Investor Fireside Chat with Norrsken, a VC fund investing in startups solving the world's biggest problems
The past few years have seen a drastic rise in Impact Investments. This is because investors see huge potential in the market and see it as a means to contribute to society through impact investing. We see an increasing awareness in the investor's fraternity to provide capital in order to address the world's most pressing issues right now. Impact Investment offers an opportunity to look at investments in a different light. It brings us back to the core of investing which is addressing the needs of the economy.
We will not be surprised if Impact Investments is referred to as the new normal of investments. Through Impact Investing, investors can change the dynamics of the global financial markets. This trend could define what kind of world we want to create for our future generations. Over the recent past, Impact investors have proved that companies can get financial returns through Impacts Investing. Today, it is considered as one of the biggest inspirations for capital to flow faster. Skåne
Skåne Startups had the pleasure of having an in-depth conversation on Impact Investing with Fabian Erici, Investment Manager at Norrsken VC, about the benefits of impact investing, impact unicorns and the tools to create a sustainable business.
About Norrsken VC
Norrsken is a venture capital fund investing in startups solving world's biggest problems while building massive businesses. Their fund size is €100 M, with a typical investment size from €0.5 M to 3 M. They can both lead and co-invest.
Norrsken was originally founded in 2016 by one of Klarna’s co-founders, Niklas Adalberth. His mission was to enable impact entrepreneurs to thrive in society and become the rockstars of the future. At Norrsken, the philosophy is that the world's problems are becoming more and more complex, and the traditional methods to solve them aren't enough. The world needs impact entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs that try to tackle these problems and they need all the help they can get. With this mission, Niklas Adalberth set up Norrsken based on three pillars. Norrsken is:
A big co-working space. It’s located in Stockholm and hosts 450 entrepreneurs, on a normal non-COVID day.
An impact hub. A hub for impact entrepreneurship where they host events, gather many thought leaders and do many initiatives that are maybe not considered investable, but they fall under the bigger Norrsken umbrella. Those are things like carbon-weighted accounting or impact-weighted accounting. Norrsken also launched the list of the 100 top companies in Sweden in terms of size, and what impact they actually have per revenue unit.
Impact Investing. Norrsken’s biggest focus is the investments, and it is Fabian’s Erici focus.
About the Investor
Fabian comes originally from Lund. He studied Industrial Engineering and Management at Chalmers University of Technology and got the opportunity to do an exchange at the University of California, Berkeley. There he got to ‘dip his toes’ in the Silicon Valley world and that experience triggered his interest in startups. Doing Management Consulting for the Boston Consulting Group in Stockholm was a very valuable learning experience for him. One and a half year ago, Norrsken launched the bigger fund, and Fabian was very eager to join. As an Investment Manager at Norrsken VC, he invests and supports early-stage scalable tech companies that have a positive social and/or environmental impact.
The discussion was co- hosted by Amanda Enocksson, Chief Business Development Officer and Tech Investor at VNTRS; Rita Lousa, Innovation Driver, Tetra Pak Processing Systems, and Zhenni Liang, CEO of Skåne Startups.
Meet the Founders
During the Investors Chat, 4 Skåne startups that has Impact at the heart of their business idea, pitched to Norrsken VC.
Alexander Olivera, Co-founder and CEO at Nodon, the online platform that enables the construction industry to reduce its CO2 emissions through AI technology.
Simon Ziolkowski, founder and CEO with Tom Hackenberg, co-founder and CFO at Skosh, the sustainable cleaning agents in the form of tablets that turn tap water into cleaning liquid, saving tons of one-time plastic use waste and transportation emissions.
Lukas Hammarström, founder and CEO at Bottel which digitizes recycling, expands the possibilities of recycling rewards, and engages the people who recycle the least.
WJ Yang, founder and CEO at Mbegusolar, which develops an automated solar-powered phone charging station and enables consumers in the African market to generate revenue by operating the station and bringing clean energy to their communities.
Norrsken VC – history and entry requirements
Q: Fabian can you tell us more about Norrsken VC?
The first fund was set up four years ago and it was a small fund of 25 million euros. That was funded by some of the Swedish Unicorn Founders, because back then it wasn't as easy as it is now to say that ‘I will do impact’. We tried knocking on the big investors’ door saying, ‘Would you like to be part of this movement? We're going to do both impact and profits’. And they said, ‘That's a great initiative, but please do it with someone else's money, because I don't dare to spend my money on that kind of premise’. I think for these years that we've been out in the market, not only was the first fund successful, but the whole momentum in society had shifted. And now impact is really something that is investable.
So in late 2019, we were able to raise our second fund, which is now a 125 million euro impact fund. And it's backed by the “normal” LPs, the "normal" players that typically backs all the other only financially driven funds, but with the premise that we only invest in impact companies.
We define impact companies as anything that can take us closer to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This means that we invest in everything from healthcare to education, but then also a lot in climate and social inclusion. And we also say that for every unit of revenue our companies create, they should also create one unit of impact, whatever that impact can be. And we also hold ourselves accountable to it, which means that our financial returns as a team are not only reliant on the financial returns we do with our investments, but also on the impact we create with our investments. So, we have a great mission alignment throughout the team and also with the companies that we invest in.
We have to date invested in 27 companies throughout a few different themes, and if I can highlight a few- I would say that we have done a lot in the food and food waste industry in companies like Matsmart, Karma in Sweden, invested in OLIO in the UK and the latest, Stokeld Dreamery. So that is one big cluster, but then we have also invested quite a lot in electrification in the climate tech space where we invested in Nortvolt, in Einride out of Gothenburg, which does autonomous electric trucks, and we've invested in Heart Aerospace that does electric airplanes, but also battery software company called Nortical. So these are two big areas that we have.
I don't know if we've intentionally focused on them, but we've seen a lot of opportunities. But we have a lot of other themes across all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and when we look at companies, we look at four different things:
First of all, the Impact, that's the first criterion. Does it have a positive impact? Is the impact high enough? Is the impact fast enough? And does it really solve a big problem? This is the first lens when we screen the companies that come to us.
Then, we focus on companies that have great scalability so that they can be scalable in a very capital efficient way, become massive companies and therefore, create massive impact.
Then, we tend to invest in mainly tech companies. You can define tech companies as many different things, but what we want is to have a tech focused business model because that also brings the highest scalability, in most cases. In terms of stage and geography, we invest in Seed and Series A stage.
For Norrsken, that means that we invest half a million euros, to 3 million euros in the initial tickets. We can be both a co-investor, a lead investor or a co-lead investor and we invest all across Europe for now. We also try to venture outside of Europe with a few investments, but of course, our main market is still Sweden, and that's where we also see a lot of opportunities.
Impact Unicorns and Scalability
"A massive business for us is what we call impact unicorns. And that means companies that not only become a financial unicorn, meaning that your business valuation reaches $1 billion, but also that you impact 1 billion people's lives in a positive way"
Q: You invest in startups solving the world's biggest problems right now, but what do you think are the world's biggest problems at the moment? And you also mentioned that startups should be building a massive business, what do you mean by massive business?
Let me start answering with the second one. A massive business for us is what we call Impact Unicorns. And that means companies that not only become a financial unicorn, meaning that your business valuation reaches $1 billion, but also that you impact 1 billion people's lives in a positive way. So that's what we call a massive company, both financially and then impact wise. And then the other question about the world’s biggest problems, it is much harder to answer.
But, of course, we see today, the whole climate change being both a massive problem on its own, but then also creating a lot of problems in the surroundings in terms of health, in terms of a decent living standards, clean water, and so on. And so that is, of course, one of the biggest out there.
