Author: Gabriella Anesio

Plamena Cherneva on women in tech: If you don’t understand it, don’t reject it


Author: Gabriella Anesio

Webamp spoke with Plamena Cherneva, founder of both WonderCoders and Nordic Women in Tech Awards. Plamena stressed the importance of including women in the world of technology, elaborating on her own journey in the industry and the struggles she has faced (and overcome with good mentorship, confidence, and a willpower to actually go out and change the way things are done).

WonderCoders, founded in 2017, is an NGO with a mission of empowering women: women who want to get into tech, women who are already in tech, and women who have no previous experience but just want to learn. Though the main struggle faced today is a lack of women in tech, WonderCoders is, nonetheless, a safe space for both women and men. As an inclusive environment premised on the need to make the technology industry accessible for everyone, Plamena and her team provide inspiring mentors for the entire community on this one platform. 

One of the most common questions anyone is ever asked is who their role model is – whether in school in the form of an inspirational essay, at university during a motivational letter, or in a professional interview (yes, I did ask Plamena. Spoiler alert: her role model is her grandmother…and the rest of her fierce and badass family). WonderCoders takes this concept of role models to new heights by making sure women who want to get into tech have the ability to look up to not only men in the industry, but also an array of strong and educated women – women who are there to give guidance, support, and the confidence boost many need to propel themselves into the world of technology. 

Women in Tech Awards, founded just in the beginning of this year, follows on perfectly from this focus on role models by actively featuring those women in the tech industry who have made it and proved themselves to be tenacious and persevering, and can, thus, inspire thousands who want the same for themselves. As Plamena says:

“The two different directions we take: WonderCoders is about inspiring people who are taking their first steps in the tech industry, whereas Nordic Women in Tech Awards is about celebrating people who are already accomplished and doing amazing things – more about celebrating these role models.”

Don’t misconstrue empowering women for excluding men 

Discussing empowerment of women across difference industries can, unfortunately, be considered controversial, but why is that? It’s because of individuals who decide to equate female empowerment with excluding men or diminishing their worthiness. This kind of misconception is the most toxic thing standing in the way of completely fair and legitimate missions to balance the playing field between men and women across an array of industries and jobs within those industries. The tech industry is a really important example of this. Plamena mentioned that, when creating WonderCoders, it was of utmost importance that it becomes a safe space for everyone:

“We didn’t want to build an organisation where it was ‘women only’, because if we want to make a difference, absolutely everyone has to be involved. You cannot say you’re going to make a difference when you exclude half of the population on earth. For sure we’re all about empowering women, but in no way should that ever be associated with excluding men. I always want to make sure that everyone is welcome to attend, any age, sex, ethnicity…anyone and everyone is welcome.”

The best way to break this down is by acknowledging the following: the two routes of WonderCoders and Nordic Women in Tech Awards exist for two different reasons. WonderCoders is about actively helping people with their personal journeys of getting more involved or more educated in the tech sector – that’s why it’s only logical that men and women are both included and given a chance to participate in this platform. 

However, when we think about idols in the tech industry, the big superstars that we associate most with technology, what’s the gender of >90% of them? Most likely male. A quick google search of “top figures in the tech industry” will prove this in seconds, with long lists of inspirational and influential people in the industry coming up. After going through the first five lists to show up in the search, the most women mentioned in one list were two (out of 16). 

And it’s because of this that Plamena decided to dedicate the entire Tech Awards platform to women. Women simply need more recognition. Again, this additional recognition for women doesn’t mean taking anything away from men, it’s simply about adding a vital piece to the equation: women. This isn’t synonymous with exclusion of men, however; volunteering, watching, participating in the celebrations – that’s for everyone, as it should be. 

“Two and half years later, and our community is more than 2000 people, we’ve organised over 40 events, big summits, coding intros, meet-ups etc. But what I realised is that when you build a safe environment, where people feel they fit in, magical things happen. It’s not because women don’t want to get into tech, it’s because they don’t feel supported enough. The whole point of the course is that you go to the course AND LEARN THERE.”

From Bulgaria to Denmark: From 50/100 to 1/120 

What does 50/100 and 1/120 mean? It means that when Plamena studied her Bachelor’s in Computer Science in Bulgaria (where she was born), her course, due to university quotas, had an even number of men and women. When she came to Denmark for her Master’s (also in Computer Science), she was the only woman out of 120 people. 

“It was not only that I had the cultural shock of moving to another country, but I also had the shock that I was the only woman. This filled me with doubt that I would make it and I already wanted to drop out in the first semester. I did end up dropping out (only in the first semester, thereafter I completed my studies) because I didn’t feel supported enough and I knew it simply wasn’t an environment I could thrive in.” 

This brings attention to an absolutely essential point: introducing tech to students too late in their life is an omission of the fact that the many education systems are designed in such a way to, essentially, force teenagers (who want to go to university) to decide on their university studies years before they even apply. For example, in the UK, you have to choose your A-level subjects (equivalent to choosing study paths at upper secondary education in Denmark) around the age of 16. This, in practicality, limits the paths you can pursue for higher education. The basic tech lessons that you do get in school should be more than learning how to use Word and Excel. 

“Students at school are not introduced to tech at an early enough age. If you start showing them what tech is at the age of 19/20, it’s too late. At this point, they already know which direction they want to go. Most likely their minds have already been made up. It’s not that I think everyone should become a software developer, but what our goal is, is to introduce people to HOW technology is built, and then they make decisions for themselves about what interests them most and where they could potentially contribute.”

To return back to Plamena’s experience of studying in Denmark: dropping out of her Master’s clearly wasn’t the end for her. As the expression goes, when one door closes, another opens. The door that opened was the opportunity to make a change that no one in Denmark had, thus far, tried to make before: supporting women in tech:

“Thanks to networking shortly after, I met my mentor and he helped me more than I could ever imagine. He came up to me one day and told me: “You are better than you think you are”. This was all I needed to start pushing myself and motivating myself. I realised that if one person could do this for me, what’s stopping me from establishing an organisation where we have plenty of mentors so people can find that one person, or more, to give them that push that I got from my mentor.”

A mentor that Plamena has had from a very young age has been her grandmother (but also her mother, and father…her whole family). 

“I was born into a family where my father was the cook in the house, and my mother has her own business. My grandmother is also a freaking fighter and my role model. She never gave up on anything – she even bungee jumped at the age of 65. I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by kickass women in my family. So coming from a very small town, I had a very different vision of what it would be like coming to Denmark.”

Coming to Denmark was the turning point for Plamena, and it was here that she realised just how much of a need there is for organisations to support women in the tech industry. One of the biggest challenges, however, is working out where to focus the energy on making a change. As we discussed, it doesn’t matter how much support, energy, or time you give to women in technology; if this energy isn’t matched by the organisations they end up working for, the support will be able to effectuate little change. And that’s why WonderCoders’ goal for 2021 is the following: shifting some of the focus from women to the organisations that women actually end up working for – kind of like hitting two birds with one stone. 

By helping organisations better themselves and become more open, accepting, and inclusive, the great side effect is not only that women feel more empowered in the workspace, but also that girls and women aspiring to work in the technology sector have something great to look up to. It’s like a self-reinforcing mechanism: the better the tech industry becomes at giving women a platform, the more women will feel inspired and determined to join the industry – this then results in an even more inclusive environment, inspiring more people and so on. 

“We are supposed to help and empower each other. If you don’t understand it, you should not reject it. Women make 85% of the buying decisions in technology, so I will never believe that tech is a ‘man thing’. It’s not enough to only be consumers.”

A special thank you to Plamena Cherneva for taking the time to discuss the great work of WonderCoders and Nordic Women in Tech Awards. You can reach out to Plamena and read more about her journey on LinkedIn

If you want to read more about entrepreneurship, company culture, leadership, or marketing, continue reading Nicolai Vittrup’s blog or reach out to Nicolai Vittrup himself on LinkedIn. For everything SEO-, PPC-, and web-related, see Webamp

Let’s Talk!

Mindpool and Collective Intelligence: 1+1=3


Author: Gabriella Anesio

Soren Wiberg Holm, Head of Strategy & Operations and part of the Founding Team at Mindpool, explains the concept of collective intelligence in this interview. Soren communicates the necessity of tapping into, often overlooked, human intelligence within corporate structures, and mobilising this crowd-intelligence through the use of technology – creating endless possibilities for companies. 

Mindpool is a startup which has caught the attention of many since its inception in just 2019. With a mission statement of activating and mobilising collective intelligence within companies, through the use of technology, Mindpool aids organisations by facilitating more insightful, efficient, and sustainable decision-making. By setting up mechanisms and processes through which the unbounded and untapped intelligence of employees can be communicated and transmitted to those in managerial positions, organisations are able to utilise, often omitted, internal resources which exist right under their own noses. 

As a company founded on the basis of highly compelling research, Mindpool is dedicated to making the pursuit of collective intelligence tangible – tangible in the sense that the impressive and convincing research on collective intelligence can be genuinely converted into a pragmatic tool to be used in practice within existing corporate structures. Helping facilitate this process is the diverse experience and knowledge from all founders, and the rest of the excelling Mindpool team.

