Taking the sharing economy on the road

In our ongoing feature series, The Local looks into a successful entrepreneur's life - the story behind their success, major challenges and how being an entrepreneur changed them forever. This week, we talk to Søren Riis, the co-founder of GoMore and an associate professor of philosophy at Roskilde University.

Taking the sharing economy on the road
Søren Riis helped bring the ridesharing concept to Denmark. Photos: GoMore, Submitted
Søren Riis, along with Matias Møl Dalsgaard, founded GoMore – the popular ridesharing and peer-to-peer car rental system – in 2005 while they were studying philosophy together in Germany. The site quickly became the leading ridesharing portal in Denmark and existed for many years as a spare-time project. In 2011, GoMore expanded its team and relaunched on new technology. In 2013, GoMore received angel investment and the team went full time.
How did you come up with this business idea?
Matias and I lived in Germany in 2004 and realized carpooling had great potential since many people used it, including a lot of our fellow German students. At that time, carpooling in any systematic form was unknown to the public in Denmark, and we decided to change that. We wanted to take carpooling to Denmark as it fit very well into the green agenda of modern societies, presented a very cheap means of transport and had nice social implications.
What were the initial challenges? How did you overcome them?
The initial challenges were to find a good programmer and to develop a business model that customers would like and would allow us to evolve the project from a hobby to a full-time profession. After more years of having a semi-functional and free site, we developed a 'no cure, no pay' business model, which gave 91 percent of the transportation cost to the drivers and nine percent to us. That was all what we needed to start generating an income, hire more developers and create an user-friendly page and give much better customer-service.
How has the journey been so far? 
It was a bumpy road until we teamed up with two good developers and received angel funding two to three years ago. After that, we experienced significant growth. Recently, we have combined carpooling with peer-to-peer car rental and a leasing concept, which has allowed us to hire new, highly-skilled people and take our concept to new markets.
How has becoming an entrepreneur changed you, personally?
The world of academia and entrepreneurship are quite different, although both require good time management skills, an international mindset and the ability to think rather independently of pre-established frameworks. Entrepreneurship requires you to develop a more pragmatic understanding of a number of issues, to fund the work of your employees as well as your own and to be able to execute on rather short and strict deadlines.
Any other personal reflections and/or message to budding entrepreneurs?
Three points of advice:
a) Think big but don’t forget the everyday small goals you have to reach,
b) Let yourself be inspired by a world of excellent concepts but make sure there is coherence in your own company,
c) As a company operating in the sharing economy, it is even more important than usual to give centre stage to the needs of your customers and create an environment where the customers would like to go – they are both the providers and clients of your services.
Sparsh SharmaSparsh Sharma holds a Master's in business administration and a Bachelor's in electrical engineering. After having worked in top Indian media companies, he came to Denmark in the fall of 2012 to study at Aarhus University and later worked at Lego. A Danish green card holder, he is currently looking for marketing or consulting opportunities globally, while working as a freelance journalist for The Local Denmark and blogging about his experiences in Denmark. You can follow him on Twitter at @sparsh_s.

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Danes show entrepreneurs how to ‘startup everywhere’

Looking to launch a startup in Copenhagen or Aarhus? It can seem tricky to navigate the startup scene, especially if you are new to the city or country.

Danes show entrepreneurs how to 'startup everywhere'
(L-R) Thomas Nymark Horsted, Sissel Hansen and Sofi Sitha Natarajah of Startup Everywhere.
This was the issue that Sissel Hansen, a 24-year-old Dane, faced when she moved to Berlin in 2014. So she decided to create a guide to the city’s startup scene. 
“When I moved to Berlin I relied on my Lonely Planet guide for where to sleep, eat, drink coffee and which activities not to miss, and I could see that a similar style of guide for startups would be invaluable to people moving to a new city and wanting to start a business,” she told The Local. 
She said it shouldn’t be “so damn hard to find relevant and in-depth information about your local city and the process of starting a business in it”.
Although she said many people questioned the wisdom in putting out a physical book in today’s digital world, Hansen’s guide to Berlin proved successful enough that she moved on to a second guide focusing on Aarhus’s start-up scene. 
Copenhagen was next and now Hansen and her team at Startup Everywhere have put out guides for nine European cities and sold around 14,000 copies. 
They have also just released an online and mobile app, Startup Guide Maps, as a navigational companion to the print guide featuring spaces, incubators, accelerators and cafes with wifi in cities including Copenhagen and Aarhus.
Thomas Nymark Horsted, who joined the company as COO six months after the release of the first book, said the global startup scene is changing rapidly. 
“Twenty years ago there were only a handful of cities where most of the world’s innovation happened in, such as Silicon Valley, Boston, New York and Tel Aviv. Now it’s a global phenomenon but in spite of this, the challenges that entrepreneurs face are local rather then global. That’s why the platforms that Startup Everywhere create makes perfect sense and it is great that people find value in this,” says Thomas Nymark Horsted, COO of the company. 
Startup Everywhere plans to release guides for 25 new cities in 2017 and over 50 more in 2018.