Skærmbillede 2014-11-20 kl. 13.58.48

Original article written for TEDxKEA, available here

TEDx KEA has spoken of numerous ideas, which embrace an ethos that wishes to push the boundaries of innovation and creativity to a higher level. The final speaker that we are thrilled to announce is an incredible woman who, like many of the other distinguished speakers, has fought tooth and nail to end up where she is today. Similarly, a significant part of her beliefs is challenging the established notions by which we currently live.

For as long as she can remember, Manou has had an unshakeable fascination with fashion; specifically in how and with what intent people dress the way that we do. Despite a dominance of the fashion industry, dictating the social narrative, Manou has witnessed that many of those working within it are shockingly unaware of the needs of their consumers.

“Outfits are first and foremost a means of expressing oneself. There is an underlying psychology of complex individual needs at play that is not being addressed by those with the power of controlling the fashion industry,” Manou says.

Seeking a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanics of getting dressed in the morning, Manou excelled in a Masters of Communication and Psychology from Roskilde University, specialising in fashion psychology.

Bitten by the fires of the entrepreneurial drive, Manou is leaving the safety net of her job at the Ministry of Finance, pursuing her dream of building a business that educates the fashion industry to the true needs of this generation.

“There is a difference between what is produced by the fashion industry and the needs of individual consumers within it”.

A large part of this is due to the industry itself, so intent on pushing boundaries; with new lines and new styles coming out faster than we can try them on. This innovation for the sake of it leaves little time to acquire the capacity to understand the fundamental needs of the people that they serve.

“Many of them [...] lack a broader understanding of the complex psychological demands that their customers have, and are unaware of how to address them.”

What follows is, in many cases, production simply for the sake of it, with very little long term vision. For this reason, many associate fashion with allegories of unsustainable practice and a lack for concern for the broader problems of mankind. Things need to change.

Revolutionising the fashion industry in this manner is no small task. But Manou doesn’t buckle under the pressure of facing the impossible.

A loving mother to Nomi and Alba, children born under exceptionally difficult circumstances due to pregnancy complications, Manou has overcome many a struggle to get to where she is. Coldly informed by doctors that she could not bear children, Manou refused the words “it’s not possible”. She laboured through several long, hard months and successfully conceived two healthy children, a boy and a girl. With her family happily settled in a small town not too far from Roskilde, Manou is now ready for the next big challenge of her life.

It is time to re-think the fashion industry, and the time to redefine what is normal. It is time for a new generation to emerge.

See you on December 11th.

Skærmbillede 2014-11-20 kl. 13.59.33

Interconnectedness, globalisation, movement – all of these are buzzwords of our millennium and a focal point within the TEDxKEA narrative. Humanity took its time getting to where we are today, yet we still have a long way to go. The process of innovation, however, can and needs to be quicker and more effective, according to Natasha Friis Saxberg.

A globetrotter and a tech-frontrunner, Natasha has lived on three continents and has been exposed to many different cultures throughout her lifetime. Pursuing meaning on a global and human level rather than merely a local one has therefore become a mantra for her.

Natasha kicked off her career working within the art and craft industry, showing entrepreneurial guile to open her first business at the tender age of 18. Her talent and understanding of the industry paved the way for early success as a garment designer – but an economic recession had other plans for her. Forced to abandon her business and devoid of a strong academic foundation to fall back on at the time, Natasha’s instincts led her to pursue an education as a systems engineer in 1997.

Natasha saw huge potential in the Internet in its early years, which “back then was about establishing servers and networks; making sure that people could communicate”. The young systems engineer rose quickly through the ranks – swiftly ascending to the position of operations manager for the Danish rail company, DSB S-Tog.

Operationalizing information technology within a company such as DSB, whose clientele is extremely diverse, was not without its challenges, and neither was being a forerunner for the arguments in favour of providing Internet services to commuters. Her ideas, whilst impressive, were too premature for many of her bosses and colleagues. Natasha left the company with her wits about her and valuable experience in the bag, whilst her efforts would soon prove to be instrumental in bringing the personalised Internet communication experience that Danish transportation companies are renowned for today.

