You know one is really passionate about something, when a person can talk about a subject non stop and has that fire in the eyes. Now imagine you meet two of a kind! Kasper Baagø Jensen and Frederik Stahlfest Møller are two young entrepreneurs from Denmark, the island of Fyn. What once was their free time hobby, became a business.
I was curious to know more about their passion for web development and their business philosophy. What does it mean to be your own boss in your early twenties? How can one (or in this case - two) make web a bit of a better place?
(Frederik Stahlfest Møller on the left, Kasper Baagø Jensen on the right)
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Before we begin… How did you meet each other?
Frederik: We met in a continuum school back in 2005. We had an elective music lecture together, where we played: Kasper - drums, me - bass guitar. When you play music, especially when you jam, you really have to work with each other, in order to get something good out of it. This is where we realised that we were able to work together. I think words like “creativity” and “structure” tells a lot about me and Kasper.
How did you find out about your passion for IT and build up your entrepreneurial spirit?
Kasper: I have always been interested in electronics and technology. At the age of 3 I was able to use a VHS machine. Later at the age of 9-10, I began to play and build stuff on a computer. Both of my parents are teachers, which means that I had access to computers comparatively early. I think it was an important part for my growth. First, I started to create web pages in an old application called FrontPage – I liked the way I could express myself. Later I had a look behind the scenes to explore how websites was made.
Frederik: I think that creativity and willingness to create has always moved me to become who I am today. When I was a child, my only toy was Lego. As far as I remember, I was always building with Lego, not following a picture or a manual, but disrupting, trying to create something new. I believe, it is very close to what entrepreneurs do, but I have never really seen myself as an entrepreneur. I am driven by the fascination of creating things, and not by the money. Business is something I am learning as I go along.
You were in your early twenties when you established Edentic. Was it your creativity and curiosity which led you to start a company?
Frederik: I studied graphic design and worked in an agency throughout my study. During that period I discovered that having a boss over my head was not really for me. I wanted to create things, work on projects that made sense to me and also the people who would use the product. It had to be functional - you have to see people getting value from what you are making. From Lego bricks I moved on to making animations - first on a paper, later in an application called Flash. Then I moved on creating some games, videos and motion graphics.
Kasper: I have two educations - as a web integrator and IT supporter. At that time when I had to choose my education, many of my classmates were thinking about IT support as a great future job. So I went that way too. Among other things, I learnt how computer networks and servers work. All that knowledge I am still using today - and that’s pretty awesome. However, during my studies I felt that I also want to do programming. I wanted to create things, so I was working on small projects in my spare time.
Frederik: At that time Kasper and I got a request from one of my family members, who needed a website. “Why not? You can code and I can design” - we thought. And that is actually how it all started. It was some years before we started Edentic, but that was the first time we worked on a project together.
And then it developed into business?
Frederik: We started working together in 2010, but at that time it was more like a hobby, a project besides our education. At some point we got bigger clients and, as we both were about to be done with our education, it was about time to make a choice. We made a decision to continue our company and now we are here, and we don't regret it.
How would you describe your business philosophy?
Kasper: The way we manage projects, the agile development, is a big part of our business philosophy. We are doing things differently than others - we focus on the communication with our clients and their ideas, so we would not go in the wrong direction. Agile development helps us to avoid miscommunication during the process. Everyday we work for creating the best possible experience for our clients and their users.
Frederik: It is not about just finishing the product, it is about the process and making customers feel comfortable talking about their ideas. During the process, it is important to involve them in different sprints, and to be honest and transparent about the process.
What’s special about being your own boss?
Frederik: Our idea is to create a workplace where you are happy, where you can choose what you would like to work with and see the value of your work from day to day. It is the problem solving that drives us.
Kasper: #awesomefredag! We are running a four day working week, where Friday is all about Edentic. It is the day for us to become smarter, explore new software, learn new things and develop ideas.
Did it take lots of courage to start up? What is the most difficult part of starting a business at your age?
Frederik: I think it depends if you ask me or Kasper. I was more relaxed, going with the flow. Kasper was the serious one, willing to research, read up and get to know more about running a business. I feel that through time we have learned a lot and became more similar. However, at that time it was interesting to see our differences. I don't think that we could have done it without each other.
How do you try to stand out from other companies in the field?
Kasper: We have the “Why” - to create the best experience possible. We have passion for what we do. We really want to create a workplace where we are happy everyday. Moreover, we want to inspire other people, to take part in creating better web experiences. We want to work with other people, and together make the web a great experience. I think the best thing companies in Odense can do, is to understand the importance of using each other to share knowledge.
Frederik: I believe that we stand out by taking time to think about the process. It is important for us to talk about the user experience in every decision we make. We want to create something that is fun and valuable and not just to make ten websites a day. We aim to solve problems and hopefully make the internet a better experience for people to use.
Do you keep in touch with the entrepreneurial community?
Frederik: Yes, especially in Odense. We actually were the ones who founded the first group on Meetup.com in Odense. Now it is called CODE Odense, before - Design and webdevelopment Odense. Now it is not only our project, it is the community’s and I am so happy to see it grow.
Kasper: We really wanted to create a community – some togetherness. At the time, there were no meetup groups on Fyn. In the first meetup there were about 30 people, there was even a guy who came from Copenhagen.
Frederik: We want to share more knowledge, and to interact with other startups. We hosted the first ever Friday bar in Odense for startups, and now the startup community is successfully developing the idea. We invite people to our office, where we have an open door policy. We should never have so much work to do that we can not take a cup of coffee with people. We try to meet other entrepreneurs and talk about how we can help each other.
Kasper: We are an open minded business, and we want to share that knowledge. I think that the best thing companies can do, is to go out and learn from each other.
Which product, service or other startup inspires you?
Kasper: One of the Danish companies that have always been an inspiration for us is Stupid Studio. They have a free mind of taking the projects they really would like to work with. I see the beauty and passion in it. Another company is House of Code. They started out quite like us - with two persons coding and designing. It is quite awesome to see their journey and how they come so far so fast.
What was the most valuable business advice you got?
Frederik: Back in the days I had a classmate, who had already started his own company. I got lots of valuable advice, especially about realizing the worst case scenario. I think the best advice was to think about; where do we see ourself as a business in a few years and how to get there.
What is your advice to people that are too afraid to start their own business?
Kasper: I think the best advice I can give is to just get started. I thought a lot about all the consequences of starting a business and in the end Frederik made me realise that we should make the web great again! ;)
We definitely had lots to talk about that afternoon at Edentic office. Not only about startup adventures, but also about friendship and creative minds. If you would like to have a chat with Frederik and Kasper, discuss ideas or get some advice - knock on the office doors or simply wait for one of the social meetups at the end of the #awesomefredag.
Have a look at what's happening inside of Edentic office on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.