Today we speak with Claus Holm on his experiences with marketing, entrepreneurship and the Danish startup world.
Pagezii — Claus, please tell us a bit about yourself.
Claus — I’ve two graduate degrees from renowned universities in Denmark and my career has revolved around marketing and entrepreneurship in diverse industries from software, technology all the way to hospitality and tourism. My career has offered me huge autonomy where my goal has been to challenge myself intellectually. Money has not been my aim – gaining experience has and still is. Work should be playing.
Pagezii — What influenced you into marketing?
My admiration for my father played a central part
Claus — At the dinner table, I used to listen to my father’s experiences from his many business trips. He was a marketing and sales engineer for a large industrial company and travelled all over the world. I think my admiration for my father played a central part in choosing a career in marketing.
Pagezii — And how has marketing changed through your career?
Claus — Marketing has changed into being much more analytical, automated and scientific. Its more granular and 1:1. Which is great. It is not about the product features anymore, it’s about the solution and the problem it solves or service it delivers.
Pagezii — What’s a memorable marketing event that comes to mind?
It was the first time meetings were held in socks
Claus — It’s not one of my greatest achievements but perhaps one of the more resourceful ones. One time we needed a meeting room for a very important client meeting at a tradeshow in Cannes. The organizers charged an obscene amount of money for the room, but next to the venue was the harbor of Cannes. So I rented a yacht for less than the meeting room cost and converted it into a full board hotel for my staff. It saved the company half the expenses and our company “party-boat” got a lot of attention as well. I think it was the first time business meetings were held in socks since leather shoes weren’t allowed onboard. By the way – We got the client!
Pagezii — How is the startup scene like in Denmark?
Claus — Start-ups in Denmark are pretty easy to establish when it comes to the legal registration part – it is almost on a day to day basis. Authorities have also made reporting easy and fairly cheap. But it stops there. Capital is very hard to get and investors often have different agendas than the entrepreneur.
Pagezii — What advice do you’ve for new founders?
Claus — I’ve created 5 start ups, successful as well as not as successful ventures. As most people, I learn more from my mistakes than from success. So from failing I can say: what you do must be hard for others to copy. Be careful with partners, don’t let anyone ride your coattails. Most business fail because partners become enemies. Have integrity, structure and high moral in business – because if you fail you still have people’s trust and can rise again.
Don’t let anyone down especially not your creditors, they are often your only credit source and they can bridge a deal for you that you wouldn’t otherwise get financed. Leave the bad clients to the competitors – learn to say no to easy money and stay on track. Trust your gut feeling, when something feels wrong there is a reason for it. Be an inspiration to your staff and take care of them – people follow great leaders and you can’t afford knowledge leaving your business.
Pagezii — Thank you Claus. You’ve shared some very useful insight into the marketing world and startup business for all of us to reflect over.