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.
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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.
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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…
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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 😀

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2017 – Tørre tæsk & kærlige skulderklap

2017 – et år med tørre tæsk og kærlige skuldeklap

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2017 var et vildt år! Et crazy vildt år! Et år der har budt på de vildeste opture og de grimmeste nedture. Et år hvor jeg flere gange har måtte nive mig selv i armen, for at være sikre mig, at det hele kke bare var en happy en drøm. Samtidig har det også været et år, der har budt på utallige søvnløse nætter. Nætter hvor jeg bare har stirret tomt ud i luften og håbet på, at det hele bare var dumt mareridt, som jeg snart vil vågne op fra… Men på godt og ondt, har året været med til at forme mig og Walter som iværksættere og min start-up som virksomhed Design by Witt.

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Når man står dér på startlinen, med sin lille skrøbelige start-up virksomhed i hånden og kigger ud på året der ligger foran én, så er det nærmest umuligt at forudse, hvad det nye år vil byde på.
Man kan stort set kun se et par uger frem, hvorefter vejen bliver meget tåget og så svinger hårdt rundt om et skarpt hjørne. Herefter kan man kun gætte sig til, hvad der venter forude og så håbe på det bedste.
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2017 så ud til at starte lækkert. I stedet fik jeg serveret en syngende kold og våd lussing lige i fjæset, da mit økonomiske ståsted blevet revet væk fra den ende dag til den anden. Som iværksætter, skal man typisk indordne sig under en tilværelse, hvor man “boot-strapper”, som det så fint hedder. I starten var jeg ikke helt med på, hvad det betød eller indebar. Du kan også læse om iværksætterlivet her: En dag som iværksætter

I bund og grund betyder det, at man må spare… Som i at man må spare alle steder! Indtægterne er små, når man er et forholdsvis ukendt upcoming design brand. Samtidig koster det penge, at drive en virksomhed – mange penge. Som en vis kollega i mæglerbranchen engang fortalte mig “You have to burn money, to earn money”.

Så for at få det hele til at løbe rundt, hjalp jeg en god ven et par dage om ugen, med at holde hans virksomhed flyvende. Men en kold dag januar meddelte han, at der fra dags dato ikke var råd til lønninger…
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Det var en hård og uventet besked at få, men sådan kan det jo gå. Og som lille Walter altid glad siger, så er der altid en grund til at smile. Og det var der! En god ven og jeg satte os bag rattet og tunerede landet rundt og fik på kort tid bygget et solidt forhandler netværk op. Samtidig er der nu heller ikke noget så godt for et kreative boost, som en god solid finansiel krise.
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Aldrig før havde jeg fået sat gang i så mange kreative projekter, som i første kvartal af 2017. Særligt et projekt, tog for alvor form og er endt med, at blive vores største satsning, siden den lille glade hval Walter blev født. Et projekt vi glæder os helt vildt til at lancere i foråret 2018.
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Den syngende lussing blev dog hurtigt erstattet af et kæmpe skulderklap, da Design by Witt i foråret blev kåret til Årets Iværksætter-virksomhed på Frederiksberg. Det var en fuldstændig surealistisk oplevelse og en anderkendelse, der gav et enormt selvtillidsboost. Du kan læse om hele oplevelsen her: ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

Skulderklappet blev så fulgt op med en kæmpe kærlig krammer fra Illums Bolighus, der tog Walter og de andre Tokens of Happiness på hylderne i den spæde start af sommeren. At få Illums Bolighus på forhandlerlisten, havde været et altoverskyggende mål fra dag 1 i Design by Witt. Du kan læse om lanceringen i Illums Bolighus her: One small step for Illums Bolighus… One giant step for Walter!
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Sommeren og efteråret bød på nogle hårde måneder, som mildt sagt fik modnet mig som person og givet både Walter og jeg lidt ekstra hår på brystet. Livet som iværksætter er ikke altid nemt. Det handler i bund og grund om at stå imod udfordringer og overvinde dem. Det kan i sig selv være spændende, sjovt og udfordrende. Men når udfordringerne uventet kommer fra folk, der ellers er tæt på dig, så er det på alle måder ubehageligt og grimt. Det sætter tingene i perspektiv og tvinger én til at være mere bevist om hvem man vil omgås. Omvendt lærer man også vanvittigt meget af disse udfordringer og bliver i bund og grund mere hærdet og professionel.
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Du kan læse om samarbejdet med Michael Bundesen her: WALTER & THE SHU-BI-DUA LEGEND
Heldigvis var 2017 ikke færdig med at vise sig fra sin gode side. Vi fik et fantastisk samarbejde med Michael Bundesen og i efteråret skete det igen ganske uventet, at Design by Witt vandt endnu en pris. Nemlig årets iværksætterstand i Tivoli.
Jeg skal ærligt indrømme, at det kom lidt bag på mig. Jeg var da også lykkeligt uvidende om, hvor meget arbejde det egentlig ville kræve, at have en stand i Tivoli.
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Det betød, at vi fik 25 hæsblæsende dage i Tivoli med min 12 timers arbejdsdag. Men det var 3 helt fantastiske uger i Tivoli og alle dage var intet mindre end eventyrlige. Det var super sjovt at møde så fantastisk mange søde mennesker. Samtidig var det med til, at udvikle et helt nyt koncept – Nemlig Waltermaskinen. Som blev et kæmpe hit. Igen skylder jeg mine kære forældre en kæmpe tak for deres hjælp og støttet.
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SE WALTER-MASKINEN HER 😀 WALTER-MASKINEN
Med Tivoli fik vi samtidigt bundet en stor flot sløjfe på det herrens år 2017. Vi er nu på alle måder klar til, at tage hul på et spændende 2018. Igen er det ikke til at sige, hvad vejen forud vil byde på af udfordringer, opture og nedture. Men Walter og jeg glæder os helt vildt, til at gøre vores til, at få spredt lidt ekstra happiness. Vi ses derude 😀

