Working 70 hours a week vs. being a digital nomad

Start 2015 I proclaimed I wanted to become a digital nomad. I wanted to travel the world, work remote and see the world.

A quick definition for those unaware of the term digital nomad:

Digital nomads are people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner. Such workers typically work remotely—generally from foreign countries, coffee shops, public libraries, co-working spaces and even recreational vehicles—to accomplish tasks and goals that traditionally took place in a single, stationary workplace.)

It was something I had dreamed to do for a long while. Being able to live where I wanted, work when I wanted and see what I wanted – not limited by geography.

In 2015 I managed to get that to work. I managed to be able to pull a stable 50k DKK salary a month (roughly 7.5k USD) from running my remote outsourcing company – and I could have increased that and been living like a king in most places of the world. I lived in Thailand and Philippines. I worked from Malaga. I worked from Bucharest. I worked from Hong Kong. I worked from Berlin.
– All amazing places – especially since I had/have friends and family in those places.

Continue reading Working 70 hours a week vs. being a digital nomad

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How is the startup scene and community in the Philippines?

I spent June in the Philippines, working my ass off on my own startup. I also got the chance to learn much more about the startup scene in the Philippines. With that in mind, I thought it deserved a blog post.

Now, I was extremely lucky that David Margendorff from PawnHero and John Dang from Zipmatch wanted to chip in to give a more diverse view of how they see the startup community and scene. PawnHero and Zipmatch are established businesses in the Philippines, and they basically know everything there is to know about the scene.

Before we dig in, I think it’s important to provide some context. Not all readers are very familiar with the Philippines, and context matters, as it is an extremely exciting market worth exploring.

Continue reading How is the startup scene and community in the Philippines?

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Review of Amazon Machine learning – first experience with machine learning

 

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering from the best technical university in Denmark. I have a Master’s Degree in Business.

I see myself as quite a technical person. My job is to make sure that the developers in my company make great code, and that we pick the right architectural decisions. We do a good job, and our customers seem to love us (well, they keep buying stuff!).

But I am a business guy. From a business perspective, I am totally hyped about machine learning and artificial intelligence (which for some reason is the same in my mind – well, let us say – was). I believe it’s the future, and I totally want to build the next “machine-learning”-applied product that will conquer the world.

But I have no experience with machine learning, artificial intelligence, deep learning or any of the other fancy words I’ve read.

Continue reading Review of Amazon Machine learning – first experience with machine learning

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Today’s startups should seek to change the physical world

Uber. Airbnb. Tesla. Xiaomi. SpaceX.

We hear about these tech “unicorns” all the time: Uber, the 40 million USD transport company, without owning any taxis. Airbnb the biggest hotelier, without owning any hotels.

It’s easy to get caught up in a discussion about their value, and how awesome they are.

Continue reading Today’s startups should seek to change the physical world

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Goals for 2015 and reflections on 2014

This is my first blog post in English at LarsHoldgaard.com. While my English is not grammatically perfect, I think you will understand. I decided to write it in English for multiple reasons:

  1. More and more of my friends and connections are native English speakers
  2. I see myself use Danish less and less: my normal day is English 60-80% of the time

This post is a very personal one. It’s a reflection on the year 2014, and looking ahead at 2015.

I dare to say this: 2014 has been the best year of my life. I say this every year, but it’s comforting to know I can keep saying it.

First, just a couple of milestones of 2014:

  • Finished my masters degree with less than 12 months of studying (it’s supposed to be 24 months) and received “10” – the second highest grade in Denmark
  • Been to China, Philippines (twice), Singapore, Thailand Cambodia, Vietnam, New York, Berlin and Cannes
  • I sold my first company and had an article in Børsen with the headline: “Danish entrepreneur sells student portal for a quarter of a million kr
  • Went from 89kg in April to 78kg in November
  • Failed really bad with a startup
  • Participated in a 5000 USD conference in New York about a subject I am deeply passionate about
  • Got an amazing position at Saxo as a UX/conversion specialist, and did really well
  • … Quit that job and started my own company in August. Since then I am up to two full time employees and a freelancer who basically works for me full time
  • I biked to Berlin with my Dad from Denmark in 1.5 days
  • I moved into the city, living less than ten minutes biking to the center of Copenhagen
  • I started a conference company with my roommate and did three conferences with 100+ people (and sold out tickets)
  • I did a conference on the other side of the world with 120 participants, without being there or knowing the venue first

Woah!

It’s interesting when you make a list like this one: you have often done much more than you thought you would.

