Specialist knowledge becomes export success
After a short study trip to Denmark, Jean-Marc Ferran, a French-Lebanese, has now started a family and established his own business in Copenhagen with customers in six European countries.
Jean-Marc Ferran has created an export success. His company Qualiance Aps offers statistical programming and clinical data management for pharmaceutical companies of various sizes, and his customer base is constantly growing.
In only three years, Qualiance has built up a solid portfolio of customers in Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, France and Germany.
“I’ve hit a growing market, and I see good prospects for my business in future," says the entrepreneur.
Few months became years
Jean-Marc Ferran grew up in France in a Lebanese family. In 2001 he came to Denmark to complete a Master’s degree in computer science and applied mathematics with a semester at DTU, Technical University of Denmark, in Lyngby near Copenhagen.
Originally, his plan was to only spend a few months in Denmark, but he has now been here for 12 years.
“The Danish company which I wrote about in my thesis offered me a job when I finished my degree, and I thought ‘Why not?’”, he says.
Later, he started working as a statistician at Novo Nordisk A/S, before moving to a position as Director of Statistical Programming with Ferring Pharmaceuticals A/S.
After eight years in good jobs in Copenhagen, he took the plunge in 2010 and became self-employed.
“I had reached a point where I had plenty of experience and a strong network, and it was a good age to start up on my own. If I was ever going to do it, it had to be then,” he recalls.
The desire to have his own business just came suddenly. Jean-Marc Ferran’s business concept is based on the same tasks that he was performing at Novo Nordisk and Ferring, but as a self-employed person he can be involved in several parallel projects while further developing his competences.
The idea had to be put to the test, and during the start-up phase he sought advice from Copenhagen Business Service, which also helped him find the right lawyer and accountant.
International approach from the outset
“Right from the outset, I wanted Qualiance to be an international business. It seemed perfectly obvious with my background,” says Jean-Marc Ferran, who speaks fluent French and who has also been speaking English at work for more than ten years. Moreover, he has a strong network within the industry in several European countries, which has been a big plus in setting up an export company.
The price he has paid for his entrepreneurial success has been lots of hard work. According to Jean-Marc Ferran, he has never worked as many hours as he is working at the moment, totting up between 60 and 80 hours every week.
“But I have not regretted my decision for a second,” he says.
Through his extensive network, Jean-Marc Ferran recruits experienced project employees when he needs help with large jobs. Likewise, there are periods when he is able to help others. Soon, Jean-Marc Ferran will again need to bring in outside resources because the work is piling in, and at home a little baby is on the way.
“I need to find a different work-life balance, and it will be a challenge,” he admits.
Excellent location in Copenhagen
Jean-Marc’s girlfriend is from Lithuania, and the international couple have no intention of leaving Denmark.
“There is a strong pharmaceutical industry here, which is why Qualiance is so well located in Copenhagen,” says Jean-Marc Ferran.
“Moreover, it’s easy running a business in Denmark. I get the impression that there would be quite a bit more bureaucracy if I wanted to start a business in France. And even though income tax is high, corporation tax is actually competitive relative to other European countries,” he says.
Back to the top
Australian business economist boosts online sale
Hannah West has a mission. She wants to give people all around the world online access to Danish designed products and to create growth in Danish companies.
Denmark swarms with great design, but the design companies neglect to sell the products online both inside and outside the country borders. That’s the opinion of Hannah West who moved from Australia to Odense in October 2011, because her Australian boyfriend was offered a job as a researcher at the University of Southern Denmark.
Tel.: +45 27 82 27 57
Back to the top
Dynamic Russian generates Danish exports
Svetlana Gertsen has in a very short space of time helped a number of Danish businesses succeed with export in the Russian market.
In 2011, Svetlana Gertsen, a Russian, started her business 2gether Consult International. Here, as an inter-cultural business consultant, she helps Danish export businesses to break into the Russian market. For her first client she produced a market survey. According to Svetlana, many consultants are good at doing market surveys, but that is not enough:
“It’s one thing talking about Russia, but quite another to execute and generate business for companies,” says Svetlana.
Svetlana helps businesses on their way by forging business contacts and organising trips to Russia so that her clients gain a solid foothold in the Russian business community rather than simply getting their knowledge from the market analysis.
Denmark is a ‘DIY’ country
Svetlana was born and grew up in Latvia, and she subsequently moved to Russia to study economics, management and trade. In 1998 she met her Danish husband and moved with him to Denmark, where she now lives in Svendborg on southern Funen with him and their children. Given her familiarity with several cultures, she is able to bridge the divide which, according to Svetlana, invariably arises between the Danish and Russian markets.
As an inter-cultural business consultant, Svetlana often acts in a problem-solving capacity for businesses who have made the leap into exporting without really knowing the Russian market or business culture.
“As a nation, Denmark takes a 'do it yourself' approach, and wants to start exporting without having first consulted an expert,” says Svetlana with a smile.
One question which may crop up is what is understood by an agreement. Danes often make a bit of an abrupt entrance and quickly get down to talking business. For Russians however, it is very important to forge relations and look at personal chemistry before entering into business agreements. However, once you have won a Russian’s confidence, the business will inevitably follow. And sometimes far faster than Danes might expect.
Export trips to Russia
As an export consultant, Svetlana is more than just a trouble-shooter for businesses which have thrown themselves prematurely into exports. She also encourages businesses which are thinking about exporting but which are cautious about the Russian market because they lack the necessary knowledge – or courage.
