There is always a need for some sort of product management, said Terje Seljeseth on Gründerkonferansen.

On January 12th the Norwegian Computer Society (DND) arranged Gründerkonferansen, a conference on the future of work and innovation. Terje Seljeseth, chief analyst in Blommenholm Industrier, talked to conference host Soroosh Maghsoudi about startups, culture and capital.

Listen to the summary (in Norwegian) or read the extract below. All sessions will be made available by DND.  

SM: How do you build culture from scratch?

TS: The only way you can build culture from the very beginning in my opinion, and that’s your question, is through values.

Only providing the values is not enough and can for sure be considered a parody. But if you build, measure, include in appraisals and all kinds of tools to track how others view your cultural performance, well then you genuinely build culture.

SM: What are common pitfalls entrepreneurs should avoid?

TS: There is always a need for some sort of product management, at least if there is a technology product. It could be the CEO or someone else, but you need a person who is given the responsibility and is dedicated to it.

If startups reach out to Blommenholm Industrier, and we do invest in early-phase startups without revenue as long as they have an MVP, with a solid team but without any form of technology competence or product management, I usually have little faith in their survival.

SM: What kind of preparations do you expect entrepreneurs to do before they contact Blommenholm Industrier?

As a first move, I appreciate receiving an e-mail with solid information. Then a follow-up by phone. Whether its 1 or 10 slides is not important, but use the amount needed to explain the idea. Not all great ideas are easily explained.

TS: How do you view the cooperation between established businesses in Norway and startups?

Its evolving, and I believe StartupLab have played a key role. It’s important that established businesses understand that there are many forms of interaction other than buying startups. For example, by becoming a pilot customer, they could help a startup to grow into an international platform. It can be that easy!

SM: What preparations should entrepreneurs do to find the right investors?

TS: Applying theory to practice is not easy. In the earliest phase, startups often receive help from Innovation Norway. But then they enter the Valley of Death, and it becomes difficult to raise capital. Without revenue, even though the idea is great, it could be almost impossible. It is tempting to tell startups not to waste time on investors that are inaccessible, but it’s not that simple. I have started a business myself and know how difficult the Valley of Death is. But, when you later enter a period with growing revenue and investors are eager to interact, you should obviously be strategic and consider what people you prefer in the board.

SM: How much should technology startups prioritize UX?

TS: At first, a product manager could combine the roles of product management and UX. That’s only natural if you’re 2-3 persons working together. But as soon as possible, the startup should dedicate a person to UX.

SM: Thank you for sharing your time and experience with us.