But more importantly, this year has changed my opinion about what’s possible in one year. If you had asked me if I truly believed I could achieve all this in one year, I would have laughed at you. So thank you, 2014, you have been amazing.

So now is the question: what to do next?

While 2014 was a year with many goals, I am going to have less goals in 2015. In 2014 I sought adventure through travels, health, money, career, network, fun and startups , 2015 is going to be much more focused and simple.

In 2015 I am going to have three goals. Three things I want to achieve.

All my life I have been very bad at focusing on one or two things.

I remember when I was 15 years old playing Runescape while preparing for my exams. In Runescape you could click at something, look away for 5-7 seconds, and then look again.

I did all my exam preparation and assignments this way.

Now, I am not a believer in multitasking. Any research and attempts shows it doesn’t work – even for women. But I never respected it. I’ve always done multiple things at once – even when I had to prepare for exams.

When I worked on my first company GodeKarakterer.dk, I also focused on multiple things. I had a webshop, some minor blogs and my thoughts were about a new company already.

That’s a mistake. If there is anything I’ve learned the last couple of years, especially from working with Nicolai Frisch and Martin Thorborg in Amino, is that focus is essential.

That’s why I am going to dedicate 2015 to three simple goals. That’s also why I have decided to step down as partner in Imus, the conference company I had together with my roommate, despite we did really well.

My three goals in 2015

The three goals are:

  1. A healthy body
  2. Jarboo is ready for (international) scaling
  3. Geographic independence

Goal one: a healthy body

When it comes to health, I have never been good at controlling it. Even though I have lost a lot of weight recently, it’s not very controlled. I gain and lose weight at random, while eating unhealthy and drinking a shocking amount of soda. From time to time I do a lot of biking, but it’s not consistent all year around.

In 2015 that’s going to be different. In 2015 I will:

  • Have 1 Hour of movement tracked on Google Fit every 365 days during the year.
  • On average, 2x active training a week (racer biking or running)
  • Slow carb diet / paleo diet with one cheat meal a week, including a 90 day challenge with no cheat meals or soda)
  • Half a liter of soda pr. week is allowed

Goal two: Jarboo is ready for scaling

My new startup (which is going to conquer the world -> please sign up for a monthly update on Jarboo.com), has to be ready for an explosive expansion in 2016. In 2015 the product should be nailed and perfected.

In 2015, a customer should visit the Jarboo.com website, register their company and get quality code delivered – without I personally even knew about the customer existing in the system – and pay one tenth of the price they would pay a western developer

I also target some other milestones, such as 5-10 different paying customers and 250.000 DKK in a single month revenue, but compared to having a customer through the system while I don’t even know about the customer, they’re completely irrelevant.

Goal three: I am geographically independent

Today it would be extremely impractical to move away from Copenhagen. As Jarboo basically is “Lars and a couple of great foreigners”, I rely on meeting my customers physically. I want to provide an even better service to my existing customers, but without being there physically all the time.

Jarboo has to be developed to a point where I can have a steady salary while living everywhere. Luckily the rest of my life is pretty easy to move up. I have 3 months resignation on an apartment I share with a roommate, which is the only thing that could hold me back.

So thats 2015

This will be extremely interesting.

2014 Has been amazing, despite I have had a very broad focus. I have achieved success in many different areas, and had A LOT of fun.

But my assumption is 2015 can be completely off the chart. With a renewed focus and more knowledge and resources than ever, I am sure 2015 only can be a huge success.

Give it up for 2015 🙂 Thanks for reading this far.

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Mit nye startup som skal ændre verden

5200c8f1e9_41RhIujiGpLVerdens nok mest successfulde investor og co-founder af PayPal, Peter Thiel, starter sin seneste bog, Zero to One, med at stille spørgsmålet: “Hvilken sandhed kender du, som næsten alle andre anser for at være forkert?” 

Jeg vil lave et startup, fordi jeg har fundet en sådan sandhed.

I dag kræver det rigtig meget at være softwareudvikler. Faktisk kræver det så meget, at de bedst betalte danske udviklere ofte har 5-årige uddannelser og gerne koster over en halv million kroner om året at have ansat. En god dansk universitetsuddannet softwareudvikler koster over 40.000 kr / måneden, næsten fra den dag han eller hun træder ud af universitetet. Lønnen stiger derefter 2-3 % om året, indtil de gerne topper på 7-800.000 kr / året.

