Who: We have interviewed Christian Anders Jørgensen who is head of marketing automation at Planday
The company: Planday is an online employee scheduling software that makes shift swaps, vacation requests, and other management tasks a lot easier
Why we find them interesting: Planday started as a local start-up eleven years ago and has grown to have more than 100.000 users. Planday challenges existing products on a global market and offers a product that gives freedom to their clients
What we can learn: The importance of data analyses and traction, the biggest mistake you make in a start-up and the best advice from someone who helped to turn a start-up into a successful and acknowledged company
Conquering the world
Christian joined the company three years ago. At this time, the marketing department was pretty much non-existent and it had to be built up from scratch. He marks this as one of the company’s significant milestones. “I don’t think we got more than 50 leads per month back then. Last month we got more than 1200” he says, and adds that this growth came about by focusing on marketing, but also working a lot on the product and its usability. Two large investments also made a big impact on the company and their mentality, encouraging them to be a lot sharper and more alert.
Planday’s goal is to be the leading employee scheduling software in the world:
“We don’t just want to be a small Scandinavian or Northern European player, we actively go into the markets we want to conquer and use the energy and the resources it takes to get a good market share”.
The importance of data analyses
According to Christian Anders Jørgensen traction is key. He tracks the SEO and Planday’s affiliate program, two full-time employees work with content marketing and social media, many freelancers create content, two employees are dedicated to getting Planday a spot at conferences and exhibitions all over the world and two others are responsible for the company’s paid channels, such as Facebook, AdWords, LinkedIn and many others “I wouldn’t say it’s one part of it that creates the growth, it’s the interaction between them all. It’s a beautiful synergy” Christian says. Planday tracks everything. They determine which marketing channels create leads and what a lead costs, how many of those their sellers consider good leads, how many of the good leads are converted to a customer and how big of a turnover it creates. This sort of data analyses is alpha and omega.
Learning from your mistakes and realizing you can’t do everything
According to Christian, the biggest mistake you can make in a start-up business is to be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are part of the process and can be learned from. It’s also important to make some difficult decisions at times: “If you’ve made a product and it turns out it doesn’t suit the market and people won’t buy it, then make the decision to change it — kill your darlings” Christian says and adds that if customers won’t pay for your product, then you don’t have a company, you have a project.
The first couple of years, the company kept several balls in the air. In addition to Planday, they also had a photo-sharing site, where people could share pictures from the Copenhagen nightlife. At one point they realized they had to make their strategy more focused and they decided to go with Planday and drop everything else.
Christian also notes the importance of having the courage to take the plunge as a start up. To get your first customers and then take it step by step. He also emphasizes how important it is to acknowledge what things you aren’t good at and to get someone to help you with those things. He sees a lot of entrepreneurs who try to do everything themselves, which is understandable when your company only makes a small profit, but you can’t be good at everything.
A year and a half ago Christian was in a situation where he and the Planday’s CEO discussed getting a CMO to join the company — this was basically Christian’s job at the time. He had to put his ego aside and even though it was difficult, he now sees the benefits of having an international CMO with a lot of experience in key target markets such as the UK and USA. The requirements you have to meet in the initial investment rounds are relatively easy compared to when you have to wheel in 15 million dollars, therefore Christian knew he had a lot to learn from the CMO. “I try to work in an environment where people are more experienced in different areas than me. If I’m the most experienced, then I don’t learn anything new” Christian notes.
Alliances and co-workers
When it comes to creating alliances and working with investors, Christian stress that you should find someone you have good chemistry with, who understands your market and can make a contribution to the company: “As a business owner you’re busy enough expanding the company, you don’t want to be in a situation where you have to ‘play teacher’ for an investor to get them to understand what is happening and why”.
According to Christian, it’s very significant for the company to have good employees, and he thinks Planday’s greatest force is his co-workers:
“There is so much knowledge and expertise combined with a good social environment, and we aren’t afraid of testing out new things”.
One of Planday’s values is family; they consider themselves a family that helps each other out. It’s essential to a company that it’s made up of people who are invested in it and create a safe environment where people feel comfortable trying out new things. To support each other like a family does. Planday also finds it important to help the society they are a part of. The company has donated Planday software to volunteer firefighters and recently helped to organize the volunteers for a football match in a refugee camp in Greece.
Pieces of advice from Christian Anders Jørgensen
We asked Christian what kind of company he would love to start up himself if he had to, and even though he didn’t have a specific idea, he knew it would have to be something that contributed to people’s lives in a positive way: “You’ll feel better about yourself if you sell something good and people will naturally spread the good message, creating a network for you. It will help you and the company if you have a good product that can save people money or make them more efficient”.
Christian also recommends the book The Lean Startup to new entrepreneurs. Although he says the book can be a bit heavy he thinks it has some good points. He also mentions The Hustle, a blog and facebook page that shares stories of how people grew their company and gained success.
Christian’s biggest piece of advice for entrepreneurs is to dare to take the leap. He doubts that the founder of Planday expected it to become such a big company, but it did because he dared to start it and kept at it through the years.
I am currently studying for a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies at University of Southern Denmark. I work with social media at KUBO Robot.
What is KUBO?
KUBO is an educational robot who teaches kids to code and thereof they will develop 21st-century skills as creativity, collaboration, problem-solving and more. Visit: www.kubo.education to learn more about the little TagTile® robot.