I often get the question of how I met Sven, the founder of Eachthing, and how it came about that I became the co-founder. It’s a story that involves three of the major pylons of the Danish startup eco-system, Startup Weekend, The Hub and TechBBQ, as well as a very important supporting role played by Aarhus entrepreneurial eco-system, #AARsome.
Looking for a founder/cofounder
Finding the person you want to build a startup with is challenging. You not only have to work well together professionally, you also have to work well on a personal level (but preferable not so well that it turns into something else). Bear in mind, you have to see yourself working with this person though thick and thin over years and years to come. In addition, you should have complementary competences, a shared set of values, agree on an idea that you want to run with, and both be in a place in your life where you have the opportunity to do it. Overall, not an easy shopping list.
I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur when I was 26 years old (well, actually 6, but I forgot about it for 20 years only to remember when I was finishing my civilengineering degree). But finding the right team with the right idea and a need for my competences took 6 years.
Startup Weekend Aarhus
Although I only joined Sven in Eachthing last year, it’s been almost 4 years since we initially met — at Startup Weekend Aarhus in 2016.
If you are not familiar with the concept of Startup Weekend, here is the short intro; people with an entrepreneurial interest (usually 80–150) meet, form groups, build a startup in 48-ish hours, pitch it, somebody wins, everybody goes on the intense rollercoaster journey of trying to make something great and meaningful in a short time.
From the Aarhus chapter we have seen a few succesful startups form from Startup Weekend, most notably the 2012 participants BeMyEyes, who helps visually impaired to see through a in-app network of volunteer helpers. Well, you shouldn’t really be surprised about that— putting +100 people who want to found a company in one room, some magic is spellbound to happen.
But that is just it. Sven and I wasn’t actually participants. I organized the event, partly as my fulltime job at the incubator of the university. Sven had been invited as a mentor by Sussi Bianco, an Aarhus startup eco-system stable, but he too was working full-time as the IT director of VindEnergi.
Actually, I only learned that later, as I never really found out what Sven did at the time. We connected and stayed in each other’s periphery as one unavoidably does in the small eco-system that Aarhus is. #AARsome really was incremental to these meetings. But other than the occasional hi, hug and other pleasantries, we never really clicked.
In the late Spring of 2018 I found myself at an impasse. After having spent 2017 constantly juggling 3 different companies, I knew I wanted to stop half-assing three things, and whole-ass one thing.
I checked out The Hub, a platform where startups can look for talent, investments or best practise tools. The Hub is one of Danske Banks’ valuable additions to the entrepreneurial eco-system faciliated by Rainmaking Loft.
I of course saw Sven’s post, looking for a co-founder and thought it sounded really intersting. But I didn’t apply.
I might share the reasons with you later on, but for know, let’s fast forward to Copenhagen, September 2018.
That year, I wasn’t actually supposed to go to TechBBQ — to those unbeknownst, the biggest startup event in Scandinavia (more tech than BBQ though). Last minute my then business partner in Ladies First, Maria, was chosen to pitch her tech-startup Forlaget Fortæl, on stage. Through #AARsome, the Municipality of Aarhus had arranged free transportation and free access to the event, so I decided to jump on board the arranged bus.
At TechBBQ you can meet the kings and queens of the Danish startup environment (and that year, also the actual Crown Prince of Denmark, wuhuu).
Anywho, as this story should be nearing its end, it might come as no surprise to you that I met Sven while he was talking to an investment manager from PreSeed (who unbeknownst to me was telling Sven that they don’t invest in solo founders). Hurtling by, I hugged both and left.
Later, I asked Sven about his quest to find a co-founder, and while he initially had found one, he was, alas, without one again. Jokingly, I said — ‘well, you could have just called’. As with anything said jokingly, but with a shimmer of sincerity, it was repeated a few times during the two-day event. The last time on the ferry on the way home to Aarhus. At that time Sven replied something to the effect of ‘if you mean it, we have to talk about it for real’.
And so we did.
The End. Or rather — The Beginning.