As Norselab expands its fund activities, building system value is on top of the agenda. Sophie Grindstad and Maria de Perlinghi, who have both been central to developing Norselab over the past three years, are appointed as partners and set out to build the ecosystem knowledge hub.
Expanding the team
Since the launch of their first venture fund summer 2020, Norselab has scaled at a high pace. They recently revealed that they had invested NOK 500 million into 16 companies since the inception of the fund, and that a new, much larger fund was under way.
Now the fund manager shares its larger plans:
- We are building several new funds and will connect with investors and companies well beyond Norway’s borders. We’re also expanding the team considerably, says Norselab founder and Chief Investment Officer Yngve Tvedt.
When scaling, the investment manager keeps a high focus on building competence and system value. The two new partners, Sophie Grindstad and Maria de Perlinghi, are now recruiting for multiple new roles to increase Norselab’s capacity to organize and enhance learnings and knowledge-sharing across entities in the group.
A core part of Norselab’s identity is how they contribute to growth and value creation in portfolio companies. The new hires will work within a broad range of specialized fields, such as sustainability, brand, communications, business development, analysis and talent acquisition.
- We offer a diverse team with cutting edge expertise in fields where we know we can help our companies reach their objectives faster, says Tvedt.
Uncompromising on impact
According to the Chief Investment Officer, sustainability will be a core field of knowledge for Norselab going forward. Now they are building world-class in-house sustainability expertise.
As partner, Maria de Perlinghi will lead Norselab’s efforts within sustainability and impact, in addition to the wider communications field.
De Perlinghi points out the importance of competence and resources to ensure that Norselab’s impact approach is credible. Recently, she recruited Kenza Akallal from BlackRock’s sustainable investing team to Norselab, and plans to hire even more sustainability professionals to strengthen Norselab’s competence in this field.
- There are few places where sustainability gets such a strong and clear mandate. Many sustainability professionals struggle with a lack of influence and limited room for maneuver. At Norselab, we have the power to weigh in on the design of the funds’ mandates, and define how sustainability should be assessed in the different stages of the investment process, de Perlinghi explains.
- Talents with a wish to work with sustainability turn away from positions where they are complicit in greenwashing. We get high caliber applicants to these positions because they see that we are serious about sustainability. At Norselab, we are even empowered to stop investments into companies that don’t deliver on impact, she adds. She is also in charge of the broader field of communications, where rebranding of companies is an essential part of the value creation strategy. As an example, her team recently headed up the complete overhaul of the portfolio company Carrot (formerly known as WasteIQ).
Sophie Grindstad also works closely with Norselab’s funds and portfolio companies. As partner, she is building a team of analysts who will gather and distribute knowledge in the ecosystem, adding value across funds and portfolios.
She says that by systematizing learning, Norselab gets better at forecasting the companies’ needs.
- Most companies go through the same phases as they grow and expand. Our experience shows that we can increase the probability of the companies succeeding by connecting companies, linking them to specialized advisors from our network, Grindstad explains.
Grindstad’s team also develops and executes the funds’ investment processes, laying the groundwork for good investment decisions.
- We only invest in companies where we establish a sound relationship with the founders. But we must also work fast; we have removed hierarchical structures internally, and handle all the formalities to limit the burden for the founders to a minimum. This is fundamental in the philosophy that guides our work with portfolio companies across all disciplines, Grindstad adds.
Joining Norselab's top management
As part of the top management, both partners will also contribute to the development of the group, and shaping new funds and initiatives.
- Sophie and Maria have both been central in building Norselab over the last three years, and have added significant value to a wide range of our portfolio companies over this period. They will strengthen the top management, and are without doubt the right people to help establish Norselab as a leading venture player in the next few years, the Chief Investment Officer concludes.