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

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

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 🙂

Design by Witt – The movie

“Tak allesammen, thats a wrap!” Fotograf og instruktør Peter Vintergaard lyser op i et kæmpe smil. Vi har netop skudt sidste scene til Design by Witts  nyeste promotionfilm – Tokens of Happiness. Men hvordan kommer sådan en promotion film i stand? Hvor meget arbejde ligger der egentlig bag og hvorfor overhovedet lave den?

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Jeg ville fortælle historien bag Design by Witt og vise hvor inspirationen og passionen kom fra. Jeg ville tage folk med “behind the scenes” og vise hvordan de første designs blev til. Derfor tog jeg fat i Peter – en god barndomsven og en pokkers dygtig fotograf. Vi fik brain stormet på nogle gode ideer og manglede bare at få sat et fornuftigt storyboard sammen. Hvor svært kunne det lige være? Filmen skulle jo bare rumme nogle storslåede naturscener, give en fornemmelse af den autentiske stemning fra værkstedet og ikke mindst vise hvor vi vil hen med designet. Altsammen kogt ned til en historie på under 2 min. Det lykkedes heldigvis til sidst.

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Optagelserne gik som planlagt. Vi filmede non-stop fra morgen til aften og med hjælp fra en håndfuld gode venner, fik vi klaret det hele på en enkelt dag. Peter kunne nu se frem til at par dage i klipperummet, mens jeg skulle bestemme mig for musikken til filmen. Det lød umiddelbart som en men opgave. Men musikken skulle både sætte den rigtige stemning og passe til den voiceover der skulle indtales. Det blev til et par lange aftner/nætter i selvskab med hovedtelefonerne.

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Et par dage efter mødtes vi igen hos Peter, der havde sat et lydstudie op hjemme i garderoben. Det var i bogstavligste forstand i garderoben. Peter havde foret sit klædeskab med sofahynder og dermed ombygget det til vores lydstudie. Efter et par mere eller mindre heldige forsøg, fik jeg indtalt manuskriptet. Det blev flettet ind i filmen, som nu endelig var færdig. Det en ubeskrivelig lækker følelse at se filmen første gang. Og anden gang… Og ja, de næste mange mange gange. Jeg syntes virkelig vi havde fået lavet en flot film, som ramte nerven i Design by Witt.

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Kort tid efter kunne jeg endelig offentligøre vores lille promotion film. Det var overvældende at se, hvor godt der er blevet taget imod den. Så tusinde tak til alle der har været med til at se, “like” og dele den på de sociale medier. Det er på alle måder værdsat.

Du kan se filmen her Design by Witt – Tokens of Happiness

Læs med her på bloggen, når jeg næste gang fortæller om den travle og uforudsigelige hverdag som iværksætter. Fik du ikke læst sidste blogindlæg, kan du læse det her #Beyourbrand

Kæmpe tak til Peter Vintergaard og  Vintergaard Media for hjælp med hele produktionen.
Tusinde tak til Vejrhøj for det flotte ur og til Jewelry by AD for de smukke smykker til Laura.

En særlig tak til alle dem der har hjulpet både foran og bag kameraet – Laura Madalena Tore Fløjborg, Ditte S. Stievano Kristiansen, Dorte Levring og Gustav Westling.

 

Design by Witt – The movie

“Thank you guys, thats a wrap!” Photographer and director Peter Vintergaard lights up a big smile. We just shot the last scene of Design by Witts latest promotional film – Tokens of Happiness. But what does it take to make such a promotion film? How much work does it actually take and why even do it?

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I wanted tell the story behind Design by Witt and show where the inspiration and passion came from. I wanted to take people “behind the scenes” and show them how the first designs were crafted. So I called up Peter – a childhood friend and a damn good photographer. We brainstormed  on some ideas. Then all we needed to do, was to put together a sensible storyboard. How hard could it have to be?
The film just had to show some spectacular shots of nature. It should give a sense of the authentic atmosphere from the workshop and not least show the joy and happiness within the design. All of this boiled down to a history of less than 2 min. Fortunately we managed to do it.

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The shooting went down as planned. We shot non-stop from morning to night and with the help of a handful of good friends, we did it all in a single day. Peter would then spent the next few days in the editing room, while I had to decide on the music for the film. It might sound like an easy job to do. But the music should both set the right mood and match the voice over. I spent some long evenings/nights with headphones on.

