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 🙂

Advertisements

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

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).

14285131_10153694223471401_1455076006_o

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!

img_3583-2
(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.

img_5609

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

14542832_10153742153211401_1772967962_n

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?

14407993_10153713745321401_2047575938_o

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.

14360333_10153713745316401_1257269879_o

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.

14407910_10153713745366401_1286655462_o

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.

skaermbillede-2016-09-08-kl-17-46-53

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?

14407993_10153713745321401_2047575938_o

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.

14360333_10153713745316401_1257269879_o
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.

14407910_10153713745366401_1286655462_o

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.

skaermbillede-2016-09-08-kl-17-46-53

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 – Part 2

Walter close upOne of the things I love most about being an entrepreneur is, that when facing a new challenge, most times you just have to go out there and trust your gut feeling. Earlier I used to depend on knowledge I had gained through my education or experiences from older colleagues.
As an entrepreneur you can not do this. Instead you just need to go out there and try out different ideas and approaches. This way you will get your own ” hands-on “ experiences. Fortunately, it is a learning process that comes very natural to me.
This was also the best way to learn during the seminar in New York. Here we had to go out and test our products and concepts in the real world. In my case, I had to go out there and find new retailers for Denmark’s newest design brand.

After a few good pep-talks from Mik, it was time to leave the safe surroundings at Lemonsqueeze. The first time I walked into a design store in New York, it was a bit scary. But I soon discovered a comforting pattern. Unlike in Denmark, where Danish design basically just is… Well… it is just design. So it turned out, that in New your Danish design is super sexy. That afternoon I visited a total of 5 design stores. For each visit, my pitch got a little better and I quickly learned more and more about what caught the retailers´ interest. Despite some good interest in the first 4 shops, no one bought anything.

When I walked in to the last retailer, I finally hit jackpot. Here it was the owner himself, who stood behind the counter. He welcomed me inside and was very excited about my designs. So excited that he invited me back two days later, so that we could get all the practical details sorted out. I was truly happy and excited. Did this really mean, that I just landed my first retailer in New York!? I think it did!

It turned out to be the funniest meeting in a long time. Despite preparation, I did not know anything about their “basic terms and conditions”. Nor did I know anything about how we would deal with the logistics or in what way we should come to terms with the payments. But we sat at down and went through all the terms and conditions point by point. Eventually we were able to shake hands and they could start selling my designs.

IMG_7133

Tony from ABODE with his first Tokens of Happiness

If you some day come to New York, do not hesitate to stop by ABODE in Williamsburg. Tony and Brian will certainly invite you in and take really good care of you. And please do give them my best.

But it did not stop with a new retailer. Mik had just one last thing hidden up in his sleeve. Throughout the week, we had discused the possibility of getting my designs on for sale at one retailer in particular. We where talking about a retailer, that in my world was completely unattainable. But Mik might just have a way in. Back at the office Mik came up to me and said “Friday at 17:00 you will show up at this address! Dont be late”

That friday at 17.00 I showed at one of New York’s most respected design agencies. After a tour around there offices,  we sat down and had a good talk about my products. Again a crazy and surreal experience. Half a year ago, I was back home in the wooden workshop in Denmark. Here I was making my little happy designs while I was dreaming about what might be. Now I sat in an impressive office in midtown Manhattan and spoke with an iconic in the design business. A man who now tried to help me sell my designs through the nr. 1 retailer on my list. It was almost impossible to comprehend.

IMG_7069

The most exciting coffee meeting in a long time.

The seminar was coming to its end and it was about time to return home. The suitcase was now missing all my designs and instead filled with good experiences, lots of impressions and not least a new  retail contract.

What I did not know at the time was, that a random meeting on the last day in New York, with a not so random schoolteacher would turn out to change the whole concept of Design by Witt… But more on that in the next blog.

Lemonsqueeze
Go Grow
ABODE

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