Month October 2015

City of Angels – Angel Challenge 2015

Last week we all lived in the city of angels: Or at least 20 of Norway’s top startups did because Systemapic and 19 others had been selected to participate in Angel Challenge 2015! Angel Challenge was an event put on by Startup Norway to help facilitate the process of linking Norway’s top startups with 1.25 million NOK and 25 of Norway’s most generous Angel Investors. We applied and were fortunate to have been chosen as one of those startups, but the team has built a great cloud-based GIS platform so maybe we made a bit of our own luck? Time will tell.

Angel Challenge was at minimum a two day event for the 20 candidates. The 5 best after the two day event went on to due diligence and finalization rounds with the Angel Investors. Truly exciting stuff. Sort of like a Hunger Games for Norwegian entrepreneurs. We call the role of Katniss (or at least Peeta). Let the games begin!

Day 1

Day One, Wednesday Oct 21, 2015 (aka #backtothefutureday) kicked off at 10 AM with information about the event and selection criteria outlined by a representing Angel Investor, Thomas Berglund (a group we’d acronymize as AI but they’re all 100% human we think). Following the briefing and the first look at our competition we moved into the really productive stuff. From noon through to the first evening select teams of the investors worked with each startup and helped us hone our pitches to be delivered night 1 to the entire 25-person Angel Investor group.

Our specific advice was to be a bit more commercial as we are such a product focused group and to let investors know about the good work we’ve done acquiring beta pilot customers. We have a concrete plan for moving forward with our pilot customers and its important to let potential investors know this. Everyone on the team found the feedback helpful.

But helpful advice is worthless if you don’t put it into practice. Our CEO and rockstar frontman Jørgen Ekvoll and our CTO Knut Ole Sjøli tweaked the pitch deck and for the first evening of Angel Challenge we headed to Kunstnernes Hus down by the Castle for a nice dinner courtesy of Startup Norway and the main event – the 20 pitches!

They did not disappoint. There were some truly fascinating entrepreneurs in the group, far too many to mention. Some of the highlights for us were Startup Lab’s own Vio Media, an NTNU-born Oslo-based company who is working to change the digital journalism scene in Norway, an ingenious hammock and outdoors equipment company called Amok, a new streaming service to get artists to interact more with fans called and of course our own pitch where Jørgen enlightened a couple dozen interested investors on the future of the GIS industry and slipped some colorful language and imagery in in his own consistently colorful style. It was a hit.

After we had a fascinating discussion post-pitches with an investor, Olav Sylthe (@olavsylthe), who has a wealth of knowledge about the geo-services and GIS industry. Truly a lucky find for us. Then it was time for some results, and lo-and-behold, the reviews were positive. We were on to the final 10!  We were even interviewed by Teknisk Ukeblad!

angel challenge

Day 2

We were thrilled to have made it to round two.

It’s been a fast journey for us, with a steep learning curve (And this sets the standards for our growth ambitions). Less than a year ago we were operating from our home office. Just getting accepted into the StatupLab incubator was such an honor for us, and put us in context. Getting accepted to Angel Challenge was unbelievable, and being selected as the top ten companies out of the 80 applicants was unreal.

Day one was pretty intense. With Four minutes pitching and two minutes q&a, you just have to get everything right. CEO Jørgen, with some experience in the spotlight from his fame in Lebanon, took the job and only f#$%ed it up a little bit. But his colorful language on stage only seemed to charm the panel of investors.

Day two was more relaxed, with 12 min q&a. It gave us an opportunity to explain more what we are doing as none of the investors really understood the industry and our innovation to it. Its hard to explain a whole industry, and their problems, to someone with no connections to GIS at all but we gave it 100%. The questions were sharp but we had the answers.  Most importantly we won the investors trust.  Because that’s what it all comes down to in the end.  The investors have to believe in YOU.  They have to see someone they can trust with their hard earned money.  No one knows what company is going to make it, no one knows what the next big thing is and even if they don’t really understand what your product is they might just trust that you know what you’re doing – if they like you.

Now we’re one of the last five companies standing, and we have six weeks of seminars with real investors where we’re going to learn the money game. Getting there is beyond absurd.  As a startup having spent 12 hours a day, seven days a week for a year and a half, you sometimes gets lost in your work.  Feelings of doubt have to be overcome, and the conformation of being selected as top 5 of 80 companies; companies with Harvard, NTNU and MIT graduates, is perhaps the greatest confirmation we’ve received so far. It will fuel us to keep pushing even harder.

That’s why it’s such a huge compliment to have made it to the finals of Angel Challenge.

Onwards and upwards and happy mapping!

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Oslo Innovation Week 2015 (rocked!)

We’re sorry if you missed it, but Oslo Innovation Week 2015 was awesome. As a proud Startup Lab member and innovative Nordic startup we wouldn’t have skipped it for the world – although it didn’t hurt that plenty of events happened in our backyard at Oslo Science Park. Here’s the breakdown of how it looked from Systemapic’s perspective:

Cutting Edge 2015

It wasn’t tough for us to attend the Cutting Edge 2015 event, because we basically had to walk through it to get to our office. This was a blessing in disguise though because lunch was free and we got to see a few once in a lifetime happenings. First was an appearance from Osaka University’s Hiroshi Ishiguro, an expert in robotics at the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute. Or so we thought… Turned out that Ishiguro had in reality created the most terrifyingly lifelike robot in history (next step = Blade Runner). The robot would sit in a corner, look at people and blink, and respond to everyone’s questions with very human-esque movements. If you were in a hurry passing by it would’ve been easy to write “it” off as a pretty stiff guy who needed a few drinks to loosen up. Amazing technology though. Learn more here.