“Dr. Carina Antonia Hallin, one of our co-founders, has spent over 10 years researching crowd-predictions, and is one of the absolute best in the field. The rest of us came on with commercial backgrounds, creating a golden combination of commercial, operational, and research experience. For example, Mik Thobo-Carlsen, one of our other co-founders, is an experienced serial entrepreneur with extensive experience in building companies that scale. And then there is Bjarke Ingels, also co-founder, and very much a person that truly encompasses the notion of innovation and new ways of thinking. The common denominator is an experience of working with or in companies that really miss out by not tapping into their collective intelligence.”

Thus, what makes Mindpool so unique as an organisation is its ability to leverage an array of competences from an array of fields, with all research being grounded in the reality of organisations and their decision-making processes. 

Collective intelligence ≠ groupthink 

The most logical starting point for this interview was asking Soren what collective intelligence actually means and entails. As a dense and complex term, the Mindpool team views it as imperative to be able to condense collective intelligence into an unambiguous and observable phenomenon, leading to the following definition:

“Collective intelligence is really what we would label an emergent property – a resource that emerges from combining intelligence of groups that can be used for a lot of things, including predicting, solving problems, or discovering new ideas. To me, collective intelligence is the use of distributed human intelligence that is augmented by technology and used for powerful decision-making – it’s the power of combined human and technological capabilities for making better and more informed decisions.”

To boil this definition down into a simplified equation: aggregated human intelligence + technology = collective intelligence, which helps navigate complex organisational cogitation, innovation, and prediction. As such, Mindpool is not only a tool for agglomerating data from employees within a company, it’s also a tool for providing solutions for the most critical decisions that have to be made. 

However, as Soren points out, collective intelligence is not a means to an end. It’s not something designed to be implemented on a one-off occasion. To truly grasp the full potential of the power of combined internal human intelligence, the process of aggregating, processing, and presenting data has to be iterative. This means that the process of garnering collective intelligence has to manifest within the corporate structure – that’s what makes mindpooling sustainable. 

Making sure mindpooling is integrated into the processes of organisations has both intrinsic and instrumental value. Intrinsic value refers to something valuable in and of itself, whereas instrumental value has connotations of producing value externally of the “thing” in question – in this case, collective intelligence vis-à-vis Mindpool’s platform.

Instrumentally, Mindpool offers, as aforementioned, a tool for aggregating, processing, and presenting data – transforming quantitative and qualitative information into predictions and insights with tangible actions for companies. However, the value of the platform doesn’t just end here. In addition to practical and perceptible impacts aiding decision-making, collective intelligence is also, arguably, inherently a tool with unmatched value. Aggregating information from employees across an organisation means the actual process of collective intelligence in itself produces new heights of employee engagement and feelings of worthiness. As Soren summarises:

“Employees are used to being asked about how they feel, if they’re happy being in the company, and what they think of their boss or manager. But with our tool, they’re being asked to contribute with important business insights, what their predictions are for business performance, and why they think this. It creates an extreme facilitation of feeling and being a valuable part of the company and knowing that input matters. So even though we’re not an engagement tool, it’s a significant secondary benefit of activating people for business insights and decision-making.”

Of course, anyone could argue that the effect of employee engagement is just as much an example of instrumental value as intrinsic value. However, to the people who believe this, I would say the following: collective intelligence doesn’t precede employee engagement, it simply is employee engagement. 

Mindpooling the frontline 

“So whose minds are being pooled through the use of Mindpool?”, any inquisitive mind would ask. 

“Any group of people, organization, or parts of a company really have valuable collective intelligence. To give you one concrete example, the frontline is especially relevant – and perhaps the MOST fruitful sources of intelligence, as they are the ones often siloed, unasked, and untapped. Let’s consider a bank – a bank has perhaps 2000 employees on the frontline, which include customer service or sales. Imagine the interactions that these employees experience everyday: talking to customers, clients, stakeholders etc. When they have these interactions, they pick up on what’s called tacit knowledge – hidden knowledge, that relates to intuition. These could be things like whether people are taking money out of the bank because they’re nervous about safety, or because they’re looking at competitors for new solutions. In addition, frontline employees often have a highly relevant understanding of issues, problems, and potential solutions to these.”

This knowledge shouldn’t remain untapped knowledge – tacit knowledge has an abundance of crucial and invaluable information that, when aggregated, can become a powerful tool to guide predictions, insights, and any decision-making. 

The problem with this knowledge – the reason why it is so under-utilised – is that finding an efficient method to collect and process this information is incredibly difficult. That’s why Mindpool decided to come up with a solution for it through the development of their platform. 

“There’s so much to this untapped knowledge, that if you went to a frontline employee, they would often not know what to tell you or where to begin. You wouldn’t be able to ask them to write up a report for management. What you can do with Mindpool is aggregate this information and funnel it up to the decision-makers, presenting a frictionless and intuitive flow for the frontline to pass information through. After aggregating this information, the Mindpool tools, methods, and algorithms process this data for decision-makers so they can use it in a tangible way.”

The collective action problem is a scenario that has long been used to exemplify the problems that arise within groups working towards the same goal. One of the main problems is that, oftentimes, individuals don’t view their individual contributions as holding enough weight to impact the outcome (as long as others contribute), and, thus, they simply don’t contribute. Though organisations don’t necessarily suffer from this collective action problem in a strict sense, comparison to this scenario is still valuable because it highlights the importance of people believing their individual opinions, insights, or actions do in fact matter. 

Soren makes this explicit through talking about how integral the function of feedback loops are. This, also, links back to the importance of mindpooling being an iterative process. To summarise this, imagine the following scenario: you work in the customer service department of an insurance company, and you’re asked about your predictions for the next quarter. After giving your insights and contributions, you have no clue where your information went, how the information you provided impacted those at the top in any way, or whether decisions were taken in consideration of, or despite of, the insights you gave. 

To truly integrate collective intelligence as a sustainable mechanism within organisations, transparency and feedback need to be embedded in every step – which is what Mindpool has done with thoughtfully developed feedback loops. As Soren says: 

“The feedback loops are super important. On our platform, we have both respondents and managers who can look at and use the data in specific ways. But the loops between these two entities are vital. The way that data is fed back, acted upon and communicated makes a crucial difference. If employees don’t have a good experience with these different aspects of the process, then the quality of data decreases and the participation levels become an issue to the point where it doesn’t matter how complex our algorithms are on the backend.”

The difference between an employee who knows their insights were taken into consideration (and maybe even incorporated into decision-making) and an employee who has no idea where their forecasts ended up is the difference between an engaged employee and a disconnected one. The former is much more likely to not just keep giving their insights, but also to want to keep giving their insights. And this contributes to what Mindpool calls the ‘corporate/collective IQ’. 

Corporate IQ: measuring mobilisation of collective intelligence

Soren explains that Mindpool has several mechanisms that are to be set in place overtime to ease the process of aggregating collective intelligence and ensuring its longevity within corporate structures. One of these mechanisms is measuring and providing an organizational-individual and changing ‘corporate IQ’. 

“It’s a measurement of how good an organisation is at mobilising the collective intelligence of their company. This measure has several different parameters to determine whether a company has a higher or lower level of ‘corporate IQ’, such as diversity in answers and demographics, the frequency and level of response, how much people are participating etc. Then based on this, we aim to provide organisations with an assessment of how successful they are at tapping into the collective intelligence of their employees. If the CIQ is dropping, there’s an issue – and we will try to provide advice to ensure organisations are performing to their best ability to utilise the inputs from across the organisation.”

As Soren explains, the process of mindpooling is of little worth if mechanisms, like the one above, are not set in place to make sure all processes are as frictionless and efficient as possible. This is exactly the same principle behind the justification for integrating feedback loops – without this, the complexity of algorithms and data processing hold little value. Communication and transparency; these are the two pillars acting as the foundation of Mindpool’s platform. 

The beauty of all of this is that all knowledge, information, input – however you want to refer to it – is internal. It’s literally an untapped resource manifested within an organisation (the only external element being the Mindpool platform, designed to unlock and mobilise all this wealth of intelligence). To put things into perspective, in 2018, companies from across the world spent an aggregated amount of over $150 billion on consulting services. The cost of mobilising internal, tacit, knowledge, through the use of Mindpool, would be less than a perceivable fraction of this cost. 

However, Soren notes that it’s important to remember that:

“We don’t claim that Mindpool directly has to replace existing processes or data collection, we simply claim it’s a very powerful supplementary source of information for organizations.”

The ingenuity of this is that this ‘supplementary source of information’ is coming from sources right under your nose – it’s coming from all of the employees that make up the organisation in question, and, thus, have a bountiful supply of relevant information. 


At the end of the day, all the work that Mindpool is carrying out is enabled by the advanced technology that we’re surrounded by today. This emerging tech is a strong topic of interest for Soren, and something that has motivated his interest in collective intelligence:

“My background is in strategy consulting, but tech, especially emerging tech, was a large touchpoint. The combination of technology and our complex human intelligence seems like a no-brainer. So with the power of tech, and the power of the human mind – why are we not doing more to combine the two? If we can augment human intelligence with tech, then we’re able to go much further than either or can do on its own. Tech and human intelligence shouldn’t work in parallel, they should be combined to tap into unlimited potential of humans.”

Collective intelligence, ultimately, has unbounded potential in the corporate world with regard to helping inform and influence decision-making. However, CI isn’t constrained to the corporate world, necessarily, Soren points out. The notion of “democratising access to knowledge”, as Soren puts it, should be utilised on all levels throughout society:

“Mindpooling allows us to tap into a deeper collective level of knowledge – you can imagine it as a 1+1=3 scenario. The phenomenon of the use of CI can take a lot of shapes and sizes, with the ability to influence decision-making on both a societal level, as well as an organisational level.”

