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Fundraising on the school curriculum

This article was first published in Norwegian on our School Collaboration website. [1]

To set up a company, you need financing. In February, fundraising was a topic on the schedule for the students of entrepreneurship at Ullern Upper Secondary School. The lecturer was Øyvind Kongstun Arnesen who – as former CEO for Ultimovacs – has been through several fundraising rounds.

“Today, I will share my experiences with you and you can interrupt or ask questions as much as you like,” Øyvind Kongstun Arnesen began his lecture.

Kongstun Arnesen has 10 years of experience as CEO for Ultimovacs, a company that develops a universal cancer vaccine and has been through many rounds of raising funds.

Kongstun Arnesen shared his experiences with the students about what things companies need to organise before actively seeking financing.

“It is very important to have solid patents, which is the basis for any pharmaceutical or biotech company,” said Kongstun Arnesen.

He also stressed the importance of creating good investor presentations based on what kind of information the potential investors need.

Then, the former CEO explained the different stages of fundraising that the company had been through.

Kongstun Arnesen talks to the students of entrepreneurship at Ullern Upper Secondary School. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

From flying start to stock market

“In the beginning, we were lucky, because one of Norway’s wealthiest men, Bjørn Rune Gjelsten, invested in the company and was also involved in the management. The reason for this was that his father was diagnosed with prostate cancer and he wished to contribute to something more than a donation to the Radium Hospital,” said Kongstun Arnesen.

Kongstun Arnesen continued to explain that having Gjelsten on the team was important for the next time the company needed to raise funds.

“Gjelsten contacted his network and we got large owners onboard, such as Canica led by Stein-Erik Hagen and others. It went surprisingly well,” said Kongstun Arnesen.

Then the company needed to go on the financial market to raise funds. The financial market consists of companies that are set up to earn money from investments. The only thing they have in common is that the companies are different and invest in differing ways.

“It is about collecting so called venture capital and going to ‘family offices’. In other words, family-owned businesses that invest funds in order to manage families’ fortunes in the best way,” said Kongstun Arnesen.

During the next round, Ultimovacs was set to raise NOK 130 million.

“That is when you need to reach the big and heavy players, for example different types of retirement funds, banks and other types of investment funds,” said Kongstun Arnesen.

Finally, was the biggest ask. The company wanted to raise NOK 450 million.

“To raise such a big sum, you need to be listed on the stock market. Everyone can invest on the stock market and it demands a lot of a company to get listed and raise money. We still managed it. At that milestone, we had the funds we needed to show that the vaccine worked. That is when it was time for me to step down as CEO,” said Kongstun Arnesen.