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Danish Software Company Struggles with Remote Work

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Karsten Madsen Morningscore

How Karsten Madsen is using Morningscore to help people gain visibility on Google and attract more visitors to their website

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times? 

Karsten Madsen: My girlfriend is French, and we got our first baby a few months after the COVID-19 hit – not being able to travel back to France from Denmark, where we live because of lockdowns, was an emotional challenge. But we’re keeping spirits high, boosted by the love for our baby daughter.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Morningscore.

Karsten Madsen: I failed in my first company just around the end of high school. That company never closed or went bankrupt, though. We wanted to build a cool software product, but it failed and lost a bunch of money. I then turned the company into a web consultancy to pay back the loans, and 10 years later, we now have 45 employees. I spent a lot of those 10 years nerding SEO and saw a problem with our customers again and again that I thought could be turned into new cool software.

How does Morningscore innovate? 

Karsten Madsen: Most businesses don’t have the time and energy to fully understand the value of SEO (ranking high organically on Google). 

Our online tool, Morningscore, calculates the value of SEO for any website in Dollars (or any other currency) and tells you how to fix it and grow the Dollar value even higher.

This is gamified through tasks that are called “missions” in Morningscore, which you complete to grow your SEO.

Combined, we think these things solve a huge problem in the market. Now companies can understand their SEO, its value and how to improve it without relying solely on consultants.

How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

Karsten Madsen: It was tough when it hit in March 2020. New sales were down 60%. Most people I talked to were like, “You guys must be booming now because everyone needs to go digital”, but this was not the case. And a lot of other software companies I talked to had the same issue. 

Now things are better, and we are growing at a good rate, although no crazy exponential hockey stick yet.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

Karsten Madsen: In general, there are enough lessons learned for a whole book already, even though we are just 3 years old as a company. If we are talking strictly about COVID-19, I don’t have a good answer. We did not go through great pains. We learned that remote work is really difficult when your team is new, and many are junior employees. It doesn’t matter if you are working in software or not. When people have limited experience in the job market, then a remote job is not ideal. It’s a potential recipe for chaos and low productivity. At least in my limited experience, it looks like the companies who deal well with remote work are those with an overweight of senior employees who are autonomous and don’t need guidance.

What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

Karsten Madsen: We have started using the project management tool Jira and something that’s called “story points” to estimate tasks. This has somehow gamified our development work, and it seems to have boosted productivity quite some. So that’s pretty cool.

Otherwise, it’s Slack, the Google Suite, Hubspot etc. The usual tools you would expect a SAAS company to use.

And, of course, we use our own tool, Morningscore, to grow SEO traffic. Quite successfully so. 

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Karsten Madsen: We are in the SEO tools market.

The big 3 competitors are Ahrefs, Semrush and Moz. But in total, I believe we have almost 300 competitors. So it’s a mature market to be operating in. And we can certainly feel that. Customers compare SEO tools and are very precise about their needs.

We plan to stay in the game and grow big by focusing on gamification. Helping customers succeed with fun and intelligent tasks in the tool is what we believe can set us apart.

If we can tell customers they only need our tool to grow SEO traffic – no technical SEO skills required upfront, then I think we have a winning formula.

Your final thoughts?

Karsten Madsen: Remote work is very interesting because of the flexibility it gives us all. But it is also an area I feel companies need to think deeper about. Can families actually work from home without chaos? What about junior employees who need guidance? What about happiness at work? I believe remote will be part of future work, but not fully replace offices. The great community that an office can offer + the human need to be in physical contact with others is just too important. Maybe the future holds a 50/50 split between remote and office? This is a very interesting topic that I don’t see many companies talking deeply and seriously about. 

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