Martin Levdanski Witt

Find your passion and have a team behind you

Martin Levdanski Witt, who owns the company Design by Witt, has always been attracted to the independent way of life. Several of his family members are self-employed, so it was not unusual for him. But which focal point the company should have was immediately worse. Therefore, Martin has been a real estate agent for many years, in connection with the work there has been a certain freedom, in that he could plan his working day himself. Freedom means a lot to Martin and is also one of the reasons why he became independent. So the dream was there and there were many thoughts about what the focal point of the company should be.

In July 2014, he founded his company Design by Witt, which his wife Anna Levdanskaya Witt joined 4 years later in 2018, when the company really took off. It was a bit of a coincidence that he started his company and the product the company was supposed to be about.

He sat in a workshop and enjoyed making designs in wood, but it was the same designs every time. "It got boring in the long run, I wanted to develop something new, my own." So one day when Martin was drawing, he sketched a small whale, he made it out of wood and just thought it could do something. His cousin had poked him in a piece of stuff, she thought he should make his own designs. He sent his design of the whale to a friend and to his cousin, they both thought it was really cool. He posted pictures of it on Facebook and the demand poured in, people wanted to buy it. They could see something very special in it, and today the little happy whale is Walter the whale.

Design by Witt therefore started as a design company that made figurines, later it developed into making children's books. What permeates Design by Witt is design with a happy twist. The company is constantly being built more and more, "it's great fun and very exciting to develop and be creative. You hit something you're passionate about, then it's just fun".

Martin Levdanski Witt | Startup Central

The independent way of life

Martin has always had a dream to start independently. After participating in a course, he found what motivated him the most: freedom. Deciding and organizing his day himself, according to his own wishes, was what motivated him. "If I want to go to the right, I go to the right." In a salaried job, this opportunity is not always there, even when you have a good idea, it just has to go up in management. "If I get an idea now, I just do it."

Martin is very creative and therefore gets a lot of ideas for new initiatives, but as he says "you can also have too many." This is where Martin's wife Anna is a really good partner. She listens to the idea and the arguments for going ahead with it, after which she decides if it is something they should go ahead with.

It is therefore not for financial reasons that Martin has become independent, the independent way of life gives him a lot of fun experiences, freedom and the opportunity to develop his creative abilities. But of course there is always a bonus in that you can achieve financial freedom, so you have the freedom to do exactly what you want.

"I will be sorry yellow and green if I didn't try it out."

Milestones for Design by Witt

After showing Walter the whale to his cousin, who works in Illums Bolighus, it became a goal for Martin to get the whale on the shelf in Illums Bolighus. It happened after 2.5 years in 2016. "It was something I had been chasing for a long time, so it is a big milestone."

When Martin started making books, he found out that not everyone comes to the library, in fact only ¼ comes in. It is especially difficult when it is the first time you have made a book, because no one knows you. But now that they are there, he says: "It's great to be able to go to the library and borrow your own book."

An educator was looking for subject booklets for teaching a subject on her curriculum. The subject Nature, science and outdoor life had appeared on the school timetable, but there was no material on the subject. She therefore set about making a pedagogical booklet about nature and the outdoors, based on Martin's books. This has resulted in a subject booklet approved for teaching young school children nationwide.

In addition, Martin has received a lot of great awards, including the award for Entrepreneur of the Year in Frederiksberg in 2017, he won Tivoli's Entrepreneur Competition in 2017 and came second at the Creative Business Cup Denmark.

Some good advice from Martin

"You have to have passion for what you do, otherwise it can be a long haul." For some it is quick to get the business going, but for many others it is a long tough battle. You must therefore have passion for what you do, as there will most likely be some nights when you do accounts or pack goods. "Many people only give their entrepreneurship 5-6 months to become a good business, it is not always enough time to keep going." The passion makes you keep going, develop and think it's fun.

When Martin started independently, he also wanted it all to happen here and now. "You have to be realistic, things take time. Things that grow small grow well.” If you become successful quickly, you risk becoming a trend, and then the success is short-lived. It's about building it into the culture, so people remember one. Martin dreams that Walter the Whale will be remembered, that parents will look at the educational booklet and remember the time they learned from the happy whale.

Martin himself used this quote: "A needy man teaches a naked man to cut." He had the quote hanging with the picture of Walter the Whale above his bed, so it was the first thing he saw when he got up and went to bed. It reminded him why he was doing all this. And then it had a nice reference back to when he sat in the workshop and carved.

"It's important to have a team behind you, find someone to team up with." Martin has been alone for a long time on his journey as self-employed, and it is hard to do everything alone. But now his wife is with him, together they share the many experiences of the independent journey. "It's not enough to talk to your close friends, they don't fully understand the struggle." When you talk to other self-employed people, they understand you, as they have been or still are in the same situation. "They know what you mean when you say production is a bitch." They understand the pressure. The same applies when you achieve a small success, some friends are not at all as excited as like-minded self-employed people, they are completely up and running because they understand the struggle behind it.

"Things always happen for a reason - sometimes you're stuck in shit, but then you have to turn it into something positive." That's what the happy whale does, there's always a reason to smile. If things don't go as Martin had expected, he remembers this motto and makes the best of the situation, many times it opens up new ideas and opportunities.

Startup Central has helped Martin with that

Right at the start of his startup, Martin was involved in many different entrepreneurial groups and associations, but Startup Central unfortunately did not exist at the time. After some time when he had heard about Startup Central and seen a bit of Startup Central, he called together with Anders, it was in connection with the fact that he was looking for investors, as well as missing coaches he could save with. In addition, Anders helped Martin make a pitch when he participated in the Creative Business Cup.

"Startup Lounge is a brilliant place to turn things around and share one's knowledge." Martin says that the network is good and that if he had not built up his own network and thus had no one to talk to, then the Startup Lounge would be an obvious and fantastic place to apply.

Follow Martin's entrepreneurial journey

If you have also fallen in love with the happy whale - Walter the whale, then you can follow his development and what the future holds for Design by Witt on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

We have no doubt that many years to come we will look back on Hvalen Walter and remember his happy mind.

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