Pro Rege et Grege (For Konge og Folk) 

“Pro Rege et Grege” – Det giver en helt særlig følelse, at sige det højt.

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Enhver Garder – tidligere som nuværende – kender dette motto. Et motto, der tilhøre Den Kongelige Livgarde og emmer af stolthed og ære. Det forpligter at være Garder. Det forventes, at man til hver en tid yder sit bedste og fremstår som et godt eksempel for sine omgivelser.

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Det gør noget ved unge mænd og kvinder, at blive uddannet ved Livgarden. Det giver en helt særlig ballast, som man tager med sig videre – Og nej, men lærer ikke kun at pudse sko og stryge skjorter… Selvom man bliver pokkers god til det!

Man lærer også nye sider af sig selv at kende og man lærer at presse sig selv til det yderste. Derfor er det også en sand fornøjelse at se, når Gardere gør det godt.

I dag blev to tidligere Gardere hyldet, ved en reception i Livgardens Officersmesse i København. I den forbindelse skal der lyde en stor tak til Chef for Den Kongelige Livgarde, Mads Rahbek, som i dagens anledning åbnede op for netop officersmessen.

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Som tidligere Garder, er det igen en fantastisk ære at se Design by Witts fortolkning af Den Vagtgående Garder, blive tildelt som en del af hædersbevisningen for de to prismodtagere.

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Traditionen tro, modtog prismodtagerne også en graveret sabel. Sablen er en tro kopi af den udgave, som de vagtgående Gardere stadig bruger den dag i dag.

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Gardernetværk står bag de tog priser, der blev uddelt ved dagens reception. Henholdsvis Gardernetværks Erhvervspris og Gardernetværks Hæderspris.

Årets Erhvervspris gik til den danske erhvervsmand og tidligere Nordea topchef, Christian Clausen. Christian Clausen tegner sig som en af dansk erhvervslist største profiler, både når der ses på den danske og international karriere. Gardernetværks Erhvervspris gives til en topleder, der har skabt fremragende resultater i en privat eller offentlig virksomhed. Det er naturligvis en forudsætning, at personen har været eller er tjenstgørende ved Den Kongelige Livgarde.

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Årets Talentpris gik til Julie Rømsing, der siden at hun blev trådt til civil i 2001 har gjort lynkarriere, først på den danske og nu også tyske erhvervsscene. Gardernetværks Talentpris gives til en tidligere Garder, der her skabt eller taget initiativ til en nyskabelse, forandring eller på anden måde gjort en forskel.

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Det var tydeligt at mærke på de to prismodtagere, at deres tid ved Den Kongelige Livgarde har haft stor en betydning for dem. Begge lagde de vægt på værdien af, at kunne sammensætte det rigtige hold eller team.

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Uanset om man skal lede en kæmpe virksomhed, eller om man er en del af en lille militær gruppe, så er det afgørende at kende teamets styrker og svagheder. Her har begge igen og igen kunnet trække på deres praktiske erfaring fra deres tid ved Livgarden.

Dagens reception og prisoverrækkelse har således været både fascinerende og inspirerende. Som Gl. Garder bliver man også bare mindet om endnu en skøn erkendelse. Nemlig at Livgardens motto vil følge en Garder gennem hele livet!

Selvom det måske er ved at være en del år siden, at man selv aftjente min værnepligt, så ligger værdierne fra den tid bare så dybt i én – En gang Garder, altid Garder!

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Læs også blogindlægget – En gang Garder, altid Garder!

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.

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 🙂

WALTER THE HAPPY WHALE ON AIR

Walter the happy Whale live on air – Podcast

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“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.

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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.

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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…”
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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

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