In building his startup Magfu, Thomas Borch Nielsen faced a whole new set of challenges after making the jump to energy and maritime. As part of Beyond Beta’s Energy incubator facilitated by Energy Cluster Denmark, the entrepreneur shares his journey navigating the common pitfalls of the startup world and how he manages to make big ideas feel real.
Asking the big questions
Founders are often driven by big dreams and visions, but it is equally important to explore the landscape and identify who the business serves. By keeping this audience in mind, startups ensure that their solution is developed to address real problems in the market and not just their own impulses.
“Who’s your first customer?” During his journey with Beyond Beta, Thomas reflected on how this early question impacted his outlook. Simple, but powerful. The question forced him to move his mindset from building an idea to building a business.
The network effect
“I would say the network is extremely important. You can’t underestimate it. You have to be able to call people, ask for recommendations, and get help in understanding the problem.” Especially when entering an unfamiliar field, your network can help you move in the right direction more quickly than you could on your own.
“I know everybody in Europe and the US to call when it comes to making a movie, but when I started Magfu, I didn’t know anybody in the energy or maritime sectors.” Through the incubator, Thomas used his network to spar on ideas, define the problem area, and accelerate Magfu’s development. Being able to pull from others’ experiences helped sharpen his focus and prioritize plans.
Finding sense in the madness
“It takes a while to convince a very conservative industry that this is something worth trying.” In pitching his idea, Thomas found that investors often required something more tangible to accompany the theory. “They need to see there’s something to the madness.”
These days, Thomas is busy building a prototype to test his technology on the water. “My background is to take crazy ideas and make them happen.” Now armed with the right network and knowledge, Thomas is sailing straight toward a greener future, ready to weather whatever challenges may lie ahead.