Business Freelancing Startups

What Do You Do When People Want Your Intellectual Property For Free?

no intellectual property for free

I’m gonna tell the story of how I refused to give my intellectual property for free.

A couple of weeks back, I had a meeting with a potential client on Skype. Well, it wasn’t just a meeting. It was a Nordic PR proposal that we’ve used a lot of time to put together, me and a Swedish + a Norwegian agency. Henriette Weber Inc. was leading agency, and I and the awesome  Elizabeth Rankich had used around 20 hours crafting this and we were totally ready to land this project. However, halfway through the meeting, they started questioning our credentials and our media relationships in Scandinavia. They wanted us to come up with some “examples” of people we knew and who they could contact.

Instantly all the agency side participants felt like they were asked to give away their gold for free. And none of us agency side participants would. The conversation turned awkward, especially since this was a  big project. Afterward, we haven’t heard from them. So what are we going to do next time?

We’re probably going to have the same approach as always and refuse to give away our intellectual property for free. It’s hard though. There’s a fine line between helping people out a bit for nothing and having them leeching on our network. It’s a hard knock life out there. Especially in the business world and you could end up working for free for weeks every month. Remember, your intellectual property is yours. If you have a notion going on inside your head that what people want from you for free, isn’t cool, then it probably isn’t.

Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual Property Rights states that you and you alone should benefit from the fruits of your intellectual property. Unless you give permission, this right shall protect creation from unfair use by others.

rock on
Conferences Startups Trends

Let me hear you say “SoLoMo”

pic of the audience by Erno Hannink during Eric Schmidts talk at le web


So when I was sitting in front of the stage at le web day 2 – listening to the “money” panel – which normally is one of the Best discussions of le Web – if you Are a startup, I got that feeling again. the “omg I know now what to guide people and companies to do with their brands – digitalwise. Anyway the panel is five guys (who happens to be some of the worlds top venture capitalists) sitting on a couch talking about money in the startup World.

THIS IS KEY TO KNOW IF YOURE A STARTUP LOOKING FOR MONEY. Because they basically spill the deeds on what they are investing in – which to some extend also signals what will be developed in the startup community within the next couple of years.

They give it all to you- saying what it is they are looking for In a startup and what characteristica you need to have before you’re relevant to Them. Super important information.

This year they are saying “SoLoMo” – which also is the subject line for the le web conference. “SoLoMo” is an abbreviation for “Social”, “Local” og “Mobile”. So this is where the money primarily are going to be spend within the next 1 or two years. I think it’s an exciting trend because it holds a lot of possibilities – both offline and mobile – but not so much for the web. Can it really be that we are starting to develop more to connect people in general instead of developing for the web ? I think so. is the World Wide Web on a decline? Maybe not so much yet – but something tells me that it’s a very likely scenario in the near future. that is kind of exciting.

I saw this presentation today on google + about lean-back media and the shock of the old:


presentation from emmaturner

Which I also think says something very relevant about the offline/local/mobil transition.
Could it be that laptops will turn more and more into an advanced typewriter where all the reading and the playing and interacting is done on tablets ? a likely scenario again =)

Anyway a huge pointer from here – and a real exciting one.




Conferences Startups

The le web 11 feeling in retrospect: Undercover fashion tech a la creme

picture by Chris Heuer: Kristie Wells of Social Media Club, Annika Lidne of Disruptive Media and yours truely)

So this draft was created on the last day of the le Web conference in Paris, but I first got around to finish it now.

Le Web has been a very interesting experience. Even though it has been very different from last year- but a lot fantastic people where met, speakers seen, friends dined and cool British bands such as the ting tings where experienced. All compiled in 4 days in Paris.

I think to some extend the Le Web conference is like a fashion show. 

in one of the presentations somebody used the phrase “undercover fashion tech a la creme”. To me it describes Le Web very well;  It’s the best of the best in tech and you’re left mesmerized. I think Le web has become for tech what Paris is for the fashion scene. The conference is so well curated so if you’re leaving Le Web not knowing what is going to happen within the next 2 – 3 years, then you haven’t been paying attention at all at the conference.

Le Web has become the European event hub that’s most vital for your business.

You need to be present as a startup or as a coolhunter/trendspotter. There was some agencies down there who I overheard a conversation by, and they had simply thought that they would get a recipe for social media they could sell to their clients (if that’s what you want – feel free to contact me over at and I can help you out). But they didn’t get the whole startup/venture capitalist part of the conference. Some of them where annoyed that it seemed like that the whole conference where more about startups and what they are building. But you need to know this – even as an agency. You need to know what cool ideas are out there – executed by the finest in Europe.