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A few days later we met again at Peters. He had set up a recording studio in the wardrobe. It was literally in the wardrobe. Peter had stuffed his wardrobe with cushions and thus converted it into a recording studio. After a few more or less successful attempts the voice over was recorded.  It was added to the film. Finally it was finished. It is an indescribable feeling to watch the movie for the first time. And the second time… And the third and the…. I think we really did a great job with this film, that hit the nerve of Design by Witt.

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Shortly after we would finally go public with our new promotional film. The responce it got, was overwhelming. Thank you all so much for your views, “likes” and shares on the social media. It is appreciated in all respects.

You can see the movie here – Design by Witt – Tokens of Happiness.

On the next blog post I will talk about the busy and unpredictable life as an entrepreneur. Did you not read the last blog post, you can read it here #Beyourbrand

Thank you so much Peter Vintergaard and Vintergaard Media for helping with the production.

Thank you Vejrhøj for the watch and Jewelry by AD for the beautiful jewelry.

A special thanks to Laura Madalena Tore Fløjborg, Ditte S. Stievano Kristiansen, Dorte Levring and Gustav Westling for helping in front and behind the camera.

Taking the first bite of the Big Apple – Del 2

Walter close up

Noget af det jeg elsker allermest ved iværksætter-livet er, at man langt hen ad vejen bare er nødt til at kaste sig ud i det, når man står overfor en ny udfordring. Tidligere har jeg været vant til, at kunne læne mig op ad viden jeg har fået gennem min uddannelse eller ældre kollegaers erfaringer.

Sådan er det ikke som iværksætter. Her må man typisk bare ud og prøve forskellige ideer og tiltag af, for at få sine egne “hands-on” erfaringer. Heldigvis er det en læringsproces, som jeg i den grad trives med.
Sådan var det også på seminaret i New York. Her skulle vi naturligvis også ud og prøve kræfter med den virkelige verden. I mit tilfælde betød det, at jeg skulle ud og finde nye forhandlere til Danmarks nye design-brand.

Efter et par gode pep-alks fra Mik fra Lemonsqueeze, var det på tide at flyve fra reden! Første gang jeg trådte ind i en butik i New York, var det en smule grænseoverskridende. Men der viste sig hurtigt et mønster. I modsætning til Danmark, hvor Danish design i bund og grund bare er.. design. Så er Danish design åbenbart super sexet i New York.
Det blev til i alt 5 besøg den første eftermiddag. For hvert besøg blev jeg lige en tand skarpere i mit pitch og jeg lærte hurtigt mere og mere om, hvad der fangede de forskellige forhandleres interesse. Til trods for god interesse i de første 4 butikker, gav det dog ikke pote.

Da jeg kom til den sidste butik, var der endelig jackpot. Her var det ejeren selv, der stod bag disken. Han bød mig velkommen og var meget begejstret for mine designs. Så begejstret, at han inviterede mig tilbage to dage senere, så vi kunne få alle de praktiske detaljer på plads. Jeg var ovenud lykkelig og helt paf! Havde jeg virkelig fået min første forhandler i New York!? JA SGU.

Det blev det sjoveste møde jeg længe har haft. Til trods for mine mange forberedelse anede jeg intet om deres “basic terms and conditions”, hvordan logistikken skulle strikkes sammen eller hvordan vi skulle forholde os til betalingsvilkårene. Men vi satte hos ned og gennemgik alle forholdene punkt for punkt. Til sidst kunne vi give håndslag på et godt samarbejde.

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Tony fra ABODE

Kommer du en dag til New York, så tag endelig en tur forbi ABODE i Williamsburg. Her vil Tony og Brian helt sikkert tage rigtig godt imod dig.

Men det stoppede ikke med en ny forhandler. Mik havde lige et sidste es gemt i ærmet. Ugen igennem havde vi talt om muligheden for, at få mine figurer på hylderne hos én helt særlig forhandler. Her talte vi om en forhandler, der i min verden var fuldstændig uopnåelig. Men Mik havde en vej ind. Tilbage på kontoret kom Mik hen til mig “Fredag kl. 17.00 møder du op på denne adresse! Dont be late”.
Fredag kl. 17.00 troppede jeg så op hos et af New Yorks mest eftertragtede designbureauer. Efter en rundtur i deres allerhelligste lokaler og et indblik i deres nyeste produktudvikling, fik vi os en god snak om mine produkter. Igen en vanvittig og surrealistisk oplevelse. Et halvt års tid forinden stod jeg hjemme i værkstedet i Nordsjælland og drømte om hvad mine små hvaler kunne blive til. Nu sad jeg så i et imponerende kontor midt i New York og talte med et ikon indenfor design. En mand, som nu ville gøre sit for, at få mine designs afsat hos en forhandler i den absolutte superliga inden for design. Det var næsten ikke til at fatte.