To unleash all of this wealth of dormant knowledge – collective intelligence – is like discovering new perspectives, new approaches, new ideas etc. And if there’s one thing that Soren stresses, it’s this: “We should never forget the sheer capabilities of the human mind.”

I’d like to extend a very special thank you to Soren for taking the time to explain the importance of collective intelligence, as well as its unbounded potential. If you want to keep up with the Mindpool journey, find them on LinkedIn or their website. You can also reach out to Soren on LinkedIn!

If you want to continue reading about innovative companies, check out the other posts on this blog here. You can also reach out to Nicolai Vittrup on LinkedIn, or use the contact form on this website to leave any comments or questions. To learn about everything SEO, PPC, and web-related, explore the content produced by Webamp

Let’s Talk!

Making the unique the new standard: ZenseHome’s lighting revolution


Author: Gabriella Anesio

Webamp interviewed Nicklas Pedersen, marketing manager of ZenseHome. Nicklas shared what he’s learned along the way, the importance of being unique in everything you do, challenging the status quo, and redefining the way people approach things.

ZenseHome, founded in 2006, is an ‘intelligent traditional electrical installation company’, providing an entire package within which consumers can control the light systems in their homes, with features from dimming to measuring power consumption. What ZenseHome is trying to do with lighting can be compared to what IBM did with the Simon Personal Communicator – the first smartphone ever launched, redefining the playing field of phones and consumer spending patterns. ZenseHome is on a mission to transform their unique, bold, and intelligent idea into the new norm in the realm of lighting. 

Making the unique the new standard 

Making something new and innovative into the new standard is a challenge, but a feat made more likely when the idea propelling the change is truly a smart one.

“Considering the popularity of technological products in general, the smart lighting suppliers haven’t succeeded yet. Due to this fact, we like to focus on the traditional electrical installation as our main competitor. When thinking about it this way it differs a lot from a phone brand in the current market for phones and smartphones especially. Going years back we had a market where the smartphones were the unique models and clap phones etc had the majority of the market. Today the generic word for a phone has turned into the smartphone and we would like to make ZenseHome or intelligent lighting the new generic word for electrical installation.”

ZenseHome goes above and beyond the other smart lighting suppliers out there by providing a complete package whereby customers don’t need to purchase specialised wiring and installation, but, rather, a package of smart lighting components as an add-on to their traditional electrical installation. This is part of the company’s adamant mission to make the entire lighting process less complex to the layperson, removing the stigmas from electrical installations. 

This is just one of the ways ZenseHome is trying to make itself stand out from other companies in the same industry, according to Nicklas. It’s no secret that companies, in order to set themselves apart from their competitors, need a unique selling point (USP). When asking Nicklas was ZenseHome’s USP was, this was his response:

“First off, Danish technology, in addition to sustainable electricity. But if I should choose an overall USP for ZenseHome, it would be: the ability to simplify the complexity of intelligent lighting control.” 

This links to an incredibly important point: when you sell a product, often overlooked, or taken for granted, is that you don’t just sell a product – you’re also selling an experience. You could have the technically best pair of headphones out there, but if you provide crappy customer service, make it impossible for people to understand the tech behind the product, or simply complicate any process leading up to, and including, the sale itself, you’re doing something wrong. This is what ZenseHome is trying to challenge – it should be simple, easy, and convenient to get the lighting you want in your home, and you don’t need to be a tech geek to get the job done. 

The marketing behind lighting

One of the biggest components of being able to make intelligent lighting the new standard is good marketing. That’s where Nicklas steps in as marketing manager at ZenseHome. 

ZenseHome is an example of a company which hasn’t been negatively affected by COVID. In fact, with lockdowns and people being forced to stay more indoors, people have started taking more time to contemplate home improvements and renovations – enter ZenseHome. 

Despite the company not being adversely affected by the ongoing pandemic, Nicklas still has to make sure ZenseHome’s marketing strategy is stronger than ever before. 

“My main goal as a marketing manager is to optimize our communication and customer journey so customers buy our products through online channels rather than through the electricians, which is the way it has always been done.”

This links back to redefining the way things are done. It’s not just the product itself, it’s the entire journey and process of finding, considering, investing in, installing, and enjoying intelligent light systems; ZenseHome is stepping in at every point in this journey to help redefine, simplify, and innovate. But doing this is a lot easier said than done. Nicklas mentions that timing is absolutely essential to implementing a bulletproof marketing strategy. 

“The toughest part of being a marketing manager is keeping up with the many new possibilities within marketing and to execute these at the same time. If you do it right, you are the first mover in your market and will be able to take some market share. I have also learned the importance of thinking about different marketing tools in the overall marketing strategy. The synergy of using the right tools together can be the difference between success and failure.”  

Being the first mover is tough, but not impossible. To be able to be the first mover means capturing a crucial segment of the market and reaping the benefits before anyone else, namely, your competitors, can. As also illuminated by Nicklas, there are, the majority of the time, several aspects to a marketing strategy. It’s like putting the pieces of a puzzle together. With the right pieces, and enough haste, you can build an incredibly strong and competitive strategy, but remove one of the pieces and all of a sudden, the puzzle is incomplete and, thus, weakened. 

But the next puzzle is: how much should strategies be based on evidence or experimentation? This was Nicklas’s two cents on the matter:

“‘Never change a winning strategy’, but if you want to challenge the status quo you’ll need to experiment alongside your winning strategy. In our market none of our competitors have found the winning strategy yet, so it is all about balancing between the main parts of online marketing and testing new ideas.”

A massive thank you to Nicklas Pedersen for sharing his thoughts on staying innovative and challenging the status quo. You can find him on LinkedIn, as well as ZenseHome (alternatively, find them on their website). 

If you’re interested in reading more on the topic, check out the other posts on this blog here. You can also reach out to Nicolai Vittrup on LinkedIn, or use the contact form on this website to leave any comments or questions. To learn about everything SEO, PPC, and web-related, explore the content over at Webamp

Skal vi tale sammen?

The words of a founder & CEO: “We don’t strive to be the best, we strive to be better than we were yesterday.”


Author: Gabriella Anesio

Nicolai Vittrup, founder and CEO of Webamp, shared in this interview his approach to being a leader, an entrepreneur, and the shaper of a company culture premised on trust and having fun. 

In the journey of creating something truly amazing out of the company you’ve put years of hard work into making, dedicated personal resources to, and sacrificed a social life for, it can become tricky to keep a balanced perspective. It can become tempting to want to “beat the rest” playing the same game, namely your competitors. But remaining humble and reminding yourself of why you entered the game in the first place is so important with regard to keeping the integrity of your company intact. 

Being top dog is an instinctive desire, but that kind of mentality could potentially fall into the trap of putting too much focus on forces outside of the company, when the majority of attention should be paid to what’s happening within. As Nicolai says, 

“Here it’s all about challenging ourselves, not our competitors. We don’t strive to be the best, we strive to be better than we were yesterday.”

Striving to be the best is about the external vs. the internal, namely competitors vs. yourself. Striving to be better than you were yesterday is about the internal vs. the internal, namely pushing yourself to keep getting better, finding new methods, redefining approaches, and making work more fun. 

Naturally, comparison to other companies is not only a natural instinct, it’s also necessary to become better yourself, as you learn more, challenge previous perceptions, and rethink approaches implemented. However, the issue arises when you premise the success of your company entirely on how it ranks in relation to others – as Nicolai hints at, you’re successful when the company has improved in itself, not necessarily overtaken a competitor in the market. 

Train hard enough to avoid penalties 

When your mission is to be better every single day than you were before, the “training” never stops. That’s not to say you have to work round the clock and get a crappy three hours of sleep per night, but rather it’s about always making sure to utilise the time you have in a working day and dedicate that time to creating outstanding work. 

“As we are in the super league, we have a responsibility to train as much as we possibly can, which I expect from everyone. You have to look at it like a training ground: if you train less one week, you are either under-performing or you need to make up for lost time in the coming weeks. There is always work to be done and there is always the responsibility to be better, so, theoretically, you can’t ever “be done with all tasks”. There is always more to be done.”

In essence, if you say you have “nothing else to do”, you’re saying that there’s no room for improvement – which there always is. However, even though Nicolai expects his employees to “train” hard, he also expects people to have fun along the way. 

After all, a clear indication of whether you’re in the right job role is if you’re not just doing work for the sake of doing it, but doing it because you love it and get a rewarding feeling from doing it. Essentially, “training” should be fun and fuel you to constantly want to improve on your individual work and the work output of the company. 

Having fun along the way is clearly of utmost importance for Nicolai, as this was his response when asking him to summarise the company ethos:

“Webamp is a playground where we develop talent.”

Helping his employees thrive in their positions and learn more every day has nothing to do with beating others, it’s a personal journey which will help Webamp keep its humility and moral roots – this is also a large part of the company identity which clients can see and instantly fall in love with. Good companies, at the end of the day, are made up of people who love their job, not a bunch of shallow statistics. 

The unspoken deal: do your job well and in return you get trust

To say you trust your employees is easier said than done, but keeping employees on a tight leash has the repercussion of prohibiting innovation and freedom to experiment. That’s why Nicolai has always made it his goal to give as much trust as he can. The reward = a thriving company culture where people are simultaneously working hard and having fun in the process. 

