Nanna Ulsøe: “Not even the US president has done it before he becomes the president” – learn while trying!

The fintech startup ARYZE interviewed Nanna Ulsøe about how she perceives entrepreneurship from her point of view. We wanted to find out what should be changed to get more women engaged to start their own business.

Nanna Ulsøe is a female tech entrepreneur who wanted to grow a business organically to make it sustainable. The result is one of the only female-founded bootstrapped tech companies in Denmark called Canvas Planner.

What drove you to become an entrepreneur?

“I experienced the pain we solve with Canvas Planner when working in my previous job. The lack of overview became a result of way too many emails. I wanted to work smarter and support the remote workstyle, so I quit my job to build Canvas Planner.”

What helped you in particular to become an entrepreneur?
women entrepreneur
Nanna Ulsøe by Simon Uldal

“I wanted to prove it was possible to build a business, make a difference for people while earning money at the same time. I have always been fascinated by founders who dared to create company cultures in their own way. We have always worked remotely – to give flexibility, whereas companies like IIH Nordic only work 4 days a week and still increases productivity with 20%. So for me, it made a difference to see others walk against the stream and succeed! 

In your opinion, what should companies or industries change in order to support women to become more enthusiastic about entrepreneurship and technology?

“As I see it, the challenge in most aspects around entrepreneurship and technology is defined by a male-dominated culture. You need to pitch in a male way, present in a male way, run the business in a male way etc. to prove your worth. According to the board of Tech BBQ then the goal creates the next unicorn business with 1000 employees. Is that really the goal? Why not 100 successful companies with 10 employees?

I believe it is important to tell different stories and present different role models, the recipes for how companies can succeed. I think the first step is to focus on multiple ways of doing it! By bringing forward the different stories and role models (not just female vs male), I think it will inspire more to make the jump. 

It seems like we all agree that education and role models are what is needed. Having said that, why is the number still dropping in Denmark? The setup is just not made for the female way of starting a business. We need to look at all the aspects of becoming an entrepreneur to change the numbers.”

Did you ever doubt whether you had all the abilities required to make your own business and how could you overcome this?
Women in Business/ Nanna Ulsøe
Nanna Ulsøe by Simon Uldal

“The answer is both, yes and no. Starting a business there will be unknowns and that is also the beauty of it. I used to find support in something my dad once said: “Not even the US president has done it before he becomes the president” – so, in short, we all need to learn while trying. And surrounding yourself with talented and intelligent people is the way to go.”

What do you think women can do much better at? What should more be done by women in startups and technology?

“If you find funding hard (which is scientifically proven to be much harder for females) then consider if that is the right way for you to move forward; partner up. Just like there are disadvantages there are also advantages of being a woman in tech. Play it to your strengths and let the best win.”

What five tips would you give other women so that they dare to take the step of becoming entrepreneurs? 
  1. Remember that advice is free for others to give but you alone have to live with the consequences.
  2. Don’t try and do it alone. Find people who are smarter, more experienced and talented than you to work with. 
  3. Separate your dream and business from you as a person. So, don’t take feedback/criticism of your product or service personally.
  4. Everyone makes lots of mistakes when starting a business – which is what makes you learn as well. Just make sure to recover fast when you fail and don’t be too harsh on yourself.
  5. Make sure to have your financials sorted with your family (or a weekend job), so you can focus on building the new business without failing because of cash flow problems. Everything takes longer than you expect. 
entrepreneur Nanna Ulsøe
Nanna Ulsøe and co-founder Jane Houlind Ulsøe at IBTM

Follow Nanna Ulsøe on LinkedIn to find out more about her and her startup Canvas Planner. Canvas Planner is a collaboration and optimization tool, that combines the visual canvas with task management, so you work more simply and efficiently. For more interesting insights stay tuned on our ARYZE blog and website.

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