As of May 1st Jacob Hagemann is joining Innovation Center Denmark in Silicon Valley as Senior Commercial Advisor. We are very happy to welcome him to the center. Get to know our new colleague through this little Q&A:
Being a Commercial Advisor, could you please tell us about your work experiences prior to working in the valley?
I have traveled the world with my family and have been involved in multiple startups and marketing consulting projects during the past 17 years. In recent years, I have turned more towards innovation and business model engineering and to stay updated, I coach and mentor early stage startups.
My background is mainly consulting within online marketing. Specifically I have been very focused on Search Marketing, which, in short, is all about creating business results through a strategic positioning of your company website in Google. I founded my first company – Notabene.net A/S – in 1998 and our core expertise was exactly this; Search Marketing. Back then it was mostly related to what is also known as SEO. Only later did it develop into a more broad competence including both paid and non-paid initiatives to optimize the positioning in this – at the time – fairly new media channel called Search Engines. Working with large companies and consulting them on online marketing and strategies related to online business development, I started to develop a skill-set within over all business development. This later led me to start analyzing and consulting companies on actual business model engineering.
How do you see Innovation Center Denmark and our position in Silicon Valley?
With the rapid technological development and especially the network economy many existing and historically great business models are under severe pressure. Companies sometimes get beat overnight by small and fairly unknown tech startups developed maybe thousands of kilometers away from their home market. But new technology and new processes spread faster than ever, and we need to assist the Danish companies in managing this transition in the absolute best way.
Many Danish companies are already showing great progress when it comes to innovation, but there is still a great part of even successful companies that simply are not ready. This is often due to a cultural gap in the top management. Traditional thinking top managers are simply not open to explore and challenge their existing business models and traditional revenue streams. This leads me to why I am happy to be here at Innovation Center Denmark; I am passionate about innovation, change and business development; new ideas that can be implemented and put to work and create a difference. That is key to what I do, and this is where, in my opinion, Innovation Center Denmark is doing a key effort for Danish companies.
Being an Entrepreneur yourself – what is your best piece of advice for entrepreneurs in the making?
This is a very difficult question, and I am not so happy about choosing just one! So here are some of the things that I would most likely say to a first time entrepreneur, depending on the type of business idea he/she is working on:
“Don’t rush into the arms of investors before you are very clear about how and where you want to take your business. When and if you do need investors, be sure to make your own due diligence on them as they will do on your business. If your idea is unique and the team is strong, finding investors should not be a problem. But getting the wrong investors on board from the beginning can become a major problem later.
Make sure that you are building your business around something that you are extremely passionate about. Most likely you will be spending more hours working than most of your friends.
Don’t do it for the money and fame. Statistics say that you will fail!
Get to know your customers and think 5xW! (what will they pay for, why will they pay, when do they buy, who are they and where are they”) If the business model is 100% freemium in relation to the actual user of the product or service you can exchange pay with use.
Could you please tell a little about yourself and your family?
Sure thing. I am 41 years old and happily married to Rikke. We have been together since 1997 and we have two teenage daughters, Emma (16) and Lærke (14). We travel a lot together, and in 2007 we had the opportunity to go on a 6-month long backpacking trip to Argentina, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. During the trip, we visited 4 “SOS Children's Villages” as we support this organization that helps orphaned and homeless children. We wrote about our experiences and have since presented our thoughts at numerous SOS Children's Villages events in the years after coming back.
I recently moved to Silicon Valley after 4 years in Switzerland, and my family will be joining me here in the valley this coming July 2015 where both Emma and Lærke will attend High School.
Thank you very much, Jacob. Once again – welcome to Innovation Center Denmark.
If you wish to contact Jacob, feel free to reach out to him at JACHAG@um.dk.