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The entrepreneurial journey: “I was just interested in solving problems” – Barely knew what a Tech-Startup was.


This post is also available in: Danish

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The ecstasy coincides with the signing of the investment agreement, but it can quickly turn into a trip to the coal cellar if product development fails or the market turns.

All entrepreneurs experience big ups and downs. We focus on them in “The Entrepreneur Journey”, where every week an inspiring entrepreneur gets the opportunity to share their experiences, challenges and triumphs from startup life.

For Henrik Brink, computers and programming were a game back in primary school. He quickly taught himself a lot of skills that would later prove to be useful. He also worked alongside his high school education as a student programmer until he moved to Copenhagen to continue his studies at the University of Copenhagen.

So when he was writing his thesis at the University of California, Berkeley in San Francisco, it was a given that he would take on a freelance project. But despite being in the startup capital of the world, he had no plans to start a business. It was chance that led him to found Wise, which was later sold to the giant General Electric.

He was introduced to the world of artificial intelligence and machine learning when he had to use his programming skills at university. This led to more talks with local companies, including Google. So he returned to Denmark full of inspiration and founded Ento, which optimizes building energy with machine learning.

What has been the wildest moment in your entrepreneurial journey?

The obvious answer would be to be acquired by General Electric, but that would be too easy, so when we got our first big customer in Ento, Arbejdernes Landsbank. We concretized data from the bank’s branches and offices and were able to show them how their buildings could be energy optimized.

Read also: The Entrepreneurial Journey | Jonathan Løw: “I’ve never cared much for the Kickass and Go All-In narratives, and I see them more as clichés than good advice.”

We applied our machine learning solution to real-world data for the first time and uncovered opportunities for grotesque savings. From there, we were no longer in doubt. It had the potential to be really big and was a signature that we had basically “won.”

Our other major customer, Salling Group, has well over 1000 buildings, so it was even clearer here. Normally, integration work with an EMS system takes between 6-12 months to set up. We did it in 20 minutes, and on top of that we did analysis that they had never done before.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself on your journey?

After the journey from Wise, the most important realization was that motivation must be at the heart of everything you do. This was also the driving force behind Ento, because if I was going to start something new again, I needed something to stand against.

When I lived in San Francisco, I was just interested in solving problems and barely knew what a tech startup was at first. At the same time, I made a reasonable financial profit from my exit, so the motivation is naturally completely different today.

Motivation provides a resilience that keeps me going and gives me hope even on the sourest days, so it’s not just sheer willpower. My motivation comes from a helicopter perspective of taking part in the climate fight, and everything we do is viewed through that lens.

Where do you hope to be on your entrepreneurial journey in five years?

I hope that I’m still doing something that others haven’t done before. It motivates me to solve puzzles, find potentials and solve new problems. We’re not always good at making long-term plans as we’re always looking for opportunities where we can make the most impact.

I can’t believe we’re still using so much energy when so many crises are raging. There are so many problems waiting to be solved – not only technical solutions but also commercial problems.

So at Ento, we have a pragmatic approach and see a great advantage in being self-employed, as it’s often a bit slow with the big companies. But we’re not ruling anything out and the future is open.

Today we are in 5 different markets: UK, Italy, USA, Denmark and Sweden, but we are opening up in France, Spain and then the Netherlands and Portugal will probably follow.

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