Love Affair with Laptops Over Lab Tests
One story that often inspires many budding entrepreneurs is surely that of Bill Gates. The story of how a college drop-out went on to become one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and of course, the richest man in the world. Well, but the same guy insists that you must not drop out and continue your school.
What happens then when after finishing your entire academic program you realize you are not really cut out for the particular field and would like to try your hand on something that your heart loves? Well for all those you could get inspired by Morten Primdahl’s love for laptops and his tryst with destiny. The Co-founder and CTO of Zendesk, he followed his heart and created a successful startup right in the midst of the recession that nearly overwhelmed businesses world over.
Who Is Morten Primdahl & How Was Zendesk Created?
Morten Primdahl is a Chemical Engineering bachelor from the Technical University of Denmark but given his intense love affair with computers and software went on to earn a Masters in computer science from the IT University of Copenhagen.
Perhaps what was most inspiring was his commitment to create something that could stand apart and grab attention and add a bit of a zing to the other otherwise mundane world of customer support.
That is exactly how Zendesk started in a loft in Copenhagen that used an old Kitchen door as a work desk. Three friends including Primdahl got together in 1999 to create one of the most successful companies built around the recession period that leveraged instead of complaining about the challenges that economic recession brought about globally and the problems that have come to be associated with it.
Today, of course, Zendesk has come a long way from its humble beginning in Copenhagen all the way to San Francisco and serving a much broader network of clientele. The company has no doubt grown; they had even filed for an IPO in the US in 2014, the offices are bigger, the software designed by them is beautiful. However, perhaps what remains the same is the zest to excel and urge to create a product that keeps its customer’s interest as the top priority. They have not let the spirit that formed the foundation of the startup fade. They still listen to customers and look at forging stronger ties with all those who approach them.
Morten Primdahl believes that Zendesk is all about bringing businesses close to customers and this is perhaps why Zendesk looks at catering to companies that are committed to creating meaningful customer relationships and undertake a proactive engagement with a mature and self-sufficient support mechanism.
Keeping It Beautifully Simple
If you think that this is a mere reiteration of Zendesk’s motto, then you are wrong. Well in the world of startup failures, this is perhaps the mantra that’s got the company going forward under the leadership of its founders including Morten Primdahl.
This, incidentally, is also the core idea that led to the creation of Zendesk. It is the brainchild of the intense need to provide some good looking software that is also simple and extremely easy to navigate by one and all. Quite needless to mention in doing so they have kept the core consciousness of the company alive. As Morten Primdahl often mentions that today despite being an internationally oriented software company that employs close to 1000 people with the presence in over 11 countries across Europe, US and Asia, they have not let the core idea take a back seat and time and again taken the pain to revive it in every possible manner. It would not be wrong to say that they were instrumental in changing the very character of helpdesk software industry and making it more simple and transparent.
It is this very startup DNA that not just helped them propel ahead at a phenomenal pace, but also become a champion for other startups and small business. They specialize in particularly offering expert assistance for start-ups that are still growing. In fact, Morten Primdahl explains that they divided their service module into three basic segments.
- Small and medium businesses including startups
- Mid-market businesses and large enterprises
- Employee Service oriented service module
Their commitment to growing businesses also highlights the core catalyst driving their growth, the urge and passion for excelling and creating something unique.
Of Grit & Determination
You might have often heard that one of the best courses for a budding entrepreneur is to move ahead with tunnel vision and not pay heed to naysayers. While veterans will swear that as a sure recipe for success, most newbie in this space might begin to doubt and for all those who fall into that category, there isn’t a better story to convince you about the charms and positive power of determined action.
When Zendesk went live in 2007, Morten Primdahl’s team began to look out for funds, but unfortunately for them, Danish investors were not ready yet to commit money to such novel idea in the marketplace. Come 2008; the situation worsened further with the entire Lehman Crisis and the subprime horror story unfolding. Cash crunch became the order of the day and more than anywhere, it became nearly impossible to raise funds in Denmark. But Morten Primdahl’s team was not that easy to dissuade.
Eventually, they managed to raise as much as $500,000 as seed funding from Christoph Janz, a notable German investor. That, no doubt, helped them take their mission forward and helped them in securing a Series A investment eventually paving the way to Boston in 2009. But the trio realized that they have to set base in California to truly realize the potential of their unique concept. Their patience and determination paid off and soon enough they were able to announce $6 million worth of Series B funding that helped them to set up shop in San Francisco, the Silicon Valley, the Mecca of software development.
Charting New Territories
You might have often heard that one of the biggest positives for an entrepreneur and an enterprise is never to run out of new things to try out, new boundaries to breach and new lands to discover. Often it is this urge to try out new ideas, new geographies and brand new concepts that catapult a start up’s growth from moderate to phenomenal. Needless to mention that Zendesk under the leadership of the passionate trio including Morten Primdahl, never lost sight of this passion.
As Zendesk realized it has to go global to grasp better returns, to cater to a significantly wide set of customers and offering their services to even non-English speaking audiences, it braced to tackle every challenge that came its way. After moving to Frisco, one of the biggest problems was perhaps the shortage of talented manpower. In Silicon Valley, they started facing stiff competition from the likes of Google, Facebook while hiring suitable candidates to beef up the technical aspects to make their product more global. But Morten Primdahl was not ready to give up yet. Instead of struggling with the deep pockets of the established names like Twitter and Google, he went back to Denmark in search of suitable talent not just support the rising demand for suitable technical staff rebuild the Copenhagen facilities.
