We’ve been interviewing some of the companies that have attended our Scaleup Summits.
Today, we’re interviewing Thorstein Jónsson, Co-founder and Director of Business Development, and Anton Sigfússon, Business Development Manager at Klappir. We met through our Open Innovation for Midsize companies program that we run with the support of the European Commission.

The goal of this program is to expose traditional mid sized companies to Open Innovation and help them to engage effectively with startups to drive innovation in their organizations.
We’ve provided a select group of mid-size companies with dedicated assessment and scouting, and then facilitated 1:1 meetings with innovative startups, in which Klappir was included.

In this interview, the Klappir team shares with us his experience from the startup perspective. A summary of the podcast is presented below.

Can you start by introducing Klappir?

Klappir provides tools for environmental management and energy efficiency – it started as a digital system for the maritime industry environmental management and quickly extended to more and more sectors. Currently we’re servicing almost every industry in Iceland – from how much fuel an airplane consumes to how much recycling is done at schools – all through data collection and software that identifies opportunities and helps you focus your environmental efforts on the basis of data.

What’s the vision for Klappir’s future and how will you get there?

In a few years, we envision a world that understands, truly, environmental impact: where it comes from, at what time, the low hanging fruits and the hard tasks to tackle.
Our vision for Klappir is to lead the way, we know how to do it and we want to help organisations help themselves.

We met in Milan’s matchmaking event last March and you met with many large companies – what your objectives in working with them?

We’ve had good luck working with large organisations at home, building everything through partnerships. They are key to our business as they establish the data streams in the whole ecosystem that allows us to shed a light on environmental impact.

Our focus is always to find a strong local partner – to figure out their impact, access data and provide a structured overview of their environmental profile. But we want them to also be an initiator of environmental monitoring practices in their region.

In short, not only do we want a business partner but also a visionary partner for smart environmental management in their country.

Is working with large corporations and mid caps different?

Bigger companies have bigger challenges and bigger problems to overcome. In principle, we prefer to be challenged.

However, there is a direct correlation between size of the company and their speed of decision-making.
That is, bigger companies are slower to decide.

However, when the decision is taken, they move quickly.

Any success stories you want to share with us?

Our main recent successes have been to start servicing international freight ship operators and the agricultural sector. As a company from a volcanic island, signing an agreement with Europe’s biggest organic farmer is a great achievement. With our solution, they are now able to achieve accreditations and market their products accordingly.

Right now, continuing discussions from the companies they met in Milan, too early for concrete success stories.

Main challenges being faced?

The main challenges we face are the diversity of data sets coming from different providers, in different countries and in different sectors. It’s a technical challenge that comes from the fact that many of our potential clients work in multiple locations, using different providers with a diverse array of meters, sensors and IoT devices.

Regarding your participation in Milan’s Scaleup Summit – what were your expectations and actual experience?

We never did anything like this before – getting this valuable 1:1 time with the large corporations, you get good feedback, you understand their challenges, maybe afterwards you further these discussions.
Our objectives were to at least connect with 1 large partner.

I’m happy to say we’ve extended our conversations with currently 3 big companies – we’re discussing with them, sharing material, getting a picture of their challenges.

We’re very patient, we know how these things work, how many people need to get involved.
We’re letting the ball roll and seeing where this can go.

Overall, we were very happy with the conference.

What else could we do for you?

Following up is the hard part in these processes, so being invited to further events is definitely welcome.

Advice to entrepreneurs

Patience and consistency when working with large companies.
Some of our best partnerships took a long time… but once they agree, they come all in.

Advice to corporations when working with startups

Corporations need to understand that time is money, especially for startups. Every moment not working towards a deal is a moment wasted.
For corporations working with startups this is a key insight.

That’s it for this interview, thank you Thorstein and Anton!

If you’d like to know more about Mind the Bridge’s matchmaking activities, check out our Scaleup Summits or our reports on Open Innovation.

By Maroane Abdallaoui
Head of Spain & Open Innovation Sr. Manager – Mind the Bridge