Investing in the sharing economy
Young NHH entrepreneur sells for millions.
In April, Oscar Hellenes (23) from Larvik shared a sofa with Prime Minister Erna Solberg on stage during the Norwegian championship in youth entrepreneurship. There, the young entrepreneur shared his views of entrepreneurship, and he first and foremost thinks it is about hard work.
"In Norway, there is a tendency to present entrepreneurship as something you are born to, but I think that is completely wrong. Just as in elite sports, you must put a lot of effort into succeeding as an entrepreneur. At NHH, we tend to become very good at what we are doing precisely because we are putting in so much work", he stresses.
Hellenes won the Norwegian championship in youth entrepreneurship in 2010 with Datadong, the student company that sold protective covers for laptops. Ever since he started selling hemp necklaces in hairdressing salons as a 14-year old, he has been working on various business ideas.
"I found that I developed new ideas and projects time and again. It was incredibly fun, and I decided to invest in the projects even though there was a significant chance that I would fall flat on my face and not make any money. That was when I understood I was an entrepreneur", he says.
Investing in the sharing economy
Last year, Hellenes and three friends from NHH invested in a project related to the sharing economy. Together, they created Lotel, which today organises the rental of residences for more than 350 customers in three countries. After a year, the company has facilitated rentals for NOK 14 million.
"I would never have believed that I could manage to start something in the sharing economy. The established actors are already so big, but now Lotel is growing every day", he says, satisfied.
Today, Hellenes is the majority owner and general manager of the company. Thus far, the company has five full-time employees in the administration, and 30 staff in total.
"The dream is for the sharing economy to become as widespread as possible in as many countries as possible. I want to create projects that exploit resources in a more efficient manner and at the same time generate profit."
Though Lotel collects millions in revenue, Hellenes does not see much of this success in his private finances. However, a slim wallet does not put a damper on his motivation.
"I have so much fun! Though I have never been more broke, I work on something I find incredibly cool and that I can be proud of", he says.
NHH provides good training
Hellenes completed the bachelor's degree in economics and business administration at NHH last year. He is convinced that his background from NHH has helped him as an entrepreneur.
"NHH provides students with extremely good training in starting up for themselves. The education provides a solid academic foundation, and through the student association you learn to work with others, handle responsibility and work quickly and efficiently."
Hellenes focuses on the great commitment and good student community as the biggest advantages of choosing NHH as an educational institution for subjects in economics and business administration.
"An education is not only about what you learn, but also about how you develop as a person. In this context, the student association has played a very important role for me", he concludes.
Text: Tiril Johansen Gudevold