We also see a big problem with social inclusion and with the global world we now have, people feel more lost than ever. Overall, it is super interesting to find solutions and very important, but it's hard to pinpoint one problem. Many impact funds only focus on one vertical, they say we are a healthcare fund, or we are a climate tech fund. But we think it's hard for us to say ‘as long as we solve climate, then everything is fine’, so we want to be a bit more general there and say that we want to promote companies across all the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Q: Fabian, you mentioned that the startups that Norrsken invests in have to have the power of scalability. Many times, we could argue that incumbents in certain industries have a greater power to scale solutions that have a greater impact. Do you see any more ways that you could drive or support incumbents to change, on their journey to create more impact?
I 100% agree that the big incumbents are as needed in this journey towards solving the challenges. One way that we typically work with the big corporations is that we try to engage them with the startups that we invest in and the startups in our ecosystem. The combination of someone that is forward thinking and doesn't see limitations in the bigger sphere, coupled with a big organisation that has the knowledge, the industry know-how, and so on, creates great opportunities.
So that is one way that we, in most cases, work with our startups. And it's actually quite fascinating to look at the European scene because the Swedish big corporations have come much further than in many other European countries. So just taking the investments that we do outside of Sweden, and couple them with the context that we have in the Swedish industry sector, that has been a very good combination in many cases, because then we can see new solutions together.
The members of the team that do more events and create networking opportunities are more entangled in or focused directly on the industry as well. So that's how we, with the VC arm, try to engage with the industry network and that is very powerful, especially in Sweden.
How do you measure Impact?
Q: Would you please elaborate on how you use the impact assessment framework when you're evaluating startups?
This is what we call our impact assessment framework. On the left-hand side is what we call the Theory of Change. We try to lay out your vision, what challenge you're solving, and then what is the solution you have that tackles that challenge. And we look at input, output, and outcome in this part. Since we are so impact agnostic, we try to rate it, even though this is not at all scientific and we don't claim it to be, but at least we want to do something to cover it, we have looked at all the different parts of impact assessment. So, we rate:
The severity of the challenge. Is this a big challenge? Or is this a smaller, more luxurious challenge?
The intensity of the effect. Does this solution really solve the challenge? Or is it just a marginal improvement? If, for example, the idea is to make a petrol engine 5% more efficient, you have to consider, is this really solving the problem or is that a marginal effect on the problem? It could be very big if you do it at scale.
The volume of the effect, which shows how many it affects. This is, of course, harder when you do climate and CO2, because it's so ‘fluffy’. It's not directly impacting that many people, but indirectly, by reducing the climate footprint you actually affect a lot of people.
Whom do we affect? Is it a well-served community? If it is for me and it solves a small problem for me, then it's maybe not as important as if it solves a big problem for someone in a worse position or situation.
The duration of effect. Does the solution have a long term or short-term effect?
The time to effect which I think is super interesting, because we are running out of time, especially on the climate problem. So having a solution that is very powerful, but it takes 30-40 years until it's on the market or until its effect is reached is less interesting.
How big is the contribution?
The impact risks. We spend a lot of time on this one, because it’s quite rare to only have a positive impact. It often has side effects, and you have to look at the bigger picture and then try to weigh the impact and make sure that it's net positive, at least on one or a few parameters.
So this is the assessment that we do for all the companies and as I said in the beginning it's not considered scientific, but it's at least something and we think it works very well to use on the multiple different areas that we look at.
"Many, many people talk about how impact is so hard to measure and I agree with that. But that is why we try to simplify it as much as possible and only invest in companies where the impact is so embedded in their business model".
Q: Your team works with the startups, and you set relevant impact KPIs. How do you do that with your portfolio companies and how do you help them reach their target? Do you do a monthly evaluation for the startups?
When we have done this assessment, and we are doing the investments, we do what we call, an impact workshop with all the companies that we invest in, where we define impact KPIs. These impact KPIs should be easy to measure, they should be tangible, and they should have a real impact.
Many, many people talk about how impact is so hard to measure and I agree with that. But that is why we try to simplify it as much as possible and only invest in companies where the impact is so embedded in their business model.
If you can take out the impact, if you can become a unicorn without becoming an impact unicorn, then you are not a company for us.
