2017 – Hard beatings and loving, supporting hugs

2017 was a wild year! A crazy wild year! A year full of amazing unforgettable moments, but also a hard that gave the me the hardest beatings. A year, where I on several occasions had to pinch my arm, just to make sure, that it all wasn’t just one happy dream. At the same time, it has been a year with countless sleepless nights. Nights were I found my self starring into the wast air, just hoping that it was all just a bad nightmare, and that I would soon wake up. But for better and worse, the year of 2017 has shaped Walter & me as entrepreneurs.
Elephants 2
When you are standing there, at the beginning of the year. Holding your fragile little start-up company in the hand. Just gazing upon the year that lies ahead, it is impossible to guess what awaits you in the new year. Basically you can only see a few weeks ahead. After that the road becomes unclear and takes a sharp turn around a corner. From there on, you can only guess what will happen and you just hope for the best.
Walter&Witt
2017 seemed to start very nice and gentle. Instead, it hit me hard in the face with a cold and wet slap – or maybe it was more like a fist.  My financial fundament was pulled away from right under me. As an entrepreneur, one must typically prepare oneself to live under the concept off “boot-strapping”, as they call it. At first I did not fully understand what that meant or implied.

But as time went by, I got to learn the full understanding of the concept. Basically it means, that you have to cut down on your expenses… You have to cut down on everything! Revenues are small when you are a relatively unknown up-coming design brand. At the same time, it costs money to run a business – a lot of money. As a certain colleague in the real estate industry once told me “You have to burn money, to earn money”.

So to make ends meet, I helped a good friend a few days a week to keep his business flying. But on a cold January day, he announced that, from that day on, there would be no money for wages…
26827641_10154924906576401_1164617305_o

It was a tough and unexpected message to get, but that’s how it goes. And as little Walter always says so happily “there’s always a reason to smile” And sure there was! A good friend and I got behind the wheel and drove across the country. Soon we had built a solid network of retailers. At the same time, there is nothing like a solid financial crises, to kick the creative boost.
26736038_10154924906596401_849473004_o
Never before had I started so many creative projects as in the first quarter of 2017. Particularly one project had potential and ended up being our biggest investment since Walter the happy little whale was born. A project we are looking forward to launch in spring of 2018.
18261636_10154309231091401_1513058454_o
The hard beatings was soon replaced by a huge loving hug, when Design by Witt was voted Entrepreneur of the Year in Frederiksberg. It was a completely surrealistic experience and it was a huge boost on the self-confidence. The loving hugs was then followed with another huge loving hug from Illum’s Bolighus, who took on Walter and the other Tokens of Happiness. Getting Illums Bolighus on the retail list had been an main goal from Day 1 in Design by Witt.
Walter & Illums Bolighus
Summer and Autumn offered some tough months, which, as a matter of fact, had shaped me as a person and given both Walter and I some extra hair on the chest. Life as an entrepreneur is not always easy. It is basically about facing challenges and overcoming them. It can be exciting and fun in itself. But when the challenges come unexpectedly from people who are close to you, it’s in every way uncomfortable and ugly. It puts things in perspective and forces you to be more carefull about who to deal with. On the upside you do learn a lot of these challenges and become more hardened and professional.
18195301_10154299379576401_911278645_o
Fortunately, 2017 was not done showing off its good side. We had an amazing cooporation with Micheal Bundesens and in the autumn, it happened quite unexpectedly that Design by Witt won yet another prize – This year’s entrepreneurship-stand in Tivoli. I can honestly admit, that it was a bit of a chock to me. Luckily I was happily unaware of how much work it would really require, to get a retail stand in Tivoli.
Design-by-Witt
It meant 25 days straight in Tivoli with min. 12 hours working days. But it was 3 fantastic weeks and every day was nothing but adventurous. It was great fun meeting so amazing many sweet people. At the same time, it helped develop a whole new concept – namely the Walter machine. It became a huge hit. Again, I my dear parents gave there help and support.
25463784_10154872201211401_1579341456_n
Tivoli gave us a beautiful fairtale ending of the year 2017. We are now in every way ready to cheer on an exciting 2018.
Once again, it’s not to say what the year will offer in advance. But Walter and I are really looking forward to making It a little bit extra happy. See you out there 😀

Advertisements

WALTER & THE SHU-BI-DUA LEGEND

WALTER THE WHALE & THE SHU-BI-DUA ROCKSTAR LEGEND

18195301_10154299379576401_911278645_o

Sometimes one great thing leads to another great adventure. Sometimes you are just presented with an opportunity, that seems too good to be true. Sometimes you simply feel absolutely humbled and honored about the people, who show interest in your work. But every time Im surprised how fare you can reach and how much happiness you can create, simply by following your heart and your passion.

