Ocean Oasis, a new startup addressing the water scarcity globally.
Kristine Bangstad Fredriksen, CEO and co-founder tells Insight about how her passion guides her while leading a company.
A Background in Social Entrepreneurship
Kristine grew up in a household that valued making positive changes in the world, where her mother was a medical doctor, and her father started a foundation that assists with children and families in the foster care system. “I saw in practice how to think about what is important in life, and what creates meaning in our lives, and how to help others.” Finding meaning in helping others would also transfer over to Kristine’s education choices.
Kristine earned a Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship from NTNU, where the program offers students an opportunity to start their own company. During this program, Kristine decided to start a company that was different than what students normally did in the program. “I entered into a project with the Norwegian Red Cross and TrønderEnergi where we started a company together for helping former convicts return to the workforce.” This was back in 2015, but the company, which is called Hogst AS, is still running today, with very good social results.
Traveling Around the World with a Purpose
After working for a few years in Trondheim, Kristine decided she wanted to travel the world.
“As I had a corporate job I got the realization, okay if I am going to do this, there will never be a good time. Now I actually have the chance and lets just do it.”
In 2019, she would travel the world, but before she went, Kristine decided to give away 10% of her earnings from 2018 to various charities along the way. This year would lead to many deep impressions from the experiences she had, people she met, and many meaningful discussions she had.
“That year abroad, being able to travel, gave me time, room, and new impressions that made me think about how I want to spend the time I have left and the rest of my career. How can I use my skillsets, experiences, and my position to do the most good.”
Working with Antler
During her travels she would apply for, and be accepted into a cohort of aspiring founders with Antler, which specializes in starting and building up startups.
There would be 59 potential founders who were in Kristine’s cohort that started in January 2020. The goal of the program is to help match entrepreneurs and founders with each other to create new startups. They had a speed dating process to get to know each other and learn about each other’s passions and skills. Through this, she would connect with the other founders of Ocean Oasis, Thomas Berge Johannessen and Sebastián Feimblatt.
Building up Ocean Oasis
The three founders would come together about a shared passion to address one of the world’s most pressing problems: water scarcity.
As the World Wildlife Fund Writes: 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water, and they estimate by 2025, “two thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages”.
One possible solution is through desalination, which is when you convert salt water into fresh water. However, the problem with desalination is that current technologies for this process are bad for the environment, including being heavily reliant on diesel fuel. Kristine and the team at Ocean Oasis are trying to address this problem through a new and innovative process of desalination offshore.
A Great Team
Thomas, who is the CTO, had been developing this new technology, but wanted a team to bring this idea further as a company. Thomas, Kristine, and Sebastián bonded over their shared passion at Antler, but also matched well because of the different skills they had. The three would decide to found Ocean Oasis together and would be one of the first teams that emerged from their Antler cohort, and secured startup funding from Antler, Innovation Norway, and the EU as well early on. Since then, they have secured funding from Grieg Maritime Group, Planet 9 Venture, Atomico’s angel program, and Harald Norvik, former CEO of Statoil/Equinor.
Another part of their great team is their knowledgeable and diverse board of directors. Their chair for the board of directors is Winifred Johansen, Senior Vice President of Commercial for Quantafuel, and their board is made up of three women and two men, something we always appreciate seeing at SHE!
Being a CEO During Corona
Kristine’s passion for creating positive change in the world is now a part of her job as the CEO of Ocean Oasis. However, the company was started a year ago and has essentially only existed during corona. In light of this Kristine reflected a bit upon what are some of the unique challenges this has presented. One of those is that their customers are based around the world and traveling to meet with them has nearly been impossible.
Another problem she highlighted was connected to home office, a problem many of us can relate to these days. “How do we ensure that good team culture, and company culture from the get-go when we can’t meet that often?” This is something she has been working to achieve together with her colleauges, and ensuring that they are still creating opportunities to get to know each other, so that they can work well together, in these continuous strange times we live in.
Kristine highlighted that for her it’s really important for those of us who can, to try and give back. She has taken the Founder’s Pledge, a pledge taken by founders to donate a portion of personal proceeds on liquidity to charity, and is also the Chair of the Board of Directors at gieffektivt.no, which helps Norwegians donate to some of the most effective charities around the world. The organization helps recommend charities that aren’t always that well known, but based upon independent evaluators, are recognized as having large positive impacts.
“I see this work as also integral to my work in Ocean Oasis, with a shared purpose and goal of creating positive impact.”— Kristine Bangstad Fredriksen