirational speech to the audience.

“The DNA here in Silicon Valley is a little bit different than other places. They embrace failure and risk. Take Google and Pentagon. Pentagon is very risk averse, because failure is not an option. Google on the other hand, embrace failure, will recover fast. I think someday that Pentagon needs to start moving over here, because of the dynamics in the cyber security. It´s so fast that we have to re-evaluate risk!”, Rodriguez told the participants.

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“We´re not making cupcakes. We´re making solutions, technology! Now is a great time for us to be in the space. We´re not lucky, we´re blessed!”

Some of the companies attending were ENCAP Security, Invenia, PromonNorwegian National Security Authority, Appthority, HID, Norway´s Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation, General Catalyst, Norman Shark (Blue Coat)Agency for Public Management and eGovernment (Difi), Silicon Valley Bank, F-Secure, CFEngine and SRI.

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TINC Winter’14 Kick Off in Oslo this week!

TINC Winter takes place March 17 to April 11 in Silicon Valley and the kick off in Oslo starts this week. Mark Robinson from Innovation House and pitch coach Nathan Gold will be there on both of the days (Thursday and Friday) to help the entrepreneurs start preparing for what’s awaiting them in Silicon Valley. Before arrival we want to give a quick introduction of the participants in this year’s winter batch:

  • Communicator 365 A new platform that offers companies a new way to handle their communication both internally and externally with social channels integrated. The platform enables a company to publish content to multiple channels from one central place.
  • IntraHouse is creating software that converts websites to a mobile format. The service will also create native APP versions.
  • Movinto Fun creates innovative interactive entertainment products that make people move and have fun. The company was founded as a spin off from scientific interdisciplinary research merging dance education and interaction design.
  • Diggerin Out of the box cloud apps that help companies get return on their CRM-investments by providing the sales managers with sales information whenever and wherever needed.
  • Captario Software targeted at enabling cross-functional drug development teams to improve critical decisions that impact ROI. The software uses modeling, simulation and visualization to provide instant feedback regarding value and risk of a development program. 
  • Swifting JAutomate is a tool that automates manual software testing. Considering that the cost spent on testing is almost as bis as on the development the aim is to lower these costs and also improve the quality on the software.

We are looking forward to help the companies test their products on potential customers, industry experts, and investors in Silicon Valley in March. For now; good luck on the kick-off to all of the participants! See you in March!

Guest post: An update from TINC Fall 13 company Zwipe

The Fall-2013 version of TINC is coming to an end, and in this guest post is written by Zwipe’s Executive Chairman Susanne Hannestad (pictured below) share Zwipe’s experience:

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We have been crisscrossing the United States attending several industry and trade exhibitions including the NFC and Mobile Money Summit in New York, and Homeland Security 2013 in Washington, D.C.  At each of these conferences, the issue that seemed paramount to all concerned was how to ensure both security and privacy in one technology.

With discussions often centering on the security of cloud-based versus on-card technologies, Zwipe was well positioned with our Zwipe Card product, as all of the biometric information of the user is stored on the card only.  This eliminates the fear of a hacking attack into a company’s server.  Indeed, it seems that we are in very good company, as many other Norwegian start-ups are also in the security industry, including Signicat, Encap, and Ensafer.

While this balance is a concern globally, it was important to note that standards and practices are different in the U.S. as compared to Europe and the Nordic countries.  Although our experience has shown us that the current European and Nordic legislation concerning security and privacy is stricter than that in the United States, that is not to say it will remain that way.

This is one of the reasons we are very happy to be working with Innovation House in Silicon Valley. Throughout TINC, they have been instrumental in helping to guide and mentor us not only on industry and technology issues, but also on regional and global issues such as regulation and legislation. During our stay here, we have met with many potential customers, partners and investors who have all given us valuable insight into the U.S. market.

All of this support and advice no doubt helped us in signing a recent global OEM distribution agreement in the U.S. market. In fact, we liked it so much here that we signed a lease agreement for a Zwipe office in Palo Alto. It makes all the miles traveled well worth it…and we hope you continue to come along for the ride!

