CoverStartups from Fundraising For Startups on participating in the fall 2020 program: – As a startup we were taken seriouslyThe startups WAM, Positival, and Ocean Visioneering share their experiences from participating in the Fundraising For Startups program, looking back at a year unlike any other.
Benedicte Tandsæther-Andersen
Benedicte Tandsæther-Andersen18 Jan, 2021

2020 didn’t turn out the way any of us had expected, but that did not stop Norwegian startups: On the contrary! During the fall of 2020, 60 participants completed the entire Innovation Norway’s Fundraising For Startups program. At Startup Norway, we therefore want to highlight several of the startups from the fall program, who have all completed the 100% digital sessions. They are now equipped with the necessary knowledge to start their own fundraising rounds – one of the often challenging aspects of starting a startup.

Below, you can read about three of the startups that participated in the fall 2020 program: WAM, Positival, and Ocean Visioneering.

Becky Wightman from WAM, alongside screenshots from the platform.

WAM: Innovating the act of giving

The coronavirus has been draining on the mental health of many of us – so how about receiving a present from a friend to brighten your day? Among the startups participating in the Fundraising For Startups program was WAM - a fun, instant gift-giving app whereby users can WAM (the startup’s new word for “give”) small virtual gifts to their friends such as a virtual coffee or cake from their favourite store, which can be exchanged for the real thing. 

– Can’t make someone’s birthday? WAM them some cupcakes! Friend having a bad day? WAM them a coffee from their favourite coffee shop!

WAM´s co-founder and CEO Becky Wightman says they applied for FFS because they wanted to learn more about the fundraising process so that when the time came to approach investors, they would be prepared and could hit the ground running. She says they learnt a lot from the program - in particular what investors are looking for and what WAM needed to prioritise and focus on as a business when speaking with them.

– The program is really varied and gives you a great overview of some of the key activities you need to focus on when you begin your fundraising journey - including learning about the different types of investors (VCs to Angels) and what they are each looking for, becoming "investor ready" by having a great business plan, financial model, pitch and comprehensive data room, planning for the future (setting milestones and KPIs) and protecting your company´s IP. 

Becky says that the program helped them feel more prepared and confident when speaking with potential investors. They also made some great connections from attending the program – which Becky says have been “invaluable” as they continue on their entrepreneurial journey.

Preeti Agarwal from Positival.

Positival: Improving employees’ health

Many of us have grown used to having ‘home office’ every work day, but our health issues relating to long work days still prevail. Your stiff neck, painful back, and muscle cramps is not only painful and troublesome for you, but will also have an impact on the work you do every day. Positival is a company with a solution for this: Their innovation makes it possible for companies to enhance productivity, increase satisfaction at the workplace and reduce sick leave costs. Positival grants the employees access to digital services for better and more sustainable health, through personalised health competence workshops and easily available cloud based physiotherapy treatment programs. Preeti Agarwal is the CEO and founder of Positival, and says the health problems of employees are costly for companies, up to 41 billion yearly. 

– Every year, two of five employees receive sick leave due to muscular troubles such as neck and back pain. This affects the productivity and bottom line of companies. At Positival, we reduce the costs by handling this problem. We have an evidence-based and updated approach, and we are using technology as a tool. This way, we can offer companies a decentralised service aimed at preventing and treating musculoskeletal conditions, says Agarwal. 

Positival was founded in 2019 and today, the team consists of different fields of competence. Agarwal adds that to her, innovation is a result of interdisciplinarity: When you sit around a table and have a conversation with people of different professions, backgrounds, experiences, ethnicities etc. and find a solution to a problem, the result will be innovation. 

– FFS was a surprisingly positive experience. We signed up to the program first and foremostly to learn about how we should approach investors, but the program delivered much more than we expected it to. It was well thought out and organized (gjennomtenkt og gjennomført), had relevant topics and hands-on tools that lay the groundwork for doing fundraising, and much more. And not only that: As a startup, we were taken seriously, and FFS was concerned with ensuring that our IP should be taken care of, which could be a concern when the program is run digitally, says Agarwal. 

The startup journey is time-consuming in many areas, especially when the founders and their team are learning new skills every day. Asked whether FFS has helped Positival save some of this time, Agarwal emphasises that a startup definitely must set aside for the program and the tasks given during the program weeks. 

– I wouldn’t say we have saved time, in the direct sense. FFS is a program for heightening competence in the fundraising process, so this is something we have invested our time in. But we have gotten more effective, which in turn means we are making fewer mistakes. We are very grateful for having been chosen to participate. 

Unni Grebstad from Ocean Visioneering. The upper small photo shows the lobby of the virtual cruiseship Ocean Visioneering is using, where users can teleport to different parts of the ship. The lower small photo shows the Ocean Visioneering team.

Ocean Visioneering: Immerse yourself in technology

During 2020, many of us didn’t get to meet our closest coworkers and friends for several months. It’s safe to say that the year has been very lonely for many of us: But what if you could meet your friends and coworkers in a fully immersive way? Ocean Visioneering is a company that delivers showrooms for VR to the business communities: The startup is developing a platform with the purpose of making branding, networking, and meeting places possible in 3D/VR. CEO and founder Unni Grebstad from Ocean Visioneering says they signed up for the program after being recommended to. 

 – We decided on signing up for FFS when our advisor from Innovation Norway said it could be of value for us, as we were getting funding. We did some research around the program and realised that it would be perfect for us. 

The inspiration for the solution came from an earlier project supported by Innovation Norway – virtual showrooms for ships. After this project, the founders have developed and equipped the virtual cruiseship V/S Norway with green solutions from several Norwegian maritime suppliers. 

– The most important thing we learned during the program was both the terminology that you need to know when meeting investors, but also which content/message that is important to communicate during meetings with professional investors. The fact that we also got individual meetings with real investors that could provide input at our pitch was invaluable, says Grebstad. 

Ocean Visioneering have employees with a long experience and network from ocean-based industries – and because of this, the team has the necessary competence of the market and the need. When asked why they chose to apply for the Fundraising For Startups program, Grebstad says they needed more knowledge on professionalisation and fundraising. 

– As a startup, you have to be part of this program! We figured that we might not have the time for participating, but it has given us many valuable tools, templates, and contacts which actually have saved us hundreds of hours, and the additional cost of getting help from consultants and lawyers. At the FFS you get everything ranging from free advice concerning topics such as IPR, finance, and pitching, to complete manuals for contracts and pricing models. 

The three startups presented in this article value the time they have spent with us in the Fundraising For Startups program – and we hope to see them again soon! Startup Norway is committed to help startups and guide them on their journeys, and count every startup as part of the growing ‘startup community’. 

Do you want to learn more about the Fundraising For Startups program? Register for more information, by clicking the blue button below!

Register interest in the FFS program