I have full trust in my employees to be responsible for themselves, and it’s up to them to prove me wrong, not for me to prove them wrong. We have an unspoken deal and if you go against your word, it’s on you and there will be repercussions if not dealt with. I believe in second and third chances, but if it becomes a pattern in behaviour I can’t carry on being lenient.”

So crucial in this is that it’s never a boss’s job to prove their employees wrong. By giving trust, all you can do is hope employees will prove you right by showing how hard they work and the successful results with it. On occasion, however, people can prove you wrong by turning mistakes and lack of work ethic into a trait, as opposed to a fleeting mistake – and it’s in moments like this that Nicolai has to tighten the leash.

However, the majority of the time, everyone at Webamp proves Nicolai right with their relentless efforts in improving themselves as well as the company as a whole. That’s what fuels Nicolai to continue trusting his employees.

A big thanks to Nicolai Vittrup for taking the time to share his insights on Webamp and trusting your team. You can find him on LinkedIn – alternatively, you can use the contact form on this blog

If you’re interested in SEO, PPC and everything web-related, you can read more at Webamp

Let’s Talk!

Louise Bencard on entrepreneurship: Be honest when things are flying AND falling


Author: Gabriella Anesio

Webamp spoke with Louise Bencard: an entrepreneur, a force to be reckoned with, and the CEO and co-founder of BeautyBoosters. The interview was centred around both the glamorous and not so glamorous aspects of being an entrepreneur, the ups and the downs, and the hesitations and motivations. 

BeautyBoosters, founded by Louise Bencard and Maria Engberg Refsgaard in 2019, is a company dedicated to making beauty convenient for everyone. It’s about removing the stigma of beauty being something inconvenient you have to go out and get, sit uncomfortably through, and make time for in your busy calendar. Instead, BeautyBoosters wants to make beauty treatments accessible and associated with utter luxury and ease; they do this by bringing the beauty to their customers in their own homes, tailored to their customers’ own schedules – showing up with a drink in hand to make sure clients have a smile on their face, before, during, and after their treatments. 

Opposites attract 

The idiom ‘opposites attract’ exists for a reason – but it’s all the more interesting to see it implemented in practicality, in the form of two people founding and running a business together. 

“When I randomly met Maria, my partner in BeautyBoosters, in Los Angeles in 2017, things just immediately clicked. We were so obviously different and had such complementary skills, so when Maria pitched her initial thoughts on what we would later call BeautyBoosters, it seemed foolish not to try. So we did two years later, and I couldn’t be happier.”

The secret ingredient to making two opposites attract for longer than a split second – creating a sustainable relation – is exactly what Louise touches upon here: though her and Maria are totally different, their competences come together to create a skillset with razor sharp edges.  

There’s another secret ingredient, an ingredient that you must possess in order to thrive as an entrepreneur. In Louise’s opinion, it’s pivotal that an entrepreneur can find the comfortability and confidence to appreciate their own successes, without others reassuring them that they’re doing the right thing. If you can find it within yourself to say ‘hey, what I’m doing is so badass’, being an entrepreneur might be right up your alley. 

“I find it extremely rewarding that I finally have a “job”, where I feel intrinsically motivated to work hard every single day for a long-term goal, without getting immediate reward or acknowledgement, like you do with a regular job. It’s also one of the hard things, knowing that if you don’t do it, no one else will. When part of a startup, you have to find a different motivation for working up to 16 hours a day without getting paid at all. I have worked my butt off for 1,5 years without getting a penny – but I’m more motivated than ever, because we have a common goal and big ambitions for BeautyBoosters.”

In school you get an A+ for hard work, at work you get a promotion, as an entrepreneur you get neither, but the reward is ten times better because you know that all the hours you put in is contributing to your pride and joy – your company. It’s like planting a seed and watering it, watching it go from the seed, to a bud, to a flower…eventually into a whole damn forest. 

The moments when a company goes from a bud to a flower, and progresses from there on out: that’s the founder’s A+, their promotion, just not in the conventional way. And to be a good, or at least happy, entrepreneur, you have to clock onto that before you even enter the game. 

“The biggest reward is to wake up every day and do something that directly has an impact on the path of our company. We decide the pace of growth, our daily tasks and we are in command on every aspect of the business. It makes me extremely happy everyday to be a part of something I have built with Maria from scratch, with a team of 16 “Boosters” (beauticians) and a lot of customers who truly value something we have built. That’s what motivates me.”

That’s another thing. Most of the time, founders are surrounded by a team of troopers. Well, in this case, boosters. This means your accomplishments are shared with everyone – you do well, everyone does well. They do well, you do well.  

Communication, direction and shared passion 

Choosing to become an entrepreneur can be equated to possessing an acquired taste – such as liking coriander (a heated discussion to be saved for another time). This means you need to acquire the right skills to become a successful entrepreneur, leader, and visionary. Louise shared her top three:

“Communication, direction and shared passion are definitely the key. We have a team of 16 girls, who are all different in so many ways – but we all share the same passion and goal. Find common ground, don’t point fingers, say “we” instead of “I” and find a good way to deliver bad news. We keep our journey very transparent and share all the ups and downs with our team, because it’s their journey as well.”

Sharing both ups and downs. This is absolutely paramount. When you decide to be a part of the team, you consciously make the decision to be there for both the ugly and the beautiful (unless you prefer flight over fight, in which case: *never* join a startup team). If the only thing shared with you from your boss, especially in a startup, is how green the grass is and never how it needs more watering, or that there’s actually a dead patch that needs to be removed to make room for more grass to grow…then that leader needs to take a lesson or two in pragmatism. A pragmatic leader is one that deals with all situations, good and bad, and, in the process, communicates all of the above with their team. 

Wakeup call: the grass isn’t always green, the sun isn’t always shining, and your team most certainly shouldn’t expect either all the time. 

There are some personal attributes and personality traits that are more conducive to creating hardwired entrepreneurs. For Louise, there are three personal qualities she views as having been integral to helping her get to where she is today:

“I’d say my impatience, my work moral and my do’er approach. I’m up for any task and if I don’t know how it’s done, I’ll figure it out. I’m too stubborn to quit and often too impatient to wait for someone else to do it.”

That’s right, impatience, you read correctly. There’s lots of stigma surrounding impatience, with most viewing it as a scapegoat for screaming at people for no reason. But that really doesn’t have to be the case, as Louise discusses. Impatience may especially be “acceptable” when you’re an entrepreneur. Granted, if you’re the most impatient person to walk planet Earth, maybe your full-time job shouldn’t involve extensive caring for the elderly, but as a founder and someone running their own business…wanting to get things done pronto can’t come as a surprise. 

The hesitations and the motivations

As touched upon earlier, an ingredient to becoming a successful entrepreneur is relying on your own judgement as to whether things are going good or not with the company – there won’t necessarily be anyone telling you that you’re on the right track (unless you hire someone to do this). For Louise, this also ties into her biggest challenge – when you’re your own biggest critic, the temptation is higher than ever to work around the clock to find the answer, the solution, the fix to it all. But you have to know when to say enough, or at least learn to recognise when your body needs it Zzzzs. 

“The biggest struggle has to be the uncertainty. You never know when you’ll succeed. As an entrepreneur, your life becomes your work and vice versa – and it’s really hard not to let one affect the other. The biggest challenge is to let go. It’s challenging, because knowing that only you can elevate your business and decide the pace of your growth, you want to work 24/7. It’s like getting a notification saying: “Do you want success?” and then have to force yourself to press “Postpone” or “Snooze.”

Nobody’s going to do your work for you, but you simply can’t work 24/7 – even though you want to. It’s a scary and extremely exciting journey.”

Forcing yourself, as an entrepreneur, to pause something you genuinely enjoy doing, and know will bring you success, is like telling a toddler to only eat three pieces of candy on a Saturday; it’s gruelling in the beginning, they don’t listen to you, but with some tears and slip-ups along the way, eventually they learn a key skill of discipline

Teaching yourself discipline isn’t the only useful tool all entrepreneurs should be familiar with. I asked Louise what she wished others had told her before entering the world of entrepreneurship, to which she responded the following:

“That it takes time, and that you can’t expect to be able to do everything yourself. You do need help, and it’s okay to ask for it. Don’t use Wix to build your platform (I can’t stress this enough). Monday is going to be your new favorite day. Talk to your friends and partners about your frustrations, so it doesn’t stack up. Get advisors or mentors, you can call when you are at a crossroads. Be proactive. Prepare to pivot. Get ready to sacrifice a lot, both monetary and socially. Be honest when things are flying, be honest when things are falling. But most importantly, when something comes to life, something else might die. For me, it cost me my relationship and the life of my best plants. Remember to take time off and nourish the things you care about. It’s ok to prioritize your business baby, but don’t forget the other things that matter to you.”

Self-sacrifice – it’s tempting to believe you have to give up everything to realise your entrepreneurial dream. But the best visions are those that are created with some sacrifice, but not complete self-destruction. To be able to love what you have built in the end, you can’t hate the process. 

“There’s nothing more powerful than a woman oozing confidence”

Everyone is always told to dream big. But what does dreaming big actually look like? I asked Louise what Maria and her would do if they had an unlimited pot of money to grow their business.

