Living the Danish Dream
Posted on October 15 2018
Everyone has heard about ‘chasing the American Dream’ but how do you do that while maintaining the Danish values and norms you were raised with? Meet Mik Strøyberg, who embodies the perfect example of the best of both worlds.
Chasing the American Dream have always been a well-known cliché, and an ambition for the very boldest to hold. Fortunately, there are brave entrepreneurs from all over the world who set out to chase this dream. Most of them fail for numerous reasons but some manage to succeed in the end through hard work, a great skillset and the right idea. One of latter is Dane Mik Strøyberg who took the trip from Denmark to the United States and made it big without compromising on the Danish values he was used to from back home.
The business sector in US and especially in New York is known for being a tough world, full of people who won’t stop at anything to attain their goals. The interesting thing is to see what happens when you try to adopt some of the Danish values into the American way of working, and that is exactly what Mik did.
It all began back in the small Danish town of Trørød, in the Northern Zealand. Mik was born and raised there in the typically secure and comfortable surroundings of Denmark but he quickly showed signs of an outstanding entrepreneurial spirit which would take him on adventures that few people would have believed. From elementary school, where he started his first business, Mik showed that he was focused on becoming something special in the world of business. When the time came for Mik to choose his path in life concerning his education he turned his focus to Philosophy and Business Economics. He got a Bachelor’s Degree before taking a Master’s in Marketing and Business Administration. So, both the entrepreneurial spirit and drive was there from the beginning and combined with the skills from his higher education, Mik was ready to step into the ‘real’ business world.
Mik’s career started at the Danish media mogul Berlingske Media where through hard work and exceptional results he became a well-liked and respected employee. He worked there for some time and rose to the position of Enterprise Director, where he started massive digital success stories such as Sweetdeal. The impressive results were not to be ignored, and offers began to come in. After some time Mik was ready for the next chapter and moved to Issuu, where he was responsible for marketing, PR and global partnerships. It was there that he was brought to the USA and the Big Apple for the first time. A new world opened up, revealing new opportunities that in the end would lead up to his first own entrepreneurial adventure as an adult, Lemonsqueeze.
From the start, Mik had never focused on a certain industry or product that he wanted to work in, but his only goal was to wake up every morning to a life full of meaning and exciting tasks ahead. Put in other words, when it comes to the entrepreneurial DNA of Mik, he was always on a hunt for challenges – and what could be more challenging than starting your own business in a foreign country where the competition is tougher than anywhere else.
“The best and the worst things about being an entrepreneur go hand-in-hand with each other. You choose your own direction, but you are often alone on the path you choose. There are no limits, but neither is there a safety net to catch you. You can shoot for the stars and reach them, but you can also land flat on your ass. This makes being an entrepreneur the best and the worst thing in the world – and absolutely worth all the struggles.” - Mik Strøyberg
When Mik moved to New York the plan was to scale Issuu and build the commercial foundation. It succeeded. After a few years it made strategic sense to move the department to Palo Alto, California and it was here that Mik had to make up his mind if he wanted to proceed in his safe, secure job at Issuu, or finally start his own business. It could seem like a difficult decision for most, but Mik had discovered an unfulfilled gap in the market and felt that the time was right. So, he took the chance and stayed in New York to start his own venture.
At that time Mik felt a direct demand for companies that could enter new markets, while quickly scaling and gain traction, particularly coming out of Europe. More interestingly, none of the current companies trying to fulfil these opportunities were able to cater to the growing demand in a hands-on way. This was the beginning of Lemonsqueeze. The name derives from two different interpretations of the same expression. In Europe, “to squeeze the lemon” has a negative context and implies that you are trying to get more from a situation than you actually deserve. On the other hand, in the US it means getting as much as possible out of your potential and not wasting a single drop of precious talent. Mik was, and is, of that perception that the Europeans could learn something from the American way of thinking – and so Lemonsqueeze was born.
“To be an entrepreneur is like a life-long rollercoaster. If you want to stay on, it demands confidence and a positive approach to life” - Mik Strøyberg
In 2012, Mik stepped into the world of entrepreneurship, and Lemonsqueeze first saw the light of day. Combining the Danish values he was brought up with and the American work ethics he had learned, he decided to establish his company in New York. As history would come to show, Mik chose wisely; when he sold the company in 2017, they had more than 50 partners and had helped more than 70 companies into the American market in all different kinds of business areas from retail and meditation to social media and consumer products. The list of companies includes Falcon.io, Planday, Joe & The Juice, and Vita.
Compared to Copenhagen, business methods in New York were miles apart. The atmosphere is tougher: decisions are made quickly, willingness to take risks is greater, choices feel as though they have weightier consequences. People work longer hours and are rewarded for an ambitious, ego-centric attitude. If you can cope with it, New York’s energy will feel amazing but no matter what it will also feel draining. When you are on a winning streak everything is great, but when you experience hard times and failures it can be the toughest city in the world to be in. But this dynamic is exactly what makes the American Dream more real there than anywhere else, and, if you ask Mik, why New York is without doubt the most amazing city in the world.
A lot of people can find it difficult to function under the work ethics of the New York business world as it demands a strong character like Mik’s to be able to reach the top. Therefore, he tried to make things a little different and create what he saw as the ‘Danish Dream’. Mik tried to implement some of the Danish values he had learned at home to facilitate an environment that made it possible for all anyone to fulfil their full potential. Some of the most important values he brought in was the focus on everyone’s wellbeing – where people treat each other with respect, where anyone can make mistakes (and how this can sometimes be a good thing!), as well as trying to get his employees to understand that life is 24 hours a day, not only the 12 hours you use at work. This way of combining the two business worlds worked incredibly well and created a unique way of doing things which made them capable of being the best at what they did.
After five years the entrepreneurial spirit started to burn in Mik again and the desire to begin a new adventure was on his mind. In 2017 he took the most difficult decision of his life and sold the company he had spent every single waking hour on for the last five years. But he realised that life is long, full of chapters and new stories, so instead of stayed in the city he had fallen in love with, Mik chose to sell the company and head back home to Copenhagen, Denmark to begin his new adventure.
He had already turned his gaze to a new entrepreneurial venture with his friend (and soon to be co-founder) Morten Meisner, which would become the company Good Monday. They decided to start the company in Copenhagen before scaling it to the rest of the world. Even before Mik left New York he and Morten spent nights and weekends creating the foundation for Good Monday when he was travelling back and forth between New York and Copenhagen. With less than a month’s notice, Mik and his family decided to move back to Copenhagen and become a part of the Nordic entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“We run your office so you can take care of your business. Say goodbye to frustrations, wasted time and an office with no oversight, and hello to a new office experience, incorporating effectiveness, analysis and focus” - Mik Strøyberg
Good Monday was created with the intention of answering the flaws of the traditional office model. The platform gives companies access to a huge amount of services, selected from the best suppliers and providers, to deliver anything you need for an office. The service creates a complete overview of all supplier agreements, so the companies only need to keep track of one contract, and that’s the one with Good Monday. Good Monday negotiates all the agreements for an office, including caterers, window cleaners, printer salesmen, flower suppliers, baristas, masseuses, stationary providers, Christmas tree suppliers – the list goes on. In other words, Good Monday takes care of everything so you don't have to waste your valuable time on administering to less important, but still extremely necessary tasks. The Good Monday platform also inspires new trends and creates solutions for companies to create a more fun and dynamic environment which can improve the job satisfaction and retention rate of their employees. It can be anything from vegan catering for meetings and a biodynamic Friday champagne bar to company Pilates lessons and life drawing for a team building day. You name it, they can make it happen.