A couple of Tuesdays ago, the CBP Network organized its first event titled “How to Become a Successful Entrepreneur” in partnership with the Creative Business Network. Some of you students might already know about both organizations, but for the others, here’s the drill.
First, the CBP Network is an organization run by a team of students from the CBP Program at the Copenhagen Business School. The organization works towards facilitating exchange between students and the creative industries, for example through events like this last one. Then, the Creative Business Network is the organization behind the Creative Business Cup competition. There, creative startups from all around the world compete every year in a pitching competition. Our main speakers, Lasse from Grød and Alexander from Lapee, both participated, and won!
Grød is Denmark’s first and biggest chain of porridge bar. It serves a wide range of breakfast, lunch, and dinner “porridge-type dishes”, including risotto, congee, and daal. The cozy Falkoner Alle address is the perfect place for a healthy breakfast before a class at CBS, while the original Grød location in Nørrebro is ideal for a nice lunch or dinner with friends on the weekend. Next, there’s Lapee. As the name kind of suggests, they’re into the peeing business. Lapee makes these pink portable urinals you might have seen at Distorsion, Roskilde, or on Instagram and Tinder where they made a great buzz.
With this little piece here, I reflect back on the event, and on what Lapee and Grød’s CEOs taught us about becoming successful entrepreneurs.
After a quick introduction from the CBP Network & the Creative Business Network, it’s Grød’s CEO, Lasse, who took the stage first to tell us his story from “high-school fuck-up” to the owner of 9 restaurants in Denmark. All in humility and humanity.
Grød’s story is one of change and growth, with a good side of porridge. If we had to put it as a movie synopsis, it’d be this quirky and heart-warming comedy about how a little overweight [and lost] kid got addicted to porridge in an effort to lose weight and get all the girls, and ended up building the next Danish healthy food empire in the process. A great family movie if you’d ask me!
Obviously, there are ups and downs, crisis and small victories all along this chaotic journey. Grød might never have happened if Lasse hadn’t dropped out of his bachelor in music and production in London, and convinced one of his friends to quit his job and start this strange business with him, basically placing him and his early-stage business partner into a position where they could not not do it. Almost a question of life and death.
Not only did Lasse turn his life around, but he also completely changed the status of porridge in Denmark. What was once considered boring “poor man’s” food, only ever tolerated for its vitamin A, fibers, and other overall good-for-you intakes, is now the country’s new favorite breakfast food. It’s his strong passion for porridge, and belief in its unexplored potential that’s at the core of Grød’s success.
Then, coming with a radically different project, Lapee’s co-founder, Alexander, took us on a journey from frustration to surprise and success through friendship and curiosity, all that with heart-warming engagement.
The concept for Lapee came to Alexander and his friend Tina on a sunny afternoon at the Roskilde festival. They had been dancing, singing and drinking (at least I imagine that’s part of what people do at Roskilde), and sat down with a beer to take a break in the sun. Then came the decisive moment, the one that would change their lifes forever: a girl had to pee.
While it sounds like a trivial issue, having to pee at a festival as a woman is a whole adventure. From finding the toilet to waiting in the line hoping it won’t take much longer, to squat and not to touch anything, and keeping balance is no easy task. And when you have finally made it out, your friends might be gone because, well, you took a super long time, you know because of the line, and they’re excited and a bit under the influence and wanted to go on another adventure. As Alexander said, “it sucks”.
That’s why, like good architecture students, he and Tina started drawing a solution on a napkin. This mirage-like image slowly became a reality with the first prototypes, and in no time became a startup with global potential. Well yes, everywhere there were man urinals, you could have women’s! But the two had a lot of things to learn about business. From the basics of business models, finding investors and running the operations. They took crash courses with accelerators, and participated in the Creative Business Cup which they won in 2019, and learned from their mistakes like at Distortion where due to lack of men urinal the Lapee ones were invaded by men – which kind of ruined the whole thing. Of course, Lapee learned a lot about festival organization from the organizers. But they also hung out with the toilet guys who clean them and ended up cleaning a lot of them themselves.
While telling us his story, Alexander also gave us some of the keys to catching some radicalness, and create buzz when building a business. The women urinals they created are not only super functional but also a rather unexpected step towards gender equality. The symbolic message inherent in Lapee, supported by the bright pink color, was strongly embraced on social media and helps build great momentum for the project, at home and abroad. It’s all about women empowerment!
Finally, at the end of the session, Alexander gave us his keys to a successful startup: having a vision, communicating it and staying dedicated to solving the issue. He also emphasized teamwork and the necessity of partnering with the competition when disrupting an industry as small and conservative as the mobile toilet industry.
To conclude, what both Lasse from Grød and Alexander from Lapee shared with us are surprising, unconventional stories of success, powered by passion, friendship and a genuine desire to bring a bit more good into the world. And I don’t know about you, but that’s exactly what I’d like the Creative Industries to be about.
They also taught us that good ideas can come from anywhere, and that building a business is like falling in love, bit by bit and then all at once.
by Alexandra Van Bastelaer