Why did we create the Nordic Startup Awards?

Kim Balle, Co-Founder & CEO, Global Startup Awards
Kim Balle, Co-Founder Global Startup Awards

People often ask us why we created a Nordic Startup Awards show. My own family and friends often ask why I spend so many hours on an award show which is surely not a high income project for me. The answer is simple: it is important.

Put your ‘big picture’ glasses on for a minute. We live in a unique time where entrepreneurship and innovation have never been more important. It is a time where technology-, hardware- and software-driven companies change our world in all aspects of our lives. The development is now moving so fast that our societal institutions have a hard time keeping up. This is only the beginning. We have entered the era where an entrepreneur can decide what direction the future will go.

The Nordics should take a leadership role in determining this future. We already have a history of creating amazing innovation not only in terms of technology, but also through organization at the societal level. This is something that is admired around the world. It should be our aim to maintain this status and improve it in the future.

The Nordic Startup Awards are not only about trophies and events. They are about something much bigger. I see the Nordic Startup Awards as a platform or a vessel which can be used to positively impact the regional startup ecosystem by connecting the national ecosystems and showcasing role models and success stories among ourselves and the rest of the world. The end goal is to become such a strong and relevant platform that we can go far beyond the “startup bubble” and into people’s living rooms. (Similar to Eurovision, just more relevant and without the corny music.) With such a strong platform, we can influence and inspire the Nordic people to keep innovating. With interest on such a high level, we can also connect all the stakeholders with politicians and ensure that we, in the Nordics, will have the right conditions to bridge possible gaps between startups and innovation.

The impact of recognition and success stories

In addition to the importance of creating a platform to showcase Nordic entrepreneurship, recognition is the core fuel for the Nordic Startup Awards. I know from my own experience how hard it can be to build a company. When you are working in a startup, you are driven by a passion which can be compared with a wild fire. It is almost impossible to put it out. But every single founder, lead developer, community builder and investor has hit the wall. That dark place where you almost forgot the “why” and the fire is reduced to a small flickering flame.

From Nordic Startup Awards 2014. Image courtesy of Nordic Startup Awards
From Nordic Startup Awards Grand Finale 2014. Image courtesy of Nordic Startup Awards

I know what a big difference a simple pat on the shoulder from someone of esteem can make when building a company. Recognition can lift you up to go that extra mile. It can be an inspiration for others to see that it is possible to succeed even with the most difficult odds. I have no doubt that the effort demanded to build a startup can be compared to the effort needed to win an Olympic discipline. We need to celebrate it.

This is also why quality and high standards is so important for integrity of the Nordic Startup Awards. The trophies need to mean something.

Part of something bigger

Finally I want to mention that Nordic Startup Awards is also part of a growing network. Since we launched Nordic Startup Awards back in 2012, we have expanded to Central Europe with Central European Startup Awards and to South East Asia with Asean Rice Bowl Startup Awards. And after this summer, we will launch Startup Awards India.

From Nordic Startup Awards Grand Finale 2014. Image courtesy of Nordic Startup Awards
From Nordic Startup Awards Grand Finale 2014. Image courtesy of Nordic Startup Awards

Our global expansion means we will be able to connect Startup Awards alumni from across the worlds. The winners of each regional competition will represent the best startups in their region. We plan to launch this initiative in  the coming year under a umbrella we call the Global Startup Awards.

From this work, we have already learned the strength of the Nordic region and the strong brand it has worldwide. We can be a role model for these rapid growing ecosystems. The Nordic Startup Awards will help connect Nordic startups to new markets, talents and technologies, and position the Nordics become a global leader in technology and innovation.

Join us for the Grand Finale

Back in 2014, Iceland won Startup of the Year with Plain Vanilla, which elevated Iceland to a heavyweight in the Nordic startup scene. People were wondering who Plain Vanilla was, since the name was not as well known in the other Nordic countries back then. But the numbers spoke for themselves, and Plain Vanilla was a sure winner. (Here is recent interview we did the the founder, Thor Fridriksson).

Since 2014, the startup ecosystem in Iceland has grown even stronger with the help from community building organisations such as Icelandic Startups. It became clear to me when I visited Icelandic Startups during their Golden Egg competition. I was blown away with the high startup activity on Iceland.

This is why it is also super exciting to invite everyone to Iceland for the Grand Finale. On the 31st of May at the Nordic Startup Awards Grand Finale, hosted by our amazing country partner (Icelandic Startups), we will bring together talent from across the Nordic startup scene to the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik, where companies will compete to be the best among the Nordics. The winners were selected through an rigourous process and announced at the national events (you can see a list of the national winners here).

We can’t wait to announce the winners in the beautiful surroundings of Harpa.

Then event is fully paid by the amazing local sponsors and it is free of charge.

Signup here.

Kim Balle is Co-founder of Global Startup Awards / Nordic Startup Awards, Owner of DROBE and founding member of IoTPeople