We talked to Helga Osk Hlynsdottir, Co-founder of SERIOUS BUSINESS, about nurturing startups and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Helga Osk Hlynsdottir: Everyone is well and healthy as well as my team and their families.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Serious.Business.
Helga Osk Hlynsdottir: I originally studied Fine Arts; I have always been really creative and spiritual. At a very young age –16 years ago– I became a yoga instructor and that changed how I interacted with life. After that, I moved to Rome and studied Footwear and accessories design. My mother has been involved in the footwear industry in Iceland all my life so that was a big influence for me. After my studies, I moved to London and worked there for various high street brands as a footwear designer. I lost my job, and that hit me really hard: I was unemployed and depressed, but I slowly started to “put the shoes on the shelf” and move on to starting little prototypes of projects, brands, and pop-up companies.
That is when I moved more into digital services and product design, which eventually lead me to study ‘Interactive Art Direction at Hyper Island in Stockholm where I so, fortunately, met Amadeus, Sebastian, Thales, and Porfirio, with whom we co-founded SERIOUS.BUSINESS specializes in creating branding and websites for Startups focusing on companies that are empowering both people and the planet in more sustainable ways.
How does Serious.Business innovate?
Helga Osk Hlynsdottir: We innovate through people. We are constantly collaborating with our clients and their users, taking every interview as a learning experience and a new challenge. We continuously research younger generations and new millennial behaviors and needs, forcing us to adapt and be creative at every step. We have also found it immensely supportive to have mentors and coaches to help us grow, innovate and continuously think outside the box.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Helga Osk Hlynsdottir: 2019 was a difficult year for SERIOUS.BUSINESS. However, 2020 was our best year since we started 5 years ago. More and more companies needed digital support and to bring their brand to communicate their values in a clearer way and gain more trust through their digital channels. So we were kept really busy the whole year and continue to be fully booked as more companies get funding and have more resources invested into digital channels and brand strategy.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Helga Osk Hlynsdottir: We are a very international team and we were all based in Munich. The lesson we learned was to trust everyone with their tasks and efforts and give our team the freedom of flexibility. Working from wherever they wanted. We learned that we work better together when we are not always cramped together in an open plan office 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. I feel like we value and appreciate each other more and I find the wellness of the team has amplified.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Helga Osk Hlynsdottir: Slack: for Team and Project communication
- Miro: for Online client workshop and collaborative work.
- Google Drive: To keep everything at hand and organized.
- Team Development Tools: from Hyper Island and our own toolbox to address team problems and conflicts in paradise.
- Streamtime: To plan projects, manage time tracking and team resources.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Helga Osk Hlynsdottir: Good question. Other branding agencies are our competitors –I guess–. However, we are all about supporting and making friends with “our competitors” Everyone has something and nobody has everything.
We plan to stay in the game by focusing on sustainable and human empowering Startups that are changing the world in a positive way. That keeps us in line with our values and motivates us to wake up in the morning. We are really proud of our growing and SUPER diverse team bringing a global perspective on every brand we build and every brief we tackle. As it is a big investment for a young Startup to work with a branding agency, we are launching a DIY Branding Kit this year. This will allow all startups to start crafting their brand with a step by step guidance through a proven branding agency process.
Your final thoughts?
Helga Osk Hlynsdottir: Giving people the trust to be responsible for their tasks and the freedom of flexibility and choices creates a happier, better-performing team.
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