Almost a decade ago, while building my first startup, I had my first experience with a startup accelerator.
And it was awful.
A network of other entrepreneurs like me. Mentorship. Coaching. Easy access to investors. I was sold on the idea in a heartbeat.
It turns out this accelerator was little more than a glorified real estate business. As most of them are.
The whole experience ended out being a failure. As did my first startup (more on that here).
Since then, I built another company – with a very different result. And since at Altar we help entrepreneurs build their products, I had the chance to work with dozens of other founding teams.
I also met a few hundred more. Some of those founders went through the biggest accelerators in the world. YC, Tech Stars, 500 Startups, you name it.
From those connections and experience, it’s clearer than ever that having the right accelerator behind you can hugely benefit your startup’s success.
The opportunity to network, learn from mentors, get some funding behind you, and secure a reputable accelerator’s “stamp of approval” can jumpstart your journey to success.
That’s why our marketing team is currently working on a series of articles focused on how an accelerator can help startups succeed.
And since Altar will be operating in Norway next year, we decided to start providing value to the Norweigan entrepreneurial community as soon as possible.
So I’m detailing below a number of critical factors you need to look out for when choosing a startup accelerator and also sharing a list of the best startup accelerators in Norway – as well as how to apply for them.
This article does not contain affiliate links. Meaning neither I nor Altar.io receives any commission if you should choose to work with one of them.
Antler is a startup accelerator with locations around the world. Their Nordic branch includes Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
They have a focus on pre-seed startups in energy, property and mobility and off $110,000 in exchange for 11% equity. So far they’ve helped over 300 startups across the world get their footing.
You can sign up online by creating an account on their website. It will then take you through a series of questions to get to know you better.
Once you apply, their team will guide you through the process which takes about two weeks to complete.
It starts with an introductory talk for you to describe your idea so they can determine whether or not a residency with them will be right for you.
This is followed by an interview about you and your founding team where you’ll speak about your background skills and motivations to joining Antler.
The third step consists of a more formal pitch interview where you’ll show your pitch deck or a demo of your MVP if you have one. You’ll then have to ask the team questions about what a collaboration with Antler entails.
In the penultimate stage, you’ll have a meeting with one of the Nordic partners to dive deeper into your idea to ensure you’re the right fit for Antler.
Finally, there is the decision meeting, where they decide whether or not to extend an offer to you and your startup.
Their pre-seed programs run on a rolling intake so you can start your application at any time.
What The Alumni are Saying
Antler was the best possible platform for me as a first-time founder. Not only did it feel like a crash course in company building – I also found my amazing co-founder. And we got our first investment, of course. Just go for it!
Charlotte Ekelund, Co-Founder & CEO, Teemyco
They invest anywhere between $150,000-$500,000 in return for equity. They focus on early-stage impact startups that have already proven their product-market fit with some form of validation and have intentions to scale. Specifically in climate change and ocean conservation startups.
The program lasts for 3 months and is now completely digital, meaning you won’t have to relocate to Oslo to participate.
To apply, you first need to fill out an online application. Then you will go through a screening process consisting of several interviews where you will present yourself and your company, and get to know the Katapult team.
The Katapult team will then do their due diligence on your startup, to assess what it will take for you to reach your business and tech milestones. They will also conduct a deep dive to determine how much impact your company can make, and whether or not it’s aligned with Katapult’s values.
If you’re accepted they will then invest and the accelerator program begins, where you’ll receive hands-on mentorship from “top global subject matter experts, serial entrepreneurs, business leaders and investors.” You’ll also get put in touch with pilot customers to test your product.
The three-month program ends with an exclusive event with investors relevant to your startup. This is your chance to pitch to them and raise further investment.
Lastly, Katapult has a “follow-on fund” where they invest in alumni of the accelerator in Series A or similar-sized rounds.
What the Alumni are Saying
The Katapult accelerator is a very high-quality and intense program, both diving into business fundamentals and the specifics of building an impact business in the climate/ocean space. We joined the program slightly sceptical but emerged fully converted. The Katapult team itself is a major strength and they have pulled together an amazing cast of characters to complement them. Inclusive Energy is now a stronger, more confident business that, with Katapult on board, is ready to scale.
3. The Factory
The Factory is a startup accelerator that runs a 3-month program twice a year (in spring & autumn) in four cities: Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger and Kristiansand. They target Norwegian startups within fintech, proptech, retail, SaaS/business or impact.
At the end of the accelerator, you’ll have the opportunity to pitch to investors and other key startup stakeholders at a Demo Day – as well as compete for a $5,000 investment from The Factory.
