Today we are interviewing Kris Østergaard who is the Co-Founder of Thinkubator, DARE2, DARE2network & DARE2mansion from Copenhagen Denmark.

Kris is an Experience Designer and Ethnographer who has deep dived into research for more than 15 year with a primary specialisation on gaining qualitative insights that form an important foundation for strategy building and affecting human behaviour in a positive way. His prime focus areas are Gen Y, megatrends, entrepreneurship and exponential technology.

Kris is also a proud co-author of non-profit project and book The Mermaid Dialogue published on muusmann’ forlag.

He also is a member and co-organiser of various boards for some extremely exciting start-ups.


Hi Kris, thank you for joining us all the way from Copenhagen.

Let’s start with you telling us a bit about Thinkubator

Hi Priya. Thanks for having me!

In short, thinkubator is a corporate crowdfunded incubator.

We have designed an innovation model whose aim is to build bridges between the 4 important players in creating growth and value, who typically have difficulties finding each other and working together. Those are startups, established corporates, academia and students.

thinkubator’s corporate partners go through a one year long innovation process, facilitated by us. As part of this, the corporate partners fund an acceleration program for early stage startups from April till June. The startups get a startup grant for participating and we don’t take equit. But the startups “pay back” with their brain power in case competitions, hackathons, etc. designed to help the corporates develop ideas and test concepts.

At the same time, thinkubator has knowledge partner, which are academics such as Singularity University and Technical Universities, but also service providers like Microsoft and Elance-oDesk who are interested in connecting and working with corporates and startups.

We have also built a student network around the thinkubator, to connect high potential students with both corporates, startups and acedemics.

Finally, there is an open communication platform ensuring that a lot of the knowledge generated in thinkubator is shared publicly.


Wow that’s a lot and all really exciting.

What inspired you start Thinkubator?

We got inspired because we have a foot in each of the camps. We run a co-working space with a lot of great startups and also a non-profit 5 day accelerator program called STARTUP BUZZ. At the same time we run an experience design agency where we work with big corporates. And I also teach at university.

So we know all of the parties and it was very clear to us that they have a lot to gain from working together. Traditionally, corporates are bad at innovation. New ideas are like a virus to an organization, so the corporate immune system tries to kill it. Startups are the opposite. They have a lot of innovative power, but lack experience, network, knowledge and funding, which corporates have. Academia may have world class research but find it difficult to get it out of the ivory tower even though corporates and startups crave it and student – who also possess a lot of innovative power and energy – have a hard time finding jobs and internships. So everyone has different strong and weak spots – If the join forces they can support each other. thinkubator is here to facilitate that.


Kris, you seem like an all-rounder and hands-on!

What stage is Thinkubator at now and where do you hope Thinkubator to be in five years’ time?

Right now we are recruiting startups for the accelerator program from April till June. The deadline is February 15. So if anyone knows of great startups who would benefit from participating in an intense accelerator program that doesn’t take equity there still is a couple of days to apply at

We are in full process working with our corporate partners, right now particularly focusing internally on their innovation culture. Once the accelerator program starts, they move into the development and pretotyping phase and after the startup program, the corporate partners move into organizational implementation.

thinkubator is built to scale. So our ambition is to help companies, cities and communities create growth and value. You could imagine that we set up a thinkubator for a particular company – or several companies joining forces – that need help in creating an eco-system. But you could also imagine that we set up a thinkubator for a city, helping them do exactly the same. So in 5 years, I hope to see thinkubators around the world creating value for its local communities.


Thinkubator has the drive, I’m sure Thinkubator will be at a more global reach.

From all your experience, can you share with us an advice that you feel is the most important for aspiring entrepreneurs in this group?

Right. That is always the hard question because there is so much stuff you need to think of and learn as an entrepreneur.

I think two of my most valuable learnings are that I can do so much more, so much better if I don’t do everything myself but find committed and intelligent partners. Team/partnerships is everything.

Someone smarter than me also once said that “you don’t die from thinking too big, you die from thinking too small”. I think it is extremely important to be very ambitious and to set your target very high. We live in a world where technology develops exponentially and new business models disrupting established corporations seem to come up daily. Kodak, Nokia, Blockbuster and just the other day RadioShack are only some of the most visible examples of this. This is great news for startups, however, because entrepreneurs and their organizations are the ones who have the agility to be the true disruptors. So think big, ambitiously, find great partners – and work really, really fast, might be some thoughts :)


Thank you for that :)

Lastly can you tell us more about the team behind Thinkubator

thinkubator is run by the DARE2 team. This is primarily myself and my co-founder Laila Pawlak, who is a super entrepreneur with never-ending energy and a skill set ranging from master networker, to strategist, concept developer and communications wizard. On top of that we are blessed with a small group of awesome employees who back up all of our thoughts and ideas with a lot of hard work.

Finally, as a network organization we believe strongly in the power of staff on demand. This means that we outsource jobs such as PR and communication design to our great and trusted partners, who can do those things much better than we can ourselves and help us maintain focus on the stuff that we are good at.



We hope to meet your team one day.

Thank you very much Kris for taking time out and participating in the interview.
My pleasure. Thanks for the talk!

AbsoluteIy. I am happy to answer questions and engage in conversation!