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Right after retiring from his first major consulting venture, Daniel's native country---Denmark entered the European Union. The Union asked Daniel to develop scenarios on what the future would look like, at the time he was working on the Council of European Policies, it was a government entity and his job was to advise the Secretary of State.
In that door to develop scenarios for the government, most of what Daniel predicted eventually happened. For instance, Daniel predicted in 2003 and most of what he predicted transpired in 2008 with the disastrous fall of Lehman Bros.
Appointed to the Board of Directors, Daniel started putting together an international expansion strategy.
At this point, Daniel had developed a pretty good brand, with a lot of potential in Scandinavia.
Daniel was not thinking about who he used to be, he was just sort of taking his myriad successes in stride.
In early 2008, Daniel was asked to co-found a sustainable energy company. He was asked while at a conference in Turkey and where he met his future wife. Dan's wife was originally from San Diego.
While real love was blossoming, business offers kept happening.
During this period of protracted romantic courtship, Daniel continued innovating, he thought of the same principle with the cell phone service provider, except this time it involved a hydro-electric plant, although he never saw how the service or carrier was produced.
The start-up didn't have its own cell towers, which is why they were a service provider and not a carrier.
Daniel knew nothing about the electricity market, figured, this wasn't new to him, and figured out how similar those schools were, told the other co-founder that he was moving to New York City in September.
Karpantschof started to commute between New York City and Copenhagen, and he set up a branch in NYC, it would be a focal point of international relations. Daniel mentioned it was green lit, left the start-up in early January of 2009, it was one of those start-ups (selling sustainable energy), and Daniel was just not interested in selling energy.
Early 2009, Daniel received two phone calls, it was a week before he was supposed to fly out to NYC. Simultaneously, his girlfriend said she earned a job offer in D.C.
Daniel figured he could move to D.C. instead of New York now, although the move was too ambitious for him at the time.
A few weeks earlier, one of his colleagues was fired.
The other employee's termination was the result of taking too many risks, so that delayed his plans for moving to the big apple.
Mr. Karpantschof reverted back to doing consulting, was referred to a Norwegian woman who was an executive at a talent consulting firm focusing on equality (gender and other).
Rather than mentioning her work, Daniel remembered that she argued, "60% of college graduates in the U.S. are female the same trend exists in Europe."
As a result, Daniel started working with the Talent Company with this mysterious Norwegian lady, the first time they met, he says, "they just clicked."
At some point, "the Norwegian lady" had a lot of press about what she was doing, at some point she felt that he was riding her coat-tails.
Daniel focused on the thematic of the talent consulting firm.
The Norwegian lady, while smart, had a cute naiveté. Daniel remembers when she confided in him about how there was an American newspaper that wanted to do a profile on her.
There’s some paper that wanted to do a profile on her---the New York Times---and she didn’t know about the prestige.
"It was a lot fun," he remarks, and a lucrative partnership for Daniel. The two-person partnership is now a company and there are twenty employees, it is making money, although not exorbitantly lucrative. The company began as a sole proprietorship.
Daniel and this Norwegian lady worked together to create a brand for her and then it started scaling. Daniel started doing this as a past time in D.C., while simultaneously catering to clients back in Europe and then reached a self-imposed ceiling or wall of what he could do here in the states.
Mr. Karpantschof wanted to settle down. Daniel says, "I remembered a time when I used to enjoy flying, but it just doesn’t do it for me anymore." Around this time, Daniel wanted to spend more time with his girl and wanted to explore D.C.
Daniel stopped taking clients and thus stopped making money. Meanwhile, there was trouble brewing overseas with his start-up venture.
There was a taxation issue based on liquidation, for every $100, he would have $15 left. Daniel was sort of figuring out if he wanted to start something new.
According to Mr. Karpantschof, "D.C. is not a great place to meet people unless you’re in government affairs, people will flat out ignore you in DC if you’re not working in the government there."
Daniel lived in Washington D.C. from 2009 to 2011. And the entire time, he wanted to move back to Europe.
In July of 2010, he was at a party and met a guy named Jonah Woodpecker, discovered while they hadn’t met, their paths had crossed. Mr. Woodpecker and Mr. Karpantschof had a handful of mutual projects and friends.
Daniel had just applied for a green card, and was unable to work or leave the country. At that time, Mr. Woodpecker was running a domestic program. As a result, he couldn't pay him due to the "law."
Daniel said it was fine, but honestly didn't have any money in the states. Daniel spent three months fundraising, he needed to meet people and needed to volunteer.
Daniel earned a job as an unpaid Senior Fellow. After about five months or so, he said, this wasn't for him.