Now there are close to 25 people who are working in Copenhagen laced with absolute global perspective and a will to serve with happiness. This step also gave this relatively new company and its dedicated founders the confidence to approach brand new markets and move well ahead of the complacent comfort zone of existing conventional hot spots that they have been used to thus far.
Expansion Is Key
Growth in sync with the demand of the time has been the primary premise for the most start-ups which managed to grow and break even at a certain point of time. A quick look at Zendesk’s long repertoire of achievements suggests nothing lesser. Coupled with the passion for new elements, the founders including Morten Primdahl have realized that expanding the horizon is the only way to fuel growth and record substantial volume gain. For them, India is the next growth avenue. It can be well understood from the fact that this company which essentially makes customer relationship management systems already has over 1700 paid customers account by the second quarter of 2016. That, in itself, reflects a strong 40% growth on a year on year basis.
This also proves that the company is not just planning its expansion, it is also planning it in a systematic manner. Home to one of the largest start-up economies in the world, it is set to become the youngest countries fueled with e-commerce by 2020. In fact, recent studies show that the share of revenue from e-commerce is steadily on the rise and now commands a solid 50% plus share of the total revenue generated. No wonder they have already signed up three supporting partners including Punes Cloudcover, Powerupcloud in Bangalore and Virtuous facilities in India. Once they have decided on a course of action, Morten Primdahl and his team head forward with strong determination and a will to excel.
Flexibility A Major Positive
In keeping with their spirit of ever growing and never resting Morten Primdahl ensures that his team never has a dull moment. It is, therefore, obvious that they extend the same facilities to their clients as well in every possible manner. Their easy to use and simple to implement software ensure that the clients get the advantage of speed and flexibility to better focus on innovation and efficiency in ways that facilitate scaling up growth by many times.
It is this fact alone that helped Zendesk reach out to even smaller clients and further enhance its volume growth. Whether you consider the likes of MGM Communications, HealthEnablr or even Semantify, there have all been success stories in terms of harnessing the Zen-like abilities provided by the Zendesk software and constructively look at improving customer relationships on a sustained basis. The Open development platform further enunciates the flexibility aspect and adaptive nature of the business model.
What Sets Zendesk Apart?
Businesses often experience success on the basis of that unique factor that sets them apart from the rest, and it is this primary catalyst that catapults growth for them. Zendesk and its success story right from the time it was conceptualized in the loft in Copenhagen beautifully manifest this element and uniqueness which sets it apart.
In fact, what Primdahl and his team worked at was to take advantage of a niche element and then convert it into a full-fledged force to reckon with. In effect, all that they did was transform the basic customer relation software into a fairly good looking one with an efficient navigation facility. The fact was that they were alert about spotting the missing link and quick to transform it into an undeniably classy content along with the added advantage of selling it with confidence and in the bargain wooing more and more users who increasingly opted for Zendesk.
In Morten primdahl’s own words, “they don’t look at the industry as a competitive arena”. What they chose to compete with instead is the “reticence amongst businesses to replace old, on-premise legacy systems or inefficient, basic tools like email and spreadsheets.” Morten Primdahl goes on to add that they are looking at ways to exactly change these elements and are having a “lot of fun doing that.”
This fun element I must add is a major driving force. It is almost like letting the child opt between the bring class work boo and the attractively colored drawing book. Inevitably the child chooses the drawing book and even looks at filling up all those blank pages with a myriad of colors as best as they can. By keeping the fun element intact, it is exactly this factor that Zendesk uses to keep motivating its employees to deliver their very best each time.
The Road To Success
We often take inspiration from the success stories of others and use those to find solutions for the problems that we are facing. Morten Primdahl’s practical classroom charting the success route of Zendesk can often be the beacon light of growth in this context. You question could be did they do anything extraordinary or was it just a matter of perfect coincidence, of being at the right place at the right time? Well, it would be rather naive to consider it is Either Or. It undeniably is a candid mixture of many factors.
According to Primdahl:
- A successful entrepreneur is one who can extricate themselves from the daily drudgery
- One who doesn’t just inspire people but also finds inspiration and inspiring people all around themselves
- Inspiration alone fuels ambition, and that can propel growth in a phenomenal manner
- The thought that someone else would do it if you slip often pushes entrepreneurs to go beyond their abilities and surprise their selves with their grit and strength
While the road to success might not necessarily be a bag of roses, it can’t be a bed of thorns as well. The trick is to identify an opportunity and grab it as soon as you are able to. A successful entrepreneur is quick to ascertain the language of commitment, understand the presence of challenges and learns to tackle them efficiently with the passage of time. The focus is what they need to maintain without wavering it in any possible manner. It is this tunnel vision coupled with the urge to excel what truly paved the road to success for any entrepreneur whether we are talking about an icon like Steve Jobs or a toast of the startup world like Morten Primdahl.
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Team Zendesk is forever on the lookout for new platforms to fuel growth. After targeting key Asian markets, Primdahl’s team is now in the process of developing some highly effective solutions targeted towards Irish Clientele. The crux here is not which market they are training their radar on but most importantly the company led by its charismatic founders is perpetually on the move and a constant lookout for a new catalyst to drive growth and further profits.
This is a critical factor not just to keep the momentum going but also cut any kind of slack that might threaten to seep in. Primdahl’s enthusiasm in not just pursuing what the heart decided to but also create a constructively healthy prospect by undertaking detailed studies on the matter ensured that he is never on a wrong footing and whatever he worked on was not a completely new matter for him. He, no doubt, attained a degree of expertise, and this is what helped him in transforming the idea into a business catering to 150 countries with over 81000 paid customers and formulating a thriving startup community. It is just simply a beautiful story of converting the love for laptops into a global business that has come to be recognized as a force to reckon with.