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Fail, fast, forward

15. desember 2014

Gro Eirin Dyrnes takes a look at entrepreneurship, risk, failure and the need for role models in innovation.

By Gro Eirin Dyrnes, Director Innovation Norway, San Fransisco and Silicon Valley

Woman, balancing act

Taking risks in innovation. Photo: Maxim Malevich

What a coincidence. At the day of Failcon in Oslo, Norway one of the larger Norwegian financial newspapers publishes the headline “Bipper from 100 million (NOK) to zero” (translated).

Bipper (and later bSafe) delivers a safety mobile app that has received great reviews, traction in large markets across the globe not to mention a lot of positive PR.

Founder and former CEO, Silje Vallestad, has been a role model for female tech entrepreneurs in Norway. She has shared her experiences, knowledge and network willingly, and she has made bold step towards the most liquid, yet most competitive tech startup environment in the world, Silicon Valley – She has gained very valuable knowledge. Don’t stop looking at her as a role model!

Norway and the US compared

The Norwegian startup failure rate does not differ very much from what we see in Silicon Valley. Approximately 75% fail, the percentage being higher for men than women. Actually Norway has one of the top establishment rates of new business in Europe and in comparable terms we establish nearly as many new companies a year as the number of babies born.

Unfortunately few of the startups, particularly in the tech scene, have female entrepreneurs, and very few of the new establishments scale and build sustainable, competitive advantages and values. Is it lack of ambition? Is it lack of competence? Is it lack of status? Is it lack of finances? Is it due to a high alternative cost for making startups compared to working in the oil and gas sector? Is it a mix of these? Other?

We need good role models

In any case, one thing is for sure, we need the good role models, we need more people like Silje and her employees and investors, who take the risk, who learn, who share their experiences and who build and invest in new entrepreneurs, who build new jobs and who take a personal responsibility to give Norway a second leg to stand on for the future.

Innovation Norway has supported Silje’s company, among other services, financial – tax money. Like all “investments”, this had a risk. We all, and mostly Silje, took the risk, not only of losing money, but of failure – and this is ONE of the big difference between the Silicon Valley culture that fuels innovation, and the Norwegian. In Silicon Valley, failure is a mean for learning, in Norway failure is simply…….failure – humiliation, losing.

Gro Dyrnes

Gro Dyrnes. Photo: Siv-Elin Nærø

As a (former) Brann (Norwegian team that recently went down from Norwegian premier league) soccer fan I am familiar with the cognitive phenomenon of using the pronoun“us” when the team wins and “they” when the team loses. Brann is no longer in my heart, but I am not going to give up on loving people like Silje. Norway needs that kind of spirit, ambition, risk taking, experience and yes; failure!

That being said, the “end” of Silje and bSafe’s story is yet to be seen! Good luck, you deserve success and Norway needs you!

Follow @grodyrnes on twitter!

2 kommentarer leave one →
  1. 5. januar 2015 15:44

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