WALTER & THE SHU-BI-DUA LEGEND

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

ILLUMS BOLIGHUS IS NOW REALITY

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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.

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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.
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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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 🙂

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

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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.

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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.

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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 😀

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

Den største udfordring som iværksætter – min mor!

Jeg bliver ofte spurgt om, hvilke udfordringer jeg løber ind i som ny iværksætter og hvilke problemstillinger der giver flest kvaler. Det er faktisk et lidt uoverskueligt spørgsmål, som hurtigt bliver svært at svare på. For hvor pokker skal man starte??

Livet som iværksætter er unægtelig det sjoveste og mest crazy eventyr jeg nogensinde har kastet mig ud i. På vanvittig kort tid, har hvalen Walter givet mig så ufatteligt mange sjove, spøjse og uforglemmelige oplevelser, som jeg glæder mig til at underholde med på plejehjemmet om mange mange år. Men livet med en lille ny start-up, er også et liv med ben hårdt arbejde 24/7, konstante daglige frustrationer, udfordringer og uforudsete problemstillinger. Du kan læse om en alm dagligdag her: En dag som iværksætter

Men skal jeg pege på én enkelt udfordring, som uden sammenligning overskygger alle andre! Én evigt tilbagevendende frustration, som af uransagelig årsager bare ikke lader sig kue! En fuldstændigt uventet kilde til evig irritation, som bare får alle andre problemstillinger til at virke ubetydelige. Så er og bliver det min kære mor…

Nu tænker I nok at jeg er utaknemmelig. Men lad mig kort forklare…

Når jeg besøger mine forældre, så får jeg ofte en lille kærlig opfordring fra min mor om, at det kunne da være rart, hvis jeg snart fik et rigtigt arbejde. Jeg har slet ikke tal på, hvor mange gange jeg efterhånden har forsøgt at forklare hende, at “Design by Witt” er mit rigtige arbejde! At jeg aldrig i mit liv har arbejdet så meget, som jeg har gjort de sidste to år!
Men alt det hårde arbejde, kan min mor på elegant vis få kogt ned til en meget elegant formulering ala “Jamen så meget arbejde kan der da ikke være i, at få solgt de figurer søde skat…”

Samtidig kan jeg også mærke, at mine mere flydende arbejdstider giver anledning til en vis forundring hos kvinden, der ellers opdraget mig til at være pligtopfyldende og punktlig. Fra tid til anden får hun ringet til mig godt op ad formiddagen på en alm hverdag. Enten fanger hun mig ikke fordi jeg stadig sover eller også besvarer jeg hendes opkald med en meget grynet stemme.
Her fornemmer jeg straks en vis form for stram skepsis overfor min meget sløsede og laissez faire arbejdsmoral. Men så er det jeg får den indskydelse, at jeg måske skulle ringe til hende en gang i mellem, når jeg efter en 16-timers non-stop arbejdsdag holder fyraften ved 03-04 tiden en tilfældig hverdagsmorgen, fordi jeg har siddet oppe det meste af natten og knoklet med små drilske udfordringer. Det har jeg dog ikke gjort endnu…
Når alt det er sagt, skal det dog også sige, at min mor samtidig er den første til at støtte op om mine skæve og skøre ideer (dog måske ikke lige den med tatoveringen af Walter (#Beyourbrand).

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Gang på gang smider hun alt hvad hun har i hænderne, for at hjælpe mig. Naturligvis under højlydte protester om, at næste gang ville det altså være rart med et lille “heads up” i god tid, så ikke det hele skal laves i sidste øjeblik. Troligt lover jeg naturligvis bod og bedring. Det er så bare ikke lige sket endnu…Undskyld mor!

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(Her hjælper min kære mor med til bagning af Walter-kager op til jul)

Jeg må nok bare erkende, at et karriereskifte til et mere usikkert arbejdsliv ikke falder i god jord hos en kærlig mor, der kun ønsker det bedste for hendes børn. Jeg skal da heller ikke benægte, at jeg gerne ville vide hvad der for´ gennem hovedet på hende, da den ene af hendes håbefulde og ambitiøse sønner glædeligt kom hjem og fortalte, at han nu droppede mæglerjobbet og den sikre kilde til indtægt. Altsammen til fordel for at smitte små glade træhvaler og gøre dem til Danmarks nye design ikon.