Since then, she has gone from strength to strength and is now the anchor of the increasingly popular television show “Tech and the City”, based in bustling New York. She has also authored several books, and plays leading advisory roles in various capacities within the tech industry.

Currently an industry icon with a knack for trendspotting and tech-savvy swag, crafted from years of hard and passionate work within the digital sector, Natasha feels that we need to go back to our roots when it comes to innovation:

“If you only innovate based on the symptoms of a need, as opposed to the actual need, it will take a long time before we optimise humanity”. Building on this, Natasha’s speech will focus on the creation of value in society, based on an anthropological approach to understanding human needs, rather than merely through changes to what is already being done.

Brace yourselves for a talk from one of the most talented professionals within the tech sector, an exceptionally creative individual with a doctorate from the school of real-life experiences. Natasha Friis Saxberg will motivate you to perceive the world in a different light, by focusing on the future through visionary thinking, as opposed to creating incremental change by reproducing the past.

Hopping on the latest fad; Copenhagen’s cat cafe is a unique experience that easily rivals other cat cafes in cities like New York, London, and the home of le chat, Paris. The kitchen and the cats are, however, separate, so it’s a cat -cafe of a different sort.

The appropriately named cafe miao is a home to at least six felines of different shapes and sizes, all of whom seem quite content to sit around and get petted through the course of their easy lives.

 

Cafe Miao, located within walking distance from Copenhagen’s town hall square looks more like a vet shop than a cafe at first glance but despite its sharp colour aesthetic and sociofugal furniture, is warm and welcoming. Add personalized service and the aforementioned feline affection and you’ve got a place that’s alive with laughter and smiles

Cafe Miaw, H.C. Andersens Boulevard 5A, 1553, København V, open daily from 10 – 20

Min consumption : 50 DKK

Tip: Head there an hour or so before closing time; the cats liven up, knowing they’ll soon be fed.

Photo Credits : Allan Mutuku Kortbaek

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Original article written for TEDxKEA, available here :

 

Skærmbillede 2014-11-04 kl. 13.19.17

 

There is plenty that can be said and written of a man who has built over 30 leading Internet ventures all over the world in just five years. Amongst these ventures were giant enterprises such as Zalora, Lazada, Compare Asia Group and The Iconic, all of which are leading online stores and platforms in the Asia Pacific region.

In 2010, Groupon, listed by Forbes as the fastest growing company in the world, announced its continued expansion in Asia. At the helm of this monstrous endeavour was the iconic Mads Faurholt-Jørgensen, aged just 29 today. Four years ago, Mads took on roles as Global Partner and Managing Director at Groupon, driving the company’s success in the Asia Pacific region.

We all want to stand out from the crowd. But what does it take to push our dreams and visions from mere thoughts to tangible realities? Our latest TEDxKEA speaker may have some of the answers to these riddling questions.

Success has come in leaps and bounds for Mads, and the trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. But how did all this come to pass at such a breakneck pace?

Well, for one thing, Mads has always wanted to “stand out and do things differently,” a mantra that has consistently featured in his endeavours, just like when he strolled through a bachelor’s degree at Copenhagen Business School in one year and nine months, as the first ever student to do so.

Not only did Mads blitz through his education, he also made it look like a walk in the park, defying the growing trend of students in Denmark taking longer to finish their education than the allotted time frames. It was also a strategic move to stand out in such a way, taking the quickest route through the stream as opposed to aiming for the highest average – in itself arguably a more complex struggle. Later, Mads crossed the Atlantic to blaze a trail through MIT, racking up no less than 10 scholarships for various achievements in his MBA.

Once out of the college blocks, standing out became a philosophy that was ingrained in his mindset as a venture capitalist and entrepreneur. Mads made a name for himself in sales, analysis and private equity before grasping the reins of founding and leading companies. The driving force behind this, was having the courage to stand out and do things differently: as we have discussed – thinking big.

