Networking Your Way Into a Startup

For Nikolaj Berntsen, last year’s TechBBQ event connected him to his newest venture Geniebelt – a digital tool belt for construction SMEs that improves workflow management and collaboration. We sat down with him to hear the story of how he successfully used the event to network his way into a startup.

Nikolaj Berntsen bought his ticket to TechBBQ hoping to re-enter the startup world. He had his beginnings working with several different start ups before going corporate and now felt himself wanting to go back to his roots.

“At Tech BBQ I heard Klaus Nyengaard talk. He had recently left Just Eat and after speaking, someone in the audience asked what his next move was going to be. He said he had several projects in the pipeline and was in need of a CTO. That caught my attention.”

A Tweet Got Him There

Having entered the startup world at the boom of the Internet age, Berntsen was confident that his background as a software developer and technical manager qualified him to be an ideal candidate. It also helped that he wasn’t picky. Berntsen was first and foremost interested in working with a great team as opposed to one particular idea. The industry wasn’t as important compared to the people who would bring the idea to fruition. Thus, he sent Nyengaard a tweet inquiring further:

A good ear for opportunity and a follow up tweet helped to bring Berntsen back into the startup community. Since connecting with Nyengaard, Geniebelt has launced a beta version that it is now testing. They also merged with the guys behind Quick Inspect who won Venture Cup’s Mobile & Web Award in 2013. Berntsen sees the merger as a key to Geniebelt’s success so far.

A Class People Knows A Class People

“When building a start up, you need A class people because A class people know other A class people and that helps you build momentum. Klaus Nyengaard is a magnet in that sense. His success with Just Eat has definitely helped us to build a great team. You also don’t just want people who are like yourself. It needs to be diversified. For us, we have a team with a wide age range. The younger guys from Quick Inspect may be more willing to take risks, while I, for example, can offer experience and other skills. The combination has been strong for us, naturally one could say, but still a revelation to me.”


Tips for Making the Most of Your Time at TechBBQ

When talking about his tactics for networking, Berntsen’s number one tip is to be open and talk to the guy next to you. You never know who it could be and even if they can’t help you directly it might open up for other conversations later on. They might end up talking to someone who interests you later in the day and having made the connection to them early on lets you get a foot in the door and approach the group more easily.

Berntsen also recommends that you practice your elevator pitch before you come.

“The purpose of an elevator pitch is to be intriguing, not to get funding. You want the person’s interest to be piqued enough that they say, ‘that sounds interesting. I want to know more.’  Your elevator pitch can be for an idea or company that you have or just about yourself, if you’re trying to land a job at a particular startup.”

Berntsen looks forward to attending this year’s TechBBQ event as well. You can follow him on twitter @lereveilleur or the company @GenieBelt

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