Hvor skørt det end lyder, er jeg dog dybt taknemmelig for min mors små stikpiller, for det tænder ekstra godt op under min lyst og motivation til at lykkes med mit lille firma. De vækker en ukuelig vilje til at bevise, at drømmen om mit firma godt kan lade sig gøre og at det nok skal lykkes!

Så mens min far har lært mig håndværket, giver min mor mig motivationen – den perfekte kombination til et spændende iværksætter-eventyr.

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Følg med i næste uge, hvor du kan læse om min deltagelse i Dagens Mand 🙂

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En dag som iværksætter

5:20 står der i displayet på vækkeuret, da det ringer første gang. Jeg tillader dog altid mig selv, lige at snooze 10 min. Der skal jo være plads til de små glæder her i livet. Foran mig venter endnu en spændende dag i livet som iværksætter. Et liv hvor dagligdagen mildest talt er uforudsigelig. Da jeg ofte bliver spurgt om, hvordan livet som iværksætter er, vil jeg i dette blogindlæg forsøge at beskrive en helt almindelig dag.

Selvom dagene kan virke ret ustrukturerede, prøver jeg at skabe nogle faste rammer og rutiner. Det giver trods alt en vis form for balance. Derfor starter jeg altid dagen med lidt motion eller træning. Det giver mig en super fin start på dagen, samtidig med at jeg holder mig i form til dagens udfordringer. Denne dag starter med lidt boksetræning kl. 6.00. Så er man ligesom i gang.

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Kl. 8.00 er jeg klar til at tjekke mails og skabe mig et overblik over dagen. Kl 09.00 står den på morgenmøde med mine interns. Her får jeg en status på deres arbejdsopgaver og vi får lagt en plan for deres dag. Herefter smutter jeg videre. Kl 10.30 mødes jeg med en god kammerat. Vi skal have lagt sidste hånd på Design by Witt´s nyeste promotionvideo. Den kan du se her: Design by Witt – Tokens of Happiness

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Denne dag er vejret er godt og solen er fremme. Det giver mulighed for et hurtigt photoshoot hjemme i gården. Jeg mangler stadig de sidste billeder til de nye brochure, der skal bruges i forbindelse med en nært forestående lancering af et nyt design. Jeg når det hele inden mit næste møde med en af mine mentorer kl. 15.00. Efter mit montormøde når jeg lige på posthuset med de seneste bestillinger fra webshoppen. Herefter bliver det tid til en gang hurtig aftensmad, mens jeg får klaret en stribe telefonopkald til forhandlere og forretningsforbindelser. Vejret er som nævnt skønt, så springer atter i træningstøjet og tager mig en løbetur, for at rense hovedet og få lidt luft.

Kl. 19 mødes med Anette Hallev på en cafe rundt om hjørnet fra hvor jeg bor. Hun vil gerne lave et interview til sin skønne blog “Mormor på farten”. Anette vil gerne høre historien om min rejse fra ejendomsmægler med fast job, til livet som iværksætter uden sikkerhedsnet. Et liv drevet af passion og jagten på drømmen om frihed til at gøre hvad man vil. Du kan læse interviewet her:   Mormor på farten

img_3395Kl 21.00 er jeg hjemme igen og klar til at slappe lidt af på sofaen. TVét kører i baggrunden mens jeg får kigget lidt på det næste indlæg til min egen blog. Jeg må ærligt indrømme, at det er sjældent jeg slet ikke laver noget arbejdsrelateret. Der er altid noget at se til, når jobbeskrivelsen bl.a. spænder fra kreative direktør, driftsansvarlige, HR- og regnskabschef til salgschef, webudvikler, brandmanager, produktions- og produktchef. Men det er sjovt og jeg nyder det.

Klokken er ved at være 01.30 er det er så småt på tide at gå i seng. En´ ting er sikkert, i morgen er der ikke boksning kl. 6.00!

Læs med i næste uge, hvor jeg fortæller om den største udfordring som iværksætter – min mor 🙂

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.

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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

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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

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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 🙂