“Then we would be worldwide by now, have an app and spend a lot of money on crazy marketing stunts. We have a lot of ideas! We would be hiring new talents to excel in every area of the business and would be testing new markets all over the world. We would have customized and pink electrical bikes for all our Boosters, so we could be CO2-neutral. And maybe pay ourselves some sort of salary, so we could take our parents out for dinner. In ten years, I hope we are the no. 1 beauty service provider globally. Whether you are in Dubai, LA, Moscow or Milan – you’ll always know where to get your beauty on demand, without having to compromise. Furthermore, we’ll have our own line of exclusive cruelty-free beauty products. Now, wouldn’t that be great?”

As an entrepreneur fighting every day to keep their business alive, it can, very understandably, become hard to dream big every day. When you have to live day by day and deal with the most seemingly trivial things to simply maintain your company (let alone grow it), envisioning such a bright and successful future may just be the furthest thing from your mind. But keeping these things at the forefront are imperative to make the sometimes mundane everyday startup grind worthwhile, worth all the sweat and tears. It’s like the carrot and stick metaphor – the carrot is the cruelty-free products, the pink bikes, the international markets, and the stick is the five hours of sleep, the fact you can’t afford to take your parents for dinner, and the parties you had to miss to count the bills. Worth it, though. 

“We’re the only ones in Europe offering beauty on demand, but we want to be much more than just a regular beauty provider. I think our universe is very unique, empowering and inspirational. We want to provide confidence, inspiration and encourage curiosity of the beauty universe. Everyone can use a boost – and there’s nothing more powerful than a woman oozing confidence.”

We’d like to extend a big thank you to Louise Bencard for sharing her entrepreneurial journey with us. To keep up with their work, you can find Louise, Maria, and BeautyBoosters on LinkedIn (or browse their services on their website). 

If you find the topic of entrepreneurship interesting, you can find similar posts about others and their journeys on this blog here. You can also find Nicolai Vittrup on LinkedIn, or use the contact form on this website to leave any comments. To learn about everything SEO, PPC, and web, explore the content produced by Webamp

Let’s Talk!

Improvement is a constant process: behind the scenes of a Strategy and Operations Manager


Author: Gabriella Anesio

Webamp interviewed Morten Graversen, Strategy and Operations Manager at Christopher Cloos, about the technicalities of what it actually means to run operations on a daily basis, the challenges that come with this, and the methods of optimising processes throughout

Christopher Cloos, founded in 2017, is an eyewear company that is Danish by blood, but with a French twist – the idea for the company being born in the South of France. Now, based in Copenhagen, Christopher Cloos ships its eyewear all over the world, with over half a thousand retailers in key locations across the globe. The company prides itself on combining Danish minimalism with the infamous French flair for style and elegance to create unique and beautiful eyewear.

Breaking down the logistics of logistics 

Morten Greversen is a young, yet ambitious, person, who is now in charge of running the logistics at Christopher Cloos. As Strategy and Operations manager, his tasks and responsibilities are almost endless, but he attempted to summarise the duties he face on the daily:

“E-commerce is 90 % logistics, so I ensure all orders worldwide reach the customers, and I am in daily contact with our warehouse staff, FedEx, UPS, other international carriers etc. I negotiate contracts, deals and prices for shipments. I do the same with our own supplier. I ensure everything runs smoothly. As for marketing, I am in constant contact with our Google and Facebook agency to ensure they deliver good results. I produce content and make paid ads myself, and also come with suggestions for them to improve theirs. I try to motivate the other employees and ensure we deliver good results while having fun. I also do retail sales, where we have around 500 global retailers. Sometimes I travel to London to stay there 4-5 days to really get in touch with all our retailers there. The same in France.”

To summarise the multitude of tasks listed, Morten does all of the following: takes care of orders, deals with contracts, ensures marketing runs smoothly (using both in-house marketing and agencies), runs an entire team of people in the process, and travels to key retail locations to ensure ops are running smoothly not just in Copenhagen. 

Essentially, the role of a Strategy and Operations Manager is to be the one in charge of keeping the ball rolling, all day, every day. As abstract as the job role may sound, it is in fact one of the most practical jobs, because it’s all about dealing with the day-to-day chores.

Professional weapon of choice: your calendar 

Dealing with all logistics comes with its fair share of struggles, and there’s rarely a moment of peace where absolutely everything is running absolutely perfectly. That’s why Morten has made sure he has a way to deal with all the multi-tasking and stress of ensuring smooth operations.

“Make a daily to-do list, and live through your calendar. Your calendar is your samurai sword!”

As obvious as it may sound to create a to-do list, it’s really not something that’s easy to maintain past the first day of trying it out. It’s like when you create a New Year’s resolution – sure, maybe the first day you don’t eat that steak and stick to chickpeas and spinach, but, often, by day eight you’re slipping into old habits, aka medium-rare filet mignon, and you forget all about the promise you vowed to keep the week before. 

Same goes with creating organisation in your life; it’s easy enough to bullet point the things you have to deal with on day number one, but as the list grows, the tasks become more complex, and the pen runs out of ink, the temptation to give up on your to-do list increases. Don’t knock it ‘till you’ve (really) tried it. 

Ok so that’s how to deal with challenges, but what are the challenges themselves of a Strategy and Operations Manager? This was Morten’s two cents on the topic:

“When it comes to logistics, every day is a new challenge. There are constant new issues, dilemmas and challenges. For example, Donald Trump only wants products that are produced within the US, so we’ve had a lot of issues with our Danish-made products, as their country has increased tariffs and made it more difficult for European companies to enter the US. Also, in E-commerce, sales are always fluctuating. You never know the revenue of tomorrow. But we have to analyze the data to find patterns to ensure steady revenue day in and day out, hopefully with an increase in revenue while also looking at how to improve our profit margin.”

Mr Nice Guy vs. Mr Too Nice Guy

The stereotypical representation of the top dogs in any firm being soul-sucking dementors who trample on everyone below them has been widely discredited for a while now, as it’s been shown repeatedly that being a nice leader leads to a nice working environment, which leads to better…everything. 

However, a line has to be drawn between Mr Nice Guy and Mr Too Nice Guy. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could be too nice – but it’s up to every leader to decide where that line is. This line may be the difference between being flexible with the time your employees have to enter the office and saying you don’t care about office hours or whether employees even come into the office or not, as long as they get the work done. 

The former is an example of Mr Nice Guy, and the latter could be an example of Mr Too Nice Guy – but there’s no formula, it depends on the industry you’re in, the style of leadership you’re trying to espouse, and how good your relationship is with your employees. 

“I can sometimes be too much of a nice guy. I really trust the employees and try to empower them. I believe in everyone wanting to do their best. However, that has hit me a couple of times by employees trying to take advantage. But our CEO and I complement each other a lot, as he is much more direct.”

The whole good cop, bad cop duo clearly doesn’t only make an appearance in the police world. As Morten says, the fact that the CEO’s style of leadership is more conducive to a disciplinary nature is perfect because it balances out Morten’s own susceptibility to being too nice, from time to time.

Though the Strategy and Operations Manager admits he’s maybe sometimes a tad too cordial, he always reminds himself of one thing, and gives this as a piece of advice to others out there when put in a similar, tricky, situation:

“Trust your employees, but trust your own gut feeling even more.”

This is, clearly, by no means an attempt at belittling the voices of others; it’s simply a gentle reminder that if you adamantly believe in something that contradicts the opinions of someone else, you have to sometimes choose to believe in yourself – but also face the repercussions by making sure to hold yourself accountable. 

Making the logistics machine shiny 

Evidently, the job of a Strategy and Operations Manager is hard in itself, as is the actual leadership element. But one of the toughest aspects is actively seeking out room for improvement, whilst not going bankrupt in the process – how to reduce cost, whilst maintaining quality.

“I do this by removing middle links. Finding cheaper ways to ship, such as sea shipping compared to plane shipping. Only doing performance marketing, where you can measure the direct impact on sales rather than more abstract marketing strategies. Always focus on the bottom line profit and not just ROAS.”

And with regard to actually pushing the company further and sharpening its edges, this is is how Morten finds gaps and attempts to fix them:

“I look at former work routines and my own personal projects, podcasts, books, etc. I use many different ways to learn, such as looking at other case studies, and then trying to implement these at Christopher Cloos. Companies that do not seek inspiration from other companies will never succeed. We do not copy, but we learn from others every single day. Improvement is a constant process, especially regarding marketing, where experimenting is the best idea.”

Despite the universe of marketing being filled with a million ideas, assumptions, and suggestions, the one thing that marketeers tend to agree on is exactly that touched upon by Morten – 1) everything is always changing, and 2) experimentation is often the sharpest bow in your marketing quiver. 

Another fair remark made is that comparison is not synonymous with copying – a company can legitimately look for inspiration from other companies without losing any uniqueness or originality in the process.

Thank you to Morten Graversen for his comments on what it’s like to be a Strategy and Operations Manager. You can find him on LinkedIn, as well as Christopher Cloos (or on their website). 

If you want to read more about entrepreneurship, company culture, leadership, or marketing, see Nicolai Vittrup’s blog or reach out to Nicolai Vittrup himself on LinkedIn. To learn about everything SEO-, PPC-, and web-related, see Webamp

Let’s Talk!

Mr. Goodvertising vs. Don Draper: Why the former would win every round in the advertising ring


Author: Gabriella Anesio

In this interview, Thomas Kolster, aka Mr. Goodvertising, made a clear point of the fact that good advertising is hard. But necessary. He speaks about everything from over-politicisation of brands to what would happen if he were stood face-to-face with Don Draper. One thing made explicit is the abundant need for corporate accountability and responsibility in the scheme of it all, as it’s only this way that companies can be pushed to do amazing things. 

