‘Trade your current life for a better one’

In our new feature series, The Local looks into a successful entrepreneur's life - the story behind their successes, their major challenges and how being an entrepreneur changed them forever. This week, Sparsh Sharma talks to Morten Larsen, founder of and the CEO of Miinto Group, Scandinavia’s biggest online fashion retailer.

'Trade your current life for a better one'
Morten Larsen started the online takeaway portal in 2012. Photo: Submitted
Ordering food online is pretty much the norm these days and one of the biggest players in the Danish market is, a takeaway portal with hundreds of home delivery restaurants across the country. Founded in late 2012 to challenge Just-Eat's market dominance, has expanded to more than 800 restaurants in Denmark within 16 months.
The Local caught up with Hungry’s founder, Morten Larsen, who since 2011 has also been the group CEO of Miinto Group, an online retailer working with more than 1,200 independent fashion shops.
How did you come up with this business idea?

I was the managing director at Just-Eat for six years and a year after stepping down, I decided to start my own takeaway portal. I had a lot of knowledge in this area and knew the main market drivers in the business. I used to wonder why nobody had challenged Just-Eat's dominant position by entering the market. Home delivery by restaurants is a huge opportunity and I wanted to challenge the big daddy of this segment at the national level. I realized the right time was now.
What were the initial challenges? How did you overcome them?

With many years of experience in the startup space, and another startup behind me in Just-Eat, the most important thing for us was speed rather than how to run the business.

The overall challenge, which is always the most important one in a startup, was to raise money and find the right team. My belief is that if you have proven your mettle, you can raise capital easier than when you are a newbie. I raised money entirely through my network without taking help from a single venture capitalist. As for my team, the management team from Just-Eat were ready to join me at
How has the journey been so far?

It has been a focused and very successful journey. We are up against the strongest takeaway player in the world but are growing faster than any other takeaway startup. In a time span of only 16 months, we connected 820 restaurants, a majority of them being from Just-Eat's network, and the company is profitable.

We focus on data services for the restaurants and offer very low prices for them to come on board. They also know we have the experience. We treat our relationship with restaurants as a partnership instead of dictating terms to them.

As a first in Denmark, introduced a digital stamp card where customers earn bonuses every time they order. Once they have ten stamps with one restaurant, they get a completely free bonus order. It's an advantage to be hungry.
How has becoming an entrepreneur changed you personally?

It's a lifestyle. I love to take calculated risks and start up something new. You have to trade your current life for a better one – the one in which you can create your own day, rules, routine, etc. Most importantly, follow your own dream by focusing on what you love to do instead of following somebody else's dream.
Any other personal reflections and/ or message to budding entrepreneurs?

Don’t think too long, focus on the right team and just do it. It's not hard to build a company if you are surrounded with the right people. To create your own company is a big pleasure but always do it with people you like to be with. Don't focus on doing 100 percent of the work yourself; instead, share ownership with the right people.

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Ten ways to improve your chances of finding a job in Denmark

Job searching in Denmark can be a daunting and lengthy process with many hurdles to overcome. The Local spoke to Kay Xander Mellish, author of 'How to Work in Denmark', for her tips on submitting a successful CV and application.

Ten ways to improve your chances of finding a job in Denmark

CVs in Denmark often have certain aspects of layout, presentation and content in common. By writing a CV that sticks to some of these recognisable customs, you may improve your chances of catching the eye of a potential employer.

1. Length

“Keep it to one excellent page, or two if you’re more senior. I’d say if you’re aged 30 and under, one page will be enough. Only add the jobs that are relevant. Employers don’t want to hear about that restaurant server or babysitting job if it’s not relevant to the role,” Mellish said.

2. Format

At the top of your CV, a paragraph describing your experience, skills, education and character is a common way to lead into a CV. This text can be adapted depending on the job you’re applying for and how you want to present your skills.

“Add three adjectives about yourself that you can support with an example, rather than ten adjectives with no story. For example, say you are innovative for this reason. People don’t like hot air in Denmark,” Mellish said.

Aside from the profile text, chronological lists of qualifications, relevant employment history and other relevant experience should be kept brief enough to fit the one to two pages.

3. Show your personal side and a photo

It is expected that applicants include a section about their hobbies, even family situation on their CV in Denmark, as well as a photo, to give a sense of who they are as a person.

“Danish employers are interested in you as a human, more so than employers in other countries so include information about yourself, including your age and your hobbies.

“Choose a good quality photo that is not too serious but shows you looking friendly and approachable,” Mellish said.

4. Story telling

“Think in terms of story telling”, Mellish advised. “Pure letters and numbers don’t mean a lot to employers in Denmark, they need to know what projects you’ve done, what role you played and what kind of person you are through your CV.

“So rather than writing ‘I have these grades’, it’s better to say ‘I worked on this project, it took this long, I achieved this'”, Mellish said.

5. Hit the ground running

Mellish called this “plug and play”, where you show you will slot right into the company and get going with the role.

“When employers are reading your CV, they want to know what you can do on day one of the job. Sell your ability to solve someone’s problem. You need to give the impression you can add value straight away.

“In Denmark the average length of time in a job is two and a half years, because you can take your pension when you move, so employers don’t want someone they need to spend time training,” Mellish told The Local.

READ ALSO: Five tips for writing an effective Danish CV

6. Teamwork

“Group work is very important in Denmark, more than individual achievements. So talk about your teamwork and how you worked with a group to produce a good business result. It shouldn’t be ‘me, me, me’ – that’s a turn off,” Mellish said.

7. LinkedIn

“People in Denmark love LinkedIn so you need a fabulous LinkedIn profile with a good picture. Before anyone calls you for an interview they’ll have looked at your LinkedIn profile.

“In your profile, include the storytelling, explaining the projects you’ve worked on. If your job involves a uniform, I recommend wearing it in your LinkedIn photo so people get that impression of you right away. Your background photo should also be work-related, not rainbows or puppies. Use it to tell the story of who you are,” Mellish advised.

8. Unsolicited application

This is when you approach a company or department you would like to work for, without a job being advertised. The Danish term for it is uopfordret ansøgning. 

“Many people make contact on LinkedIn and ask to meet for a coffee, where they chat and rather than pitch for a job, they ask if the person knows anyone looking for someone like them. Danish employers welcome this and many people are hired this way,” Mellish said.

Another way to network is to join a union, Mellish advised. They often have career events but can also help read your contract when you get a job offer, or help with any problems in the workplace. 

9. Ring the recruiter

The phone number of the hiring manager will often be in the job advert. Mellish advised finding a quiet place to ring them from and spending ten to fifteen minutes asking some good business questions.

“This also helps you work out if you might want to work for this person,” Mellish said.

“Send your CV within 24 hours of the phone call and mention you spoke to them in your application,” she added.

10. Patience

“On average it can take six months to find a job in Denmark. If it’s under this, you’re lucky. If it takes a year, it’s not you, it just takes a long time because employers are looking for someone to fit into their team.

“I wrote 100 letters, I got ten responses, three interviews and one job which I had for eight years,” Mellish told The Local.

“Danish employers are not always good at getting back to you. If you don’t hear anything, just keep applying for other jobs. If you sent an application on June 1st, you could send a follow-up email on June 15th, then you’ll have to leave it and move on,” she advised. 

Kay Xander Mellish’s book ‘How to Work in Denmark’ offers both job-searching advice and tips on how to succeed in the Danish workplace.