Mendocino Works, our new program about the nurture of healthy, homegrown startups, explored an innovative Angel Challenge competition in Norway where investors and entrepreneurs size each other up over multiple meetings before funds are awarded. Host Jeff Parker interviewed the program’s founder in Oslo, then interviewed two seasoned advocates who are adapting the model for rural US communities like Mendocino.
Thomas Berglund, chairman and co-founder, Angel Challenge, Startup Norway - To kick off the program, KZYX General Manager Jeff Parker Skyped across the Atlantic to the Norwegian capital Oslo to meet Thomas Berglund, chairman and co-founder of Angel Challenge, a community organization owned by Startup Norway. Angel Challenge aims to engage new investors and empower startups by fostering interactive investment communities that tap local investors’ experience and expertise to refine local startup projects competing for their capital. In just 14 months, seven Angel Challenge programs across Norway have led to 15 angel investments totaling more than 4 million dollars.
Johan Odfjell, investor and business owner, San Francisco (live from San Francisco) - Johan Odfjell is the fourth-generation owner of a family shipping company in Norway, and has been making investments in Norway on behalf of his family for many years. Coming from a maritime family, he served in the Norwegian Navy and earned a bachelor’s degree at State University of New York Maritime College, where he also attained a US Coast Guard 3rd Mate’s license. In 2015, Johan invested in the capital pool for Startup Norway’s Angel Challenge, and participated in the consultative process that is so unique to that project. More recently, Johan moved his family to the Bay Area where he has started an investment company and is promoting the consultative Angel Challenge methodology.
Paul Kallmes, investment consultant, The Vault, San Francisco (live from Berkeley) - Paul Kallmes is a veteran startup consultant based in Berkeley who has been building bridges between investment programs in Europe and the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley. Paul has been driving the expansion of San Francisco startup incubator The Vault across Europe and helping to establish Startup Norway’s Angel Challenge and other angel investor training programs in cities and towns around the US.