Startup Campus founding partner Mette Kamsvåg on the need for a ‘startup confidence’ in Norway
Mette Kamsvåg from MK Consulting says she would like to learn more about the buzzword “algorithms” — as we’re already living in a world largely ruled by them.
With the official opening of Startup Campus on October 31st, we do of course have both great ambitions for the future — and great things planned. And one of the ways in which we are set for a bright and continuously innovative future is through our founding partners.
Below, you can read about Mette Kamsvåg — the former CEO of Nets and the current CEO of MK Consulting. She is one of our interviewees for our column — where we focus on founding partners and their journeys, and why they have decided on joining in on the Startup Campus.
Tell me a little bit about yourself — who are you and what are you doing in the startup world?
I am 49 years old, and I live in Molde. I moved back here after living in Oslo for 26 years. So now I have lived in Molde for four years. I am married and I have a daughter, and two bonus sons. I have had a full-time career in IT and payment services in Nets, and I was the CEO of Nets until 2014, when I moved to Molde. In the years since then, my life has consisted of board positions, consulting, strategy planning, and buying and selling companies, and I have also invested a little. Investing in companies was something new to me, as I in the years prior had been fully occupied with my other jobs, and didn’t spend time exploring other industries. But after 20 years in the same industry, it was very good for me personally — and interesting, too — to get to know new people, and learn about another part of society. So far I have invested in five companies. They have not been the typical startups, but some companies have almost become startups along the way. Together, we have started from scratch and built things up again, and I have also been involved in early stage companies. This includes companies where there is a lot of growth plans and we are developing new things and new technology. But there are companies that have been around for a while.
I was on the board of SIVA for five years, and I have to admit that when I moved to Molde I had hardly even heard of SIVA. But I see how important they are to the whole of Norway, as you can have both the private and public sectors as opportunities for starting businesses and innovation, but also on the industry level. At the SIVA board, I got to know Maja (Adriaensen), another of the board members. Before and after the SIVA board meetings we’ve been talking about Angel Challenge, and I introduced her to some lecturers. The more I heard about what she was working to create for investors and startups, the more intrigued I got by it.
Why did you decide to be a founding partner of Startup Campus?
There are two main reasons to why I decided on being a founding partner. I think it’s very important to create spaces for people who have good ideas and want to achieve something. I also think it is very exciting to see Startup Campus and the other initiatives by Maja and Knut (Wien) are privately managed — and how investors are provided with connections to startups in a very professional way. I think the whole concept and execution is exciting.
The founders of Angel Challenge and the other initiatives are not boastful kind of people, but there is so much substance and professionalism to what they are doing. This is important to me, too — as no matter what you invest in, the most important thing are the people behind it.
If you can share some advice for how Startup Campus can succeed in the best possible way — what would that be?
It is difficult, as they are so good at what they’re doing! I think it would be interesting for Startup Campus to explore the opportunity of connecting established businesses with startups. I’m not just talking about investors and startups, but also established companies. The companies I have worked with and invested in may not have great opportunities for driving new development and innovation on all fronts. So there is great potential when exploring this further. I would advise Maja, Knut, and their team to keep on doing what they do, and make sure there are lots of exciting content and events. I believe this philosophy will help them along the way, but I think they are doing great already.
I have a lot of faith in the concept of Startup Campus — and I’ve already talked about Startup Campus to the companies we work with. We always look for ideas and good things we can connect to, in the communities that already exist.
There are always many events going on in Oslo, and prioritisation is necessary for everyone in busy jobs. And for an event space, finding the perfect days or weeks for events without overlapping with events in other places — that’s also important. The communities outside of Oslo need to feel relevant too, so scheduling events for days and weeks when there aren’t big events elsewhere in Norway — that is also important.
Startup Campus is set to become a meeting point and arena for learning for entrepreneurs, investors and everyone else at different stages. What do you want to learn more about — and who do you hope to meet here?
I want to learn more about two of the companies I have invested in. They work a lot with data, as everyone else does — but I would like to learn more about how to use data to build algorithms and such. “Algorithms” is such a buzzword, but we’re actually in the middle of this buzzword. It’s everywhere, and algorithms are involved in so much of what we are doing now. In one company I work with, some of the employees have a master’s degree and a doctorate in mathematics — and it was exciting to learn more about the subjects from someone who knows them very well.
Kindness is generally underrated: But who has helped you in your career and what did they do for you?
Well, I’ve never been an entrepreneur in that way: I’ve never founded anything myself. But if I have to mention one person, I’d have to backtrack to the 2000s. I once had a boss by the name of Nils Landsnes. He saw a potential in me, and gave me a huge career opportunity while I was on maternity leave. When I got back to my job, I had been promoted — and this new job was really “leveling up” for me career-wise. He saw a potential in me, and didn’t promote me because of my gender or age. This experience has been very important to me, also considering how things have developed in my career afterwards.