From Digital Nomad to Digital Healthcare Startup – my Journey to Hedia

From Digital Nomad to Digital Healthcare Startup – my Journey to Hedia

Digital healthcare startup cartoon

Hi! My name is Denice Brun and I’m Head of Marketing at Hedia. After two years on the road as a digital nomad, I’ve chosen to come back home to Copenhagen, which has meant finding what I call an adult job again. That is: A full-time 9-5 kind of job. In spite of a handful of other job offers, I’ve chosen Hedia – a digital healthcare startup that wants to make life with diabetes easier. Maybe that says it all. Maybe that gives you all the reasons why I’ve chosen this rather than anything else – maybe you don’t understand why at all. I’ll give you all the reasons in less than five minutes with a little help from the Heart & Brain.

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Why I left in the First Place

At the end of 2015, I quit my agency job to explore the world, and for more than two years, I followed my heart, while trying to zone out my over-analytical brain. I was headed in a direction that I couldn’t see myself in. I needed the headspace and therefore I chose to let my heart rule most of the decision making.

Digital healthcare startup heart & brain

Being a digital nomad at a digital healthcare startup

Leaving it Behind Completely Wasn’t easy

Now, travelling is great, but after a while, I realised, that there’s a reason why I got into this whole marketing space to begin with. It interests me and I’m kind of geeky about a lot of the disciplines including the psychology of persuasion, email marketing, user journeys etc. It was difficult to give it up completely.

So one of the first things I did when I landed on a beautiful beach was to volunteer my time at an animal hospital. I was meant to do day to day care of the cats and dogs (and snakes and pigs and birds), but I ended up helping PACS with digital communication, with fundraising and online awareness. I ended up in the office, doing digital marketing rather than being with the animals and enjoying the beautiful surroundings.

Letting go While Making a Living on the road

After a while, I was able to let it go and enjoy the freedom. I slowly learned how to let my heart rule. It took me to some incredible places including Central Asia and Antarctica and about 30 countries in between and more than 10 after.

Unfortunately, a trip like this is not free. Fortunately, faith would have it that whenever I was running out of money, a new client would drop into my email inbox. I mostly did copywriting and subtitles. All of it came through my network.

Two years went by like a blink of an eye and suddenly I had to choose whether to sell my belongings in Denmark (including my apartment) or come home for a while. I chose the latter. Especially since even a notorious traveller like myself will end up with experience fatigue.

Digital healthcare startup comic

Coming back After two Years of Freedom

Making work a vacation at a digital healthcare startupComing back from a long journey of complete freedom has admittedly not been the easy part. I knew I wanted a job with more purpose than the one I left, but is that even possible in a marketing setting? Of course it is. There are many NGOs with beautiful missions and brilliant marketing departments.

But I’m also kind of picky. You see, I didn’t really see myself in a corporation with 1000+ employees and wall-to-wall carpets and 15 layers of hierarchy and 18 months of decision processes. I wanted something where I could see the impact of what I do fairly quickly. I wanted to have the freedom to implement ideas as they appear.

I started looking for jobs that fitted my wishes. Once I realised how sought after my combination of skills were, I gave myself three months to make a final decision. One of the ways I made myself available on the job market was through Linkedin. I posted about my home coming and the fact that I was looking for a job. That’s how Peter (the CEO of Hedia) noticed me. He sent me a message, and we had the infamous cup of coffee.

Digital + Healthcare + Startup + Marketing = Success

That’s when it clicked. The fact that I could combine my marketing skills in a digital healthcare / medtech setting AND it was a startup…! I basically started comparing every other job interview with the words Peter said towards the end of my first interview:

You won’t save lives by selling more T-shirts. At Hedia… You’ll save lives!

To adult or not to adult digital healthcare startupIt spoke directly into my mantra of following my heart. All of the disadvantages of working for a startup didn’t matter. All the insecurities and “teething problems” just seemed to make it more challenging and thereby more exciting. My heart had chosen and it knew what it wanted.

Even though a lot of people think that choosing a startup is utter nonsense, it makes sense when you consider all the possibilities that comes along with it. The adult decision would’ve been to choose the large corporation 50 km outside Copenhagen which was the “right career choice” with the nice pension plan and 1001 benefits.

Endless Possibilities

There is a deeper purpose of working in Hedia, however. Here’s a list of the top 10 benefits of choosing a digital healthcare startup:

    • Endless possibilities at a digital healthcare startupWorking with something that matters – making a difference makes a difference on work ethics and motivation.
    • You matter – in a company with only eight people, every head counts, and everyone is highly specialised and indispensable.
    • Sharing knowledge – since everyone has a different set of skills, we get to touch upon each aspect of building an app which means you get to learn about regulatory aspects, machine learning, business development, react native, user-driven design etc.
  • Steep learning curve – because I’m currently Head of Myself, I need to do everything myself, including the tasks that are not necessarily within my current set of skills.
  • Flexibility – how we work, when we work, what we work on, how we dress etc. You don’t have to fit into a square box basically.  
  • Freedom – yes I said it. After 2½ years of complete freedom, I see some of the same aspects of working for a startup including which direction I take our marketing.
  • Seeing something grow from nothing FAST – it feels like there are big announcements every day or every week. At this stage, things are growing really fast and it’s a thrill to be along for the ride.
  • Getting heard – everyone has a say in the direction in which we’re headed and every voice matters.
  • Short decision process – if you have a good idea, it could be implemented tomorrow.
  • Fun! – Being part of a small team with a bunch of very different people with the same goal is just more fun than it is work.

It’s not all roses of course. If you do consider it, there are some disadvantages too. Or as I like to call them: Learning opportunities:

  • Regulatory stuff – which, in a marketing setting, mostly means doing what sensible companies should do anyway (like fact-checking and not claiming things you can’t back up).
  • Uncertainty – we don’t know where we’ll be tomorrow or if we’ll still have a job next year.
  • You get noticed – you can’t hide or have a day of slacking off if you’re into those kinds of days. Every day matters.

Hedia is Looking for more Talent!

If you’re interested in joining a growing startup – join us! We’re still looking for more people to join our team. If you’re currently happily employed somewhere else, but would like to stay updated, sign up for our newsletter below:

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Again, thanks to The Awkward Yeti for his incredible illustrations that have fitted very well into my last three years – check out his stuff and support him.

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