In 2016, first time founders Malene Madsen (CEO) and Mikkel Bindesbøl (Head of Sales) developed the people intelligence platform WOBA, a software system designed to measure and improve employee well-being, engagement and retention. But the path of creating and expanding a business was far from aligned and easy.
Malene had spent years on scientific field work, researching work related stress in larger Danish companies, when she realized that the current focus of reducing stress was individually focused solutions that only seemed to treat the symptoms and not the cause of stress. She decided that this needs to change. But, as the two founders came from a humanities background and had no former experience in establishing a business, it was mostly learning by doing with WOBA.
“There are a lot of things you don’t see, when it is the first time you create a company. You lack the providence. But it’s not all bad, because then you are forced to just do it.” CEO, Malene Madsen, explains. The founding couple were forced to alter their business plan numerous times. “You can’t be too proud to change your road. If you see something that doesn’t work, you have to change it by the snap of your fingers. You have to be agile to succeed,” she elaborates.
Raising capital for the company was both important and challenging for WOBA. Malene tells; “It was tough as hell sometimes. When I was fundraising, I had nothing to show, I had no track record. I had to learn how to pitch, how to make a budget and how to comfort investors all the way around. This is particularly important when establishing a software company, which needs a lot of funds for acceleration and development. It was quite a shock, but we made it!”
Something that helped WOBA on its way in the early stages, was participating in the University Startup World Cup in 2016. Here, the founders got to meet a lot of peers and professionals who gave them valuable input. “USWC was like an accelerated business education. It was really good for us. We got a compressed business education, learned how to build a pitch and deliver it, as well as evaluations from really competent people,” Malene says.
Today, the company has 15 employees, more than 300 national and international customers and only last year landed a venture capital of 12 million DKK with Preseed Ventures and Vækstfonden. This injection into the company will help WOBA build the muscles to upscale for an international market.
Read more about WOBA here.