Credit: SIlje Vallestad
Silje Vallestad was able to take her idea for keeping her kids safe and turn it into a successful business. Vallestad was able to accomplish this despite the fact that she was entering the world of mobile applications, a realm where she had no experience. However, her ideas soon became realities in the form of two smartphone apps. Those apps are bSafe, which allow users to immediately reach help in the event of an emergency and Mobilekids, which allows parents to keep tabs on their children and limit what they are able to use their phones for.
BusinessNewsDaily spoke to Vallestad, founder and CEO of Bipper, about her journey, how she started a business in a field without any experience and the best advice she has for other entrepreneurs.
BusinessNewsDaily: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Silje Vallestad: I had three dreams for my career through my teenage years: an astronaut, a fighter pilot and General Secretary of the United Nations. I always had 'strange' dreams compared to my classmates.
BND: What did your parents do for a living?
S.V.: My mother is a teacher while my father held various leader positions in the local governments. When I was a teen, my father started his own consultancy company.
BND: What's the best part of owning your own business?
S.V.: I get to work every day on creating my own dream and that is absolutely amazing! I also like the flexibility of being my own boss. I work more or less 24/7, but I do have the opportunity to help out at school or take an early afternoon to do something with my family without having to ask anyone. That is freedom to me.
BND: What's the biggest mistake you've made as an entrepreneur?
S.V.: I'm a first time business entrepreneur and have had to learn everything from scratch. Needless to say I've made tons of mistakes, but I have learnt my lessons and am a much better entrepreneur now than a few years ago. I guess my biggest mistake was not moving to the United States earlier. I was too focused on making things perfect in Norway as a showcase, but Norway is a tiny market and we have developed our products for the world. But now I'm here!
BND: What was your main motivation in starting this business?
S.V.: My main motivation was creating the services I was looking for myself and my kids that I couldn't find in the market. As things have progressed proving to the skeptics that I can do it and being a role model for female entrepreneurship has also been big motivators for me. I want to create a lasting impact in this world.
BND: What previous experiences helped you in that journey?
S.V.: Since the age of 14, I have founded a number of idealistic projects and organizations - locally and internationally - so in that sense I have always been an entrepreneur. I had learnt from experience that it is possible to go from a dream to reality, and I learned a lot about project management and leadership along the way. I guess I'm a very typical entrepreneur: I am not scared of the unknown, I love challenges and I'm determined to prove to everyone that the impossible is possible.
BND: What was the biggest challenge you encountered and how did you overcome it?
S.V.: The biggest challenge has been funding. Norway does not have mature venture funding or angel communities, and getting funding is hard when there is no ecosystem for that. We have been lucky - or good - finding super angels and getting funding. But whereas companies here tend to raise larger amounts that will last for a year or more, we are used to a situation where new money has to be raised every three to six months. That is emotionally very tiring, especially in situations where the global financial climate turns against you.
BND: What is the best bit of advice you have for other entrepreneurs?
S.V.: Go for it! You will never regret it, but go for it 100 percent and not as a hobby project. You need to invest all of yourself in the business, if you expect people to invest in you. And surrender yourself with people who are smarter than you!