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Kim Humborstad, CEO of Zwipe at Runway, one of the largest technology co-working and incubation spaces in Silicon Valley

FailCon 2013

FailCon

Monday October 21st the fifth annual FailCon was held in San Francisco, and we were present along with most of the TINC-companies currently in the Bay Area. FailCon is one-day conference where the attendees come to discuss their own and listen to other people’s failures, and hopefully learn from these failures to avoid similar mistakes in the future. FailCon is arranged in 15 different cities, and a few months ago FailCon was hosted in Oslo.

photo (2)This years program consisted of presentations, fireside chats as well as a dedicated workshop session where attendees could choose to take part in one of 20 different discussions. Among the speakers were two of the founders of Parsecco, telling their story about how their company failed partly because they failed to agree upon whether to grow organically or through VC-funding. Julia Hu from Lark Technologies shared her fundraising failures, and how she eventually managed to raise capital. We also got to hear Jon Crawford (CEO and founder of Storenvy) speak about how he built a dysfunctional that the he eventually had to fire, and Jason Shen shared the story about how Ridejoy went from Y-Combinator to nothing in just over a year, and why they chose to shut down.

In conclusion, a very interesting day that left us all more open to failure in the future!

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TapBookAuthor reports from TINC and Silicon Valley

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My company, TapBookAuthor.com – that helps publishers create interactive stories as apps for a variety of devices by providing a cloud-based editor, is one of the 11 companies to take part in TINC in the fall of 2013. TINC (“Tech INCubator”) is a program for startups that wants to develop a roadmap to internationalization by working hands-on for four weeks in Silicon Valley.

To describe TINC and the weeks in the Valley, I’d like to borrow and paraphrase the words of former MIT President (’71-’80) Jerome Weisner: Going through TINC is like taking a drink from a fire hose.

There is so much on offer that you cannot possibly do it all. And at the same time, you try to push yourself to get as much out of the opportunity as at all possible. In addition to the official TINC program, there is so much going on that almost no matter what your interest is, you’ll find a meetup or a conference for it. Personally, I attended YC’s “Startup School” this Saturday and heard Mark Zuckerberg follow Jack Dorsey on the speaker’s list. Wow.

Networking is different here. On one level it seems more superficial – my policy of only adding people I really had worked with over some period of time on LinkedIn had to fall quickly, but on the other hand you’ll find that people very often genuinely want to help you. And often it can be two links out from the people you meet that prove to be a useful connection. Ironically one of the most promising meetings the coming week for me will be over Skype with a Nordic publisher that I was introduced to after attending the Nordic Entrepreneur of the Year award (it went to Rovio, of Angry Birds fame) event in Los Altos.

Even though the fire hose keeps pressuring steadily (the mentioned meeting with Sweden is at 0700 local time and I have a board meeting with Norway ending at 0100 the night before), there has also been time for the kind of fun that happens outside work. Some of us have been to a hockey game, another clan set out for a 49ers game and cruising highway 1 (for some even in convertibles – I skipped that due to a too pessimistic view of the likely weather, it has been plenty of days with 25 degrees Celcius or more!) is doable when taking a few hours off.

I’d recommend Norwegian startups to apply for TINC. However, even a well-prepared program cannot hide the fact that it is very challenging to establish yourself in a new market (let alone getting investment in a foreign country, but for me that was not high on my list of priorities when going over either). So if you apply and qualify, prepare for four weeks of classical “work hard, play hard” time – maybe with an extra focus on the former. No matter the practical business results (for me the jury is still out on that, interesting ten days left with good meetings booked), I think you will be rewarded for the hard work in learning.

If you want to have a chat with me about TINC when considering to apply, give me a ping and we can have a coffee in Oslo or a Skype call if you are located somewhere else. I’d be happy to discuss the good, the challenging and everything in between.

Best,
Sondre Skaug Bjørnebekk
Founder and CEO TapBookAuthor.com

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