Ten years or so ago, I was standing in the crowd at some music festival. Preforming on stage was one of Danmarks most beloved national bands SHU-BI-DUA. Lead singer Michael Bundesen and the rest of the band seriously got the crowed going.

18318050_10154313802206401_1841070215_o

Every time this band was preforming, you would be sure to hear their hit song about Hvalborg the Whale. This time was no exception.

At that time, I had no idea how big an impact this song would have on me and my start-up!

Imagine your self building a concept of happiness based on “Walter the happy whale”, in a country where the entire population, knows the song about Hvalborg the Whale. The first two years all I did, was to tell people that the correct name of my whale was WALTER!

Some years later lead singer Michael Bundesen tragically suffers from a stroke in the brain. Against all odds he fights his way back to a life, keeping his great spirit and good humor intact. Michael is no longer able to preform on stage. But when you have a creative mind, not even a stroke can keep you down. So Michael has started to paint. Now he creates beautiful paintings full of color, life and humor.

Skærmbillede 2017-05-04 kl. 13.55.10

Last week I was presented with the award “Entrepreneuer of the year 2017” in my local community.

After the ceremony, a women came up to me. She just heard, that I got the award for making a start-up in the design business. She told me, that she was connected to an art gallery. Now she was kean on learning more about my design. When I told her my trademark design was a happy whale, she immediately lit up in a big smile. “Can I buy you a cup of coffee?” she asked. She wanted to discuss some super exciting project, that might have my interest.

As it turned out, she was the art mentor of Michael Bundesen. Now I was the one who immediately lit up in a big smile. The woman was Lill-Marlene from Puls Art Gallery. She saw some great potential in a fusion project, bringing art and design together. I totally loved the idea. We brainstormed for a while and two days later, I had the honor of meeting Michael Bundesen him self.

18318237_10154313814126401_941803624_o

Meeting people like Michael is truly inspiring. I was amazed to meet this person, who had been through hell and back and still kept his light spirit and good sense of humor. I was super proud to hear, that this man also found my design appealing and that he wanted to make a cooperation with Walter & I. So he generously offered to paint on one of my special editions of Walter the happy whale. Im my opinion Michael truly made Walter even more bright and appealing.

18289995_10154313817991401_1396666468_o

For now we are storing the whale for display at the Puls Art Gallery. But soon we will announce the purpose of this fusion project.
On the 24th of June, you can come see Walter and all the beautiful pantings of Michael Bundesen at his speciel event – World Premier of Michael Bundesen.

One small step for Illums Bolighus… One giant step for Walter!

ILLUMS BOLIGHUS IS NOW REALITY

18289902_10154313488881401_1007264317_o

This picture has been my visual goal and motivation every day for the last three years! A simple picture showing Walter being launched at Illums Bolighus. But ever since I started this journey with Design by Witt and my little happy Whale Walter, the only place this picture existed, was in my mind. I visualized the picture and burned it into my mind. Now, three years later, this picture is no longer just a product of my imagination. Today the picture is very real.

But how do you end up in the flagshipstore of Illums Bolighus? The nr 1. interior design retailer i Denmark. Why was Illums Bolighus the main motivation? And now that Walter is launched in Illums Bolighus, then what is the next goal and motivation?

About three years ago, I got this somewhat funny and crazy idea. For some time, I had had the dream and the urge to try to start up a project or a business of my own. On a daily bases I was working as a real estate agent. But I wasn’t completely satisfied, so I made a decision and quiet the real estate business to go start my own design brand. You can read the whole story here. 

My dear cousin was one of the first persons ever to lay eyes on this little design, I had just made. From the first moment she saw Walter the Whale, she told me, it should be sold at Illums Bolighus.

20140531_174021

She was working at Illums Bolighus herself, and quiet an expert on interior design. This statement did something to me. I lit up my motivation like never before.

