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Portrait — A couple of months ago, two students started their own business besides uni and ended up getting their very first project after only three meetings. Kasper Wejse and Johan Denning, two master's students from the University of Copenhagen, retold their journey to the University Post.
Wednesday, 1 pm, time for lunch. The University Post meets up with two young and very ambitious students at South Campus to grab lunch and talk about how they are managing their own business while still being “normal” students.
Kasper Wejse and Johan Denning are enrolled in Master of Applied Cultural Analysis (MACA) programme. But after only two semesters, Kasper and Johan felt ready to try out their skills in real life.
Without further ado they decided to start their own consultancy and they are now going all in.
Back in February this year, Kasper and Johan started their own consulting agency, Nava Culture Consultancy. Their original idea was to expand their knowledge and get further insights towards qualitative research parallel to their master’s programme.
Our company actually started out as a side project, but it has now turned into a plan for the future.
“It all began with us wanting to have something relevant besides our studies. We wanted to match our studies with relevant work experiences. On top of that, we also wanted to be able to choose when, and where, to work. So, our company actually started out as a side project, but has now turned into a plan for the future,” says Kasper.
Against all expectations and thanks to some beneficial contacts, Kasper and Johan got hired after their first three meetings. Since then, they have been working with an initiative supported by Kolding municipality helping the town find a suitable solution for abandoned farm houses around Denmark’s countryside.
”There are a lot of small villages around towns in Denmark which seem to be full of old but empty farmhouses. Our goal is to rethink these farms and advise on how to reuse them in the future”, says Kasper.
Johan continues: “We want to create a new community around those farm houses. We want to attract especially more young families to commit to living outside the city. But first of all, we need to clearly understand their needs in order to make them move to smaller villages. This is why we have conducted a bunch of interviews to get more in -depth insights on their expectations.”
With their first project Kasper and Johan want to prove that students with a humanities educational background can add as much value as other students. According to them, the value of qualitative data should not be underestimated – regardless of the industry.
“For me it was not about the money nor about getting something on my CV. For me it was a way of creating a business while pushing the message regarding the importance of the field of humanities,” Johan says.
Johan continues: “We have already received a lot of good feedback on our work and this, of course, confirms our beliefs even more.”
Kasper and Johan certainly seem ambitious when it comes to combining their own business project with their current studies. But where do they find the time – and the money – to do so?
“Regarding the financial situation, I have to admit it helps with the SU study grant system. Because thanks to SU we will still have a fundamental income if anything should fail,” says Johan.
Kasper adds: “And at the moment, we are only studying part time. But we are also constantly trying to combine our academic knowledge with our entrepreneurial experiences. For example, we only need to finish our current course and do an internship and I think we are going to do that in our own company.”
They also have plans to combine their upcoming master’s thesis with their current project.
“We already have used half a year to gather data about our field of rethinking old farms and young families. We have a lot of data we can work with,” says Johan.
Well, so now, we still have 97 meetings in which we are allowed to fail.
Even though they both love their studies, they also want to finish the chapter that is their university as soon as possible.
“We just want to be done soon. Not because we don’t like to study anymore, it is more because we are ready to take the next step towards our future projects. We want to be able to only focus on our business and our mission to spread the word about the value of the humanities”, says Kasper.
Johann adds: “Yes, but there is still no pressure in doing everything right at the first try. It will always be a learning process. We actually agreed that [he starts laughing] the first 100 meetings we go to, we are allowed to fail. Back then we, of course, didn’t expect that we woud land our first project after the third meeting.”
Kasper starts laughing as well: “Well, so now, we still have 97 meetings in which we are allowed to fail.”