For example, Einride’s impact KPI is the number of kilometers driven in an electric truck, and what would that impact be, if that was instead driven in a diesel truck. And then that is the impact KPI that we measure, and we follow up every quarter. Then we have set our targets initial or prior to the investment that we communicate to all the investors in our fund. So the LPs know, and if we don't reach those targets, we don't get any financial benefit from those investments, but that benefit is instead donated to charity.
That's also why we don't want companies where you can take out the impact, the impact needs to be embedded into the business model. Because if you can take out the impact, if you can become a unicorn without becoming an impact unicorn, then you are not a company for us.
Q: You have a policy of radical transparency (and whoever wants can go to your website and find the Norrsken Blueprint on what you have done, on why you do what you are doing, but also documents on your strategies, policies, manuals, sustainability questionnaires, how you do your investment ranking, etc.).
What made your team decide to adopt this open and transparent approach? What kind of challenges did you face with this transparent approach? How could other VCs learn from this approach?
It was a very conscious decision about a year ago that we want to be radically transparent, because the overarching goal for Norrsken is not to become the sole impact VC out there that does great impact investments. Nor would Norrsken house want to be the only Impact Hub in Europe or in the world.
We see that if we want to create as big an impact as we possibly can, then we want to be super successful, so that everyone wants to do the same. And then we should make it as easy as possible for everyone to copy whatever they want. So we have, as you said, openly shared all the documents that we have. Everything. From employee agreements to the setup of the foundation, and so on to the limit where we can’t legally disclose it for external parties. And it is very important for us to be that transparent, so that we can facilitate the broader change in society.
The night that we launched it, I can say that, especially our more senior management team was very nervous about what the outcome would be. But so far, there have only been positive reactions. No backlashes in terms of how you can do it like this, this is not scientific enough. Nothing like that, but only the opposite. So I think it’s super powerful. I would urge everyone that can, to do it. Of course, it’s hard if you’re a startup that is trying to build a business. I understand that you can’t disclose everything, and we don’t disclose it.
Don’t worry if you want to become a Norrsken company, you don’t have to disclose all your secrets. It’s only for our organization, but I think for other funds, especially for those that want to create a bigger impact. I think it’s a very powerful way to disclose more. And I think also for bigger corporations, even though they can’t disclose everything, I think it’s important to be more transparent, so that we can create change.
Q: Would you like to have a more scientific approach, long term?
Of course. If possible, both from the science point of view, but also from a more practical point of view. We, of course, want to do the best we can in terms of the measurement of impact, and so on. The impact weighted accounts that this foundation has set out to do together with Harvard is a very good start. It’s like the accounting standards that were implemented in the early 90s in the US, so that everyone has to show the net debt, the revenue, and so on. They want to do the same, but for impact so that you can actually weigh the impact towards the bigger external effects of what you do in the company. And they develop that together with a really cool research group at Harvard. We of course want to implement that to the highest extent we can.
Even the scientists at Harvard have a very hard time to create this. It’s not a simple matter, especially when you are dealing with smaller startups that don’t have that kind of reporting in house, it is a bit harder. So we want to do it as well as we can while still being practical. So we are constantly trying to develop our impact reporting. And as I said, we released the first impact report publicly for 2020. We’ll do the second one that hopefully is even better for this year, and so on.
Impact goals vs financial returns. Do they have to compete?
Q: How do you relate the financial part to the impact part? Is it different from case to case, or do you always think we need this amount of climate impact or this amount of impact? And do we need this amount of return on investment?
I know a lot of climate tech funds, especially, that have as a rule ‘For every investment we do, there needs to be the potential to reduce the CO2 by half a gigaton, 250 million ton CO2 and so on.’ We, as Norrsken, haven't set out those kinds of targets so far. And this is mainly because the impact that we do is through so many different industries and comparing one to the other would be quite hard. So we don't have that set targets.