Quiet early in the process, she managed to set up a meeting with the purchasing manager at Illums Bolighus. I showed up with a good friend, and we actually had a great meeting. The purchasing manager liked my designs and the concept. But she need something more. A concept and a univers surrounding the designs. On top of this she needed some nice wrapping and a guarantee for a serious and stable big scale production.

Two purchasing managers and 2,5 years later, my good friend and I showed up at Illums Bolighus again. We had been working on all the demands the first manager had asked for and once again my dear cousin had helped us set up a new meeting. This time Design by Witt was no longer just an idea of a business based in an old wooden workshop. This time Design by Witt was a serious business, with retailers all over DK and in NYC, London and Cologne. This time we had a professional set up, a unique concept and a happy univers surrounding the designs.
18339040_10154313777331401_1291984826_o

45 minuets later we walked out of Illums Bolighus. This time we didn’t just have a great meeting. This time we closed the deal!

18318532_10154313782276401_623222284_o
Just getting out of Illums Bolighus

My friend and I went to a near by cafe, to just sit down and reflect on what just happened. As we sat there my friend looked at me and said “Martin! You still might not understand what just happen in there. But when you get home, you gonna flip out completely”. And he was absolutely right! The journey from my fathers wooden workshop, till finally being singed up with Illums Bolighus, had been one of the most exhausting experiences for me. So yes, I got emotional.

WorkshopThis is my beloved workshop 🙂

But the thrill of sealing the deal, was in every way worth the effort. At the same time it taught me an important lesson. If you go all in, work hard and fight for what you believe in, then anything is possible. For me personally this is the finally approval and blue stamp to show, that my happy little whale is recognized as a serious design.
Last week the company also won the “Entrepreneur of the year” award.

Walter & Illums Bolighus
So what now? What is next? Well, only time will tell 😉 But I promise you this! Very soon we will reveal our next big project. Another project that will take us yet another step closer to full-felling our main vision – To become the next danish design icon.

Learn more about Design by Witt at our webpage

ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR 2017, FREDERIKSBERG

“And the winner and is – Design by Witt”.

WHAAAT!!?? Seriously!?? Wait, what!!? I couldn’t believe my own ears! Was this really happening? The mayor of Frederiksberg had just announced the winner of this years prestiges award as entrepreneur of the year 2017.

18261359_10154309231106401_18727443_o

What just happened? Why would they choose my start-up amongst these other super competent entrepreneurs? At that moment millions of thoughts exploded in my head.

Two month earlier a good friend of mine texted me on a late friday night. She had just heard that the local community of Frederiksberg, was looking for promising upcoming entrepreneurs to present this years award. All I needed to do, was to sent in my presentation and explain my concept and business. There was just one issue. The deadline was only two days away, and my weekend was totally booked.

To be honest, I was on my way out to meet up with some friends for a drink. I made a quick decision and canceled on my friends – sorry for this guys 🙂 Instead I spent the whole night, making my presentation ready.  Early in the morning my presentation was done and I sent it.

One month later I got an invited to the award ceremony. Again, being honest, I had no idea I even had a chance of winning this thing. Most of all, because these awards are always given to innovative tech start-ups.

So with no expectations at all, I went to the ceremony. I didn’t even invite family or friends. The first surprise hit me, when I was personally greeted by the mayor, when I entered the room. I remember I was thinking, that since he knew who I was, he must have seen my presentation. So maybe, and just maybe, I had a chance of being one of the officiel nominees. If so, this would be super cool.

30 min later Design by Witt was announced as one of the nominees. I couldn’t believe this! This was a great sign of approval! Minutes later I was completely shocked – and happy. Out of the blue, Design by Witt was called to the floor as Entrepreneur of the year.

18309067_10154309231011401_1788748080_n

After the ceremony I got this funny felling. Last time I had been this surprised, proud and happy, was on my birthday age 11 or so. At a local summer event I was announced as “Athlete of the year”. Not for winning anything, but for being a good sportsman always keeping up the good spirit.

18261636_10154309231091401_1513058454_o
Getting this award means so much to me on so many levels. The work you put in to your start-up is super crazy! I have never before in my life worked this hard, had so many frustrations and made so many scarifies. This award is a recognition of this hard work, and it means everything. At the same time, this award is special to me, because the comity choose design and concept over tech and innovation. Walter the happy Whale and I are deeply honored and ever so thankful.