Thomas Kolster is the founder of Goodvertising Agency and the author of two seminal books on the Goodvertising movement. The first thing to clarify, before mentioning anything else, is what Goodvertising actually is. To put it short and sweet, it’s a movement premised on sustainable advertising, with the intention of ensuring companies become part of the solution to (instead of being the cause of) the ever-growing social and environmental challenges we face today. 

It all started in 2009 with the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Expectations were high, adrenaline was rushing – Thomas expected great things, but, ultimately, felt like the outcome was a bunch of empty promises, which he felt especially from the corporate sector. It was time for a change, which is why Thomas quit his old advertising agency, wrote his first book, and started his new agency focused on actual change for the good (*mic drop*). 

From democracy to corporatocracy?

Corporations can adopt a political voice. Fact. Corporations can push a certain political agenda. Fact. You can vote corporations into the White House…Definitely not a fact, but an increasingly realistic scenario way down the line (#voteLEGO). 

The debate can be whittled down to the question of the extent to which corporations should be able to push their political manifestos on consumers. The Goodvertising movement obviously stands by making great social and environmental change, and that is inevitably to become political. But to what extent should plights of justice be screamed in your face, as opposed to actual progress being shown to customers? This is Thomas’s two cents on the matter:

“Brand activism, exemplified by brands like Nike and Patagonia, has become a movement in itself today, meaning brands are becoming extremely politically charged. My opinion has changed on this topic. I don’t think over-politicisation is a good thing. We already live in a polarised world, and I don’t think I need a f*cking soap brand telling me that I’m right or wrong. The risk of brands being so outspoken, politically, is that people are beginning to distrust them and feel that they are overstepping the role of society. I obviously applaud every time a brand talks about the environment and social change, but there’s a fine line, and brands can easily fall into the Hero Trap* if they play too much into it.”

*The Hero Trap: a concept based on the misconception that flashing massive, and most likely unattainable, promises makes you superman. What does make you the superman of the corporate world is helping your customers transform into the version of themselves they’re working towards every day. 

Something appreciated now more than ever is that no one can shove their own agenda, or ambition, or mindset in the face of a massive group of people. That assumes that the group of people, consumers in this context, are homogenous. In reality, everyone has their own visions for what they want to achieve in life, and a massive branding miscalculation is assuming a superficial sentiment will resonate with *everyone*. That’s where Mr. Goodvertising steps is:

“I started acknowledging how difficult it was to create change in my own life. I then took that as the starting point for the bigger narrative of societal change. If you want to change the world, you have to start with yourself – I think this is something that we can all relate to. I think that’s also why we might today be seeing the failure of mass political parties that have a hard time gathering people around their ideals and manifesto. Today, I want to be spoken to as an individual with my own dreams, my own visions, and my own ambitions. I don’t want someone who’s screaming idealist mantras at me. We need to be much more human-centric going forward.”

Essentially, corporations need to stop assuming people are made from the same cookie cutter, and start embracing that, even though everyone may have different ideals and purposes, the red thread is being human and wanting to see positive change in oneself and society (at least that’s the hope, otherwise humanity may be in serious danger). 

Hate can be great! 

When discussing the topic of leadership, it occurred to me that there are two features that can either make or break a leader: being provocative and being brave. Thomas agreed and gave his interpretation on the matter:

“I love smart provocations, that’s part of my brand. What comedy and provocation can do when done right is amazing because it makes you reflect on yourself and your own values. That’s great communication. So I do think we need a bit of provocation, but in this day and age it’s become a screaming contest – so it needs to be done intelligently. And you can’t work in the creative or marketing industry without bravery. Every little idea you’ll ever come up with has some form of risk attached to it, and if there’s no risk, then you’re a lousy creator.”

So, if you can check off the witty provocation and bravery boxes, you’re on the right track to becoming a great leader, whether that’s the president of Nike or the United States of America (reminder needed here: provocation is meant to be intelligent, not mindless). 

The topic of provocation led to discussion on another, related, subject: hate (and love, but that’s less interesting). Most of us are taught from a very young age never to use the word hate because “it isn’t nice”. But when you work in the world of marketing and advertising, especially if you want to change the way things are done, playing nice doesn’t always cut it. That stands for both those in leadership positions and first-time customers. 

“When dealing with entrepreneurs from around the world, this is what I have witnessed: creativity can come from hate or love. Either they hate something so much they need to change it, or they love something so much they want to preserve it, or have more of it. Those are the two strongest forces in our lives for creating change. We need to talk more about love and hate in business. I think hate can be a tremendously powerful tool for change. The opening line in my first book is ‘I hate 99% of advertising’. I hated it so much I felt I had to change it, so I think hate is great. Hate is not about bigotry, hate is not about racism – that’s just ignorance.”

In this context, clearly, hate is something positive – ironically so. And that’s also why it’s so important to understand the difference between hate and ignorance, as Thomas points out. One is about using hate as a gaslight for positive change, the other is about using hate as a gaslight for being an assh*le. Same fuel, very different intentions and outcomes. 

Ignorance can come down to many things, but spotting ignorance isn’t always that easy, especially in an advertising landscape where people are bombarded with marketing ploys left, right, and centre (and above, on a billboard, and in front, on your phone). 

“The thing that provokes me the most is ignorance. I get pissed off when brands don’t respect people. Today it’s increasingly hard to discern the difference between an influencer paid to promote a product and actual advertisement. Those blurred lines are dangerous for the industry, as it delegitimises what advertising is. It’s like signing your artwork. When brands advertise something, they’re essentially signing their name on it. That comes with responsibility. For me, the digital space is starting to ruin the idea of accountability. We need a more clever way of advertising in an accountable way.”

Accountability is another way to compare politics with corporations. Just like the Prime Minister needs to hold themselves accountable, as do companies that claim XYZ, but end up doing ABC.

As Thomas remarks, the digital age has really challenged this notion of accountability, because almost everything we come across on our phones or laptops is, in some shape or form, propaganda for something or someone. To be able to understand the difference between genuine advertisement and mindless propaganda is yet another mountain to climb. 

How to climb the mountain 

It’s been established there is more than one mountain to climb before advertising and the corporate world can truly be proclaimed as sustainable. Mr. Goodvertising believes that this responsibility lies not just in the hands of corporations, but also the people that devote chunks of their disposable income to them. It’s a joint responsibility between people and companies to realise that spending money, in some way, needs to be more mindful, and a little less mindless. 

“There are two ways you can look at advertising: as a mirror to society, or as a shaper of society. I personally believe that advertising is such a powerful shaper, and not just a mirror. With that comes responsibility, and with that comes responsibility to choose to serve wants or serve needs. I think selling should be about bringing people from A to B, and not just mindlessly selling products for the purpose of selling.” 

It’s not about telling companies not to sell, or not to be political, or not to make claims. It’s about making sure that it’s all done in moderation, and with the sole purpose of bringing positive change not just to consumers, but to society – that should be the goal, at least. 

But, obviously, stomping into the stereotyped greedy corporate world with a bag of granola and a mission to be “more mindful” to people and mother nature…can be challenging. But, according to Thomas, it’s most certainly not impossible to make change for the better.

“There’s what I call the two-headed purpose monster: it’s a dilemma inside every company where one head says purpose (save the sea turtles etc.), and the other one says money, money, money. It’s built into the corporate structure that you have shareholders who demand ROI, so it’s clearly not an easy system to fix. That’s why we need to reinvent the system to not just serve shareholders, but all stakeholders.”

Ultimately, there has to be a fundamental shift in the way things are done, the way things are perceived, and the way we want to go about making meaningful change. 

Finale: Don Draper vs. Mr. Goodvertising

Most people are familiar with the infamous fictional Don Draper from the show Mad Men. He’s an alcoholic, nicotine addicted, burly man, who happens to be amazing at selling. But definitely not in a way aligned to the sustainable mission of the Goodvertising movement. So I asked Thomas: in a hypothetical world where you were stood face-to-face with Don Draper, the OG advertising “dude”, what would you say to him, and what do you think he would say to you?

“I would ask him to think about his children because, god damn it, advertising is not just about what’s happening right now, the outcome is actually something we pass onto the next generation. What Don would tell me…uuuh…I don’t think I’d even be invited to the headquarters, let alone be able to speak to him. I would have a sip of his whiskey though, if I had the chance.”

1-0 in favour of Mr. Goodvertising – ding, ding, ding!

A very big thank you is in order to Thomas Kolster, aka Mr. Goodvertising, for taking the time to participate in this interview. To keep up with the Goodvertising journey, find Thomas and his agency on LinkedIn, or find more information on his website

If the topic of marketing piques your interest, you can find other posts on Nicolai Vittrup’s blog, or reach out to him on LinkedIn with any questions you may have. For more information on SEO, PPC, and everything web-related, check out Webamp

Let’s Talk!

An interview with a CMO about being a CMO: What good marketing actually looks like


Author: Gabriella Anesio

Webamp spoke with Alexander Kragh, Chief Marketing Officer at Ofir. Matters covered in this interview include top lessons for all CMOs out there, the main challenges CMOs face, and what it really means to be good at marketing (using examples of great ad campaigns and explaining what made them have such long-lasting impact).

