Three women laughing while working on a project. (The photo is an illustration unrelated to Startup Weekend.) Photo by: Brooke Cagle on Unsplash.

The judges from Startup Weekend Energy & Sustainability on the 54 hours that can turn your ideas into business

— Worst case: You’ll make new friends — and you may even decide that you want to become an entrepreneur, says Anne Worsøe, one of the judges at Startup Weekend Energy & Sustainability.

With just a little more than two weeks to go before Startup Weekend Energy & Sustainability is happening, the excitement is growing with the number of signups. In addition we have several volunteers, mentors, and judges. These are people with great interest and expertise in their field — energy and sustainability.

Taking a closer look at our four judges for Startup Weekend Energy & Sustainability, it is evident that not only can they offer valuable insight as judges: They also possess the innovative mindset — which is what we need for a future that increasingly will depend on our good ideas.

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Click the green button to sign up for Startup Weekend Energy & Sustainability!
Three of the judges of Startup Weekend Energy & Sustainability — from left to right: Jens Festervoll (Equinor), Pippa Boothman (Airthings), and Anne Worsøe (Farmhouse).

Anne Worsøe: — Low-barrier, super fun, and powerful

We all have ideas — some bad, some good, and there is a fair likelihood that in some cases, the good ideas are worth pursuing. Maybe there is a problem you’d like to solve through innovation? But knowing where to or how to start ca be tricky, and that’s where Techstars Startup Weekend can play a vital role. During your 54 hours as part of the Startup Weekend Energy & Sustainability, you will get to look for a team, create a prototype of your idea, validate your business idea, and receive feedback from experienced entrepreneurs, all in one weekend.

The first of our judges to be introduced here, Anne Worsøe is a Partner at Farmhouse, where she works with early-stage technology startups and founders with ambitions to solve global challenges. Worsøe is passionate about sustainability, helping startups succeed abroad, and especially empowering female co-founders and investors.

Worsøe says she discovered her interest in energy and sustainability when she started working for Statkraft.

It was fourteen years ago, when I worked as a CEO for the Norwegian Venture Capital Association and was pondering on what to do next. In 2007 I started as Head of New Business at Statkraft, the leading renewable company in Norway, and joined the Advisory Board of Cleantech Europe.

While working for Statkraft, she explored the new green-tech business opportunities as Head of New Business. But her experience in the innovative communities reaches far beyond energy and sustainability: Before becoming a Partner at Farmhouse, Worsøe held the position as Portfolio Manager and Partner at B&B while the company scaled from 16 to 60+ people in three countries. She has initiated and co-founded the co-working space Nordic Innovation House in Silicon Valley, and she was the first CEO of the Norwegian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association.

As a Startup Weekend judge, her specific expertise will be domain expertise and international experience. Worsøe says she for a decade has assessed startups in this space, primarily in the USA and Europe. She has made investments across several of the verticals, and adds that when we’re working from a small country like Norway, it’s critical to think big.

I’ve been a judge at Startup Weekend once before, and I loved it! As an angel investor, Energy & Sustainability is one of my favorite industry segments, so I always keep an eye out for new ideas and great people.

Throughout her career, Worsøe has always worked with investors, founders, startups, early-stage venture, commercialization, and internationalisation. She has experience as a co-founder, angel investor, advisor and member of the Board of Directors for startups, VCs and LPs.

Startup Weekend is a low-barrier, super fun, and powerful way to explore and test new ideas in a short time with a diverse group of people. Worst case: You’ll make new friends — and you may even decide that you want to become an entrepreneur.

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Click the green button to sign up for Startup Weekend Energy & Sustainability!
Kick-bikes have really been the means of transportation to rapidly grow popular in 2019, and the Opera House in Oslo has been an ideal spot for testing your skills. (The photos are illustrations unrelated to the Startup Weekend.) Photos by: Meric Dagli / Eduardo Alvara, on Unsplash.

