TechBBQ asks: Is it possible to grow global from Denmark?

At TechBBQ the question “Is it possible to grow a global company from Denmark” was raised for a panel consisting of Peter Mühlman, founder of Trustpilot, Morten Lund founder of Skype, Simon Schmincke VC at Earlybird Venture Caital and Thomas Kragelund CEO of Pixels.

During the day here at TechBBQ it has been ascertained several times that the Danish startup environment is thriving and pulsing. But unfortunately we see way too few startups aiming to go global. So how can this be? Are we not good enough or is it simply not possible to grow global from Denmark?

First question by moderator Jasenko Hadzic was “Is it possible to start a company in Denmark the has global potential?”

Peter Mühlman started:

“It is definitely possible to start a ‘born global-company’ in Denmark. It is, however, difficult to make a big company being in Denmark. If you want to grow beyond the boarders you need to leave the country in my opinion.”

Thomas Kragelund, who recently took his company Pixels abroad agrees that Denmark is a good place to start out. After obtaining proof of concept here within six months, they chose to expand.

“Denmark is probably one of the easiest countries to start a company and to validate your concept. Growing the business you meet some challenges though.”

Founder of Skype, Morten Lund was asked to point out the main issues of growing Skype in Denmark.

“There are a lot of great stuff going on in Denmark at the moment. But we don’t have a massive amount of talent given our small size and lack of big corporations compared to e.g. the US. So talking about recruitment, people outside have talent that you have no or very little chance of finding in Denmark. We should learn from our viking ancestors and start going around and just take what we want,” Morten Lunds says

Jasenko Hadzic acknowledges that we are witnessing a lot of great things. However, he stresses that one of our problems is that Danish startups are not growing fast enough and are not ambitious enough, and that maybe Danes are afraid to leave the country. In relation to this he asked the question: Is a physical presence in the country your are expanding to necessary or is it possible to do it staying in Denmark?

Thomas Kragelund doesn’t think you can stay:

“Especially if you are working with enterprises, then you have to be present in the given country.”

So, what can be done in Denmark and Copenhagen to foster a global mindset? – Morten Lund had an answer to that:

“First of all it is important to realise how amazing the Danish society is. We are good at getting an average idea off the table. Therefore, everybody in Denmark should become entrepreneurs because no matter how much you fuck up, the government will save you. Second, Danes are amazing at making products, but we suck at selling. There is a general need to recognise this lack and become better at selling,” he said.

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