Ofir, founded already back in 1996, is an immense job portal designed in a way to make searching for jobs more streamlined and efficient. To give job listings even more visibility, Ofir ads reach prospects not only through its own job portal, but also through the most used social medias – Facebook and LinkedIn. As CMO at Ofir, Alexander has the responsibility of growing the Ofir brand and ensuring all marketing activities are implemented in a way to aid this brand development. 

A CMO’s top tips

With the experience of having co-founded his own startup, Statum, and now as CMO at Ofir, Alexander is a seasoned entrepreneur with strong marketing skills. This means he’s the perfect candidate to ask for key pieces of advice when it comes to marketing. 

Thus, when asking Alexander to share some guidance gained through his years of experience, he gave one invaluable tip and one piece of information he wishes someone had told him before entering the realm of business and marketing. Let’s start with the top tip. 

“I hear a lot of marketeers focusing on performance marketing. I’m not saying this is bad, in fact I practice a lot of it, but the people that solely preach it are also downplaying the role of branding. A key lesson that I learnt is the importance of focusing on branding – it gives you better results under performance marketing; the two, performance marketing and branding, actually go hand-in-hand because when you have a strong brand, your ads will run better; it will give you better CPC, CPA, and CPM.”

Linked to this, as will be elaborated on further down, a struggle faced by many is finding the balance between things. Whether that’s a balance between working and relaxing, tea and coffee, or performance marketing and branding. 

As made clear by Alexander, it is tempting to completely tilt the balance in favour of performance marketing because it’s something seemingly more quantifiable than branding. But that’s not the case: you can measure the success of branding through performance marketing. The better the branding, the better the measurable outcomes. 

Also important to keep in mind is that branding is just an umbrella term for a multitude of different kinds of branding, each with different elements of success. 

“Right now, I think personal branding is a huge driver in building a brand or a company, because we are in an age where people want to connect with people, not companies – which is also why we have seen such a huge boom in influencer marketing. Employees, essentially, have the capacity to act as influencers for the companies they work for. This power is under-utilised.”

Now onto the piece of information Alexander wishes someone had screamed and shoved in his face before starting his own company. 

“At my old company, we were initially reluctant to hire senior people because we didn’t think that someone who was twice as expensive would bring in twice as much value. But once we did, we learnt it brought in TEN TIMES the value, because there is something invaluable about lessons learnt and experiences gained. We didn’t know what the f*ck we were doing – those with experience did, and it showed.” 

There’s been a surge of content and debate, recently, on the topic of hiring people for experience vs. potential. What Alexander discusses here, is an exception for two reasons. Firstly, we’re discussing the world of startups; if there’s ever a time to hire someone for experience, it’s in this situation where you’ve never needed more guidance. 

Secondly, the candidate concerns a managerial/senior position. Seems to make sense, thus, to hire someone senior to fill this spot, especially considering the first point mentioned. Experiences and lessons learnt from previous positions are, in the end, invaluable for thoughtful and sound navigation from the startup world to the world of established and thriving companies. 

A CMO’s top challenges 

The world of marketing can sometimes seem to be a nondescript grey blur because everything is moving so fast, with new methods, concepts, approaches, and indicators shooting past every single day from one million different sources – be it academic or your friendly neighbour who thinks they’re now a marketing expert after reading their first ever Neil Patel blog post. 

Alexander has managed to whittle down the main challenges he has to face on a daily basis as CMO, the last one concerning what was just mentioned about the incomprehensibly fast pace one must keep up with in the marketing universe. 

“For me, there are three main challenges. Firstly, finding the balance between testing new, shiny, things and focusing on the things I already know work. Secondly, finding the balance between investing in something that will profit us today and investing in something that will profit us in a year. The third challenge is the struggle of keeping up with the sphere of marketing in general. Things are moving so fast. If you don’t take the time to educate yourself outside of work, if you don’t listen to podcasts, if you don’t read blogs, if you don’t participate in meet-ups, you will quickly fall behind the others, and suddenly all the young marketeers are smarter than you because they know all the new trends.”

Experimenting, investing, and keeping your head above water: a blunt summary of the challenges addressed by Alexander. 

Sometimes seen as an oxymoron, but, in reality, an example of symbiosis, is marketing and innovation. With regard to finding the middle ground between experimenting and using an evidence-based marketing approach, I asked Alexander what role he thought innovation played in marketing. He responded that, though the two aren’t synonymous, they’re certainly co-dependent in the sense that you can’t do good marketing without thinking outside the box.

So even though you need to make sure your decisions have soundness to them (in the form of some kind of evidence), you also need to consistently push yourself to play with techniques and approaches, making you stand out from the crowd. This links to the next point made by the CMO:

“In my opinion you can set yourself apart from your competition in two ways. One is about differentiating every aspect of your company from the competition, whether that’s quality of service, the product itself, the brand, the tone etc. The other way is what many big companies are doing: they find a good USP and pump money into this to convince customers of it. So it’s not something practical they’re promoting, it’s an idea, a fictional world, that they’re trying to sell to the audience. Take Coca Cola: they’re trying to sell a magical atmosphere premised on happiness and friends, when in reality it’s just a sugar drink that’s really bad for you.”

So, good marketing is innovative marketing – and this is bound to set you apart from your competitors.

Emotions, humour, and storytelling 

Everyone will, at some point, come across an ad that they’ll never quite be able to forget. But what made the ad so unforgettable? Deducing why something made such a big impact on you is crucial for anyone in the same industry as Alexander, so I asked him for his top three ad campaigns, and why they resonated so strongly with him.  

“There are three campaigns that stand out to me for three different reasons. The first is TV2’s “All that we share”. It hit everyone in the feels, it was incredibly emotional. The second is Bomea’s ad – it was so wonderfully sarcastic in a Danish way that it was like watching a sketch. Lastly, DSB’s old, and longest-running, campaign following two characters riding on a train. It was story-telling over such a long period you couldn’t help but be captivated. The three elements from these three campaigns speaks volumes to me with regard to marketing: emotions, humour, and storytelling. This is powerful marketing.”

Emotions, humour, and storytelling: you’re bound to respond to at least one of those tactics, if not all three, when you come across an ad, whether you watch it on TV or read it on your phone whilst scrolling through Instagram.

This just proves that it isn’t, or at least shouldn’t be, all about mindless marketing. Thought is (should be) put into all marketing activities, specifically: emotions, humour, and a dash of storytelling.

Alexander left us with one final piece of advice in order to hone in on the human element and experience of marketing. 

“A mistake that I see many marketeers make is holding onto the assumption that marketing ends when leads walk through the door of your company. I see customer service as a really integral part of marketing. The feeling they have after they’ve bought your product matters, too. If you treat your leads just 5% better than they expected, it creates a whole new channel of lead possibilities in the form of word-of-mouth. You don’t just want your customers to be satisfied, you want them to be impressed.”

It’s not just about reeling customers in, it’s about reeling them in, then wowing them with what you have to sell, and, finally, ensuring you impressed them enough for them to keep you at the back of their minds, and not just disregard you once the purchase has been made. As made clear, it’s integral to put the human into marketing. 

A big thank you goes to Alexander Kragh for his 101 on being a CMO and the marketing tips he shared. You can find him and Ofir on LinkedIn (or check the company, and job listings, out on their website). 

If the topic of marketing and entrepreneurship interests you, you can find other posts on this blog here. You can also reach out to Nicolai Vittrup on LinkedIn, or use the contact form on this website to leave any comments or questions. To learn about everything SEO, PPC, and web-related, explore the content produced by Webamp

Let’s Talk!

Turn up the creativity and dial down complacency: the SOUNDBOKS way


Author: Gabriella Anesio

In this interview, Frederik Laursen, Global Creative Team Lead at SOUNDBOKS, talks about how the company is so much more than just the product it sells; he also sheds light on what it’s like to work at SOUNDBOKS and the importance of feedback…P.S. his favourite artist is Stevie Wonder (or OG Pharrell Williams…the debate continues). 

SOUNDBOKS, founded in 2015, sells more than just speakers – it also sells a lifestyle that’s entirely unique and premised on the utter joy of people. Founded by three teenage friends with a passion for music and partying, SOUNDBOKS evolved from one of the most famous Danish music festivals – Roskilde Festival.

The three founders realised that something fundamental was missing on the market: a high-quality speaker that doesn’t require one million cables and a power outlet – how else are you meant to blast grime in the after-hours from your tent to keep the party going? Starting from a 19 year old’s garage with a bunch of friends, SOUNDBOKS now has a presence in Denmark (where it all started), the US (where the company has expanded to), and China (where production takes place), with 16 different nationalities making up the company.  

The speaker that speaks volumes

Companies sell products or services, that’s a matter of fact. What companies can also choose to sell is a lifestyle: a brand that is more than the product itself. That’s what everyone at SOUNDBOKS is trying to develop and sharpen. 

SOUNDBOKS, as a product in itself, is so much more than just a speaker – when people buy this product, it enables them to live a specific sort of lifestyle: it opens new doors, they meet new people, they become the life of the party. It’s, therefore, a social product. A speaker is something you rarely use on your own – it’s something you use with other people. It gathers people, creates a community. We’re trying to create a lifestyle brand around the “host”, aka the owner of the SOUNDBOKS who becomes a leader of the community, inspiring those around them.”

The speaker isn’t just a technical gadget, it’s a catalyst for a thriving social life, and, therefore, a booming social community – all thanks to a box with 66 x 43 x 32 cm dimensions. 