Anyway Im looking forward to Le Web again next year. It’s my december kick and a good way to ignite and plan for 2012 =)




Community Startups

Sweden: Be appreciative of the swedish startup community

The swedish startup community rocks!

Yesterday I was accepted as a part of “teknik bubblan” a facebook group for swedes that are into tech. I was a bit daring with adding it – mainly because I’m not a swede (well I’m an 8th swede ) and I don’t reside in Sweden. However Helsingør (my town) is right across the ocean from Sweden and I go there a lot (so much so I’m thinking about moving a part of the Toothless Tiger to Sweden) so I guess that must count for something. But I put together a list of why it’s cool as a dane in tech to live close to sweden.

10 reason Why it’s cool as a dane (in technology) to live close to sweden and the swedish startup community

1. Every time I go over there I get immensely inspired, both by the startups, the support by the society to do startups, and the incredibly sweet and friendly people. I also get inspired by the startup scene in Denmark, because the startups are immensely cool – but it just does’t seem as if they get quite as much support as the startup scene in Sweden. Also, in 2012,  Sweden had a delegation of swedish startups at Le Web. The swedish embassy in Paris even invited them for drinks with the ambassador present at the party and at Le Web. That will happen to the danish startups in a million years if we’re lucky.

2. It seems like even though I would claim that the road from thought to action is smaller in Denmark, it’s more well recognized by the community and the media in Sweden, and more supported to actually carry out your ideas.

3. I love the fact that it seems like the people in the startup community – overall – support each other. We do the same in Denmark but on a much lesser scale – maybe it’s because we’re fewer and we don’t have as many hubs for the startup environment as they do in Sweden. Also, it seems as if they actually have media that keeps an eye out for what’s happening in the startup space – in Denmark it seems like we just have social media consultants that translate or mashable into danish =) no just kidding… the ecosystem and the support system around the startups just seems better or larger. In Denmark as a tech startup you might get written about on, on – but there’s hope for us more “soft” startups out there: is turning into a section of berlingske focused on entrepreneurship, startups and growth. I’m looking so much forward to that.

4. It’s literally not far away – if you’re in Copenhagen it’s a 45 min train ride, or in Helsingør as I am it takes 15 mins with a ferry. Sometimes I feel that the mental barrier of “going to Sweden” or “going to Denmark” is actually bigger than øresund itself =)

5. I have gotten some great friends from my trips to Sweden – they are cool and greatly appreciated. And on the personal side (and why I love to visit Sweden)

6. They have cheap food – and in all kinds of varieties. Even their instant (eco) coffee is good. Their dog food is cheap (and the CCSO (Chief Cuddly Security Officer) and CSO (chief shoe-eating officer) of Toothless Tiger eats a whole lot of that). I’m a ICA maxi fan.

7. They have cool (and cheap) clothes – we always buy clothes for P (my daughter) in sweden – Lindex in particular

8. They have lakes and canoes and blueberries and small red houses and mountains (to swedes you probably would call places like Isaberg a huge hill – but hey I’m a dane – it’s a mountain to me)

9. Sweden makes me relaxed and it makes me want to write more than any other place in the world – so if you have a spare cabin somewhere in the woods I would love to go and finish some of the next book there.

10.You have cheap lunches – I would choose a ‘dagens’ at hacket in Helsingborg anyday (if I could=) in Denmark you end up paying twice as much for lunch – in danish kroner. So that’s it – a little sweden shout from me =). (Oh and if you’re an internet startup based in Helsingborg (in particular) or Malmø¸ and want to have coffee with me the next time I come over – I would love to hear what you’re about. Also if you have an office space I can crash occasionally =) In my mind the Sweden startup community is so different from the danish because of the overall supportive role from the surroundings(both on a macro and on a micro level).



The story of yearbook machine – the social network in a book

At geekn’rolla, Heidi and I highjacked two men to take us out to dinner: Tom and Dan of Yearbook Machine – basically it’s a startup that turns your social network into a book.

Anyway I talked to Tom about the story behind yearbook machine and he wrote it down for me (and for you guys out there). One of the things I really like to cover on this blog is the ideas and stories of the startups I meet – not from a “how much funding are you looking for/did you get” angle, but the inspiration there, which lies in building something from scratch.

