Norway-Asia Business Summit – Digitalisation, world changing businesses

The seventh edition of the Norway-Asia Business Summit took place in Singapore this year. ScandAsia met Mr. Magnus Grimeland, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Antler Innovation and one of this year’s keynote speakers to talk about digitalisation and world changing businesses.

If you have one egg and I have one egg and we swap the eggs, we will both have one egg. If you have one idea and I have one idea and we swap the ideas, we will both have two. That is the wording of an old Chinese saying. It is also the basic point when talking about digitalisation in relation to building great companies.

Mr. Magnus Grimeland, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at, a startup generator based out of Singapore, was moderator of the panel debate “Digitalising the core” at this year’s Norway-Asia Business Summit. And when it comes to businesses of today, digitalisation is a matter of survival.

“With the advent of more powerful artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms you can start to get pattern recognition out of very random data sets that will show you inventive things we cannot even imagine right now. I think that is extremely exciting,” Magnus Grimeland states.

But to digitalize a company means putting great levels of trust in other companies. Most businesses need to outsource some non-core aspects of the company to focus on the core aspects themselves and avoid slowing down the more essential parts. This means collaboration between companies in very different sectors. And according to Mr. Magnus Grimeland collaboration is also the key to a truly great business. But it all starts with finding great people to build great businesses.

“In Antler, we want to bring in great founders from different walks of life as we want to ensure we can both do systematic innovation and more of the random innovation. We bring in the best possible expertise to tackle these things – people who are really excited about building businesses and we will help them do that,” Magnus Grimeland explains.

And Magnus Grimeland knows about building great companies. He himself has co-founded the e-based fashion shop ZALORA and is responsible for the overall coordination of the ZALORA Group. In 2016, ScandAsia talked to Magnus Grimeland about ZALORA. Back then, he said “It has not been easy. But it has not been impossible either.” To Magnus Grimeland it is very much worth to put an effort into building great companies, because the world needs them. The thought is, that great businesses of today not only have an excessive financial impact on the world, but are truly world changing.

“There has been a mind-set change in the way people are using companies and services. I think it is very hard for a company that does not have a positive societal benefit to do well in the long term. Great companies have this dual impact. Nobody will be interested in buying your product or using your service if it doesn’t have a real impact on society which is positive. High efficiency, making things easier and cheaper and helping certain parts of society that need something done,” Magnus Grimeland explains.

For great companies to have that kind of impact on society they need to be up to date. And that might not even be enough. The companies need to strive to have the best digital platform both in-house and outhouse. Digitalisation is unavoidable, in spite of all its limits. As one of the speakers of the panel debate, Andreas Sohmen-Pao put it:

“We cannot eat 1’s and 0’s. We cannot move in 1’s and 0’s.”

At, the goal is to find the best talents on different platforms and help them build their company. The people Antler work with are people with a drive. It is important that the companies they build are owned by the founders who build them. That helps the founders maintain the drive to achieve great things. But Antler also has a responsibility in terms of what kind of businesses they help build – and whether the dual effect of the company is positive to society.

“We are very conscious about that. Primarily in terms of bringing in people who possess that integrity. The type of people who want to build companies and the type of people we see applying very often have this type of characteristics as well. It is amazing. Normally it is not something you actually have to do very consciously, it is just part of the people coming in right now,” Magnus Grimeland explains.

On top of that the consciousness level in terms of the environment and secondary benefits on the world seem to be way higher than it was before. Consumers demand not only great products and services, but also make demands on how businesses are run. For companies to achieve all of that, idea-sharing is essential. Both concerning digitalisation and other business developments.

“We really believe that great businesses today are world changing. And it does not need to be globally world changing, it can also be a really good business which is very regional impactful,” Magnus Grimeland states.

Lastly, Magnus Grimeland would like to encourage people with a drive to create businesses: “If you want to be an entrepreneur and help change the world, apply on”

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