If we take a look at the financial return potential versus the impact potential, we never say ‘this has a slightly higher impact, so then we can live with a slightly lower financial potential’. We always say, first, it has to have a big impact, and then we can start looking at the financial case. And if that holds up, like a normal VC would look at it, then it's a great investment for us. But it's never a tradeoff between impact and investment, or financial return. And that's again, coming back to that the impact needs to be embedded into the business model, so that the greater financial return you do, the greater impact you also do.
Q: How do you deal with the situation that the portfolio companies can bring great financial returns, but they failed to reach their impact KPIs?
So far, we are lucky that that hasn't been the case. What we at least try to assess before every investment is that it should be impossible to get to great financial returns without generating greater impact, because it has to be entangled into the business. So that's why I think it's less likely that would be the case. But of course, it can happen, and we’ll see how we can deal with it.
But the framework is that if companies create great financial returns without an impact, we don't get any benefit as a team from that investment. So that is how it works. And that's why we also, in every boardroom, we sit, and we always try to make sure that they don't derail from the impact that they have set out to create. And so far, it hasn't been a problem at all, rather the opposite is that companies realize how powerful it is to be an impact company, both in terms of recruitments, in terms of marketing, and they instead almost become more impact-driven overtime when we have invested. So I hope I can never answer that question! Let's see in the future.
"We need seven trillion dollars to fund the UN sustainable development goals and so far we have reached 1% of that. The impact funds that are out there are popping up like never before, so this number is increasing fast, which is great. But still, it's a long way to go. And I think some of the reasons for that is that the more traditional capital is still a bit hesitant".
Q: Your colleague Agate has given a presentation about Norssken. It says that today less than 1% of capital is invested into companies that address impact through their business models, yet tech is better funded than ever. What do you think are the reasons for this?
This is related to the ripple effect of not just us being successful but rather seeing more capital being allocated to this asset class. We need seven trillion dollars to fund the UN sustainable development goals and so far we have reached 1% of that. The impact funds that are out there are popping up like never before, so this number is increasing fast, which is great. But still, it's a long way to go. And I think some of the reasons for that is that the more traditional capital is still a bit hesitant. Because when we go out and look for capital, they often have a separate bucket of their fund which has been allocated to impact investing but then the big majority is still for what they call normal investing.
"We have come a long way in turning impact investing into something that you can do with a financially good outcome, but now we also need to turn it to The New Normal".
This Gap needs to be bridged. We have come a long way in turning impact investing into something that you can do with a financially good outcome, but now we also need to turn it to The New Normal. It shouldn't be the case that part of a family office’s fund is focused on impact. It should be, ‘hey, we have our family office fund, all we do is impact because that is the best asset class that is out there’. I think that is the transition that needs to happen and I think it will.
Q from Rita : I have been working quite recently with some projects connected with the United Nations Game Changers Lab, and that meant that I ended up meeting a lot of entrepreneurs from different countries and different realities. And we discovered during our research and interviews that even though there's a lot of investment and recently, impact investment, in startups in the area, these startups are mostly creating products that do not fit the needs of the underserved population. So they either create products with high price points or they are not targeting the bottom of the pyramid. What would be your suggested next steps and advice for founders that are trying to serve these populations?
It's a super tough problem and I really recognize it. Many of the financially driven investments are in the higher GDP economies because that is where the most capital is. At Norrsken, we make sure to look at that impact scale both in terms of for whom this solves a problem and for how many. So that is something that we try to take with us into every investment that we do.
For example, we invested in a cell-grown fish company, called Bluu Biosciences and we chose them partly because they are a super good team, but also because their ambition is very clear that they want to create cell-grown fish, not for the luxurious sushi restaurants in inner-city Stockholm, but rather for the mass markets out there, at a very affordable price, in the long term. That is their main vision, and that's part of why we thought they were much more interesting than others that are more focused on creating niche products for wealthy economies.
To the founders out there, I think when serving that bottom of the pyramid, you need to be very diligent in how you build up your business model and how you monetize that business model. We have invested in, for example, WeFarm that is a farmer community for Africa. They have been very smart in how they both communicate with all the users and how they then try to monetize them by not saying like 'you should pay this subscription fee every month to be able to be part of the community', but rather only monetize on things that actually drive value to them. So for example, they monetize their Marketplace which is a Farmer’s goods that actually increases the output of the yield, and then they can monetize that which also brings more value to the farmers. So you should really think about the business model when you serve this community.
