Smartplan re-orients its focus to the Nordic market.

Promising an easy to use scheduling tool at a low price, Smartplan has helped nearly 300 entrepreneurs in Denmark, and now they want to help small restaurants and cafes in Sweden to switch from pen or spreadsheets to their online planning tool.

The workforce in Denmark and Sweden is similar, thus it makes sense for the small company to stay focused on what they know and do well. “We are growing Smartplan with a small team, and we take the advantage that. We don’t have to hold our customers hands,” explains Mathias Aggerbo, the co-founder of Smartplan.

Smartplan tried to enter the UK market 6 months ago, but learned that competing for paid traffic with well-funded competitors was the wrong strategy. “The UK was too big market for a small team like ours. We already had small businesses in Sweden using Smartplan, so we decided to focus on Denmark, Sweden and Norway instead,” says Aggerbo.

Looking back to the decision to expand to the UK, Mathias realizes that it was “a bit naive”. It turns out that the approach that worked well in a small country like Denmark, didn’t work in their dream market. The UK is an important English speaking country, an ideal market that tempts Nordic startups to expand, but it can’t change the fact that it is dramatically different.

For instance the product-market-fit wasn’t as good in the UK as in the Nordics, and the working culture had a bigger impact than the team expected, says Aggerbo and adds that the marketing expenses were also out of control:

“The cost of attention was too big … As a bootstrapped company, we just can’t pay the same for ads as the funded competition.”

“Then we took the final decision when we started getting Swedish customers even though we didn’t do marketing in Sweden. After struggling in the UK, we pulled the plug and re-evaluated the situation,” he describes.“We definitely want to expand to the rest of the Nordics. Our main focus right now is on Denmark and Sweden, but we already have customers in Greenland and The Faroe Islands – and also Finland hopefully in the near future,” says Aggerbo.

“We are a small team and we’re not in a hurry. We want to connect with our customers and make sure we do a good job before rushing into markets we aren’t prepared for. At Smartplan it’s not about headcount and new offices,” states the co-founder.

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