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Turens mest spændende kaffemøde

Efter mødet vidste jeg ikke, om jeg skulle slå vejrmøller hele vejen ned af Broadway eller tage i byen og købe den største flaske champagne jeg kunne støve op.

Ugen var ved at komme til sin ende og det var så småt på tide at vende næsen hjem ad igen. Kufferten var tømt for designfigurer og i stedet fyldt til randen med oplevelser, indtryk og ikke mindst en ny forhandler.

Hvad jeg ikke vidste på daværende tidspunkt var, at et tilfældigt møde den sidste dag i New York, med en ikke helt tilfælde skolelærer, skulle vise sig at tage hele konceptet for Design by Witt i en helt ny retning… Men mere om det i næste blog.

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Go Grow
Lemonsqueeze

From real estate agent to entrepreneur – part 2

MetroHere is the continuation of the story about how the whole idea of Design by Witt occurred. If you haven’t read the first part yet, you may want to read the first blog post – From real estate agent to entrepreneur.

After I made the first edition of Walter the Whale in my fathers workshop, my new little project “Design by Witt” quickly startet to evolve. There wasn’t hardly any waken minut of the day, where I wasn’t coming up with different ideas or new projects regarding Design by Witt. My closest friends and family help in the process of brainstorming on the new ideas and initiatives. The whole business structure surrounding Design by Witt was slowly starting to take form. But if I wanted it to look professional and if I wanted to be taken seriously, I would also have to do it professionally. This made me think about founding my first very own company. It should be a real company with a registered VAT-number, a website, a business plan and everything else that one would need in a serious company.

My biggest challenge was, that I knew absolutely nothing about how to build up your own start-up in the design business, building a website or structuring a company. But one thing is was good at, was gaining help from my network. Both privately and professionally. I would never have gotten anywhere, if it wasn’t for the enormous help I got from day one! Help that I in every way is deeply grateful for.

Equipped with a potent “lets do it” attitude, an uncontrollable motivation and a good deal of impatience I began to work on my project. A great lawyer from my network helped my to found the company. For that I needed a name! “Witt” seemed like a no-brainer, so I wanted to go with that. But unfortunately it turned out, that the name was already taken. Since I was making design, I instead wanted to go with “Witt Design”. So I made all the paperwork and founded the company.

Afterwards a really good friend of mine helped me purchase the domain for my website. But when we wanted to buy the domain name “Witt Design” this name was also taken! Back to coming up with a new name! Quickly I come up with “Design by Witt”. Fortunately is name was available both with the registration authorities and for the domain. So I changed the company name with the authorities and finally I was established. It was an amazing feeling and I felt like I was walking around with an S on my chest! So now I just had to structure the company and built the website and webshop. But to do so I also needed a logo. Back to the drawing board. Very quickly (read: a lot of long nights, a lot of help from close friends and some great deal of frustrations) I now had my very own one man company, making my own designs and having my own website. I was so proud and super excited. Finally! I had created something that I could build on. And that I would! I could not help it.

When I showed my designs to people I met, they seemed enthusiastic and they liked the energy I put into the project. This created a synergy that just made my motivation and my drive grow even more. Quickly, I updated my website, expanded my concept and suddenly I also had my first retailer. It was an amazing feeling, to know that my small handmade figurines was now being bought by people who wasn’t friends or family.

Quite early in the process I got my big chance. My cousin had arranged a meeting with the Purchasing Manager in one of Scandinavia’s biggest and most exclusive design and home furnishing warehouses. If I wanted to look professional before, now it was even more important to come on as a serious and well-established company. In order to appear strong and serious, I called up a good friend of mine and offered him the job as sales director. He accepted and a few days later we sat down at a presentation meeting with the Purchasing Manager of this exclusive warehouse. I toke out the designs from my backpack, unwrapped them from towels and presented the individual designs. Meanwhile my new sales director asked about order sizes and delivery terms. In retrospect we were probably out presenting just a bit too early. But I guess there was no law against being an optimist.

The Purchasing Manager could see the potential and was happy with the products. But as she very kindly explained to us, she was not ready to take the products in commission. That would require a bigger production, professional packaging, barcodes and basically just a more serious set-up.

Although we did not close any deals that day, I now had a very concrete goal to target. I had to find a manufacturer who could supply us with a high quality production of the designs.

