The story about Startup Guide World is also the story about a fruitful relationship that was formed at Kaospilot. Startup Guide is a series of guidebooks for entrepreneurs, and the concept and company is developed by two students at Kaospilot. So far the books have guided people in Berlin, Aarhus and Copenhagen – and the concept is on its way to go worldwide.




Guidebooks to entrepreneurs

-       Sissel is a classic entrepreneur, she is opportunistic and risk willing with a “just do it”-mentality. I am more of a traditional “professional” with an academic background using research, theory and analysis. That is why we compliment each other so well.


This is how Thomas Nymark Horsted describes the relation between himself and his partner of the company Startup Guide World, and that mix is part of the reason they have already come so far with the young company.


The beginning of Startup Guide took place in Berlin. When the founder Sissel Hansen moved there with the intention of doing projects, she experienced the challenges you can meet in a new city with no network among the local entrepreneurs. So she came up with the idea of making a guidebook that could help not only herself, but all future entrepreneurs coming to Berlin. The book maps out the startup-scene of the city, and has tips and interviews with local entrepreneurs. It turned out a success and has sold more than 3000 copies across 30 stores.


When Sissel moved to Aarhus to start at the three-year education to become a Kaospilot, she was approached by local community builders about a Startup Guide for the second largest city in Denmark as well. This became the “proof of concept”, that there was a need for the guide and that it could work in another city.


Sissel is now taking a leave from Kaospilot to work full time on her company in the capital of Denmark. Just recently a Start Up Guide Berlin volume 2 was published. Her partner Thomas Nymark Horsted is working on his third-year project at Kaospilot, and we caught him at the school for a talk about the journey that Startup Guide has been so far for him and Sissel.



From mentorship to business

For Thomas the Startup Guide-adventure began when he became a mentor for Sissel during her first year. He already had a good professional eye on her when they first met at the application workshop at Kaospilot. Thomas was the facilitator of Sissel’s application group as he attended Kaospilot one year before her.


-       I have a Bachelor’s degree from the university and I am good at using theory and methods. But I found myself spending much time thinking about how to do it, and often ending up not doing it after all. The whole reason why I attended Kaospilot was that I wanted to find out how to make my ideas come to life in the real world. I saw that Sissel had the do’er mentality that I lacked and on the other hand she was attracted to the analytical approach that I have, says Thomas.


A fast-growing startup

The mentorship soon evolved to a two-way learning process and eventually Sissel and Thomas became good friends, roomies and business partners. Thomas joined as the local project manager on Startup Guide Aarhus. Since then things have evolved fast with Thomas becoming a co-owner in the company.


It has only been one and a half years since the first book was published in Berlin and Sissel and Thomas are currently engaging 13 part time/project employees. Being a full time student, while doing projects and running a startup company can be tough.


-       Of course there are ups and downs and sometimes I forget myself because things are moving so fast and we are so engaged all the time. But in these situations it is really valuable to have the tools that we learn at Kaospilot. It gives us the competencies to manage our projects, our personal lives, to zoom out and rethink or redefine the projects.


Also in the process of extending the staff and business the Kaospilot skills have been useful.


-       I have used my learning from the process semester to create frames to work from, motivate and align with employees and leading the team in our daily work. And now that we are scaling up to work with global teams, those competencies will become increasingly more important, as well as the tools from the business semester.





Worldwide concept

Despite the fact that Sissel and Thomas have to run fast to keep up with the development of the company, they have no desire to stop here.


-       Well, we did name it Startup Guide World, so the ambition is to create a brand that is needed and valued worldwide. The way we all work is changing and it is a trend that more people are becoming entrepreneurs, but many don’t know how to start their own business. We see that there is a need for inspiring and empowering people to become entrepreneurs and this books series is a tool for that.


Besides creating a financially sustainable business and empowering individuals, the Startup Guide team wishes to foster the local startup ecosystems of cities all over the world.


-       10 years ago every major startup came out of San Francisco, Boston or Tel Aviv. That is no longer true. Small to medium startup-cities are blooming and growing rapidly everywhere, especially in the Nordic countries. We hope to foster those local ecosystems even further with our guidebooks.


Thomas and Sissel have received lots of positive feedback on Startup Guide, and people in places like Madrid, Tallin, Stockholm, California and Singapore have shown interest in creating their own local Startup Guide.


Next step for the team is to make a concept and model for others to co-create Startup Guides for their local startup-city. This is how the project can scale, while creating the most value and becoming a sustainable business as well. It is an important step for the future of the company, which is why Thomas will work with Startup Guide as his 3rd year project at Kaospilot, developing and testing the model in all the Nordic countries.


Text by Lotte Rystedt, journalist at Kaospilot



You can read more about Startup Guide World here:
If you yourself want to become a kaospilot you can apply here: