Recent interview with managing partner in SEED Capital, Ulla Brockenhuus-Schack, conducted by Karen Margrethe Schelin from Berlingske Tidende has revealed a lot of interesting about entrepreneurship in the US and Denmark.
Ulla Brockenhuus-Schack has been with SEED Capital for the past 10 years. In this period the fund has grown from managing 80 million DKK and having 6 employees to running 1.8 billion DKK and having 16 employees. Ulla Brockenhuus-Schack’s personal entrepreneurial experience as well as experience working in venture business helped her to develop a talent for spotting interesting business proposals.
“Each year we are presented with about 500 business cases. This means that in my ten years here, we have seen about 5000. Naturally we have made a bad decision now and then and said no to something really good. But we have seen so much and follow the research within our respectable areas close, so usually we capture the special and unique, when we see it,” says Ulla Brockenhuus-Schack.
During her study years in the US Ulla Brockenhuus-Schack gained many insights about American business culture. It turns out there is much to learn from Americans when it comes to entrepreneurship.
“People in the US have a fantastic confidence. They simply believe that it is possible. They just do it. In Denmark, we are more cautious, but we are getting there. The price of failure is not as big in the US as it is in Denmark. On the contrary you get recognized for trying. In Denmark, we have a difficult time forgiving the ones who failed.”
Another issue that exists in Danish startup scene is low correlation between risk and returns.
“We need these crazy passionate entrepreneurs, who pawn their mother-in-laws house to make their next business. But then it also needs to be worth it. They are paid substantially less than the rest of us with fixed incomes and they risk a lot more. They haven’t saved for their pension in the ten years they have been trying to succeed and what do they get out of it? They are taxed massively. Instead we should celebrate them as heroes and be happy when they succeed.”
Danish business environment should become more competitive and to make it happen it is important to create a better model for conducting business. Perhaps higher tax credit could give extra incentive to reinvest in research and development and market expansion.