Hvorfor outsourcer man så ikke hans eller hendes job til Indien, Filippinerne, Kina eller Bangladesh, og betaler 4.000 kr / måneden?

Det skyldes at man tror udviklere fra disse lande, er meget dårligere udviklere end de danske. Det skyldes at en dansk udvikler, ikke bare performer 10x bedre, men mere. Og det er præcis det næsten alle virksomheder der laver outsourcing oplever. Store som små.

Sandheden bliver gemt bag mange forklaringer. Kulturforskelle, manglende kvalitetskontrol, dårlig projektledelse dovenhed eller manglende uddannelse.

Men det er forkert. Det er forkert at disse udenlandske udviklere er dårligere. Sandheden er derimod at man bruger dem forkert. Meget forkert.

Min vision: Giv alle adgange til (meget) billig kvalitetsprogrammering

Mit startup er en bro, jeg har kaldt http://jarboo.com  .

En bro som kan få meget billige programmører til at performe som vestlige programmører. En bro fra marketing-afdelinger, konsulenhuse og vestlige udviklingsteams, til de billigste programmører. Outsourcing uden ulemperne.

Lad mig forklare hvordan det kan lade sig gøre med en metafor.

En udvikler i dag, har rigtig mange opgaver. I løbet af en gennemsnitlig uge, vil en udvikler f.eks. deltage i møder, programmere, lave arkitekt-beslutninger, kommunikere med andre på et team, fikse bugs, lægge kode på forskellige websites, gennemgå andres kode, lave tests, teste deres egen kode og meget mere. 

Antag at man nu skulle arbejde i McDonalds. Eneste forskel er at vi fjerner deres systemer. Nu skal en ansat handle ind, vende burgere, stå i kassen, have lønforhandlinger, kommunikere med leverandører og putte pomfritter ned i frituren.

Den ansatte i McDonalds skal nok klare det. Det kræver nok en universitetsuddannelse, og personens løn skal nok være over 40.000 kr / måneden.

Forskellen er processer og systemer. I McDonalds står forskellige folk for indkøb, madlavning, salg og stå i kassen, og de har de bedste værktøjer til at hjælpe. Det gør man kan hyre folk til en lavere løn og med lavere uddannelse, og få et bedre produkt.

Mit startup skal levere det system, og give alle virksomheder adgang til det.

(Og du kan få alle nyheder om Jarboo ved at skrive dig op her – maks én e-mail om måneden):

Hvordan bygger man så det system?

I dag har jeg min egen virksomhed, som laver software for danske kunder. Lige nu har jeg to fantastiske kunder, hvor jeg laver outsourcing. Jeg har en fuldtidsansat i Vietnam og Rusland, og er ved at ansætte en i Ukraine. Derudover bruger jeg som mange andre en del forskellige freelancere.

Jeg har over det sidste år eksperimentet med mine egne udviklere. Jeg har givet dem (mange) forskellige typer af opgaver, og jeg har fundet et system. For at teste systemet, har jeg prøvet at hive freelancere ind, som bekræfter mit system virker.

Mit system er småt. Jeg har fået det til at virke indenfor “nye funktioner i teknologien ASP.NET, på eksisterende websites, med Lars som projektleder”.

Jeg aner ikke om mit system kan skaleres op. Virker det med andre teknologier? Virker det på større projekter? Og vigtigst af alt: virker det uden mig som projektleder? 

Spørger jeg mine nuværende kollegaer vil de især sidste “nej” til mit sidste spørgsmål.

Men jeg skal erstattes. Jeg skal være et system. Jeg skal være proprietær software, en platform om man vil. Jeg skal være skalerbar. Jeg skal være en blanding af en algoritme, freelancere og kunde. 

Jeg har ikke løst alle detaljerne endnu. Havde jeg fundet alle løsninger, havde jeg søgt investorer og skaleret lortet på tværs af jorden. Jeg har ikke mit Lars-erstattende software. Og jeg har ikke bevist min sandhed udenfor “nye features baseret på ASP.NET

“Nail it, then scale it”

 Imens visionen er verdensovertagelse, vil jeg løse alle detaljerne først. Produktet skal være intet mindre end revolutionerende og en klassisk “zero to one”.

Over de næste par måneder (udvikler-snak for 6+ måneder) vil jeg eksperimentere vildt og voldsomt, på egen regning, hos mine to kunder. Jeg vil gøre min egen rolle mindre og mindre, og erstatte den med software og algoritmer.

