On Tuesday 30th October 2018, BLOXHUB in Copenhagen was home to Investor Day, the final day of a four-day event run by GREENTECH CHALLENGE (GTC).
Investor Day is the moment when the participating startups face potential investors. Each startup has been mentored over the course of the event, and this final day is the culmination of their journey.
“It has been exciting to get feedback from experts in different areas", said Mikkel Knudsen, co-founder of Grums and one of the startups pitching at Investor Day.
Grums is a sustainable cosmetics startup. Their product is a variety of face scrubs and beauty products made from coffee grounds. Knudsen and his co-founders Simon Krag Christensen and Rasmus Nørgård started Grums in 2016 when they got the idea to reuse coffee grounds as the main ingredient in skincare products.
Apples replacing leather
Another startup making their pitch was The Apple Girl. Founder and CEO Hannah Michaud has, together with her team, found a way to develop a sustainable material that could replace leather. It is made using the tons of apple pulp left over after pressing apples for cider.
The Apple Girl is solving two problems at once. The problem of food wastage, and the environmental issues that occur as part of traditional leather manufacturing. They were awarded the Symbion Agrofood Prize. The reward includes some mentoring, as well as three months at the Symbion office space.
“It’s a big deal for us, we’re really really happy about that”, Michaud said. “Just being in this network, it’s going to be a really good environment for us”.
The expertise on hand for the startups taking part in GTC is provided by a number of industry experts. Amongst them are KPMG, Wilo/Wincubator, Kromann Reumert and Innovation Centre Denmark.
Morten Høgh-Petersen, head of KPMG’s Start-Up Denmark, has been providing some guidance for the young companies taking part. He gave some insight into the struggles that startups are facing.
“There is really a lack of good advice early on, and unfortunately with the tech systems and the legal systems, it leads to a lot of problems, and it actually kills off a higher percentage of the startups that start, than it would have had they started off properly”, he said.
He also observed that generally speaking, the Danes are not particularly well educated in the matters of corporate law and limited liability companies. He clarified, “we don’t have a big culture of entrepreneurship, we need to educate people”.
Høgh-Petersen explained that KPMG is working on building a startup environment across the Nordic Countries. “Because we have a very similar culture across the Nordics, there is a lot of sense in collaborating.”
However, at present, it is not as simple as one might assume. “I can only advise on my legal system and my tech system in my country, because we are not harmonised, but investors are very much cross-border”, Høgh-Petersen made clear.
Differences across the Nordic countries
GTC has expanded since its start in Denmark. Earlier this year, they ran their four-day event in Oslo. In December 2018 they will be in Shanghai.
Frederik van Deurs, CEO and co-founder of GTC has noticed some variation across the Nordic region.
“In the Danish ecosystem we can see that the traction in green startups is not as amazing as it is in Norway, it’s not as amazing as it is in Finland, and it’s not as amazing as is it in Stockholm”, he declared.
As a proud Dane, van Deurs wants to be part of the change that will ensure that green tech startups will be successful in Denmark. "The Danish ecosystem is lagging behind”, he said.
While the differences for a business in terms of laws and systems may be an initial obstacle, some might argue that the ideal solution lies in collaboration across the Nordic countries. As Høgh-Petersen pointed out - “investors don’t care if it is a startup in Stockholm or Copenhagen.”
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