Translated into operational philosophy at Nova Founders Capital, which he founded, Mads maintains that “When building companies, we try to think How big will this be?, as opposed to will this work out? [...] We remove all shadow of a doubt by making something that’s so good, people can’t say no to it”.

Naturally, this magnitude of success can never come without an immense work ethic and a burning passion for what you do. “Just like the saying that entrepreneurs will work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40, I believe that if you do what you truly love, it never really feels like work”, remarks Mads.

We have previously discussed how lucky we are to have the opportunities that the Danish higher education system offers. Mads, who has seized those opportunities better than most, is ready to school you on putting one foot in front of the other on December 11th.

Fact File

2012 – present: Founding partner, Nova Founders Capital
2011 – present: Founder and Shareholder, Lazada Group (one of the leading online department store in South East Asia)
2011 – present : Founder and Shareholder, The Iconic (One of the leading online fashion companies in Australia)
2010 – 2012: Global Managing Director and Partner, Rocket Internet GmbH (the largest internet venture builder)
2010 – 2011: Managing Director Asia Pacific and International Vice President, Groupon. This company was classified by Forbes as the fastest -growing company in the world.
2007 – 2009: Associate, Mckinsey & Company, Switzerland
2003 – 2005: Sales Manager and coach, Viasat Broadcasting. Under Mads’ leadership, his sales division met its $40 m sales revenue target for the first time in its history. The company was also voted the 3rd best sales / service department in Denmark

Education

  • Bachelor of Science, Business Administration and Economics. Copenhagen Business School. Mads became the first student to ever finish this degree in the short span of one year and nine months
  • Masters degree in Financial Analysis, Copenhagen Business School
  • MBA, Business Administration, Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Sloan  School of Management. In his time at this prestigious organization, Mads was awarded 10 different scholarships.

These walls of stone speak with the brisk words of late summer

Enjoy life, make merry and remember remember to forget me not

A mere moment stitched of the strife of the billowing clouds

And the rustling of the soft grass

Go forth and drink, dance and shout through all the land !

Tell tales of these faraway walls and leave trails of envy in your wake

Your steps are a tapestry in the stairwell of humanity

A leaf in the woodland of dreams and ambitions

Of hipsters, mob folk, seekers, witches, queens and sons alike

Your woes are but the fleeting flutter of a butterfly’s wings

That life and all in it is a symphonic overture waiting for you to write it

And that all that’s well shall surely end well

These walls of stone speak with the clarity of the peeved poet

And the solidity of the blacksmith

They speak to the clerks and clergymen of the landed gentry

And the coal shaft cleaners and sewer men

To all sets of people, there is an end to your miseries and aches

Enjoy life, make merry and remember remember to forget me not

 

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Original article written for TEDxKEA, available here:

 

Skærmbillede 2014-10-31 kl. 12.32.33

Illustration : Dovile Montvydaite

 

Networkr: Re-thinking Professional Networking

A recurrent theme within the TEDxKEA narrative has been that of the numerous possibilities provided by the digital age. Never in the history of our existence have we had the possibilities to connect and communicate with each other as we do at present. This avalanche of opportunities, however, is not without challenges, as one of our speakers notes. Whilst we find ourselves exposed to seemingly innumerable options, it is also true that there is a need for more specificity.

Meet Networkr, a simple mobile application designed to aid the process of people connecting with each other at events, with a broader view of encouraging meaningful dialogue between them. The app, built by Nodes, a creative digital bureau working with an enviable portfolio within the industry, aims to complement the attributes of existing networking platforms such as Linkedin, albeit offering a more streamlined as well as more personal experience. Networkr’s CEO, Tim Groot believes that “It is difficult to find people that are interesting for you to interact with, professionally”. He adds: “Right now, one does so on a trial and error basis – you meet some people at an event and interact with them, but there are many more who you don’t get the chance to meet who could be more interesting or more relevant.”

Networking via mobile applications is nothing new, unlike the manner in which Networkr focuses on geographical proximity and/or a specific frame of interaction like attending events. Tim Groot wants connect people through mutual interest in a certain event, whilst utilising the higher sense of urgency that is present at these, where people want to interact with others in a meaningful way.