A year would pass after our meeting with the Purchasing manager, before I got my first batch of products home and stashed my apartment completely with boxes of my design products.

It was an indescribable feeling! There I was, about to open my very first Design by Witt gift box – I was thrilled! But I had not come this far without tons of hard work.
I had been around the country, to find a manufacturer in Denmark. Unfortunately, either the quality or the cost were acceptable. This led me to Slovakia and Romania. Here the production price was absolutely acceptable, but the quality of the products were no way near anything that could be accepted. During the process, more than once I was presented to a Danish company, which was specialized in production of design products in the East.

Every time I dropped it, because I thought it would be too resourceful and difficult to start up production in the East. But again, via my network, a meeting with production company was set up – Thank you again to the Go Grow manager. For the first time I met someone with the kind of commitment I had been looking for. Here I sat opposite an old (still young of age) cabinetmaker who took my products very seriously. They could make the products under the best possible conditions and at the same time I felt we really hit it of. 7 months after our first meeting, this company could deliver the first batch of products.

Alongside the search for the right manufacturer, I also started to built up a more serious structure around my company. I went from a private one man company, to a more serious business structure with a holding company and an operating company. I assigned an advisory board and assured me the proper design registrations and trademark protections. Most importantly, I applied to join the Go Grow – an entrepreneurship program at CSE, Copenhagen School of Entrepreneurship. Luckily I got in. The help and the network I got there, was more and better than I could have ever dreamed of. I was lucky to get in on a wild card and suddenly I found myself studying at the entrepreneurial school. Here I had to work on my KPIs, my CRM system and my VPs. Not to forget my GTM-level and my revenue streams – plus my pitch. Google quickly became my best friend during this period.

Go Grow gave me exactly what I needed and more. Go Grow made my business more structured, streamlined and expanded my mindset. From being myself and with a single retailor, I got a company with three foreign trainees, production in the far East and sales in Denmark and New York. Yet the entrepreneurial journey had only just begun.

The first steps into the life as an entrepreneur has been the most fun I’ve ever done. It has undoubtedly been extremely hard, tiering and not without sacrifice. But there is also a reason why my new motto is: If it was easy, everyone would do it! But the hard work was nothing compared to the enormous boost and the indescribable satisfaction it gives, to build something from scratch. Something, that with a little luck, maybe turn into being something greater than just a business involving me.

As a real estate agent, I worked to earn money. With Design by Witt, I work because I can not help my self and and because I think it is incredibly exciting and fun. At the same time, I now have the opportunity to do something good for others. Right from the start I decided to support different charity organisations. Besides some small sponsorships, I quite early decided to go in and support the WWF. There was no profits from the company yet, but the feeling of giving something back made it worth it. And the sponsorship fitted perfectly into the concept of the Tokens of Happiness.

So why was it, that I decided to quit the life as real estate agent to become an entrepreneur? Why I drop the easy path and instead choose the uncertain one? After all, for me it was fundamentally all about feeling free and trying the adventure. My biggest fear was to spent an entire working life not trying something else and not see what I could do with my potential.

My good friend – the one who accepted the job as my sales director – said it best. One day I was complaining a bit about the uncertainty and lack of financial bonuses I had been accustomed to as a real estate agent. He listened, but just said ” I hear what you are saying Martin. Just remember, every morning you wake up as a free man” Continue reading

From real estate agent to entrepreneur

Walter&Witt

Why did you do it? That is probably the question I´ve been asked most times over the last year, since I decided to take a leap of faith and start out as an entrepreneur. To be completely honest, I have also asked myself that very question once or twice. Why on earth did I quit a somewhat safe and sound career as a real estate agent with a relatively reasonable income, in favor of a funny and in so many ways crazy idea? Continue reading

Fra ejendomsmægler til iværksætter

Elephant light

Fra ejendomsmægler til iværksætter – Del 1.

Hvorfor gjorde du det? Det er nok det spørgsmål, jeg er blevet stillet flest gange, siden jeg tog valget om at springe ud som iværksætter for lidt over et år siden. Skal jeg være helt ærlig, har jeg da også stillet mig selv netop det spørgsmål en gang eller 3. Hvorfor i alverden var det nu lige, at jeg droppede den ellers sikre karriere som ejendomsmægler, med en relativ fornuftig indkomst, til fordel for en på mange måder skør ide? En skør ide om at lave noget så anderledes som, at designe, producere og sælge træfigurer. En skør ide uden nogen form for garanti om indtjening eller succes. Continue reading