It’s number one on Forbes’ 2015 list of countries to do business in, Scandinavia’s fastest growing startup hub, consistently one of the highest ranking countries for work/life balance, has “clusters” for ICT/tech, life sciences and Cleantech, and is home to the largest cluster for scalable tech companies in Northern Europe. Legendary economist Michael Porter says clusters are the key to a healthy economy, so this is all good news.
You will hear of avant garde, bitcoin related startups like Coinify receiving 4 million dollars in series A when in India the highest ever recorded for a bitcoin startup is 1.5 million (pre-series A, though). By the way unicorns like Skype, Just Eat and Unity Technologies all have a Danish connection.
2016 has been a record year for investments in Danish startups, while the Indian front for investments are slowing, although the numbers are nowhere as big as India’s 2016 startup year with total investments going into billions of dollars and into hundreds of deals (but still!). Business Insider Nordic reports that just the first half of this year saw the highest ever number of 57 startups funded for 184 million dollars, on target to secure more than a hundred investments by end of 2016 when the whole of 2015 only saw 65 investments.
We speak to Avnit Singh. Avnit is chairman of Startup Borgen (means Startup Parliament and pronounced Startup Bor-gen), an initiative trying to do their bit for the Denmark startup scene with their event, TechBBQ.
In your words, what is TechBBQ?
TechBBQ is the biggest tech and entrepreneurship summit in Denmark. Also the third largest in Scandinavia.
Who are the organizers?
TechBBQ is organized by Troels Jørgensen (pronounced Jurgan-sen), myself and our supporting team.
There is a steering committee to make sure TechBBQ runs smoothly. The committee members were Danish entrepreneurs who got on board with us and are very passionate about putting the tech scene in Denmark on the map. This included David Helgason founder of Unity Technologies; Klaus Nyengaard, (Klaus Ny-en-gard), who is a business angel and former CEO of Just Eat; Esben Gadsbøll (Es-ben Gads-boel), another business angel and founder of WoolSpire; Camilla Ley Valentin, the founder of Queue-it, and Pia Elmegaard founder of Trendsonline.
We also had ambassadors appointed to spread the word about TechBBQ far and wide.
These were Jimmy Maymann who is executive vice president of AOL content, founder of GoViral and a former CEO of Huffingtonpost; Morten Primdahl, founder of Zendesk; Peter Mulmann, founder of Trustpilot; Christian Stadil, founder of Thornico and Hummel; Ulla Brockenhuus Schack, managing partner of SEED Capital; Jesper Løvendahl (Jesper Love-en-dal), and the founder of Expatride and DAGBO.net.
When did TechBBQ first launch?
The concept TechBBQ was launched in 2012 as a party in the park “Kongens Have” which means King’s Garden and is pronounced Kong-ens Ha-ve, in Copenhagen. People brought their own barbecues, hung out, and chilled with people who love new technologies and entrepreneurship. Since then it has been an annual event and TechBBQ has grown in stature to be quite the crowd-puller.
For 2013, TechBBQ was held at the Danish stock exchange and around three hundred people attended. Six hundred showed up in 2014 and that year it was held at the Copenhagen Business School. One thousand people attended in 2015 and this year, for TechBBQ held at the magnificent Royal Opera House, 2300 tech enthusiasts showed up including over 650 startups from all over Scandinavia, more than a thousand entrepreneurs and politicians like the minister of business and growth.
What purpose did you in mind while putting together TechBBQ?
We hoped that TechBBQ will promote entrepreneurship and tech in Scandinavia. We want to showcase what the Nordics are great at in terms of tech and startups. I would say we are achieving our purpose a little at a time, every single day.
We are excited that our expectations for all goals were met and now we are evaluating the value it has and can further create for startups, scaleups, business angels, VCs and other interested people.
Among the sessions at TechBBQ, the highlight was the showcase by some of the best Danish startups around. This year bike.mate and spiri.io were some of the companies that stood out.
A Danish entrepreneur, Vignesh, had this to say about TechBBQ:
“I became an entrepreneur because I felt that the idea I am working on hasn’t really been created by anyone and the best thing to do with the idea was to create a company that can effectively establish the idea in the market.
As for TechBBQ, I thought it was a great event. It was splendidly organized and clearly established the vision and ambition of the Danish entrepreneurial community. All the sessions were brilliant, especially the one unveiling the new ride-pooling concept. Overall, it was a memorable experience to interact with a lot of people and network with people of different capacities and thoughts.”