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