I was asked to write about how it’s been to start up a department in the UK and how Brexit potentially can influence our business. 

London has always provided fertile ground on which to start a company. Home-grown talent in financial (cf. HSBC, Barclays), pharmaceuticals (GSK, AstraZeneca) and advertising (Saatchi and Saatchi, WPP) has thrived and expanded throughout the globe. Equally, many small, medium and large global companies have had great successes – some turning their (mainly) London-based offices into their European headquarters.

A London native for three years, I had experienced first-hand the opportunities (and the losses) that were possible when running a business in this country. So, when I was approached by Per Kirchner, CEO at Novicell, who I was handball teammates with about 10 years ago in Aarhus and asked if I was interested in opening the London office of his expanding digital agency, I jumped at the opportunity.

To say we are a genuine start-up wouldn’t be quite true. When we started Novicell London about two years ago (7 October 2016 to be precise), the company already had 160 employees in two locations in Denmark. However, as many Danish-UK Association members will be quick to point out, doing business in Denmark is very different to doing business in the UK. So, being the first Novicell department to start up from scratch outside our ‘home’ country was going to present its own particular challenges.

The UK is home to millions of companies. So, a big question for us was: how do we stand out from the crowd and be seen when no one knows our brand? 

One of the main reasons for me joining Novicell was the idea that it’s not all about crazy growth. We love what we do, and we want to share this experience with as many people as possible. The goal is never to be the fastest-growing company in the sector. Rather, it’s to be the most stable and to have a steady growth. We bring this up when introducing ourselves to customers and when we talk to new employees before they join.

We place a lot of value on sharing knowledge. We host free educational seminars which attract professionals from around London who are interested in learning more about different topics within digital marketing and similar topics. They also provide great opportunities for networking with likeminded people. We don’t charge anything for these seminars. Why would we when we have a perfect opportunity to learn from them, as much as they will learn from us?

 

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At Novicell we place a strong focus on being social both in and outside work. The core values which include having fun at work and treating each other like you would like to be treated. (We have also tried helping our UK colleagues get a deeper understanding of our motto: flink og flittig. We’re not there yet!). Initiatives are praised and it’s better to make a mistake than to be passive. In my experience, these values tend to be forgotten in many businesses – not just in the UK. Having this as a focus helps us differentiate ourselves, and, more importantly, helps us attract the right people.

People make up such an important part of any organisation. London is a recognised industry hub, you can attract the best and the brightest minds from all over Europe and the rest of the world. Granted, it’s a lot easier to hire from within the European Union than in the wider world, but the fact remains that people want to come to the UK to live and work. This represented a huge pull factor and is a reason why 10 out of our 16 employees do not have a British passport. We love the diversity that comes with having four nationalities in one office.

Highlighting these things brings us naturally on to the topic of Brexit. When we founded Novicell UK, we already knew that the UK would leave the EU. The closer we get to the actual ‘divorce’ date, the more requests we receive from our customers regarding how we are set up; how we plan to mitigate the impact of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, or a ‘Norway-style’ Brexit, or any number of options that still haven’t been decided. My answer to all of this is the same as it was back in 2016: let’s see what happens and we will make it work. We are surely going to be hit with more compliance work. We know that the currency will fluctuate and that there may be some VISA challenges for us non-British team members. In spite of this, I know we will get through it.

Novicell as a business in general has pledged its support to the UK office as it has done from day one. Globally, we have a flexible setup in all our departments (software development, digital marketing and business intelligence) that caters for challenges such as these. I hope this provides assurances to all our customers. So, if the ‘project fear’ teams on both sides of the political divide are right and if the UK decides it is better off alone, life will go on. We will continue trading; we will still be present in the UK.

At the end of the day, we have a steady ship, a team who loves their work and a growing portfolio of customers who trust us.

All that remains is to figure out how to get my British colleagues to understand the deeper meaning of flink og flittig. Any ideas?

If you have the answer or if you would like to find out more about Novicell, take a look at the video we made at last year's kick off, check out Novicell's upcoming seminars, or drop me an This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Best Regards,

Anders Holt


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