Being an entrepreneur can be very vulnerable at times. You are the one responsible for making progress in the company and achieving the goals that have been set. What happens then if you get seriously ill? Kim-André Heggenes has experienced this. Not just once, but now twice.

Kim-André Heggenes started the start-up company Gripr in 2017, then under the name Goliath Systemer. In 2022, they changed their name and went through a rebranding process.

- The purpose was to be better understood. It should be clear what we are working with. We are here for the craftsman and needed something that showed that, explains Kim-André.

It was an extensive process, he says.

- The process has been very fun and exciting. It was a big and long process to change the name, but we feel that we made a very good choice of brand manager. It has been an incredibly exciting journey.

Gripr consists of a team of 6 full-time employees and several contract employees. They offer a comprehensive project management platform for the craftsman.

The goal for 2023 is to increase the staff, where they are, among other things, looking for a general manager.

- It is a position we have open until we find the right person to take over the role of general manager. Otherwise, we hope to employ 3 more people in 2023. 1 more on development, 1 more on sales and 1 on the market. I think it is important to contribute locally, so there are several posts that we do not have "in-house", but hire out, such as in marketing.

Founder on sick leave

The responsibility as a day-to-day manager and entrepreneur can make it difficult to become ill for a long time. In recent months, Kim-André has struggled with illness, which has meant that he has not been able to work as much as he would like at times. Now he is 100 percent on sick leave, but he is not completely away from work.

- Being on sick leave when you are an entrepreneur and building a company is extremely demanding. And then it's very easy when you get sick to have a bad conscience, which I have. And you shouldn't have that, because you can't control that you get sick, says Kim-André.

Team Gripr. Photo: Gripr

Then it is good to have good colleagues and board members who meet you with understanding. It hasn't always been that way.

This is not the first company Kim-André has founded. He has been an entrepreneur for over 20 years, and has extensive experience with entrepreneurial life. He has also experienced being on long-term sick leave once before. The situation then was not the same as it is now.

- I experienced long-term illness before and not having a manager who can take over while you are ill is very difficult. It ended with me having to take controlled bankruptcy from the hospital bed, says the entrepreneur.

But I learned a lot from it. Among other things, being open and not thinking too much about what others say and think.

He boasts about the gang in Gripr and the advantage of the flat structure and the trust they have in each other.

- This time I have been lucky to have a great team and an external board who are "my bosses". I have been able to be honest with them and tell them how things are going. And when you are open, it means that they can go in and step in if there is a need for it.

He also points out that a good plan helps.

- So important to have them in the loop. Otherwise, it is important to have a good plan and keep the whole team up to date on how things are going. Then they know how to work, he says.

Advantages of an entrepreneurial environment

Gripr has offices at Dhub in Sandefjord and is associated with both the entrepreneurs' house Gründeriet and the incubator Kobben.

-One of the most important things about being associated with these environments is networking. Being able to brainstorm ideas with each other and talk to people who are in the same situation as you is very nice. Easy access to many different people. It has great value, says Kim-André.

He points out that they all have their differences and thus he sees a value in being associated with the various places.

- Kobben differs slightly from the entrepreneur houses in terms of offers and has a slightly different network to what we get at the Gründeriet. Among other things, Kobben has partners and a network from which we can get help at a better price than the market. It is very important in a start-up company. Money doesn't grow on trees and we have to be careful how we spend our money. And access to capital becomes important, where Kobben's access to an investor network is good to have.

- It is important to be part of such groups, he says in conclusion.