Anyway the rest of this blogpost is written by Tom=)

“Yearbook Machine was formed as a response to our own experience as part of a yearbook committee, tasked with making a yearbook for our friends when we left school in 2007. My co-founder at Yearbook Machine, Dan, was charged with coordinating the book. He searched and analysed the existing companies but all of the solutions appeared over priced with no appreciation for design. What we wanted to do was to make something that our friends would be proud of, so we collected information on the school network, designed the book ourselves, and had it printed in China. The finished result left everybody happy and that was that, we still had no intention of starting a business.

In the summer of 2008 our old school approached Dan to make the book again, and he happily obliged. Having made this second book we thought how hard could it be to make an online system that did it all for you, and so we decided to establish Yearbook Machine. It was, however, still a side-project to our university studies. In the summer of 2009 four local schools conducted a private test of version 1 of the system, and the feedback was very positive. We then made some alterations to the system for 2010 and version 2 of the system was born. At this point we were restricted by continuous development and the fact that it was a part time venture, but nevertheless eight schools enjoyed our service.

At this point in time something had to change, it was apparent that making the perfect online system was not as simple as first thought. The business then moved out of our bedrooms and into East London, Dan finished at Cambridge, and we begin to build a team for the first time. Since the summer of 2010 it’s been all go. We’ve completely overhauled the online system, creating version 3, and we’re confident that things are moving in the right direction. In the coming weeks we will print thousands of yearbooks including those of twenty Oxford/Cambridge Colleges.

So where are we at ?

There seems to be countless tasks to do right now, and I don’t see the situation changing anytime soon. The business has matured, and we’re no longer a startup that concentrates purely on product development. Naturally that is incredibly important, but now we also need to also think very hard about the business side of things. With the added pressure of deadlines our time seems to just vanish, and sometimes it’s a struggle just to deal with the essentials. (I’m currently writing this message on a flight to Poland to save time!)

We have thousands of customers online at the moment, which is simply too much work for just two of us. So we’ve started to build a team, and the real challenge appears to be getting the balance right. We need talented people, happy to undertake a variety of tasks, who can fit into the culture of a fast paced startup. They need to be ambitious, driven, and able to detect and solve challenges on their own. Becoming the third, forth, or fifth member of our team is very different to joining a big corporate and becoming just another cog in a giant machine, so it’s very important that everybody works well on a personal level. With this in mind our employees start on a casual or freelance basis.  Obviously we’re restricted by budget, so it’s also a challenge to evaluate where we are most stretched; Design? Customer support? Software engineers?

One of the other great challenges is planning months and not weeks ahead. I need to know how much money we need in April 2012, and not just when our next invoice is due. This means that the financing and forecasting of the business has a very different feeling. We need to consider how the business is financed twelve months in advance because we are currently depended on the school year, meaning that income is cyclical. Going forward we can address this, but at the moment it has implications for our cash flow. Our expenditure is kept to a minimum, which really helps things. However, there are some costs that can’t be avoided such as lawyers. They seem ever so expensive for startups like us, but with our volume of custom, which will only increase, there is a pressure to make sure that the legal framework is in place.

We are looking forwards to the next academic year when we will begin to promote our service more explicitly and to a wider audience. We’ve previously purposely restricted the number of customers using our service because we’ve wanted to ensure that the quality to remains consistent whilst we scale upwards. We know now that we can produce thousands of high quality books at no extra cost, which means that the months ahead promises to be very exciting! ”

Tom Allen,

Co-founder Yearbook Machine.


Community Conferences Startups

Should all startups move to Silicon Valley ?

So during the last couple of months the amount of times I’ve heard “we need to be based in the valley” from startups has increased – a lot.

Yesterday I found a blogpost about the “european ecosystem” for startups – I think the article has a lot of great points, but I want to add my own more-action filled 2 cents.

Should all startups move to Silicon Valley ? I don’t want to move there and here’s why: I want to be at my own personal silicon mousehole called Elsinore, Denmark. Because it’s cool here and it’s where my kid goes to school. See, we are possibly 3 companies up here working with the internet. It’s not even Copenhagen. I don’t see a decentralized tech scene as something bad, I see it as something remarkably “glocal” and an opportunity to tell a different story than yet-another-startup-out-of-the-valley. I think what we need to aim at, is the “clusters” in the different cities, making sure that companies within the same field works together to ensure further growth.

