Written by: Ellen Young


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Photo: Gorm K. Gaare

Andrea Nylund, a mentor for impact startups and a founder herself, shares her thoughts on the startup scene in Oslo. 

Photo of Andrea Nylund

If 2020 had one buzzword, it would have to be “startup.” Maybe a bit of a stretch in “the year of corona,” but here in Oslo, we have a startup mentor, achiever, and star: Andrea Nylund, of the Oslo Region Alliance. She has mentored impact startups and even launched a couple of her own. 

Andrea currently works as a Special Advisor at Oslo Region Alliance (Osloregionen), where she is working to build a global talent attraction program to strengthen the region by bringing skilled, competitive and competent international workers to Oslo. This program will be called, “Oslopolitan” alongside a new platform that aims to fast-track highly skilled internationals into the Oslo job market. 

New Startup 

Launching in January 2021, Oslopolitan builds on The Oslo Region Brand Management Strategy, which sees the compact capital’s role as a springboard for ideas, growth and enrichment. This strategy is a combined effort to attract the international attention the region deserves. With this attention comes the opportunity for Oslo’s startup culture to grow, succeed, and inspire. 

Startups provide a way to be attached and involved with what you’re passionate about. As Andrea explains, “For me, life is about being engaged and connected.” The startup scene can facilitate engagement and connectedness in a way that makes it the right type of challenge and the perfect mix of excitement and pride. 

Do you want to get involved? 

For those of us who are interested in creating something new, the startup scene in Oslo is a place where we may have a positive impact on individuals and communities. Particularly during 2020 and looking forward to 2021, many of us may have experienced the desire to branch out or change career directions. For those who crave something new or challenging, startups are waiting for you.  

You must be willing to get a little lost, read the room, and make fast decisions. Wearing many hats is something Andrea is familiar with, “Working in startups, you are the obsessed dreamer, the salesperson, the project manager, and *gulp* the accountant.” These challenges and experiments take brave people to manage and even more so, fearless leaders.  

It’s great to have career goals and ambitions, but Andrea believes it is important to be open to unexpected opportunities and experiences. “Talk with all types of people. Attend seminars. Find a mentor. Spend time in nature to clear your head and get balance.”  

Photo by: Thomas Johannessen

Why Norway?  

For Andrea, after graduating with her master’s from the Norwegian School of Economics, she worked as a journalist in the media division of Norsk Hydro and became really interested in sustainability by way of the energy industry. Particularly focused on agriculture, she had amazing opportunities to visit farms all over the globe, talk with local people, and write their stories.  

This globetrotting landed her in her native US where she co-founded a couple environmental tech startups. Four years ago, she relocated back to Oslo to “recalibrate and build a lifestyle that is more in line with my values.” These same values may draw an international audience for startups, and skilled workers in a way the Oslo brand aims to accomplish. Progressive views and laws regarding gender equality and climate change, and a more realistic work-life balance, to name a few.  

With Oslo’s modern urban living, strong internationally recognized brands, its growing fondness for co-working spaces and the friendly startup scene, the question then becomes, “Why not Norway?”  

Women in the Startup World 
Andrea’s advice to women entering the startup sphere is to be fearless and embrace the adventure.  

“There are definitely roadblocks, but if you don’t get through one way, see if there is another.”  

“Keep pursuing, persisting and communicating,” she continues. Working with internationals in Oslo spices up the startup experience even more, as languages and cultures present an additional element of surprise and creativity. 

Women helping other women is key. Andrea proposes, “It’s really important to take the time to help and support others along the way.” This could be as straight-forward as offering a direct introduction to a person or a network and recognizing the value they bring and how they can contribute. Step-in, speak-up, and help create environments that are inclusive and equitable. She further points out, “This is good practice for people of all backgrounds and genders–not exclusively women.” •