There is an unmistakable air of drama when the staff of The World of HC Andersen enters a room. They are all in character. The period costumes, the booming voices, the accents, the hats– the sheer drama is absolutely captivating.
For the last couple of years, founder Peter Holst-Back has been the creator and driving force behind “Hamlet Live,” an interactive Shakespeare performance at Kronborg Castle (where the story of Hamlet takes place). Holst-Back’s days are spent with thousands of curious tourists, locals, and theatre enthusiasts. This is not surprising since Copenhagen has more tourists than Bali, and that number is expected to rise in the coming years.
It goes without saying – Shakespeare is not Danish, but Hans Christian Andersen most certainly is. And the curiosity factor among locals and visitors in Copenhagen was, shall we say, quite high when it comes to native son Hans Christian Andersen. I mean, hello? The Little Mermaid is an iconic part of Danish culture. It seemed a natural progression for the company.
Holst-Back went from saying “No. We don’t have anything interactive with HC Andersen” to thinking “What if we did”? Thus was born The World of HC Andersen, an immersive entertainment company with a sharp focus on the great storytelling of HC Andersen.
People took notice of this adventurous and playful endeavor and in 2019, The World of HC Andersen won the “Most Investable Creative Startup” at CBC Global Finals, quite appropriately, in Copenhagen.
“That win — it’s validation that’s hard to beat. We’ve felt the impact with our investors and it’s opened a lot of doors. Suddenly, we started getting attention from all kinds of influencers,” says Holst-Back.
As for their success, Holst-Back credits experience and a broad interest in immersive entertainment.
“As old-time veterans of the experience economy, for us, the hardest part has been coming to terms with the fact that just because we see this as a natural extension of what we’ve done before, others don’t necessarily see it that way,” he explains.
What comes next? “For us, the next thing is landing the right partners – both strategic partners and investors. We’ve spent some months now chasing the capital needed to get this thing off the ground, and it’s been a learning experience. I can say with a high degree of confidence, for us, we’re very much looking forward to concluding the fundraising part so we can focus on execution. That’s our goal.”
Launching a company – especially one built on dreams and passion isn’t always easy and Holst-Back has some advice for startups and entrepreneurs.
“There’s one thing that I think is universal among entrepreneurs, it’s that we’re all terribly good at giving advice and wish we’d been better at taking it earlier. If our team was to give three pieces of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, I think it would be the following: Listen, but choose wisely. The world is full of people with opposing views. They can’t all be right. Also – get a mentor!”