Audun Abelsnes: — Ups and downs of startup life

Audun Abelsnes, the Managing Director of Techstars Energy says his interest in Startup Weekend has preceded his job at Techstars. He is also among the judges at Startup Weekend Energy & Sustainability.

Techstars proudly own the Startup weekend concept, and I have been fascinated by Startup Weekend way before I got engaged with Techstars. A few years ago, I was teaching at BI and I even included participating in a local Startup Weekend almost mandatory for the students at the master-level course “New venture creation”, which I was partly responsible for at BI.

Asked how he discovered his engagement for energy and sustainability, Abelsnes cites his passion for creating networking opportunities. Basically, it’s all about facilitating for an environment where innovation and creative ideas can thrive.

One of my biggest passions in my professional life is to build a bridge between startups and very large corporations, it is actually very difficult and maybe even worse in the energy sector due to its complexity and heavy regulations. Heading up Techstars Energy in partnership with Equinor is a perfect platform to facilitate this process and it works!

As for why people should join Startup Weekend Energy & Sustainability, Abelsnes cites the unique opportunity to vet through “startup life” during no more than a weekend: Are you really, truly, cut out for the ups and downs of a startup?

Participating at a Startup Weekend is the best way to get real exposure in a short time — and experience all the ups and downs of startup life. Turns out, that is not for everyone. With real-time experience from the frontline of being a founder myself and now part of Techstars I can add realism into entrepreneurial journey. It is essential to learn from those who “have been there, done that”.

Audun Abelsnes, Managing Director of Techstars Energy.

Jens Festervoll: — Passionate about driving change

So what should you bring to the Startup Weekend Energy & Sustainability? Lots of energy — and your mindset for innovation. You’ll pitch your own idea or listen to others, then vote on the most interesting ideas and form teams with diverse skill sets. You can come with friends, but you’ll get the full experience if you participate in separate teams. And with the networking opportunities of a Startup Weekend, you wouldn’t want to risk missing out on meeting exciting and interesting people!

Our second judge to be introduced in this article, Jens Festervoll is an experienced energy professional with a background as a consultant and leader across the energy value chain, primarily in oil and gas. He is a Senior Advisor in Corporate Innovation and Equinor’s Corporate Liaison for Techstars Energy.

Asked how he discovered his own engagement for energy and sustainability, he cites the opportunity to solve big challenges.

I have been passionate about driving change and innovating for some time. Great ideas are turned into real value when big challenges are solved. Being open about the challenges and problems that are yet to be solved, create an opportunity for innovation. Innovations in all parts of the energy value chain are required for us to continue meeting the increasing energy demand in a better and more sustainable way in the future.

As a judge at Startup Weekend Energy & Sustainability, Festervoll can contribute with his deep understanding of energy markets, and through his background from strategy development. Recently, he has also spent a lot of time working with and mentoring startups in the energy space. He adds that hopefully, some of this expertise can come in handy for the teams as they pitch towards the end of the weekend.

Equinor is working closely with Techstars to run our Techstars Energy Accelerator here in Oslo. We see Techstars’ Startup Weekend is a great way to continue to build an even stronger startup ecosystem in Oslo and Norway. Hopefully some of the participants will take their great ideas and turn them into viable startups that maybe can be accelerated by Techstars Energy Accelerator in partnership with Equinor. Engaging with and supporting entrepreneurs and startup ecosystems is an important way for us to shape the future of energy.

Previously he has worked as a Programme Manager establishing Equinor’s Digital Center of Excellence and Vice President for Corporate Strategy. He has also held a number of positions from gas trading, business development and analysis in Norsk Hydro and Statoil.

He also has a keen interest in innovation, digitalisation and change management — and sits on the Board of Energy Valley, a Norwegian Centre of Expertise technology cluster.

Asked why people should sign up for the Startup Weekend Energy & Sustainability, he cites the networking opportunities this event brings — for everyone.

If you are passionate about ensuring efficient and sustainable energy production and consumption, then this is a great opportunity to meet like-minded people to mature ideas and business proposals. The topic of energy supply and demand will be contextualised and insightful mentors will support you through the weekend to see how ideas can be turned into real business.