You can apply via their online application form. However, there isn’t much more information on the application process past that point.
What the Alumni are Saying
Most accelerators offer a lot of the same things to startups over a 12-week period: a toolkit, money, and mentoring. But post-graduation companies are on their own, and this is where TheFactory stands out. TheFactory keeps introducing us to prospective investors, and customers, get us on stage at events, and genuinely cares about how we’re doing – long after program completion.
Nikolai Tornøe Narvestad, Intrava
Equinor and Techstars Energy accelerator offers real business opportunities for startups that are focused on transitioning towards a more sustainable future. Some of their example industries include,
- Clean Energy Resources & Solutions
- Low Carbon Technologies & Carbon Products
- Oil and Gas for a Lower Carbon Footprint
- Digital Enablers: Data, Cyber, Digital Twin, AI Technologies, etc.
And many more.
If you’re looking to join TechStars, the application process starts with the form on their website. It may take 2-5 hours to complete, but you can always contact their mentors and advisors for help to make sure your startup is accurately represented.
Once you pass the screening process, you will receive an invitation to interview with TechStars (typically within 4 weeks).
During this two-part interview process, some of the questions might include:
- Who would you hire if given $200k?
- Who are your target customers?
- What is your desired outcome from working with Equinor & Techstars?
- Which KPIs are most important to track?
- How did you validate your market?
If you make it through the TechStars interview rounds, you’ll be invited to meet with the screening committee. This group is made up of TechStar’s managing director, program manager, mentors and corporate partners.
If chosen, you’ll join a 3-month cohort of other startups and secure a $100,000 investment from TechStars.
What the Alumni are Saying
Techstars has brought diversity to the table. Most of the accelerators focus on local networks but that’s not the purpose of Techstars, it focuses on the global network.
Founder Institute are a startup accelerator with locations across the globe, including Oslo. Globally, they’ve helped bring over 5,000 startups to life.
They’re sector agnostic, helping startups across every vertical. And while they don’t offer any direct investment, they offer over $2M in discounts from companies like Stripe, AWS, Google Cloud, Hubspot and more.
They’ll also put you in touch with key investors relevant to your niche.
You can start your written application process on their website. Founder Institute will then send you their “Entrepreneur DNA Assessment” to ensure your entrepreneurial skills fit with the Founder’s Institute.
If you pass that you’re in! The final step is to enrol, pay the entrance fee ($699) and sign the entrance agreement.
What the Alumni are Saying
The real question is: can the Founder Institute be game-changing for your business? The answer is yes. Without FI, Udemy may have never raised any money.
StartupLab is an accelerator based in Oslo and Bergen that’s helped bring over 100 startups to life.
They invest up to $300,000 for around 10% of your company based on a convertible loan. There is no joining fee and no need to relocate as the accelerator runs remotely. However, if you’re based in Oslo or Bergen (or are happy to relocate there) you will also receive free office space at the accelerator for the duration of the three-month program,
On top of the program they also provide free consultation services with legal experts, patent lawyers and accountants. As well as recruitment help from the team at StartupLab.
They cater to all tech companies regardless of whether they specialise in hardware or software, B2B or B2C. They also help startups in any niche or vertical.
They stipulate, however, that they’re looking for startups that have either already launched their product or intend to within the next six months.
They also run an incubator for earlier-stage startups, at a fee of around $230 a month, which focuses on actively supporting startups for 12 months and opening up their network.
You can apply to either program using their online application form.
What the Alumni are Saying
StartupLabs has a great reputation in Norway, which is one of the key reasons we chose to apply.
Over the course of the program, we’ve been part of many beneficial workshops that have driven Convier forward.
Moreover, we were able to test our value proposition with a number of different people, which allowed us to make it much stronger than if we had gone at it alone.
From a sales perspective, being part of StartupLabs has put us on the fast track with a number of potential stakeholders, from customers to investors – because we’re going to them with almost a seal of approval. StartupLabs vouching for us and it’s opened a lot of doors.
We were initially hesitant to apply for an accelerator but the amount of support and resources we’ve received from StartupLabs have been hugely beneficial for our journey.
As I mentioned at the top of the article – when it comes to picking a startup accelerator, there are a few key points that you should take into consideration:
- Their industry focus
- The amount of funding they offer
- The length of the program.
I hope with the information in this list, you’ll be better armed to make the right decision for your business and get your product up and running in no time.
Best of luck – thanks for reading.
Paolo started working in banking in Milan and London. After the financial career, he created a startup and then joined Altar where he mainly deals with business development and fintech projects.