Live discussion at The Camp between Lars Bonde and Peter Warnøe. Photo: Rainmaking.

“Your company’s social role needs a connection to your product”

BLOG: At the relaunch of Tryg’s entrepreneurial community, The Camp, COO Lars Bonde and venture investor Peter Warnøe, talked about the things that make a company relevant in 2019. Playing a bigger role in society is a good idea. But it needs to happen with a clear link to your business. 

The startup space inside Tryg’s headquarters, The Camp, just relocated and is now taking up a larger part of the corporate campus in Ballerup. The move was marked with cake, bubbles and talks about the innovation landscape.

Tryg COO Lars Bonde opened the conversations on stage with Peter Warnøe, CEO and General Partner in the venture fund Nordic Eye. The main question for both of them: What makes a company – big or small – future-proof in 2019?

Their dialogue started off in the call for responsibility, after a 2018 where customers across industries demanded more heart and soul from business leadership.

Tryg has a tradition for playing a civic role in society through their foundational arm, Tryg-fonden, which channels 600 million DKK each year. Projects range from manning the Danish beaches with lifeguards to providing youth safety teams at night, the “Natteravne” groups, in Norway.

“I like our construction, where we divide our resources. We spend money through the foundation, while we also give a yearly bonus to our customers and a 60 percent return to our stockholders. It gives a counterbalance to the commercial agenda,” COO Lars Bonde said. A new initiative for Tryg is building responsibility into the insurance product. With their app Tryg Overskud they allow the user to save on purchases in various stores. The money saved can be donated to charity.

Stick to one focus

While it is too early to determine a customer reaction to Tryg’s app, Nordic Eye’s Peter Warnøe widened the scope.

“My advice to young startups getting started on a social area is that they need to select one societal challenge and stick to that. Otherwise it will not feel authentic. I also believe that bigger companies are able to carry bigger responsibilities. A startup’s first task is still to create a sustainable business model,” Warnøe said.

Lars Bonde’s primary advice to aspirational entrepreneurs was that they find the link between the business and the bigger agenda.

“Your company’s social role needs a connection to your product. If you are within aviation it makes sense that you prioritize climate issues. If you have a product with a physical wrapping, it is natural that you care about sustainability.”

Peter Warnøe also commented on the turn towards responsibility within his own sector: Goldman Sachs doing a fund focusing on female founders, the American VC Backstage Capital only investing in founders that are women, person of color or LGBTQ.

“I would love if the Danish ecosystem became a frontrunner in this area, adding social metrics, when we select investments. However, our total volume of startups is too small to rely on them alone. And you have to remember: There is an increased focus on diverse teams, because investors see that they deliver results.”