Years passed by without E Plug making any money. However, things couldn’t be more different now, and the technology company was recently named Gazelle Company of the Year.
It all started with an idea in 2008. Founder Evald Holstad, who had worked with hydraulic tools for the oil industry for many years, wanted to create a mechanical well plug for the oil industry. Almost ten years later, the company began to make money.
“There has been a lot of hard work and a number of ups and downs, but we have believed in the solution and continued the development work”, says Holstad, Chairman of the Board at E Plug.
Improved and reusable well plug
Perseverance has paid off. Today, plug technology is sought after around the world, and the company had a turnover of more than NOK 90 million last year. The well plug has new built-in functions that solve known problems, thereby reducing risk and the overall scope of work in several well operations. The plug can also be reused.
“This is a company that shows how patient technology development can really accelerate things, when you have the right people on the team and invest internationally”, says Director of Innovation Norway Rogaland, Kari Holmefjord Vervik.
“We met an entrepreneur who saw a need in the market based on his own experiences. It was clear that he had the courage and ability to build a competent and enthusiastic team”, adds Erling Johansson at the Rogaland office.
Networks in new markets
The entrepreneur emphasises the importance of Innovation Norway’s services through several phases.
“We would never have made it without Innovation Norway. They have given us access to several important instruments, and prepared us well for what it takes to succeed”, says Holstad.
E Plug has been awarded tens of millions of kroner from DNB and Innovation Norway. In addition to money, Innovation Norway has provided advisory services from several of our international offices. The advisors know the market, the business culture and have a wide network in the country or region in question, and can give companies valuable insight and connect them with relevant partners.
Another service that E Plug has used is to participate in one of our global accelerator programmes. These programmes help start-ups and growth companies compete and grow in an international market.
“Several things became very clear to me during the programme, and I would have liked to have participated in this earlier. You get help to plan the way forward for the company, and learn to work more efficiently towards the goal. I recommend participating in all relevant courses and expertise programmes that Innovation Norway offers”, says Holstad.
Gazelle Company of the Year
The technology has been expensive and challenging to develop, and led to several years of negative results for the company. It took seven years before the first lucrative agreements were signed, and almost ten years before they started making money.
But when things first started to move, it really took off, and E Plug was named the 2020 Gazelle Company of the Year by Dagens Næringsliv. A Gazelle company is a rapidly growing and profitable Norwegian company that must have doubled its turnover in just a few years.
“We have received confirmation that focusing internationally was the correct move. When a company grows, it has to be in proportion to the amount of money it has, and it is important to prioritise the customers who provide predictability. We did it!”, says Holstad.
He believes that Norwegian technology companies should be motivated to export as early as possible. They have established the Forus Innovation Centre - a group of companies that help each other on the international stage.