Leveraging Impact as a startup
Q: Young people are willing to take a 15% pay cut, in order to work for impactful companies, and consumers are willing to pay more if it's a sustainable product. How do you think founders can leverage that when it comes to attracting better talents to join the team, and leverage that to bring more value to the consumers?
I 100% believe in that. That's the case, for me, at least. I started at Norrsken, not because it was a great salary or anything like that, but rather, that I got the chance to work with impact. And I think that is the case for many, especially in Sweden. So I think if you are an impact company, you should really brag about it. Make it the first thing that pops out on your website, make that what stands out in the ad when you recruit, and also make it something that you speak to your potential customers about. Because I think we're moving more and more towards a world where consumers are less worried about it, especially in Sweden. We are so privileged here that we're less worried about the financials, that we actually want to also create an impact with what we consume. So both for consumers, but then also if you work B2B with the big corporations.
I know Rita, probably you can talk for Tetra Pak, but you're probably also assessing the impact of all the investments you do, because the big companies also know that they have to become more sustainable to be long term financially viable. It's a very good competitive advantage, if you can communicate the impact both to potential employees and to customers. Regarding the impact KPIs, we released an annual report of how much impact all of our portfolio companies had created and first, we were quite hesitant. I thought the portfolio companies would probably not like us to expose their impact, like business sensitive information, but rather the opposite. They have used the metrics and put them on their website and say, ‘Hey, we have reduced the 500 tons of CO2 this year, we have saved this many lives, etc.’ and that is really powerful as a brand building, both for consumers and potential recruits.
Q: In comparison to the traditional VC fund, what kind of different support would you be able to offer to the founders?
Yeah, so going back to what I spoke about before, being able to help with that impact, both impact assessment, impact measurement, and then impact communication is something that we have done a lot for all our portfolio companies. And what we have also seen as powerful is that Norrsken investment can work as some kind of stamp of approval that this is an impact business. And that is really powerful in many cases. And then thirdly, and maybe most importantly; we have this little bit of an unfair advantage of being part of a much bigger ecosystem than many other funds. We have a very broad network, both in Sweden and outside of Sweden, now also in Africa, and that all of our portfolio companies make great use of, and we are more than happy to connect all the founders in our portfolio too.
Norrsken in International Markets
Q: We are aware of Norrsken seeking significant entry into the African space Rwanda, can you elaborate on what is driving this interest? And how are you dealing with the potential risk?
I'm not responsible for the expansion to Rwanda, so I don't know all the details or the latest, but I'm more than happy to speak about what we're doing there. We're setting up a Norrsken house in Kigali in Rwanda, where we will try to do what we have done in Stockholm to build an impact entrepreneurship hub for East Africa which will be a super cool place, even bigger than the one in Stockholm. It is something that is a little bit lacking from the area, and I think it can be a really great place to be. So we're setting up the co-working space, hopefully sometime now during the fall. It's been some delays due to COVID.
We're also planning to host a lot of events and now we are actually in the talks of raising a VC fund for the African market. This will be slightly later stage and slightly bigger, because that's where we've seen the greatest gap in the market, from this kind of growth funding. There are quite a lot of early stage funding in the African tech market, but this growth step before you can do even bigger rounds, that's where we've seen a gap. So we're currently in discussions to raise that fund.
Regarding the risks, I don't know exactly what you're thinking about here, but there is less of a societal framework around how you create business in these areas, and you always have to be aware of, but I'm probably not knowledgeable enough to speak about all the risks that are out there. I can definitely follow up if there is any specific interest on that topic.
Q: Changing billions of viewers' lives is possible relatively easier when the business operates in highly populated countries, such as India. Have you considered any investment in India to help many underprivileged people there?
