Sofie Blakstad, UK
After many working years within tech and financial services, Sofie moved to Denmark to join Nordea as an executive advisor for transformation in 2015. Two years later she decided to take a leap of faith and created hiveonline, a startup offering community financing for financially excluded entrepreneurs across the globe. Today, Sofie is focused on taking her mission-oriented company to the next level.”
“I started life with no real direction and only got into tech when I ran my first business in the 1990s. Although I didn’t do well at school, I’d always been interested in technology, physics, and economics, so it was easy for me to pick up technical skills when I had a practical application.
I moved to Denmark after being headhunted by Nordea for a transformation role, but before that, I lived in Switzerland, France, and the United States for a few months. In 2019, I was also part of the Techstars accelerator in Berlin so spent a lot of time there.”
I founded Hiveonline based on the need to provide microbusinesses with access to finance
“I decided to set up Hiveonline after I realised the limitations of the current banking system when it comes to supporting underserved customer segments. When I was delivering technology infrastructure at Citigroup, I had 13 African countries in my portfolio and saw how hard it was for conventional banks to support rural entrepreneurs. In my view, the financial infrastructure is broken. We need to find a way to more effectively deploy capital and address inequality. When blockchain came along, it became obvious to me that this technology could become an enabler to build a distributed economy.”
“At the moment, we’re rolling out our my coop.online platform to farming cooperatives in Mozambique, as well as running pilots in Zambia and Honduras. We’re also doing preparatory work for a major roll-out in Nigeria and are completing research into the impact of fintech on the least developed countries.”
The Danish fintech segment is becoming more internationally-minded
”At first, I found working in a Danish company very strange – specifically the short working hours, Friday bars, and consensus-driven decision-making. But over the years I adapted, and the industry itself became more internationally-minded. There are some very creative solutions with the Danish tech scene and the Copenhagen FinTech Lab where we reside has an incredibly supportive community. There’s a lot of world-class events here, but in order to really progress, I think we need to take an even more international mindset.”
“We have had some real success stories, but we’re behind on international growth when compared to Sweden. Much more diversity is needed if Denmark wants to be competitive on a global scale. So my main message to those contemplating moving here is to come·– Danish tech needs you.”
Denmark suits me better than Sweeden and Finland
“When I was headhunted by Nordea they offered me a choice of Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. Finland is a bit too cold and remote for me, so really it was between Sweden and Denmark. Whilst I love Stockholm, I find Copenhagen a better fit for me personally. It’s a very laid-back and easy place to live, with the opportunity to swim outdoors and go for long walks. I can cycle to work, a conference, a restaurant, the airport, and nobody thinks anything of it. Another criteria I apply when considering moving is access to good opera – and the opera house here is fabulous.”
“If you come from a big city, then sometimes it can feel a bit like living in a big village. But that’s also very much the reason for the upsides. You can’t really complain from a lifestyle perspective. My other piece of advice to newcomers is to get a spare room if you can afford to. All of your friends will want to visit and see what the hype is about.”
Explore: FinTech in Denmark.