Moreover, the app creates a match between people based on a mutual interest, much in the same operative manner as the popular dating app, Tinder. This implies that both parties have to opt into requests to interact, limiting spamming whilst creating meaningful dialogues between people. “The matches that you acquire are not just people that are interesting for you, but also people who are interested in you”, remarks Tim Groot. Another feature that adds ballast to the potential of the application is the ability to connect before, during and after an event – aiding interaction possibilities whilst ensuring that there is also an element of sustainability created within the dialogues exchanged; meaningful interaction is created as people can contact one another once the event has ended. This increases the value of the event and changes the way we think about and organise our time and space. An event sphere around a particular happening is thus created, creating viable links between people of otherwise seemingly different interests, drawn together by the common event.

TEDxKEA believes in the power of ideas and in the need for these ideas to emerge. We are also an organisation with an affinity for doing things, rather than merely talking about them. With this in mind, we are proud to announce that Networkr will be an official partner at our Emerge event on December 11th, giving you the chance to connect to our speakers and fellow attendees.

 

Original article written for TEDxKea, available here: http://tedxkea.com/altering-digital-consumption-paradigm/

Skærmbillede 2014-10-24 kl. 01.38.09

Illustration : Dovile Montvydaite

 

Sports fan, brand activation manager and digital marketing ace Stefan Pflug is of the impression that ”When you offer fans something they truly consider valuable, you earn commercial airtime.”

This should be relatively straightforward. After all, businesses tailoring their products and services to the tastes of their customers is nothing new, and is especially evident in the digital age of the limitless possibilities of customer-advertiser interactions. Within this epoch, features such as site analytics and search engine optimisation functions allow advertisers to form a realistic frame of the nature of their consumers and their behavioral traits. Within the frames of this digital abundance, it would seem that possibilities are seemingly endless for consumers and producers of content alike.

Denmark is among the top five countries with the highest number of broadband users per capita, according to statistics from the World Bank. 90 % of our citizens are classified as “active internet users”. We are a connected country, to say the least.

But there is something missing in this world wide web of connectedness. “Nowadays, people consume digitally for six seconds before moving on [...] This is not healthy, not for the consumer, nor for the advertiser,” remarks Simon Pflug. From our own lives as students and young, throbbing hearts in a pulsating city, we can all draw parallels with this statement. Yes, it is true that we are surrounded by a wide range of media through which to express ourselves and to access content – Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, RSS feeds, etc. are all examples of this. Hardly a day goes by without the development and launch of a new mobile application that changes the manner in which we view and consume information.

We are merely a click away from being able to trigger online actions that reflect who we are and the way we think as consumers. Clicktivism is but one example of this: the act or habit of using the Internet as a primary means of influencing public opinion on matters of politics, religion or other social concerns has become a widespread norm of the digitally native society.

However, with the flood of such platforms comes inundation with little immersion. Hyperchoice is the buzzword that the marketing lingo has chosen to brand this phenomenon – a condition where the large number of available options forces us to make repeated choices that may drain psychological energy and diminish our abilities to make smart decisions. Whilst the implications of hyperchoice areyet to be properly and documented, one can suggest that too much of a good thing is not always positive. For instance, one critique of clicktivism could be that a lot of it is purely symbolic – “Liking” brands, causes and affiliations on social media is a virtual version of a truth that does not necessarily reflect a social reality. The web is littered with virtual manifestations of this sort – whether they are apparent in Facebook likes or in the six-second attention span theory that Stefan Pflug refers to. There is little sustainability within a frame of digital consumption of this sort – for advertisers and consumers alike, and this needs to change.

We need a new consumption paradigm. It is important that we look into why the attention spans of digital natives on their web pilgrimages are as brief and as short-term as they are. Can we forge better links between content and those accessing it? All of this, and more, will be discussed at TEDxKEA’s EMERGE event on December 11th, where you will witness TED talks that will both captivate, entertain and get you to pose critical questions regarding your views on digital media.