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If robotic human-impersonators weren’t enough of a draw for Cutting Edge 2015 then Bas Lansdorp, founder of Mars One, certainly was. Bas, like SpaceX’s Elon Musk, David Bowie, Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain (apparently) and a number of other enterprising adventurers, is dead-set on life on mars. Mars One is confident it can get humans living permanently on Mars and has already had over 200,000 applicants which it has narrowed down to 100 for the journey around 2020. Learn more here and learn more about Mars colonization in general here.

Norwegian Investment Forum 2015

Cutting Edge was great as a spectacle but for an early-stage startup like Systemapic that has big aspirations of innovating our entire industry the Norwegian Investment Forum was a much more relevant and fascinating event. A whole host of speakers from Gelato Group’s Henrik Muller-Hansen to 500 Startups Sean Percival gave insight on what it takes to be truly impactful in this crowded space and to take your business to the next level. We met a whole number of interesting people we’re looking forward to learning more from at Angel Challenge 2015 and while a London-based startup called SkinAnalytics took the 100 Pitches prize, Startup Lab’s own Agnes Dyvik, CEO of Vio Media, gave a great performance in every round and was a close runner-up. Learn more about SkinAnalytics and Vio and support entrepreneurship!

Next up is Angel Challenge sponsored by Startup Norway this week, and although Oslo Innovation Week 2015 is over the innovation doesn’t have to end. Onwards and upwards!

Happy mapping!

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Feedback on the current GIS industry?

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The GIS Community Has Spoken

The GIS community has spoken on the current solutions available in the industry and (spoiler alert) the feedback is not good.  A recent market research survey of 50+ GIS firms from random countries conducted by Systemapic (in anticipation of our approaching Beta) has proved quite revealing.  Lets get down to the nitty gritty and hear what GIS professionals are saying about the current offerings on the market.


Out of survey respondents it is no surprise that 75% are using ESRI products, as the California-based giant has commanded market share for decades.  QGIS, Norkart, FME and Open Source softwares are all used by less than 10% of the GIS professionals that we spoke with.  Systemapic CEO Jørgen Ekvoll is wary of the effects of this dominance, saying:Most of the GIS giants were born in the 60’s and have dominated the market since. But over the last few years we’ve seen a new generation of web-GIS solutions emerging. Now it’s time to take that trend one step further, and offer the GIS industry the cloud of their dreams.”


When it comes to sharing data the GIS industry’s current solutions offer little in the way of efficiency and features.  It seems that time and money are being wasted consistently by clients and GIS consultancy groups alike.  When it comes to moving data from point A to point B for delivery, for example:

42% of respondents are using Dropbox

47% are creating pdfs

33% are exporting jpegs

56% are using a shared database

0% are sharing within the product itself

Simply taking screen-captures is frighteningly common for any industry as we move into 2016 but it is extra-prevalent in GIS it appears.  With most respondents reporting GB per project far higher than easily transferable on Dropbox and Google Drive (with many in the hundreds of GB or multi-TB range) this imposes challenges.  The outdated sharing methods provide challenges.  Especially since GIS professionals reported working on projects with 11.5 other individuals on average.  Imagine the unnecessary complexity and room for error.  On the innovation that Systemapic is making in regards to sharing and collaboration, two key priorities for us, CTO Knut Ole Sjøli says: “There’s obviously a huge bottle-neck for GIS professionals when it comes to sharing big data. Our cloud solutions handles terabytes seamlessly, and we’re very excited to bridge the data gap for our clients.”


Further confusion stems from the plethora of file formats used by different softwares in the industry.  Out of all respondents no two reported using the same combination of file types.  This is not a surprise, as there are almost a countless number of file formats out there in GIS, but it speaks volumes about the need to create software solutions to more easily navigate this ocean of options.

When it comes to verbatim it is no surprise that respondents comments reflect frustration with the current offering.  They are simply not good enough given their dominance.  Time and money are consistently wasted because of lack of innovation along fronts that Systemapic believes progress can be made on.  Multiple respondents complained about the impossibility of working with large datasets, highlighting primarily processing speed and time-consuming share-options.  With Systemapic your work is done on the cloud.  Problem solved.  Also no surprise that GIS professionals reported having challenges with lack of staff time/resources given the time investment necessary with current solutions.  The sharing and collaborative nature of Systemapic’s cloud-based software allows projects that previously took months to take days or even hours.  Other challenges reported include waiting for client feedback, data access, data tailoring and requirement of programming skills.  Done, done, and done.  

It is clear the GIS industry is in need of innovation and we’re happy to be the driving force here.  Join our beta to help us make Systemapic better and better, and stay tuned for more updates.

Happy mapping!

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