Når jeg til sidst er nede på en lille rolle, hvor der bliver leveret fejlfri software (hvor jeg lige nu har et par udfordringer…) med kvalitetskode, tager jeg flere virksomheder ind i folden.

Når jeg begynder at tage nye virksomheder ind planlægger jeg at gøre det uden profit. Indtil jeg har 5-10 kunder som ugentligt køber fra mig, ønsker jeg at sælge til min købspris.

Jeg ønsker ikke at tjene en krone. I stedet ønsker jeg at knække løsningen, så systemet spiller.

Det er nu mit projekt. Mit arbejde. 

Måske synes du projektet lyder spændende? Måske ville du selv bruge produktet? Måske vil du gerne grine af mig, når jeg indser at verden alligevel havde ret og det ikke kan lade sig gøre?

Det er i hvert fald gratis at følge mit eventyr om at knække hemmeligheden forneden eller på http://jarboo.com . No matter what, bliver det spændende. Meget spændende

Tak for at læse med 🙂 Ønsk mig HELD OG LYKKE – jeg får brug for det. Smid dine tanker forneden, eller skriv dig op til at få en nyhed fra tid til anden.

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Hvorfor du ikke skal starte en webshop

JuliRundt i landet, sidder der tonsvis af folk som sidder med ideen: “skal jeg starte en webshop?“.

Lad mig hjælpe dig med svaret. Svaret er et klart: NEJ. Svaret bliver kun tydeligere hvis du ikke har drevet eller arbejdet i en webshop før. I slutningen af indlægget har jeg dog et par scenarier som gør det OK…

Continue reading Hvorfor du ikke skal starte en webshop

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Mit første foredrag om Bitcoin

I 2013 har jeg snakket om Bitcoin konstant. På arbejdet, i fritden, på dates, i telefonen og i byen. Selv halv-fuld i Irma har jeg købt champagne imens jeg snakkede om Bitcoin.

Der skal ikke være nogen tvivl: Jeg ved rigtig meget om Bitcoin, og er en af dem i Danmark som ved mest om emnet. Jeg tror på Bitcoin, og jeg kan formidle budskabet til andre.

Derfor skal jeg også til at holde foredrag om Bitcoin. I Dansk Bitcoinforening er vi begyndt at holde flere foredrag, og jeg har et foredrag næste onsdag for en række kapitalforvaltere. Det er vanvittig spændende, og det er fedt at kunne give budskabet videre.

Internationalt er jeg også begyndt at få de første henvendelser. Jeg har lavet hjemmesiden Bitcoin-Expert sammen med min ven Martin Carlsson. Ikke egentlig som en ny virksomhed, men mere et spændende projekt hvor vi kan få lov til at fortælle flere mennesker om Bitcoin.

Pointen med mit indlæg udover at jeg endnu engang kan få lov til at fokusere på mig selv?

Er du dybt engageret i et emne, og samtidig bliver en ekspert i emnet, så begynder folk et lytte – meget.

Det giver nye muligheder. Økonomisk set er foredrag en rigtig fornuftig forretning, og det er samtidig en måde at udbrede budskabet om din passion.

Jeg havde slet ikke set den komme – men det er drønspændende.

God dag! 🙂

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En update her i slutningen af maj: livet er fedt

Jeg elsker solskin – jeg elsker varme. Efter et halvt år er varmen endelig kommet, og jeg nyder det dag efter dag. Varmen bekræfter mig dagligt om at jeg ikke skal bo fast i et land der har kulde som vi har herhjemme, og mine cykelture fortæller mig at jeg savner bjerge at cykle opad.

Det går rigtig godt. For en måneds tid siden skrev jeg om opture og nedture, hvor jeg havde haft nogle issues der generede mig. Her en måneds tid efter føler jeg mig uovervindelig.

Continue reading En update her i slutningen af maj: livet er fedt

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Nu skal jeg til at sælge B2B produkter

Siden jeg var 18 år gammel har jeg haft mange tossede projekter. Jeg har haft solgt en iPhone app på Apples app store, jeg har afholdt dating kurser, jeg har haft masser af websites, en webshop osv.

Er der en ting som jeg har lært, så er det at det er svært at lave et godt produkt, som kan sælge. At skabe nye ting er vanvittigt komplekst, og de fleste produktlanceringer fejler. Og her tror jeg ikke man skal give marketing skylden, men produktet. Harward Business Review lavede i 2010 en analyse som viste at 2/3 produktlanceringer fejler fordi man ikke kender sit marked godt nok.

Continue reading Nu skal jeg til at sælge B2B produkter

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