Dan has, in various stages of his life, had one foot in and the other out of the proverbial door. The sort of restlessness that Mr. Karpantschof has exemplifies the culture of young, serial entrepreneurship.
Woodpeck and Karpantschof started talking about doing a youth philanthropy event. Daniel happily obliged.
Mr. Karpantschof didn't have a network, but started to meet people in the nation's capital. Daniel pulled a couple strings and made phone calls and even made a keynote address.
A guy named Alex Simon was involved and a lady named Rachel Cohen, those two people were interested in him because they were experienced in different areas of philanthropy. Unfortunately, the event, which transpired on February 8th was a complete disaster. The event was small, there were between thirty-five and forty people.
Daniel wanted to prove to the UN that he could deliver and gauged a demand for a community that wasn't engaged yet. After the event, Jonah advised that Daniel should make the next affair a big one. However, Jonah gave more feedback and felt Daniel should have a few hours of speaking time, and that the secretary general should speak. The United Nations event on a Wednesday, opening reception on a Tuesday and Thursday would have a very different package.
The United Nations wasn’t a part of the other side events, it was just a date at the UN. Anyway, Daniel started working, didn’t have money for speakers or anything, Dan’s plan was to make sure that everything came together at the right time.
Daniel remarked during the interview, "You want to have everything ready as much as possible, three to four weeks before the event, Daniel had literally nothing planned." He adds, "In D.C., the first time they hear of something, they’re not coming, the strategy is to create as much buzz in these communities, at the last possible minute, organizers hoped people would say...I am in."
Planning for only two hundred, Daniel ended up with four-hundred-fifty-seven people at this event. After this spectacle, Daniel keenly remembered why he got out of event planning to begin with.
Jonah Woodpecker asked Daniel after the event, "if you could have four-hundred-fifty people, if you could do that, how hard would it be to put together a conference?"
In Mr. Karpantschof's words, "it was a logistical nightmare," but Daniel had a lot of fun doing it…that’s how the Nexus Global Youth Summit came to be.
That happened in July and then from August and September, he was beat. From then on he didn’t know what he wanted to do, exposing young wealth holders to the issues regarding what was going on in the world.
This was a way to grow his network, which was increasingly high quality and to do so very, very fast.
Daniel didn't quite know what he wanted to do so he sort of played it by ear.
In the meantime, his wife had moved to New York, it sort of happened in July and August, in June they were couch surfing in D.C.
Not knowing what the next phase was going to be, Daniel was "funemployed" or happily unemployed from Sept –Nov.
I asked earnestly, "What do you tell people that say you should do this [college thing] even when you don't agree?"
It’s important to say, this is not for me...it’s my life.
Daniel confessed that his father-in-law still gives lectures about education.
People use graduate and professional school to internalize what it is they want to do. Daniel mentioned a friend who wanted to be more credible and thus attended Columbia Law, but his friend never wanted to practice law...after graduating his friend only practiced law for two years.
Daniel asked rhetorically, "How about not going to school? Not getting into debt?"
It's as though people forget that these alternative options exist.
Moreover, Daniel has paid his dues even without a formal post-secondary education. Daniel’s of the mentality that it’s easier to go to school to follow a trail.
"How do you get through life without a degree?" I wondered aloud.
Daniel answered, "Not attending college does not make life easier. Not attending college when you heart's not into it just makes life better. Founding multiple start-ups and doing freelance consulting, you live in that insecurity about rent and whatnot, but it’s incredibly rewarding. It’s experience that is valuable."
People assume that if you don’t go to college you won’t be successful. This is the furthest thing from the truth.
In reality, Daniel Karpantschof has received venture capital and was recently featured on Tech Crunch. Not to mention, Daniel has co-founded an organization that received funding from the United Nations and even hosted a summit in the nation's capital.
"What about people in the valley that relish the moment their product will be bought out?" I asked.
"You’ve become rich because you managed to develop some software that other people wanted. Start-ups are so much more than getting bought by big corporations, it shouldn’t be a great thing, the day that you hand in something that you’ve been sweating to do."
Karpantschof notes, "[Selling your company] it’s not a satisfying, if it comes out and there’s another artist saying that it’s great and you’ll get intellectual."
Rent in New York City is a huge liability. Rent and everything else in the city was very expensive.
Daniel's wife is an editor in publishing and thus not paid very well. Daniel was confronted with the reality of having to sell some of his assets in Copenhagen. This was a last resort.
While his network expanded Daniel was sort of waiting idly and finally in December of last year, he was offered an illustrious job at The Economist. Daniel started working at the Ideas Lab on Jan 4, 2012.
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