A week later Im sitting in a cafe, writing this blogpost and reading the newest edition of the local newspaper

18261319_10154309231086401_343423271_o

A special thanks to TimeGruppen and Frederiksberg Kommune for this award.

In the next blogpost, I will share with you what amazing new project this award has already kicked of 🙂

WALTER THE HAPPY WHALE ON AIR

Walter the happy Whale live on air – Podcast

18013032_10154267206041401_1946650933_o

“Hi Martin. Would you be able to join our radio-show tomorrow?”
Like any other morning, I was checking my e-mails. But this morning one email instantly caught  my eyes and got all my attention. It was from the radio show – “The 6 thinking hats”. A radio show made by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. Every week they invite a new hopeful and inspiring entrepreneur to join the show. During the show, a panel of 3 experts evaluate a case, that is presented to them. They use the 6 thinking hats, to get around the case – step by step.

Skærmbillede 2017-04-10 kl. 15.04.56

For sure I really wanted this! To go on air and talk about my happy whale! YAY – This was an amazing opportunity for me and Walter. The feedback you get on this show is to die for, when you are an entrepreneur struggling to survive. But now that the invite was actually right there in my inbox, I immediately felt some chills. Was I ready for this? How should I present my case? Would I leave the show, being judged as a guy with a great idea or just the crazy guy with a happy whale?

The odds for the last outcome was for sure present. These guys in the panel would for sure be super critical and hit me with skeptical and difficult questions. The pressure was on! Not only because of the short notice, but also because the audience –  People I highly respected! Fellow entrepreneurs.

I cleared my schedule and started preparing for the show. Basically I was just supposed to show up and have a nice and friendly chat about my concept and my idea. Like any straight A student, as an entrepreneur, you are supposed to be able to deliver a perfect pitch any time, any where. Never the less I started all over and worked on my 2 min pitch. And for the rest of the day, the only thing coming out of my headset, was the previous podcasts from the radioshow.

17949980_10154267272491401_456324790_o
The following day I showed up at the radiostation carrying my big jumbo sized Walter. When the girl at the reception saw me and big happy Walter, she immediately lit up in a big smile. But at the same time she looked at me a bit skeptical… “You know its a radioshow right? Not television”. I knew, I knew. But anyways, Walter & I always go together 🙂

I met up with the host. It had been years since I´ve saw him last. He used to be some grades above me at primary school. I remember him as a super cool and fun kid. Only on one or two occasions, I remember he gave my a good thorough face wash in the snow. It might have had something to do with the fact, that I had just hit him from behind, with a perfectly made snowball… Well, it´s all a bit fuzzy now 🙂

Half an hour later we were it the studio recording the show. “So Martin! You are an educated real estate agent. You´ve been in the business for years. Then one morning you decide to quiet and start you own design company making happy whales…”
17968003_10154267271181401_1466842584_o

This opening remark sets a happy tone in the studio. The host continues “When I give advice to people who wants to start a new business, I always advise them to start in a field of their expertise. So how come you didn’t start a business in real estate? Instead you chose a business that you knew absolutely nothing about?”.

So the show is on, and the first critical question is presented. But I truly loved this question. Cause in the answer lies the whole reason why I did what I did. I off course agree with the host. It would be perfectly wise, to choose an area of you expertise. But – and this is my whole point – it is even more important, to choose something you are passionate about! To me passion is the secret ingredient for succes. Passion will be your inexhaustible resource for energy and drive. Passion will make you creative. Passion will make you stand out. And the truth is, I wasn’t passionate about real estate. To me real estate was just a job. Where as now, Im extremely passionate about creating Denmarks new design Ikon – Walter the happy Whale 🙂

The show went on and I learnt so much from listning to this super competent panel of entrepreneurial experts. They had some intersting points, some great feedback and some critical questions for me to answer.

So… Was I the crazy guy with a happy whale or the guy with a great idea?
In this podcast you can judge for yourself 🙂

Podcast – Design by Witt

Find Walter & the Tokens of Happiness here:
Webpage: Design by Witt
Facebook: Design by Witt
Instagram: Tokens of Happiness

How to adopt a whale

“Martin, you should adopt a whale”. Im at a meeting with the leading manager at the Go Grow accelerator program at CSE – Copenhagen School of Entrepreneurship. Dorthea was the person who put this fantastic idea into my head. In every why this idea made sense to me. How cool would it be, to actually adopt a real whale! But how do you adopt a whale? And is it even possible?

