Nanna Ulsøe, CEO & Founder of Canvas Planner

Founder Of The Month is a blog series, where Women in Tech DK interview female tech entrepreneurs, who want to share their stories and tip and tricks from their own startup journeys.

Canvas Planner is a software that helps teams to work smarter by minimizing the amount of interruptions such as e-mails, meetings and follow ups. By using a digital whiteboard with shapes, movable tasks, and post-its the team gets a shared visual understanding. Everybody easily sees who is doing what and it helps them to align their work.

 

Nanna founded Canvas Planner with a strong passion to change how we work today. There is far too much time spent in responding to emails, reading emails you are cc’d on and sitting in meetings that aren’t really going anywhere. Nannas background in Project Management gave her enough insight to realize that the products that were available at the time forced people into using a specific method or process. Her starting point was to create a tool that was flexible enough for people to design their own workspaces as suited them best. Making a tool that was both flexible and visual has been a goal from the start.

Canvas Planner are one of the few tech startups that have managed to bootstrap their way through building a product and bringing it to market. Today they have users in over 30 countries with a user base growing by double digit percentages per month. This year they are still bootstrapped and have been nominated as Entrepreneur of 2017, and they are now ready to push Canvas Planner to the next level.

 

1. What is the most important learning you had?

Nothing is easy in a startup. You have a lot of ups and downs on a daily basis and the most important learning for me has been to recover from the “punches” as quickly as possible.

You might have heard the saying that being in a startup is like building an airplane while flying it. It’s true, but for me the biggest difference is that when you crash (because you will crash when trying) then the most important thing is to quickly pick up the best parts and use that to move forward.

So again – to recover quickly when crashing has been my most important learning.

2. Why are you the best to run your company?

I like sayings and one of my favorite ones is: “no one has been the president the first time they take that job”.

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So, with that mindset as a founder I think you have a good starting point. When you run a company, you have to make decisions fast and know both the short and long term goals. Which can change again within hours, so being good at adapting to change is great for a founder.

On a personal note and as the founder I am strongly passionated about the pain we solve. I have always hated inefficient work cultures, so helping companies to align their teamwork is a pleasure. If I could remove e-mails and CC e-mails completely I would love to.

I am also an opportunist who always believes hard work can get you to your goals. So far this has been what is needed in Canvas Planner.

 

3. Would you recommend other women to start their own company and why?

Yes – I would always encourage others to become entrepreneurs – not just females. It is not a game for everyone, but if you have the drive and believe you can make the world a better place with your product I will always support you.

 

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4. What is your best tip for staying healthy and productive while running a startup?

Besides getting enough sleep, I have two things I really love which help me get a mental break:

  • One is doing sports – in particular playing football.
  • The other is to eat a good ice-cream.

These “rituals” might sound small and trivial, but running a startup is both a marathon and a sprint at the same time. If you do not take care of yourself you will burn out in a sprint or never make it to the end of the marathon.

 

5. What is the biggest mistake you have made as a founder?

Trusting in the wrong people – and this is what I got from it: Advice is free!

Everybody has opinions about your business and I am sure you all know what I mean. It starts from the moment you speak up your mind and continues while you have a running business. But for the start-up phase its extra challenging, because you hear so many different things. So this is a reminder that it’s easy for others to give you advice, but you are the one who has to live with the consequences.

In short, always have a filter and know where the advice is coming from. It simply has to feel right to you, since you are living with the decisions afterwards.

6. What is your best advice to future entrepreneurs?

The 80-20 rule! I don’t think you can be great at everything (even though it would be nice sometimes), but putting aside your need for perfection and move forward is super important in a startup. Use the 80-20 rule to help you speed up and deliver faster.

Then,  get people to help you:IMG_6518.jpg

  • They must have done something similar themselves.
  • They can’t own shares in your company since their advice most times protect their own investment instead of the interest of your company.

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