We have a technical ecosystem that makes sure that we can work on projects from anywhere in the world with video and cms/crm/project management systems located somewhere on the internet. And basically being based in the same city makes me not prioritize meeting people here, because I could meet them at any time. I think there’s a huge psychological thing attached to geographical locations that isn’t taken into consideration when talking about “the whole tech scene needs to be in the valley” and the “competitive advantages of valley startups”.

So how do I make sure that people in the  tech scene knows about this little blonde tornado (aka. me)?

I often do tours of Europe to be present at the gatherings that are made in and for the european tech scene, it’s important to me because I get a grasp of what’s happening amongst the firstmovers of the internet,  it makes me connect to people, that are easier to connect with here than if they where in the valley. Oh and sometimes I even meet people at a different conference again – and they remember me.

Think about it. If you want to pitch/sell/get to know some hot shot person (maybe the coolest person in the world) it’s probably better to meet him when he’s out of his context, when he’s in Paris or London or Copenhagen for a week and don’t really have anything else to do there than to speak at conferences and attend meetings. If he’s in the valley he’s within his own context and wouldn’t prioritize meeting you as much as he would if he was in Europe and had time on his hands.

So I definitely see that you need to be present physically in the tech scene, you need to meet people where they are (physically as well as on the internet). But I would rather stay put in my small town and fly out to meet the tech scene physically every second month (europe, asia, US ) instead of being present all the time, backing it up with skype calls and tweets and facebook likes and what have you. Get a proactive and strategic approach to the tech community would create so much more for you as a startup than to be present in the valley at all times.

Live from my personal silicon mousehole

content marketing Identity + purpose Startups

What makes an entrepreneur rock ? clearing the unclear path.

Tara is a fantastic femme that I have run into over the last 7 years, both in Europe and in the US. She did a talk for TEDxConcordia a while back about being a startup entrepreneur – a new opportunity for her to conquer, after being one of the coolest and smartest authors and marketers that I have ever met. The talk is entitled “the unclear path” and it made me think hard about my own path as an entrepreneur and as a business owner.

One of the things I personally struggle a lot with, is that I don’t think I do enough as an entrepreneur. There’s not enough hours in the day to have me do everything I want to do. Also the financial insecurity kinda sucks (as fx. now where we have two rents because we haven’t sold our apartment in CPH yet (oh and if anyone is interested in the coolest new yorker apartment 12 km outside of CPH you can see it here and you can buy it from me =) It’s the space where I’ve build Toothless Tiger and written my book so it just oozes with curly  creativity =))

The thing two rents has taught is to not be lazy and to think smarter. So as I see it the unclear path is a freedom to me – and also the path that without a doubt has taught me the most. I feel so rich in experiences and everytime the clients from hell doesn’t pay on time and I want to throw it all away and it doesn’t work out, I think about what a 9-17 job would mean to me and my family and I feel like a caged tiger. And I quickly change my mind again and I’ve realized there’s no way Im going back.

So what makes an entrepreneur rock ? For me it’s both to take the unclear path and make it more and more clear as you go. Getting more and more people in with different expert areas and grow the vision in that way. (ps. I wrote a free ebook a while back called “why every company should be a rockband” – you can get it here)

I’ve teamed up with amazing people. I have some kickass advisors and a fantastic partner in Toothless Tiger who is giving me structure and helping me out driving my dream forward, it’s something I realized I needed a while back because I was driving myself down like the struggling artist I am, thinking “I don’t do enough, and I don’t manage the business well enough” Well I found someone who can manage the business, My business backbone as I call him, and I can focus on my art: the art of marketing, branding and identity.

And YES I see marketing and branding and identity as art. It’s the art of the glorified word “virality” and it’s something that needs constant planning and taking-care-off.

It’s my art and I am an artist who thinks bigger and crazier and more curly than most other people. It’s how I see that I save the world and make it a better place day by day, especially since I only want to work with people who wants to make a difference.


Conferences Startups

Investors + startups = Rockn’roll?

at Geeknrolla it sure was. I attended Geeknrolla in London, which was an amazing and funpacked conference for investors + startups. Seriously I can’t stretch how important it is for you as a startup/investor to be at places like this. Anyway, I personally, made the trip over to Geeknrolla for researching a new project + I always  love to meet startups with fantastic ideas that they have begun to execute and show to people.

So what’s happening out there?