Since I carved the first little happy whale, the idea was to create a concept of happiness. A concept that would not just include a happy design, but also happy actions and happy deeds.

Learn how Design by Witt started in this first blog post: From real estate agent to entrepreneur

17838685_10154243706091401_1930924050_o

Thats why we´ve been supporting organisations like the WWF – world fund for nature, from the beginning. We want to give something back to the beautiful nature that surrounds us.

image001-2

So what to do, if you want to adopt a whale!? First natural thing for me to do, was to ask google what to do. Apparently it wasn’t so difficult as I first thought. My search online quickly let me to a fascinating organisation called the Whale and Dolphin Conservation. They actually offered the opportunity of adopting a whale.

I immediately wrote them about my concept of happiness and the story of Walter the happy whale. I was pleased to read their responding email. They loved my concept and was pleased to hear, that Walter and I showed interest in their adoption program. Over the next couple of weeks, I had some inspiring skype meetings with the organisation.

17821098_10154243717231401_358455613_n

Not only did Walter and I end up adopting the most beautiful Humpback Whale Salt, we also found other ways to support this amazing organisation and the work they do. One way was to launched a speciale WDC Shop to Support edition of Walter the Whale.

Adoption certificate Salt 2017

But we are also working on a new product in store. A new product that will be released in the fall. We cant say much more right now – but it´s all about Whales & Happiness 😀

mom and calf twitter

Thank you for reading this blog. Sign up for our news letter at: Design by Witt

Entrepreneurlife

The display on the alarm clock shows 5:20 am, when it goes of for the first time. I hit snooze and allow myself just another 10 min. You have to enjoy the little things in life. In front of me awaits yet another exciting day as an entrepreneur. A life where every day is more or less unpredictable. People often ask me what the life as an entrepreneur is like. So in this blog post I will try to describe an ordinary day.

14467143_10153731281441401_1137298961_o
Even though the days seem quite unstructured, I try to create some routines. After all, the rutines provide some kind of balance. Therefore I always start the day with some exercise or a good workout. For me it’s a super nice way to get started, and to keep myself fit for the day’s challenges. This morning I start of with a little boxing session at. 6.00. A good way to kick of the day.

At 08:00 am Im ready to check emails and plan the day. At 09:00 am I meet up with my interns. They are giving me a status on their work and we lay out a plan for their day. At 10:30 am Im off again to meet up with a good friend. We are going to make the last corrections on Design by Witt‘s latest promotional video. Design by Witt – Tokens of Happiness

14438769_10153731284916401_329186933_o

This day the weather is good and the sun is out. This allows me to do a quick photo shoot at home in the yard. I still need the last pictures for the new brochures, that I will need for my launch of a new design.

I manage to finish the photo shoot before my next meeting with one of my mentors at 03:00 pm. After this meeting I just have time to go to the post office, to drop of the recent orders from the web shop.

Then it is time for a quick dinner, while Im making a handfull of phone calls to some retailers and business associates. The weather is still great, so I decide to go for a run to clear my head and get some air. At 07:00 pm I meet up with Anette Hallev at a cafe just around the corner. She wants to do an interview for her wonderful blog “Grandmother on the go.” Anette would like to hear the story of my journey from realtor with a permanent job, to the life as an entrepreneur without any safety net. A life driven by passion and the pursuit for the dream of being free to do what you want. You can read the interview here:
Mormor på farten

img_3395

At 21:00 I’m back home and ready to relax a bit on the couch. The TV is on and running in the background while I get started on the next post for my own blog. Honestly I must admit, that it’s rare Im not doing anything not work-related. There is always something to do when when your job description includes everything from creative director, operations manager, HR- and accounting manager to sales manager, web developer, brand manager, production- and product manager. But it’s all fun and I enjoy it.

The clock gets close to 01:30 am and it is time to go to bed. One thing is for sure, the next day I will not be attending boxing at 06.00 am!

Look out for the next blog post, where I talk about the biggest challenge as an entrepreneur – my mom 🙂