I have spent the last few weeks researching the many ways of entrepreneurial assistance available in Copenhagen. And by that I mean the many ways you can get help to start and/or grow your startup.
You probably read that Copenhagen ranks quite high on lists such as Top 15: Europe’s biggest startup hubs in 2017 or 10 European Startup Cities to Watch in 2017. I also know from experience that there are many ways entrepreneurs can get help and support through their journey.
In Denmark, there is a favorable platform for entrepreneurship that starts with the culture and legislation of the country. I will not explain what causes this suitable environment (at least not in this article), instead I will tell you about the different options available and the difference between them.
From Idea to Growth
A company starts with a lot of hope and eagerness and it requires time, knowledge, experience, resources and a tiny bit of luck, among other things.
It is rare (not to say impossible) to create a company completely on your own because no one has all the time, knowledge, experience, resources and luck to do it independently. And that is a good thing! Really! Once you start asking for help and working with people that complement you in the business, the experience is so much better. But that is a subject for another blog article.
Going back to entrepreneurial assistance in Copenhagen (and surroundings), I learned that you can get help all the way from the “idea phase” to the later “growth phases” of your business. So, help is not limited to the very beginning, lovely news!
Start from the Beginning
This part is important for first time entrepreneurs, especially if they are not from Denmark.
Copenhagen Business House is a public institution (part of Københavns Kommune) that offers free of charge courses and counseling for anyone who needs to know more about the legal implication, tax requirements and other practical information regarding opening a business in Denmark. I think it is the best place to start, I did it and I gained valuable knowledge and an amazing network from participating in two of their programs.
They also offer business advice and they work together with you in the initial phase of your business.
Incubators and Accelerators
Incubators and accelerators are similar and easy to confuse (especially because from what I could see in my research, the differences are mainly historically), so I will try to explain them as I understand them.
They are both organizations that help start-ups at their early stages. Incubators come first and help you with the initial challenges of the business, like the concreting your idea, assembling a team, getting basic knowledge, etc.
Accelerators come right after you proved the concept to help you develop you business. They offer mentor-ship and educational programs.
Both organizations generally offer office spaces and other shared resources in the shape of workshops and other educational and networking events, and they can offer access to investors.
Generally, you have to write an application for both types of organizations and competition is tough. Both incubators and accelerators can be free of charge or paid (cash or in equity – they take shares in your company), depending on the organization.
These organizations are categorized in many different ways: some are for a specific industry, some are exclusively for students, some are Danish speaking, etc. This is great, it means you will probably find one that fits you and your business.
Co-working is, of course, a big part of the incubator and accelerator experience. Startups go through a program at the same time, attend the same events, share business advisors and work side-by-side on a daily basis.
Co-working spaces differ from incubators and accelerators mainly on the community aspect. In co-working spaces, companies share much more than the physical office space, they organize social activities and relevant events to the industry. Most of them have an theme and a mindset you and your company should match in order to be accepted.
Unlike incubators and accelerators who have limited time programs, at co-working places you pay rent so you can stay for as long as it suits your company. There is no access to all the educational programs mentioned before, co-working spaces are generally just a shared office with cool people like yourself.
This type of arrangement is a good solution if you work on your own, freelance or you are just starting a company with a small team.
Entrepreneurial Assistance List
CPHTFW is a non-profit organization that supports tech startups in the Öresund Region (Copenhagen and Malmö). They made a pretty cool list of incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces that you should have a look at. Don’t be discouraged by the “tech” term, a lot of the spaces they mentioned are not exclusively dedicated to tech startups.
YouNoodle is a fantastic opportunity if you have a innovative idea for your business. They select top startups around the world and connect them to opportunities for growth such as foundations, accelerators, corporations etc. They do it through competitions and innovation programs.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this article. Write to me with your comments, questions or if you want me to write about a specific topic.
Remember, entrepreneurship is a team game!