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Start-ups run, corporations want days off

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How do you get people at the same organisation to get together and enjoy each other’s company. This is an age old question that all employers have wanted to answer, both because everybody naturally wants to foster a great spirit between co-workers, but also because it may pay off as a stronger commitment to the company, ultimately resulting in better overall results.

There are tonnes of different kinds of perks that companies offer their employees, and it seems like the perception of the different types vary from person to person. Would you rather that your employer sponsored a company trip, offered free massages, or would you rather have those expenses distributed as a cash bonus?

Startup vs. big corporations
It can be very difficult to determine as an employer, but obviously it also depends on the general corporate culture that you have, or you are trying to foster. To generalise, startup companies may have a (younger) staff that is more passionate about the company and the vision, and may work overtime simply because they care more. Here, perks that bring together people may provide more value, since people spend more time at the office, and the cold numbers on the pay check may matter less. Free beer on Fridays, or the mandatory ping pong table, anyone?

On the contrary, larger corporations with more senior staff may benefit from rewarding their staff with cash bonuses or flexible hours, perhaps because their employees to a larger degree have families and wish to be able to spend their free time there with additional opportunities to take days off, go in vacation paid via a bonus etc.

To repeat myself – I am generalising.

We just started with a couple of runs after work…
What we did at the company where I’m spending all my time, Graduateland, was to encourage our dear colleagues to join different organised runs. It all started during the spring of this year where some of us started to run together after a hard day’s work. Soon more joined, and we decided to participate in an upcoming half marathon in Copenhagen. Anybody who wanted to join would have their ticket paid for by the company, and we quickly organised the design and printing of company running t-shirts. 984033_721568151228134_6234580165882634764_n

Graduateland – The Usain Bolt of university recruitment

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Runners from all departments and 4 different countries
Ultimately we were 8 who joined out of 20 employees who decided to run. And that was a very heterogeneous group, consisting of both company founders, sales reps, our university managers, and coders, from Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Ukraine. That’s a pretty good ration of half marathon runners at a company that makes software!

The fact that everybody finished the race is not the point, though I think it is highly impressive. For most of us it was the first run of that distance. I was personally really happy that they simply thought it was fun to spend their time running.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 21.48.13The following months some of us have upped the distance, and we had one participating in the Copenhagen Marathon,1466105_10152207729819285_734447760699022656_n and two running the Stockholm Marathon. Again, for two of us it was the first time we ran marathons.

More efficient than beer
The obvious positive effects of getting into marathon shape are quickly realised, however it has been so much fun finishing all these work days with running trip across the Copenhagen area, in sun, wind, and rain. One way to get to know people is to get drunk with them – another is to go for a run together.

I think it has been a tremendously great initiative and I’m so pleased that so many of our guys and girls wanted to take part. Looking forward to the next challenge!

Patrick

 
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Posted by on 11 June, 2014 in Random

 

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International mobility of students and graduates is not the future!

Or at least we were told. I’ll be doing my best not to let my frustrations affect me, since a too biased and exaggerated viewpoint rarely convinces anybody, and only appeals to people who already agree with you.

In order to get you – the reader – up to speed, I’ll quickly set the scenario: We are presenting our business in front of an advisory board, who are to decide whether Graduateland is selected for a Danish incubator programme for Danish start-ups.  The short version is that we were not selected, which it really disappointing, obviously, but since we don’t know who we’re competing against for the limited programme places, we can’t really argue against this decision.

However, we were told that the advisory board doubted the whole concept of Graduateland, and this is where I can only encourage you – the reader – to join the discussion.

“We don’t believe that there is a tendency that young academics are ready to move to another country, in order to pursue an education or a career abroad”, they said.

Stating our perspective is somewhat irrelevant, since it is illustrated via our commitment to the creation of an international career portal. But what do you guys think? Are international career possibilities just not interesting, since nobody is ready to pursue them?

