An am­bi­tious and un­con­ven­tional Nor­we­gian busi­ness con­sul­tancy sets its’ sights on China.

An am­bi­tious and un­con­ven­tional Nor­we­gian busi­ness con­sul­tancy sets its’ sights on be­com­ing the go-to-mar­ket en­try part­ner for Scan­di­na­vian com­pa­nies look­ing to­ward the East.

Norway-Asia Business Review - - Contents - HENRI VIIRALT

China and the EU in op­po­si­tion to Trump’s USA. The re­cently held 20th EU-China sum­mit came at a time of po­lit­i­cal tur­moil and un­cer­tainty. As a re­sult of the Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion uni­lat­er­ally in­tro­duc­ing tar­iffs on steel and alu­minium, old al­liances are be­ing bro­ken and new bat­tle lines are be­ing drawn in the sand. China and the EU are now en­ter­ing a trade war with the US, as both deem those tar­iffs to be il­le­gal.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion also pulled out of the Paris cli­mate deal in ad­di­tion to the Iran nu­clear agree­ment, both of which are strongly backed by the EU and China. Both Bei­jing and Brus­sels are now find­ing them­selves sid­ing on sev­eral is­sues, in stark op­po­si­tion with Wash­ing­ton.

As trad­ing with the US lately has been ag­gra­vated, many busi­nesses are now look­ing for new op­por­tu­ni­ties in for­eign mar­kets. The bond be­tween China and the EU is be­com­ing stronger than ever, and the Nordic re­gion, too, is wak­ing up to the im­por­tance of hav­ing China as a key trade part­ner. Nordic Touch sees an op­por­tu­nity to grow and im­prove this re­la­tion­ship. What is Nordic Touch?

Nordic Touch is a Lille­ham­mer­based busi­ness con­sul­tancy, which aims to po­si­tion it­self as a com­pany that will be the go-to part­ner for Nor­we­gian (and later Scan­di­na­vian) busi­nesses look­ing to en­ter the Chi­nese mar­ket, help­ing them to smoothly nav­i­gate the bu­reau­cratic wa­ters and as­sist in bridg­ing the gaps be­tween busi­ness cul­tures. It is also helmed by a 24-year-old en­tre­pre­neur.

Even Moss Lun­demo, the CEO of Nordic Touch grew up in a en­tre­pre­neur­ial fam­ily. His par­ents ran sev­eral flower shops, and also sold gar­den fur­ni­ture. Mr Lun­demo ex­plains how he from a very early age spent all his time around the fam­ily busi­nesses, in­ter­act­ing with the cus­tomers – which is what he liked best. “I made my first sale be­fore turn­ing 10”, he says.

As a young sports en­thu­si­ast, he be­came a pro­fes­sional wa­ter skier, which en­abled him to go to train abroad in Amer­ica, un­ac­com­pa­nied, at the age of 13.

“It re­ally opened my eyes, be­ing ex­posed to a dif­fer­ent cul­ture and see­ing how so­ci­ety op­er­ates in a dif­fer­ent part of the world, be­ing that young. I think that de­vel­op­ing an in­ter­na­tional per­spec­tive at an early age is cer­tainly some­thing that has helped me achieve suc­cess in busi­ness later on, “Mr Lun­demo says.

At the age of 15, Lun­demo joined the board of the fam­ily busi­ness that quickly in­creased their num­ber of flower shops and gar­den cen­ters across the coun­try, ef­fec­tively turn­ing each din­ner at home in to a board meet­ing.

With his un­der­stand­ing of the in­tri­ca­cies and com­plex­i­ties of run­ning a grow­ing busi­ness, Lun­demo started set­ting his eyes on new chal­lenges.

“Dur­ing my stud­ies, I had an idea of sell­ing bot­tled Nor­we­gian fresh air as a lux­ury good on the Chi­nese mar­ket – not be­cause it was a par­tic­u­larly novel or bril­liant idea, but be­cause I re­ally wanted to test my ca­pa­bil­i­ties of com­mer­cialise an idea. I fig­ured that if I man­age to suc­cess­fully sell air, I could prob­a­bly sell any­thing.” Says Lun­demo.

Dur­ing that time, Lun­demo be­gan to cap­ture in­ter­est for the Chi­nese mar­ket. He raised money for his idea from pri­vate in­vestors as well as re­ceiv­ing fund­ing from In­no­va­tion Nor­way to map out the mar­ket op­por­tu­nity for sell­ing Nor­we­gian air. Al­beit be­ing young and at that time in­ex­pe­ri­enced, Mr Lun­demo was ex­cep­tional am­bi­tious and for­ward think­ing. He named his com­pany Nordic

Touch from the be­gin­ning, mak­ing it eas­ier piv­ot­ing into in­ter­est­ing busi­ness ar­eas, other than sell­ing air.

His first busi­ness idea led him to Bei­jing, where he quickly bonded with a wide range of busi­ness as­so­ci­ates in a va­ri­ety of fields. Many of them still work­ing with Lun­demo and Nordic Touch to­day.

Dur­ing his stud­ies he did not only come up with his first busi­ness idea, he was also for­tu­nate enough to work for the Lille­ham­mer mu­nic­i­pal­ity as a con­sul­tant, help­ing them work with their Chi­nese Olympic city coun­ter­part and sis­ter city, Zhangji­akou. The work re­volved largely around as­sist­ing them with cul­tural is­sues, trans­la­tions and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment. This made a great im­pact on his in­creas­ing trac­tion and net­work in China.

Although Mr Lun­demo ul­ti­mately de­cided not to sell bot­tled air to China, he sold the air to sev­eral tourism and gift shops in Nor­way. As a re­sult of his en­thu­si­asm for busi­ness, Mr Lun­demo has over the two last years piv­oted his com­pany from bot­tled air to in­vest­ing in re­sources that helped map out the Chi­nese mar­ket, and iden­tify the var­i­ous op­por­tu­ni­ties for Nor­we­gian goods and ser­vices. Since he have been rep­re­sent­ing a hand­ful Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies try­ing to en­ter China, he be­gan to no­tice pain points.

“The prob­lem I con­stantly see Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies - and Nordic ones for that mat­ter – strug­gle with the most, is that they of­ten are faced with a cul­tural crash, which re­sults in frus­tra­tion and lack of will­ing­ness to adapt to the dif­fer­ent way of do­ing busi­ness in China”.

Mr Lun­demo says that this cul­tural di­vide is one of the key chal­lenges that Nordic Touch is try­ing to solve. Help­ing him achieve his goal, is a team of ex­pe­ri­enced in­dus­try vet­er­ans com­ing from var­ied back­grounds. This en­ables Nordic Touch, as a com­plete team, which is able to de­liver the whole chain of the mar­ket en­try, in­clud­ing mar­ket re­search, choice of chan­nels, ar­range­ment of the ex­port/im­port, le­gal is­sues, ne­go­ti­a­tions, mar­ket­ing and more.

“We have a very un­con­ven­tional team – me as the youngest per­son is 24, while our chair­man, Jo Kiese, our wis­est, is 81 years young. As the founder, I am the least ex­pe­ri­enced per­son in the com­pany and I’ve spent a lot of time fig­ur­ing out what my strengths and weak­nesses are”.

Fur­ther on, CEO Lun­demo ex­plains that he is the guy run­ning the front­lines. “I have a great team of pro­fes­sion­als that can com­ple­ment my short­com­ings and ac­tu­ally catch the balls I’m throw­ing out there. We have un­con­ven­tional work­ing meth­ods and we be­lieve that the com­bi­na­tion of old and young is dy­na­mite.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Lun­demo, the main ob­jec­tive for Nordic Touch is to be­come the go-to part­ner to help Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies en­ter China and vice versa, fa­cil­i­tat­ing any­thing from set­ting up meet­ings, con­tracts, to help­ing with strat­egy, and link­ing clients to any ser­vices that are not cov­ered in-house.

Nordic Touch dif­fer­en­ti­ates their ser­vices by work­ing hands-on with strong lo­cal part­ners util­is­ing per­sonal net­work and mak­ing sure of ex­e­cu­tion and fol­low up, in or­der to guide their clients the best way pos­si­ble. Nordic Touch wants to of­fer their cus­tomers more than just an in­tro­duc­tion, and aims to con­tin­u­ously give guid­ance for as long as nec­es­sary. This will help them avoid com­mon pit­falls that other new­com­ers to China are likely to en­counter.

Be­sides help­ing Nor­we­gian busi­nesses en­ter­ing the Chi­nese mar­ket, Nordic Touch also has Chi­nese clients look­ing for op­por­tu­ni­ties in Scan­di­navia. Lun­demo ex­plains how his team uses a lot of time with their clients to cre­ate a good un­der­stand­ing of the ma­jor cul­tural dif­fer­ences in do­ing busi­ness in each other’s cul­tures. “We see that com­pa­nies, both big and small, have sim­i­lar chal­lenges to over­come” Lun­demo ex­plains.

Nordic Touch rep­re­sent a va­ri­ety of com­pa­nies in a wide range of in­dus­tries. They have clients work­ing with ev­ery­thing from Next Gen­er­a­tion Se­quenc­ing(NGS) and Blockchain, to F&B and fash­ion brands.

Cur­rently, the bulk of the work for China-bound Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies re­volves around mar­ket re­search which Lun­demo says “is made dif­fi­cult by two fac­tors: the lan­guage bar­rier and the vast­ness of the mar­ket, mak­ing it hard to know where to do re­search”. What he refers to is the great Chi­nese fire­wall, which con­sists of le­gal reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing in­ter­net and for­eign web­sites, such as Google and Face­book.

Up to this point, most of the Nordic Touch clients have come through word of mouth - ei­ther through com­pa­nies that have no­ticed the work Nordic Touch pre­vi­ously have ac­com­plished and for that rea­son reached out, or through in­tro­duc­tions and busi­ness as­so­ci­ates in their net­work. Mr Lun­demo says that for the Chi­nese, trust plays a huge role. Thanks to close bonds be­tween the CEO and sev­eral Chi­nese busi­ness part­ners, Nordic Touch has al­ready shown that his com­pany can be an ag­ile and a de­pend­able part­ner – which goes a long way in a coun­try like China.

The com­pany has al­ready started some projects in In­done­sia and the plan is to even­tu­ally part­ner up and help Nordic com­pa­nies en­ter any mar­ket in Asia. Ac­cord­ing to the CEO, one of Nordic Touch’s strengths is their big net­work in China, and their ex­per­tise is now grow­ing across bor­ders in Asia.

“If your com­pany wants a meet­ing, name a com­pany or a per­son and we will find a way. That’s our lever­age,” Mr Lun­demo con­cludes.



Above Left: Nordic Touch CEO Even Moss Lun­demo. Above: Hands on: Nordic Touch vis­it­ing a pri­vate hos­pi­tal in Shang­hai, rep­re­sent­ing Nor­we­gian Health Tech­nol­ogy.

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