This is 100% true. So far, we have a European focus on the fund. We can, however, do opportunistic investments outside of Europe. This is mainly due to the lack of market knowledge that we have in India or in broader Asia, or even in the US where we see that we have less capabilities to assess the investments because even though we want to create a massive impact, we still also need to do financially smart investments. And without good market knowledge this is much harder. But I would love to invest in an Indian startup that has a positive impact on the billions of people that live there. So far, we have found it hard, but who knows where the next Norrsken hub will be. And maybe it will be an Indian or a Southeast Asian fund, like the one we have created in Africa.
Q: What are the most common mistakes you see founders make when asking for seed investment from Norrsken?
I think Swedish founders are a bit, I wouldn't say restricted, but they think sometimes a little bit too much about only the Swedish market. And you should already, at the seed stage of seeking VC capital, think about how this will solve a bigger problem. Because if it's a problem in Sweden, it's typically a problem outside of Sweden as well, and then thinking about the more European or global opportunities. So that is one, especially for Swedish companies.
And then also, regarding the impact, you should not neglect the risks, rather be upfront with them. Because sometimes when we see decks, and we see they try to position themselves as impact companies, it's quite obvious that there are great risks with this venture. And we get a little bit put off. So I think that is something that you shouldn't neglect and it should be out front and how you can mitigate it, because there's often always a way to mitigate these risks.
And finally, be even braver in your visions and your ambitions. Be bold and learn from the American world where they oversell and take it halfway. And then you ‘ll have a great pitch, I think.
Q from Amanda: what is your view on this? We see startups are very careful with expanding abroad. They want to first test their idea in the Swedish market and then probably go to some other Nordic market. How do you see it?
We, at VNTRS, invest at a very early stage usually, and I would definitely say that you don't have to start with the Swedish market. We encourage startups to ensure having their eyes set on a specific group of users or people initially, and make sure to validate with them first, no matter if it's in Sweden or if it's somewhere else. So I would say that's the most important thing. Don’t go too broad or scale too fast before you have validated with the right user group. And make sure that it's the right user group that you're validating with and not someone else. So, as soon as you have validated, and if you've done it in the right way, then you have the right foundation to scale quickly. And I don't see any problems in many cases to scale globally, fast. So overall, make sure that you have the foundation set first, and spend more time and money than you think on that. So that when you scale, you can do it more effectively.
Q: Does Norrsken have or are you developing a network of corporates looking at corporate ventures specifically focused on ESG? This is particularly also for developing ‘proof of concepts’ across given focused industries.
Yeah, we are collaborating with quite a few of the corporate Ventures out there. I wouldn't say that it's a specific network, but we work a lot with our network in the broader industry. It is not only with the CVCs, but more the actual customers, not the investors, but rather the management teams or whoever that can be in that organization. We try to really build that network up, because that is how we think we can create the most value for our portfolio companies. So if someone wants to test a new sustainable material for clothing, we should have someone at H&M, that we can connect them with so that they can develop that proof of concept together. So maybe not as structured with the CVCs or the corporate Ventures, but more like the broader corporations.
Q: It sounds like you're ahead of your time and it would be interesting to hear where this mentality comes from? What was the driving force for this initially?
Niklas with his founding ambition is. He was the initiator and still the driving force and I think he has inspired the mentality where we should never be complacent, we should always try to take it one step further, both in terms of just trying to still push the curve even faster. Then also for us as an impact VC, of course, we want to create all the other impact VC funds, but then, we also want to be the one driving that change and being the front-runner. And we can't stand back and say, hey, now we are satisfied, we have a decent sized fund and we're doing good Investments, we still want to push the boundaries all the time.
I think Niklas initiated that mindset, and he is still very active in the organization and in the fund and continuing to always push us, and that has rippled down through the whole organization. And also we of course, are a fund with external money that we need to take very good care of, but the foundation part, the ones that runs the house, runs all the events and so on, they are nonprofit foundations, so they don't have any other stakeholders than themselves, and therefore they can be quite bold in what they do and how they communicate.