Au contraire to some of the previous startup events I’ve attended, the startups here was kinda scary- in a good way. Meaning they seemed super smart and it seemed like they’ve got their things really well together, like – on speed. That was really awesome to see. Also I loved the “geeknrolla school” where the startups  came back and told the audience what they have been doing in the last year (since they pitched for the first time at geeknrolla). It was so inspiring and all of them had actually done really well.

Both the talks and the panels where all well put together, and I thought a really smart move was to have journalists as moderators – they took their job seriously and it didn’t become a subjective fireside chat between friends, as it sometimes tends to, when the moderator knows the people they’re interviewing already.

If I had to point to one thing that I really think was something that could be worked more on, then it was the demo area: it broke my heart to see the startups out there, most of them having 2 banners and a laptop only and just wanted to pitch their startup when you started to talk to them. That’s cool and all, but there could be so much more done, But I think crazy and curly like that. If I had a startup then I would do anything I possibly could to OWN the demo-area. bring out the homemade cupcakes and the champagne. Make me feel super special visiting you “booth” and make it into your own space.

Im kinda buzzin’ back home in Elsinore, because I really get so much energy from startup events. Geeknrolla, with it’s edgy, informality and something I would call “the Mike Butcher spirit” is up there at the very top (and hereby also added to my personal conference guide=)

This rockn’roll chick is pleased.

rock on

Conferences Startups

Support your “local” startup scene

Right now I am sitting on the train, on my way to London and GeekNrolla – an event I also wanted to go to last year, simply because of it’s name (but also because of it’s amazing lineup + the people coming there). Tomorrow is going to be a whole day filled with startups, and who knows, maybe sometime in the near future I will do my own ? The coolest thing about being around startups is that they glow and buzz and are normally living a risky life because of a pursuit of an idea they had a some point, that they decided to bring to life.

Startups is where action begins. Because of a decision to try things out and start building something that’s needed in the eyes of the team. Startups (and SME’s) are  my favorite clients because they tend to build an organisation where all the hierarchical layers aren’t there, and it means that the route from thought to action is minimal.

You actually get to execute things with a huge impact in no time – compared to larger companies where sometimes the outcome becomes something else than what you intended simply because of the layers and the opinions of all of the people in the company. Startups in my opinion is the coolest thing around.
But they can’t do it without the support of the community – and that’s where you come in, I do my best to support the startup scene, by writing about them, by talking to them, and give them my curly-haired outsiderish views on things.
I think you should do the same. why ?
– Because it’s really valuable for them to know that you’ve got their back
– It’s really valuable for you to be inspired by their often action-packed and mad schedule for world dominion
– they’re normally the coolest and quirkiest people to be around
I encourage you to find 5 or 10 startups that you really like and start to follow them around on twitter and give them some facebooklove by “like”-ing them. Also it’s super cool if you get in contact and tell them that you love what they do. I think they need to hear from all of the internet that we love how they change our perspectives and open our minds.
Just a small suggestion from here =)
Startups Trends

My takeaways from Copenhagen Startup Weekend

Picture by Jeppe Liisberg

I used half my saturday mentoring Copenhagen Startup Weekend.  It was crazy cool and left me floatin’ on a creativity trip, just from spending around 5 hours at the venue, together with the teams and the organizers. I can imagine how much inspiration the team members have gotten from a weekend filled with executing ideas. Anyway I got to mentor 5 ideas and the concept behind all of them was great.  I’m hoping that they all would be executed well and be some of the cool startups of tomorrow – like some startups emerged from last year (cough Memolane and Planely cough).  So this was where I saw that the teams I mentored where heading.

Using “online” to create convenient offline services

Actually, when I think of it, most of the teams weren’t doing communities on the internet or social websites, they where using online connections to create convenience in the real world. The talk was more on apps, RFID tags and censors then on “building the next facebook for xx”. I was happy because I’ve gotten a bit put off lately by the amount of web services that saw themselves as the next facebook (or facebook for businesses).

The idea was all about the end-users

No matter if it was a business-to-business or a business-to-consumer idea, it was all about the end-users. Involving them in ways that could make you collect data from them, and create a win-win situation for you (smarter companies) and for them (more relevancy and substance in the interactions with the companies).

Most of the ideas were built on visions of making the world a better place

Again it was about convenience but the drive came mostly for making the world fitter and happier.  I love when it’s not all about the money – I mean, money is fantastic, but the love I have for people who want to change the world is enormous.

I left Startup Weekend confirmed in my own hunches for the future, inspired and filled with enthusiasm for the teams – I’m sure they will do extremely well.