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The entrepreneurial journey: “We were close to an IPO, but cynical businessmen had targeted me as a pawn in their game.”


This post is also available in: Danish

Fact box:

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.

Daniel Laursen is an experienced serial entrepreneur who helped make “startup” part of the Danish language.

His creativity was already evident back in primary school, while his first official business, ‘The Creative Mountaineer’, was founded in 2004. He has since launched a number of companies such as Valuer and InchByInch.

At the same time, as a central part of the early Danish ecosystem, he has had a hand in community projects such as TechBBQ and the online media

Today, he is CMO of the Aarhus-based scaleup Players1st.

What has been the wildest moment in your entrepreneurial journey?

We’re sitting on a sofa and former Brøndby and national team player Daniel Wass walks through the door. I’m a die-hard Brøndby fan, so getting to sit in an intimate room and talk business with an icon was really wild.

At the time, he was playing in Valencia, so even though we had arranged a meeting long beforehand, I was nervous that he wouldn’t show up at all, but he did.

The meeting happened in connection with my previous startup ‘InchByInch’ – a learning platform for football players. A key part of the business model was that the profits would go back to the football players, who could then pass them on to their childhood clubs – something he also thought was very cool.

So while I don’t normally like to highlight individual episodes, it was a really wild moment to experience mutual recognition from one of your great idols.

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

The most important thing I’ve taken away from all my years as an entrepreneur is the importance of acknowledging to yourself who you are and what you want.

I co-founded, but had an abrupt breakup with the company just before the IPO, which turned into a valuation of DKK 300 million. There were some really cynical businessmen who had come into the company and had chosen me as a pawn in their game.

Read more: Criticism rains down on Valuer after IPO. Could it hurt the credibility of future IPO startups?

In hindsight, I should have spent more time doing due diligence on these people. Finding co-founders and investors is a bit of a Gordian knot that will never be easy, but that doesn’t mean it should be neglected.

It’s important to trust your gut when entering new relationships so that you end up surrounding yourself with the right people. When you know who you are and what you want, there’s room for both the human and professional aspects of relationships on the journey.

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

In many ways I can really relate to the final scene in Forrest Gump – he floats in the direction the wind is blowing, and much of what he experiences remains up to fate.

Read also: Players 1st is upgrading: Experienced serial entrepreneur becomes new marketing manager

I’ve been very lucky to be able to invest in Players1s, where I work right in the engine room. We have a really exciting product and a huge untapped marketing potential that I’m trying to get off the ground. I’m very happy to be part of this journey because I feel that I can contribute a lot to the company.

Therefore, right now I’m in a good place mentally and I enjoy the strategic role that I expect to have for many years to come. But I’m also an entrepreneur with a capital I, so if a new wave comes along one day, I’ll find it hard not to ride it – it’s up to fate.

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