Interview with Petworld founder, Denice Hagen

Denice Hagen, Petworld.no founder

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For most 15 year old Norwegian girls, life is spent in the great outdoors and socializing with friends. But not Denice Hagen, founder of www.petworld.no, an online pet store who at 15 years of age entered the Norwegian eCommerce market.

Now 19 years old, Denice is not only focusing on the growth of Petworld.no, but is also launching two new projects in the next 12 months.

This is a story of how passion, determination and an implement like hell attitude helped Denice create a 12+ million NOK per year online business.

For those who do not know you, can you briefly tell us about yourself?

My name is Denice Hagen, just turned 19 years old. Living in Tyristrand with my family, a small village in the countryside, approx one hour from Oslo. I am still going to school and this is my last year on high school.

How did you get started with Petworld.no?

Since I was little girl I have always been dreaming about sales and marketing. I got this wish fulfilled when I was 15 years old. I told my dad that I wanted to start an online store and he just laughed at it. Finally he said: “yes, we can try”, but he didn’t believe too much at the idea.

We didn’t know what to sell but the only business dad had good contacts in was in the pet business. So then we decided to go for a pet store since we could get the goods we needed to sell from wholesalers dad knew from before. It was very short time from when I had the idea to we opened the store, approx. three months.

We had no idea at all about ecommerce and no contacts in this business from the beginning.

Since dad didn’t believe in this project from the beginning, we started out with only one small box with goods and an old computer in our living room. I designed our first online store putted in inventory (which we didn’t actually had in stock). I opened the store and suddenly we were selling a lot of things to pets.

How did you launch petworld.no while still in school?

Before we started, we agreed that this should only be a hobby project since I was in junior high school and my dad had another job. It soon became clear that we did something right. We got a lot of orders, and dad had drive to the wholesalers almost everyday and picked up the goods we needed. And I was working on the campaigns, new products, Facebook and design in the evenings and the weekends. It was a lot of work, but funny and the store was growing fast and we worked day and night. After 5 months, dad had to quit his other job and starting full time in Petworld.no and he still do today.

In two months I will finish high school and also work full time in Petworld.no as well. And I can’t wait! The best is yet to come.

How do you promote the website?

We market Petworld.no in Facebook, newsletter, Google and some specialist magazines. In Facebook, we find channel to communicate with our customers and we like the idea of the customer can lead us feedback, ask the questions and sharing pictures of their beloved pets. I manage our Facebook page, which has over 12.000 followers, and I find it very exciting to work with.

Petworld.no Facebook account

Which marketing channels are the most important?

Google is a very important sources of traffic to Petworld.no. The organic search is of course the most important, and we work all the time to improve Petworld.no for the Google search engine. We are lucky to co-operate with a very good company who runs our paid Google AdWords. The ads we have on print in this specialist magazine is more for branding and with a long-term perspective.

Do you have any numbers you can share?

  • Website visitors are approx. 30-35.000 visitors per month
  • Marketing budget is approx. 70,000-90,000 NOK per month
  • We expect to sell for approx 12 million NOK ex. vat. this year

Petworld.no has been growing quite good. We started out with approx. 20-30.000 NOK and a little box of goods and an old computer in our family living room. Petworld.no has no bank loans or investors and the inventory in our wearhouse is paid for.

For young marketers in Norway, what would you suggest they focus on first when launching a new website?

Love what you do, stay focused and work very hard – nothing comes for free. I has dropped many things that young people take for granted, such as. parties and hanging out with friends on Saturdays nights instead I have worked with my passion and I do not regret on taking these choices today. And if you love what you do, I am sure it easier to get success.

What trends do you foresee in eCommerce stores in Norway?

I think in general eCommerce will increase a lot in Norway in the future. The customers are getting more used to buy their stuff online. Norway is perfect for eCommerce because of long-distances to physical shops. I think when the consumers are getting even more used to online shopping, this will also put new demands on the web shops like even faster shipping, larger assortment, better custumer service and of course not to forget that more and more visitors to web shops are now using their mobile phones.

Hopefully we will see new and better ways to shop online with our phones soon.

What are the 3 biggest tips/ advice you can share with young entrepreneurs in Norway who want to launch their own business?

I would say having a good and clear concept, make a good research on your future competitors, find their strong- and weakness and try to do your business better. A lot of work will normally pay off, but remember you’re not going to millionaire tomorrow. Be patient!

What’s next for Petworld.no?

We are continuing to do what we do today; expand the product range, offering super fast shipping and a good customer service which normally are open 7 days a week. We are launching a new and responsive site later this year and looking forward to make our shop even better to our customers. In the close future the customer will also find a wide assortment for horses, livestock and hobby farming.

Outside of Petworld.no, what else you do do?

Outside of Petworld, I have some projects underway. CarlMahon.com coming 2015, this store will be inspired by my Instagram account @interior123, which has nearly 400.000 followers. This account was created in January 2013 and it has grown fast. Beside CarlMahon.com project and Petworld.no, we will also launch a new online store this summer, Hundebur.no. This is an online store we bought a few months ago; the shop was in bad condition so we closed it the same day we bought it. We started to built right away and it soon finish.

Denice Hagen, Instagram

Conclusion

Launching a new business is not an easy feat and yet, at 15 years old Denice was determined enough to succeed.  It just goes to show what you can achieve when you stay focused. A big thank you to Denice for taking the time out to answer these questions. It’s been very inspiring.

For more information, you can connect with Denice on LinkedIn or visit Petworld.no.

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