Lokalist is a tech-startup located at Univate. Founder, Tegan Spinner, is according to himself a go-getting entrepreneur from Silicon Valley that has hustled his way into some funding by focusing on what he wanted and shooting for it. We have asked him why he chose to be an entrepreneur and how the conditions is for entrepreneurs in Denmark compared to the US.
What is Lokalist and how does it work?
Lokalist is a digital marketplace for used goods that focuses on using behavioral economics to monetize and improve on our end users experience. We do this by asking sellers to list items for the least amount they would accept, and we hide that price from buyers. We then give buyers three chances to guess above the sellers minimum price. The first buyer to bid above the sellers minimum instantly wins it for the price they name themselves.
As a company, we then take a 25% cut of the difference between the sellers minimum and what the buyer has bid.
Where did the idea of Lokalist come from?
When I first came to Denmark I made money through a process called drop shipping. Essentially the way drop shipping works is you find a good deal on amazon for let’s say a TV. Normally this TV is $1000 but for whatever reason this week it is $750.
You list the TV on eBay for $900 even though you don’t have it yet, and when someone buys it from your eBay store, you take their money and buy the TV from Amazon at the discounted price. You then tell amazon to ship the TV to the person who bought it from you and keep the difference in your pocket.
Lokalist is a take on automating that process. The sellers minimum is the Amazon deal of the week, the buyers price they name is the price they were willing to pay on the eBay story, and the Lokalist cut is what we keep in our pocket for facilitating the connections.
Why did you choose to be an entrepreneur?
I do not believe that I choose to be an entrepreneur but rather I gravitate towards the lifestyle that an entrepreneur lives. Not everyone is cut out for it, and it definitely is not the easiest route a person could take. There are a lot of responsibilities, and stressful situations, all nighters, and unknowns but at the end of the day, I love the exciting, fast-paced environment that challenges me to learn new skills almost daily. There is never a dull day.
So I grew up in a small country town in upstate New York called Plattsburgh. I moved to Rochester, NY to Study Computer Engineering and Industrial Design and as soon as I finished I packed my bags and moved to Silicon Valley where I lived for a few years before moving to Denmark.
As mentioned above, you are originally from New York but now living in Copenhagen. How is the conditions for entrepreneurs in Denmark compared to the US?
I moved because I met a Danish girl and I am the type of person who just goes for the things I want. We dated long distance for about a year before I decided to try to find a job in Copenhagen. About 18 months ago, I found a job as an unpaid marketing intern for a Danish startup called Opbeat and that began my startup journey here.
After 6 months with them, I was hired as a product manager for another Danish startup called Zentabox. I helped them design and develop their platform as their first full time employee. While working there in the nights and weekends I began to develop and grow the concept of Lokalist, which now stands at 10 people, a preproduction valuation of 2.5 million kroner, and an established office in Islands brygge.
I believe Denmark is the best place in the world to try to launch a startup company. While there are a lot of hoops to jump through in the beginning (it took me ten weeks to be able to get approval for a visa based on my project which is still in a pending although highly likely state), once you jump through those hoops you have a very supportive community and access to a fairly tech literate, well off, and educated population.
On top of that, the concept of Janteloven in Denmark makes the environment and the people you talk to much more approachable. If you work hard and play your cards right you can get anyone to listen to your idea for five minutes and give honest feedback. This is not so much the case in Silicon Valley where “important” people just don’t have the time to connect with you.
You have chosen Univate as Lokalists home. Why?
I heard about the opening of Univate though a Facebook group I follow and decided to attend the opening ceremony. When I arrived not only did I think the space was professional and cozy, I had the opportunity to be the first person to ever use the office where we are now located which is rare in Denmark.
On top of that, the staff made me feel at home and have continued to do so since move in day. The community builders have helped me along every step of the way to network with the right people and have proven to be an invaluable resource to our success thus far.