5 Questions: CEO & Co-founder Mikkel Naesager

Wednesday 02 Sep 20

Mentor programme for pre-startups

Mikkel Naesager is also active in DTU Tech Transfer's mentor programme for pre-startups, which matchmakes researchers with experienced industry professionals in collaboration with DTU Science Park. The programme provides valuable insights into running a business and prepares the teams for their start-up journey.

Learn more here

Last week, DTU hosted Virtual Innovation Sprint to nurture new agendas, new development projects, and new partnerships to life. The event matched up students, PhD students and early stage startups with industry professionals for mentoring and sparring.

Among the mentors was co-founder and CEO Mikkel Naesager. We asked him five questions about the event and innovation at DTU.

What are your key takeaways from Virtual Innovation Sprint?

There is an immense amount of motivated talent out there looking to make a real impact (and a buck). It was organized chaos of the best kind, where there were few constraints, and even less prejudice. It was a new format as a mentor to be sure – we needed to be much more active in seeking out opportunities to share insights, and the compact nature of the Sprint meant you had very little time to respond. The question I got most was “Is this possible?” Luckily, the answer to that is almost always “YES!, and here’s a few ways to do it”. Would definitely participate again if given the opportunity.


How can mentors make a difference for an early stage start-up?

In the very early stage, you are essentially trusting that you (the entrepreneur) can solve a problem, build a product, and sell it to the buyer. It’s all faith. We mentors have the benefit of having been there, done that, got all the bruises, we know that you really need to work on something worth solving, because it’s an arduous journey. As many early stage university start-ups come out of a school project, I end up asking them to come back with a problem 10 or 100 times larger than the one they are working on now. Another valuable thing we can do is help them say “no” to the wrong opportunities, that takes confidence in yourself and your product, and we can help give them that.


What is key for getting a start-up successfully off the ground?

Two things: 1. A problem or opportunity that is big. 2. A compelling story. Before you are a company you are a story, then a story with a pitch deck, then a story with a pitch deck and a prototype etc. But you have to be able to get team members, investors, advisors etc. to invest in solving the problem you’ve found, and in your story of why and how you’re looking to solve it.


Your 3 pieces of advice for early stage start-ups?

1. If you’re starting with a technology, look for the biggest problem it can solve, not just the first one you come across.
2. If you’re starting with a problem, look for the most convenient way to solve it – humans are lazy, and water runs downhill. Simple beats complicated.
3. Trust that you can win and know that you’ve got something “they” don’t. Take that confidence and use it!


What are some of your thoughts on innovation at DTU?

You’re starting with an amazing pool of talent and adding the support of an organization that genuinely want’s it’s students and faculty to be successful in entrepreneurship. It really is a very good place to be from.


Mikkel Naesager is an advisor turned entrepreneur with successful exits and advisory impact in the fields of AI, IoT, and Big Data. He has worked on several continents and for companies such as Microsoft and KMD A/S. An avid believer in the boundless potential of technology, Mikkel created EXIT DK in 2014 and co-founded Kostner Group Aps in 2015 where he is currently CEO after a successful exit in 2019.

Under his guidance, small and large companies alike have gone on to build great products, generate profit and create real change to the world.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikkelnaesager/

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