As a business if you are looking outside India to expand in the new financial year, may we suggest Denmark? Couple of weeks ago, Mikal Hallstrup, Co-founder and Chief Visionary Officer at Designit, the largest design firm in Denmark, was in town as part of the Invest in Denmark delegation to help familiarize Denmark as an investment destination.
YourStory spoke to Mikal on the various aspects of doing business in Denmark and design.
Designit and design in Denmark
Designit was founded in 1991 in Denmark, and is the largest design firm in the country. Headquartered in Copenhagen, it has over 250 employees spread over 10 international offices. Of the different work they have done through the years, Mikal picks his favourite three – Novartis, Audi and a hospital in Oslo. “The work we did for the hospital was to set in place processes that would help reduce the time taken for a patient coming in for treatment to actually start the treatment. This is a new place for design thinking to be used, but it was very satisfying. We helped set in processes that reduce the time taken from months to a couple of weeks,” shares Mikal.
For Novartis they worked on redesigning their products to get them ready for the digital world. And for Audi, they helped them setup their future car showrooms for Audi in London. These showrooms helped Audi move its car dealerships from suburbs to small areas within crowded cities. These showrooms have a single car, and a digital setup that allow users visiting the showroom to design their own dream cars.
Some of the clients that Designit has worked with include Bosch, DHL, Ikea, Samsung, JBL, LG, L’Oreal, BMW and Cisco among others.
Mikal says there is abundance of design talent available in Denmark. “Am not being pompous here, but we are capable of thinking of both — money and creating magic for users,” he claims. The current focus within the country is not too different from the West, even Denmark is thinking of smart products, Internet of Things and to use design in a way which is integral to life of citizens.
He admits to being amazed with the design sensibilities in India. “I would love to setup shop in India, that’s my dream. If we talk about growth and globalization there is no way around India. I just pity that we started out big time in China, and tried the US. We should have picked India first because there are so many things in place here – business culture, language, shared design interest and so on,” he says. China, he says, is a very difficult market to work in not only because it is highly regulated, but even in terms of mindset; they are very far away in design thinking. On the other hand, the US is already very tech saturated and probably needs to imbibe some of the simple approach that Scandinavian designs follow.
Denmark – the investment destination
Talking as the representative of Denmark ministry promoting investments in the country, Mikal draws our attention to some interesting facts of doing business in Denmark. The World Bank’s ‘Doing Business Report 2013’ ranks Denmark’s business climate as the best in Europe. According to the World Bank, Denmark is one of the easiest places in the world to do business. A company can be established in just 24 hours – and some of the world’s most flexible hiring and firing rules allow for a reduction in the costs related to scaling business. “Denmark is a small country, so the process of starting actually starts with showing where Denmark is located on the map. You’ll be surprised that even big companies don’t know where Denmark is located; they feel it’s the dark side of Europe where the sun never shines,” laughs Mikal.
For those who don’t know, some of the well-known companies that have come out of Denmark are – toy manufacturer Lego, beer brand Carlsberg, and world’s most stylish TV and electronic products company Bang and Olufsen, among others. Denmark is also a hub for markets of the Nordic region, which includes Sweden, Finland and Norway. The bigger German market is also in close proximity. Increasing number of companies are saving costs by covering the Nordic, Baltic or European markets from Denmark, and companies like Shell, Bioden Idec, Intel, Microsoft and IBM have all placed their R&D regional headquarters in Denmark.
Denmark has a large English-speaking population which makes it easy to recruit talent locally. Denmark is a frontrunner in the development of Information and Communications Technology, and thus a prime location for international companies that want to expand their businesses in the area. Mikal says there is a great culture of R&D in Denmark because of the adaptive labour force and work environment they provide. “Denmark can be the lab, it can be a place to do work and ship to neighbouring countries, which has good demand,” he says.
To date, about 25 Indian companies have used the flexible Danish laws to their advantage, and Mikal hopes he can convince a few more in this stopover.