Is providing an overview of universities across Europe not important, since nobody wants to study abroad? Well I did just that, but that may because I’m an extremely internationally oriented person (notice the sarcasm).

Help us prove those conservative advisors wrong! Give the blog your comments, even if you think I’m an idiot, who can’t face a disappointment. Maybe even share the post with your friends, who may be able to contribute to the debate. In these times it’s far more important to have the support of the crowds, so screw you, authorities, you’re so last year.

Peace!

 
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Posted by on 24 June, 2011 in Entrepreneurship

 

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4 things a Danish startup can learn in Silicon Valley

Be Open
When you have a good business idea the conventional assumption among Danes is that you keep it to yourself, fearing that everybody will copy everything you had planned to create. That whoever is introduced to your new idea will be ready to abandon their own startup, their job, or other activities they were in the middle of, in order for them to pursue something that you have just introduced to them.

This happen very seldom, and the losses are the tremendous amounts of feedback that you will never receive, because you follow through with an idea that you have not tested on reality. In the case that your business idea is to be a commercial success amongst the masses, you will need test it with your future users, and/or customers. You may then experience that you may have gotten most of it right, and you will be able to tweak the features that you wrongly expected to be sparks of genius.

Of course you do not reveal the idea to your prospective competitors, who may have the resources to copy the whole concept, but you must not be afraid to share your thoughts with experts within the industry, or a savvy IT-guy. These could easily become your future co-founders, or the guy who end up being the one helping you create your product.

Be Commited
If you want to succeed you must do whatever it takes. It’s as simple as that. You need to be so commited to what you’re doing so that failure is not an option, and then you will experience that you will not fail. This is mostly due to the fact that you will be open to change you initial approach, in order for it to appeal more to your customers. Napoleon Hill said that you must actively ‘burn all ships’, like in medieval warfare, where the attacking soldiers could not retreat. I don’t totally agree with, but it will leave you with no other option than success.

Commitment also drives your work morale, giving you the strength to work late and get up early with an unaffected devotion to your startup and its associated success.

Additionally, it will affect your team mates, as well as the people you’re selling the product or idea to.

Think Big
If you want to attract talented employees, or the first, second or third round of capital, you have to be able to convince yourself and the people around you that what you’re doing is about to change the world. If you’re a talented guy, are you going to join a team that is only striving towards the mediocre? And if you’re a venture capitalist, are you going to invest in a team (because it to far greater extent the team, rather than the idea, that they are impressed by) that will settle for less? No. That’s the fast and correct answer. Obviously, everybody wants to invest in the next Facebook or Twitter.

This is also where the phenomenon of scalability enters the scenario. Scalability means that you easily can increase the scope of your business, without increasing your expenses accordingly. This is really applicable to IT venture, since the marginal costs of bits and bytes are low. Consequently, it is imperative that you apply the possibility of scalability early in your development of your product and business plan.

Network with Everybody
As an extension to the section of being open, it is pivotal that you exploit your network. This applies to your personal network, where you may find your future partners, or people you can give you the honest feedback you need. But it also applies to the network that you constantly must seek to increase and improve. You never know who may become good and loyal users/customers of your service or product, and you never know who might be able to hook you up with that special person, who can change the trajectory of your startup.

Imagine your former co-workers, who from time to time change jobs. These people lobbying your product may be the easiest access to a potential customer (given you sell to a corporation). Imagine also the benefits of talking to other entrepreneurs. These may not be the most obvious sources of direct sales or rock hard capital, but chances are that they have dealt with your stakeholders in one way or the other, or know someone who does/has. I talked to a guy, whose plan was to develop an iPhone app, that you could measure the calories in the food you took a photo of. Not very beneficial, in relation to my own career portal, but his German friend had been dealing with numerous German universities and this is definitely something I’ll be trying to exploit.

In order not to make this post too long, I’m going to stop here. Did I forget some point, which cannot be ignored? Feel free to supply your thought below.

 
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Posted by on 20 June, 2011 in Entrepreneurship, Silicon Valley

 

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