A company can be so much more than just the product it sells. Take Apple as an example; if one really wants to delve into the specs and numbers, there are competing brands that outperform Apple on a technical level, but what those other brands have failed to do is create a brand which makes purchasing a product more than just purchasing a product.

Buying an iPhone or iMac empowers people in a way that concerns more than just the gadget in question – and this is what the people at SOUNDBOKS are doing, too. 

“We had people reaching out to us telling us that they didn’t used to have many friends, but that now they’re being invited to lots of social events because they have the speaker. We heard so many of these stories that we quickly got inspired and decided to make the brand more than just the product – the speaker was just the catalyst for so much more.”

Creating a SOUNDBOKS community in and out of the office 

As Frederik says, SOUNDBOKS doesn’t only aim to inspire communities outside of the company, but there is an active effort to ensure that the SOUNDBOKS team itself stands as a community to be proud of.

Having started off as just a group of friends working together, the company has now developed a hiring strategy to ensure that it stays this way – a group of friends that can hang out together, eat together, and even travel together (as Frederik did with some of his colleagues to Greece not that long ago).

“One of the most important things about SOUNDBOKS is not just the community we have created through selling the speaker, but the community we have created inside the company itself.”

So, even though the company started out as a group of friends, this is actually still the case today, just with more people, nationalities, and ideas bopping around the office. 

There is another aspect to the hiring process that, just like the speakers, speaks volumes. Hiring for potential, not experience. 

My videographer is a prime example – he was my first hire, five years ago, straight out of highschool with no experience except some videos he created for himself. But he was this diamond in the rough. There were other applicants who had ten years of experience, but he was just the best in terms of his potential and trajectory. He has learnt and grown so much since. Because we have given him so much, he has also poured all of himself into SOUNDBOKS because he just wants to carry on learning.”

It can be tempting to view years of experience as a measure of potential of prospective employees – it’s a number, it’s quantifiable, and, thus, there must lie meaning in it; this can certainly sometimes be the case, but not always – and it’s thanks to people like Frederik that chances are given to those that can’t necessarily flash big numbers or an extensive list of references.

At the end of the day, years of experience does not equate to worth or superiority – worth lies within someone, not in a number on a piece of paper. 

Feedback is not your foe: start embracing it

There are several different ways of phrasing the word feedback: constructive criticism, advice, evaluation, suggestion etc. What feedback DOES NOT mean, but is most often associated with, is a personal attack.

Frederik and the SOUNDBOKS team are doing everything in their power to break down this stigma surrounding feedback. Instead of associating it with something negative, they’re encouraging people to find the value in it, even if it’s just one part of the entire piece given. 

Personally, from the beginning I knew I wasn’t perfect – this has made receiving feedback a lot easier. So whenever anyone ever gave me feedback, I just saw it as an opportunity for learning. Every piece of feedback, no matter the form it comes in or who it comes from, has something in it that you can use for something. Instead of trying to come up with excuses or explanations, figure out what parts of the feedback are relevant to you.

There’s a great lesson in this often overlooked because of the temptation to just entirely disregard all feedback given in the heat of the moment: feedback is not an objective truth, with every part of it acting as a prescription for change in your work.

Rather, even if there’s just one tiny part that makes you at least think, makes you potentially realise the value in someone else’s perspective, this is enough to stop complacency and push you to maybe reconsider certain aspects. Feedback is almost never about scrapping an entire piece of work – sometimes it’s just about encouraging small changes, a different approach, or pushing the work even further.

Even if you can never reach the stage, like Frederik, where you actually enjoy receiving feedback, the least one can do is stop interpreting feedback as a synonym for “this is sh*t”. 

You’ll never be at a point in your life where you’re perfect. You should never settle – then you get boring and lazy. The best way to grow and learn more, pushing yourself and your work further, is by receiving feedback.”

We’d like to thank Frederik Laursen for his observations and comments – find him and SOUNDBOKS on LinkedIn (or read more about the company on their website). 

If you’re interested in reading more about company culture, leadership and the like, check out the other posts on this blog here. You can also reach out to Nicolai Vittrup on LinkedIn, or use the contact form on this website to leave any comments or questions. To learn about everything SEO, PPC, and web-related, explore the content produced by Webamp

Let’s Talk!

Advertising, TikTok, and the Pope: A Senior Art Director’s Perspective


Author: Gabriella Anesio

Ole Bager Hoffmann, Senior Art Director at &Co, spoke with Webamp about his creative process, prioritising the target audience, and what it really means to be innovative. 

&Co is a creative advertising agency, with the word creative being the driving force behind it all. Another key word that represents the foundation of &Co is collaboration – this pertains to collaboration between colleagues, collaboration with clients, and collaboration across campaigns; everything is done in a collaborative fashion with common, strategic goals set to guide each party through the whole journey. As Senior Art Director, Ole is an integral part of setting these strategic and creative goals at the company, with a flair for innovation and a motivation to create art beyond the ordinary. 

Be entertaining to beat competing entertainment

As a creative ad agency, one of the biggest challenges is to make sure that creative output captures the target audience of clients, thereby ensuring clients “outcompete” their competition on the market. But the parameters of what defines competition is not as static as companies selling similar products – this old-school definition of competition is in a face-to-face altercation with…the internet.  

Today, competition can be anything from a competing company to an entirely irrelevant Instagram post of a talking parrot. Intuitively this might not make sense, but in reality this is the case – the job of any ad agency is to create something so innovative or compelling that people can’t help but to look, read, investigate more. In other words, it’s not only about getting customers to invest in a product, it’s first and foremost about getting prospective customers to invest enough TIME to even consider the product at hand. As Ole says:

“I think, being in an agency that does a lot of online content, the biggest competition comes from entertainment. Before we even talk about competing with other companies within the category, our output has to compete with all the entertainment that’s flooding people’s feed. If we want people to interact with our communication, we have to be as entertaining as the TikTok video they could’ve watched instead.” 

It’s easy to say good advertising is just about capturing a defined target audience, but in actuality it’s so much more than that: it’s about capturing their attention, time, energy, will, and mustering so much interest in what’s being sold that they can’t dismiss it with a quick swipe on their phones.

This links to the need to be innovative, innovative enough to make people not only interested in purchasing a certain product, but interested in the product itself and the values behind it – even if it’s something so simple as a shampoo bottle. But what does innovation actually mean? Ole answered this question with a simple, yet thought-provoking, response:

“To me, truly innovative thinking goes beyond solving problems. It’s about expanding the playing field. Making the world a bit bigger. A couple of friends I know are starting their own paint-company and when they pitched it to me they said: “In the future, when throwing a party at home, we want people to think: What meal should I serve? How should I decorate the table? What colour should I have on the wall?” – I think that’s innovation. Broadening the minds of people.”

Redefining mindsets held, frameworks imposed, questions asked, emotions expressed – all of this is innovation at its core, and that’s what everyone at &Co is trying to do with every campaign they work on. 

The Catholic Church and branding 

Ole managed to draw a parallel between two very different universes: the Catholic Church and the ability to create a strong brand. This is how he made the connection:

“Not so long ago, I saw the film The Two Popes. It depicts the transition between Pope Benedict and Pope Francis. Anthony Hopkins (Pope Benedict) delivers a great line that really stuck with me: “A church that marries the spirit of the age will be widowed in the next”. I won’t go into whether that’s true for the Catholic church, but I think it carries a great truth when it comes to branding. I think it’s about creating a brand-platform that has longevity and is able to give birth to campaigns that interact with the zeitgeist without compromising the essence of the brand.” 

Timelessness. We hear this phrase a lot in the world of advertising, but rarely can it be whittled down into such an explicit depiction as Ole’s Catholic Church analogy. Timelessness doesn’t purely have to pertain to a campaign or brand itself, but to the feelings that are attached to, and left from, it. If a brand can evoke a certain feeling from customers throughout its lifespan, the advertising must be doing something right. 

But creating timelessness is easier said than done. Creating a feeling of seamlessness throughout and across various campaigns for a single brand is a hurdle Ole and his creative team have to deal with for all of &Co’s clients. 

“To be honest, jumping from campaign to campaign, all with different KPI’s and whatnot can be confusing, and I would be lying if I said I always have the complete overview. But I think the best way to keep yourself balanced is to remember what the job is about, remember what your role is. And to me, being a creative is not about representing your client and their products. It’s about representing their consumers. To dig out human insights within the target group that ensures the communication is relevant. Stay an outsider. Don’t get caught up in their world.”

A seemingly obvious, but crucial, message lies within this. Being on the creative team, above all else, means creating work for the purpose of inspiring the target audience, not the clients themselves. Obviously by satisfying the audience, you satisfy the client, but the fundamental purpose of all creativity is to impact prospective customers. That’s what makes campaigns successful.

Speaking of succeeding, Ole left a message about how he knows when he’s created a masterpiece – an amusing message, yet a message that most likely, secretly, resonates with most: 

“To me, the best way to know if we are onto something good is if I feel the urge to show the campaign to my parents.”

And with that final, profound, message, a big thank you goes to Ole Bager Hoffmann for his participation in this interview. To keep up with Ole’s journey, find him on LinkedIn, and see what &Co is up to on their website

For more posts on anything from marketing to entrepreneurship, see other articles on Nicolai Vittrup’s blog. Also, check out Webamp for tips on SEO, PPC and everything web. To leave any questions or comments for Nicolai Vittrup, use the contact form on this website or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Let’s Talk!

  • 1
  • 2
  • English