‘At the beginning, we did everything wrong’

In our ongoing weekly feature series on Denmark’s entrepreneurs, we speak with Mark Dencker, the co-creator of Wiredelta, a company that enables internet entrepreneurs to work with a well-trained but cost-effective workforce to help turn ideas into reality.

'At the beginning, we did everything wrong'
Mark Dencker is the co-founder of the Copenhagen-company Wiredelta, which provides development, design and web marketing services to start-up companies. Photo: Wiredelta

Mark Dencker is the co-founder of Wiredelta, a Copenhagen-based company that provides development, design and web marketing services to other start-ups. We spoke with Dencker about his company's rocky start and lofty ambitions.

How did you come up with this business idea?
In 2010 I decided to quit my job as an analyst at the Danish investment bank for developing countries (IFU) while studying economics in order to do an MBA in Barcelona. Shortly after arriving in Barcelona, I met my co-founder Thibaut Delarbre at the student residence where we created our first company, a Vistaprint competitor called Designing Opportunities. We did everything wrong: a poor company name, an even worse domain name, no designers or developers who were willing to get on board and no backers. Everything was an uphill battle.

This was when we realized how much the tech industry was lacking a place that enables companies to access a highly trained technical workforce, bridging the gap between cheap but unsatisfying freelance portals on the one side and pricey high-end web agencies on the other.

When we created Wiredelta in 2012, we were both business graduates with limited technical know-how. Being outsiders turned out to be a short-term problem but a long-term strength. It enabled us to see the industry from a different angle and recognize two main issues: training and tracking.

The tech industry moves super fast, and in order to keep up you need to constantly adapt to the newest technologies and track efficiency in order to deliver projects within budget. We solved these issues by building in-house training institutes and time tracking systems, which give us access to a steady flow of well-trained developers and the ability to spot where things go wrong.

What were the initial challenges? How did you overcome them?
Entrepreneurs are people who create something out of nothing, which is probably the hardest thing you can do in life. We knew from the beginning that Wiredelta would be all about the people, so the initial challenge was to spot the best out there. We did that by building the institute from scratch and tracking where the chain falls off. That requires super hard work, but spiced up with a bunch of luck and perhaps a little bit of smarts we have managed to get over the bumps on the way.

How has the journey been so far?
Starting a company is a roller coaster. Some days everything is running on high-speed rails, sometimes it’s an uphill struggle. Those are just the rules of the game working in tech trying to create something new in the world. We are committed to building the number one hub for companies around the globe to tap into a well-trained pool of developers and designers, and as a founder it’s a pleasure to see how that is getting closer to reality every single day.

How has becoming an entrepreneur changed you, personally?
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! Entrepreneurship has a lot of glamour to it, and there certainly are moments where you feel like a rock star, but truth of the matter is that it’s the hardest thing you can do. Its all about keeping things as simple as you can to begin with, and then build on top. Marc Andreessen talks about how every layer of innovation builds on top of the previous one, and if you don’t want to work 16 hour days use KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) all day long. As an entrepreneur, you quickly discover that it’s the small things in life that makes a large difference, both in your professional and personal life.

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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.