Kalamaja & Kopli

_dsc7205 One of my favourite buildings in Tallinn. Part of a Soviet-era Furniture factory.

_dsc7212View through the railroad buildings towards old town.
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Failing a startup: The soft thing about hard things

There’s one night that stands out as the hardest night in all my time as an entrepreneur–without comparison (Not even the night I put my fist through a glass door can compete). It’s quite naturally the night we realise that we probably won’t make it, under the worst imaginable circumstances.

First, a little backstory

The higher you fly, the deeper you fall. Our hubris had been roughly three months earlier, when we went on the Danish version of Shark Tank/Dragons Den, pitching our company and asking for DKK 300k (≈$46k). We had done our homework, and delivered a pitch that was, in my humble opinion, fucking awesome. We sold our vision, and we had the answers. Several of the high profile investors were interested, and we ended up walking out of there with a interest of a million Kroner (≈$150k. — More than three times of what we asked for.

This was the most amazing day. As anyone who’s walked away from a really, really great investor meeting will know, you feel like you’re flying. On top of this, we were going to get some serious PR from this, as the show was extremely popular.

Of course, when you get a commitment while recording a TV-show, that’s only a commitment to start a due diligence, and we were in for a rough one. As first time founders, dealing with some of the world’s best investors isn’t easy. They were fair, honest, and to the point, but there were clear problems in our startup that made them weary of putting down the full investment. On a call with the investors, one of them said it very, beautifully:

Your team is awesome, your product sucks

It was true. And we had to fix it. We had already tried to bring in more manpower, but being non-technical, we struggled to find the right guys for the job.
In the end, we set a goal with our investors: By the time the show aired, we needed to have our product improved on range of areas, otherwise they would pull their investment.

We didn’t. (more…)

Træf et valg: Studerende eller iværksætter?

Kan man være studerende og iværksætter på samme tid? Jeg håber, svaret er ja! I hvert fald forsøger jeg netop nu, at starte en virksomhed samtidig med, at jeg er i gang med at tage min kandidat på ITU.

Det mener min rektor, Mads Tofte, også, hvis man skal tro hans udtalelse til Politiken d. 28. oktober:

Jeg ved ikke, hvor meget universitetet kan tage æren for det her, for det er jo de studerende, der skaber resultaterne. Men vi gør meget ud af at fortælle de studerende fra første dag, at hensigten med universitetet er at give folk mod på at skabe noget. Og så er vi nok ret rummelige over for det lidt skæve. Iværksættere er ikke altid konforme — de går deres egne veje. Det tror jeg, vi giver dem plads til.

Jeg har dog haft en lidt anden oplevelse med Rektor, som jeg føler, jeg vil dele her, eftersom han ikke har svaret på min kritik af hans håndtering af situationen, og da den står i skærende kontrast til ovenstående udtalelse.

Jeg har startet en virksomhed, der hedder Bringrs, og læser samtidig Digital Innovation and Management på ITU. Det er hårdt, sjovt, stressende, tilfredsstillende og alt i alt pisse spændende. Både at være studerende på ITU, og at starte en virksomhed.

Det går unægteligt ud over studieaktiviteten, når man pludselig bruger mere end, hvad der svarer til et fuldtidsarbejde på et sideløbende projekt. Ingen tvivl om det. Men jeg håber og tror på, at om end det nedsætter studieaktiviteten så bidrager det omvendt til, at man som studerende kan omsætte sin teori til praksis, skabe interessante projekter og ikke mindst skabe værdi for samfundet. Jeg tror på, at der er et samspil mellem at starte en ny, innovativ digital forretningsmodel, og studere digital innovation og ledelse på et IT universitet.

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