Svetlana’s newest and most successful consultancy service is ‘Business Trips’ for businesses considering starting exports to Russia. Once a month, 2gether Consult International invites businesses to join a trip to a relevant growth region in Russia. Thus, Svetlana often paves the way for potential partnerships between Russian and Danish companies.
Success founded on hard graft
Today, Svetlana is able to make a living from her business, and she now has clients within several sectors such as foods, the environment, agriculture, fishing and clean tech. A situation which has not just happened overnight. She ascribes her success to a lot of hard work. For the first time since she started her business in 2011, she is now able to take two consecutive days off. For the first few years, Christmas, Easter and Whitsun were not holidays for her, but rather exciting working days at 2gether Consult International. Svetlana is passionate about her work, and she loves the independence of having her own business.
Aware of own competencies and limitations
Svetlana has business experience from Latvia, Russia and Denmark, and holds degrees in economics and management from universities in both Moscow and southern Denmark. Even though Svetlana is highly qualified, she works closely with various experts who supplement her own services , for example in Russian and Danish law and in interpreting.
“As an export consultant, it is important to know your own competencies and to recognise your professional limitations. In addition to your professional competencies, you are selling credibility and the ability to forge relations and alliances between people and between two countries,” says Svetlana.
Russia waiting for Danish SMEs’ exports
The Russian economy is growing, and the market is just waiting for Danish SMEs to get themselves together and make the leap. According to Svetlana, they must not worry about whether they are big enough, as even some of Denmark’s biggest companies are, from a Russian point of view, also small with promising export potential.
“Danish SMEs are on the verge of starting exports to Russia. They must make their move NOW!” says Svetlana Gertsen.
Svetlana Gertsen's advice to entrepreneurs wanting to establish themselves as export consultants
- Have confidence in your abilities and listen to your intuition
- Be open to business partners – the more muscle the better
- You must feel committed and enjoy your work as success rests on your own drive
- Have visions, think in terms of next steps and create a unique offer
- Follow your dreams, and if you stumble, pick yourself up and carry on
Rumanian teaches Danish export companies Chinese
With a university education in Chinese and nine years of work experience, Rumanian Oana Hansen is committed to teach Danish business people how to manage themselves in China
Many Danish companies have an interest in export to China and Oana Hansen is offering them her help.
In her newly started business, “Kinesisk Kursus Aarhus”, Oana teaches business Chinese. Besides teaching the participants the language, the courses also include an introduction to the Chinese business culture and common courtesy.
Knowledge about Chinese culture
The target audience is companies who wish to gain foothold in China or who have employees about to be posted abroad. Furthermore, Oana Hansen offers the companies the possibility for her to travel along as an interpreter and to provide support in relation to negotiations.
“It is a great advantage that I too have been through the process of learning the language and culture in China because I know where they will face the biggest challenges”, Oana explains.
“China is one of the BRICS countries with a growing market, but China is also very alien to many people. It is necessary to understand the Chinese language and culture in order to make good trade contacts in the country”, Oana adds.
”As an example, it gets easier to negotiate and figure out who the real decision maker at the conference table is, when you understand a bit of the language and the Chinese tone”, Oana explains.
Met Danish husband in China
Oana Hansen came to Denmark four years ago. She is married to a Danish man, who she met in China. Both had good jobs in China – he worked for a Danish company and she worked for a big American concern. When they had their son, Oana’s husband wanted to go back to Denmark.
“Denmark is a good place to grow up”, Oana says about their joint decision.
But it is not easy to get a job in Denmark, Oana learned after many fruitless applications.
“It took me by surprise, given that I had heard a lot about the Danish companies, who want to penetrate the Chinese market. With my university education in Chinese and English and nine years of work experience in China, I have the right qualifications”, she says.
Created her own job
Now she has taken things into her own hands and has become an entrepreneur. In their house in Viby, Oana and her husband have decorated a big, modern seminar room and the first group of students is already in full swing with a ten-week course in business Chinese.
“From the outset, my husband has backed me up 100 percent and he has also attended free courses on entrepreneurship to help me get started”, Oana says.
With a seminar room at home, she can keep the expenses on her newly started business down and that suits her fine given the fact that it takes time to become a well-known course organiser.
“I have invested in a home page and an advertisement and that has been sufficient to get enough course members for my first class. Now I am considering getting flyers printed to hand out at institutions of higher education”, she says.
The little details matter
Oana Hansen teaches three hours at a time and she wants no more than six course members in every class to make sure they all benefit from it. It is also important to have time to talk about China and the course members have many questions.
“The Chinese are very different from us down to the very last detail. The way you order food in a restaurant or conduct small talk before a meeting, for example, differs from European culture. It can be of vital importance for the future success in China that you are prepared for that”, Oana says.
Among other things, she teaches her course members that it is more polite to lie than to decline a dinner invitation. And that the Chinese always expect you to bargain over the price, even in fancy conference rooms at big companies.
“There are many things that take foreigners by surprise in China, and because I am not Chinese myself, I have an eye for the small details that differ from the European culture”, Oana concludes.
Oana Hansen's advice to entrepreneurs wanting to establish themselves as export consultants
- Use your network
- Follow the courses offered by Startvækst
- Be patient, hold on and have faith in yourself but don´t forget to listen to other people too