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Click the green button to sign up for Startup Weekend Energy & Sustainability!
A group of four men during a team presentation. (The photo is an illustrartion unrelated to the Startup Weekend.) Photo by: Austin Distel on Unsplash

Pippa Boothman: — To be involved was a no-brainer

But what about the idea itself? What should that be like? Your idea should be something you have not previously worked on. The idea you pitch and the problem you set out to solve can span social, educational, financial, environmental, or other issues. Over the course of the weekend you’ll be challenged to create a prototype of your MVP, or minimum viable product, that fits the needs of your target customer. You’ll get feedback, iterate, and likely pivot your approach entirely! But one thing is truly important: You cannot have worked previously on your idea.

Many people are passionate about health, but few possess the unique ability to channel that passion into helping others live healthier, safer lives. In Pippa Boothman’s current position as VP of Marketing & Communications for Norway-based Airthings, she has accomplished just that: by applying her lifelong passion for health and wellness towards playing an indispensable role in transforming the company from a scrappy start-up in a small country to a global authority in air quality.

Energy and Sustainability is a topic that should be part of our everyday headspace and habits, just like brushing our teeth. There are so many talented individuals and great ideas out there and it is critical that we bring them to the forefront and help them succeed — being a judge is an honor and this topic is something I am truly passionate about. To be involved in such a great event was a no-brainer.

Boothman has more than 15 years of retail and wholesale experience across the technology and apparel industries and received a double-major bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Criminology from The University of Western Ontario.

Asked why people should join the Startup Weekend, she cites the certainty of it being a successful weekend.

People should join this Startup Weekend because it is an incredible opportunity to network, collaborate and see great ideas come to life! No matter at what level you participate it will be worth it.

She has spearheaded retail partnerships for Airthings across the world with industry giants through both brick-and-mortar and online channels, building Airthings into one of the top-performing brands across the radon and indoor air quality market and doubling sales annually since her arrival. Additionally, Pippa has strategically leveraged Airthings’ thought leadership and innovative tech solutions across various media and industry platforms, resulting in impressive growth in consumer awareness and educating the public on why providing access to clean air quality is such a critical issue. She’s also been a pivotal factor in establishing Airthings’ B2B channels and business solutions, in turn, executing Airthings’ mission to change the way the world thinks about the air we breathe in all indoor spaces.

When judging the teams I can offer expertise based on a global vision, commercializing ideas, great marketing opportunities, communication possibilities and opportunities to stand up and stand out!

Since joining Airthings in 2016, Pippa’s trademark combination of pragmatic decision-making and her tireless drive towards pushing Airthings to never settle and bring an constantly-adapting perspective to the table has been instrumental in the company’s impressive growth as an ascending leader in the IAQ (indoor air quality) sector.

My interest in the energy and sustainability sector started many years ago — a combination of my upbringing in the Canadian countryside, world travel and my deep desire to make the world a better and more sustainable place started from a young age. I have always been very resourceful, recycling was always important to me and finding ways to have less waste is simply a part of my lifestyle. My engagement really started when I worked in fashion and saw first hand the amount of waste that surrounds us — I quickly realised there is much more that needs to be done and there are small steps that everyone can take to make a difference. Now I am in the tech space and with Airthings, every single day, we are discussing healthy and smart buildings for the occupants and operations. Healthy air quality for productive and energised individuals and how to run our buildings and ventilation more efficiently are only a few examples — there are many great things happening but more has to happen faster.

A woman sitting by a computer. (The photo is an illustration unrelated to the Startup Weekend.) Photo by: Brooke Cagle on Unsplash.

Supporting the startup ecosystem since 2011 with support services like AngelChallenge and Startup Extreme.

Benedicte H. Tandsæther-Andersen

Written by

Content Creator of Startup Norway (Angel Challenge and Startup Extreme). Email: benedicte @ angelchallenge . com

Startup Norway

Supporting the startup ecosystem since 2011 with support services like AngelChallenge and Startup Extreme.

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