90% of All Startups Fail. What Did Nordgreen Do Right?

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In recent years, the conversation around startups has been focused on technology. Startups like Uber and Airbnb hold our focus as they connect us, sometimes daily, through user-friendly apps. However, they represent just one form that a startup can take. In the world of retail, a watch brand from Scandinavia called Nordgreen is achieving awards, recognition, and worldwide sales since they were established in 2018.

Nordgreen founders Pascar and Vasilij

Nordgreen is the brainchild of founders Pascar and Vasilij, friends in their late 20s who grew up in Denmark. They teamed up with legendary Danish designer Jakob Wagner to create a distinctly Nordic wristwatch — one both elegant and functional

Initially launched through the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, sales from the company’s official website totaled 1.2 million USD in 2018. In 2020, Nordgreen has stocked in more than 130 stores worldwide. Despite being less than three years old, its business model and products have drawn attention due to the brand’s overwhelming growth potential.


Why do so many startups fail?

The first three years of a startup are a risky time, with many barriers to success. Key among them is the threat of a limited customer base. Crowdfunding and marketing may have attracted attention and funds initially, but a brand must continue to build after that first success. With this comes new challenges, such as a lack of effective HR and management to keep pace with rapid growth. 

Why has Nordgreen succeeded where many falter? What makes them different, and what can we learn from them? Let’s take a look at three secrets to their success:

Key to Success #1

Trendy yet timeless design

The global popularity of Scandinavian design is hardly new. It traces its roots back to the 1950s when exhibitions like “Design in Scandinavia” toured North America and ignited interest in the style outside of Northern Europe. Although beloved worldwide ever since, it’s enjoyed a recent resurgence alongside the minimalist trend.

Scandinavian design is characterized by careful choices. It removes that which is fussy and unnecessary and keeps only the elegant and essential. Colors are neutral and soft with thoughtful statements. This results in a style that’s both timeless and fresh — and always purposeful.

Native, a practical watch and beautiful accessory - £144

The watches across Nordgreen’s range embody this design ethos. Take, for example, the watch model Native: it adorns the wrist like a practical bracelet. Its combination of beauty and practicality makes it a favorite of Nordgreen’s female clientele.

Pioneer, winner of the Red Dot design award - £219

Nordgreen’s take on the chronograph, Pioneer, manages to balance the brand’s clean style with a chronograph’s typically busy dial. This is all thanks to the expert craft of Jakob Wagner. He uses domed sapphire glass to encase the watch face, creating a sophisticated statement piece.

Philosopher, popular with both men and women - £169

So is the Scandinavian style here to stay, or just a passing fad? Nobody wants to invest in a quality timepiece only to have it soon look dated. 

As we can see, it’s been popular since the middle of the 20th century. Thanks to its clean lines and classic appeal, there’s no danger of it falling out of fashion. Scandivanvian style stays fashionable because it’s simple enough to work with anything, but beautiful enough to always be a subtle highlight in any outfit. 

Nordgreen has captured the public imagination by offering a watch that is designed for daily wear. Consumers use it in their business and private lives, giving the brand value through versatility. As we start to tire of staring at our smartphones all day, Nordgreen gives us the option to make just one part of our lives simpler.

Key to Success #2

Their goal is not to sell

Sounds strange, doesn’t it? But Nordgreen has identified the value of a quality product and a quality service. This is a mistake many fashion labels make. Often, they emphasise quantity over quality, selling an inferior good. The hope is that when it breaks the customer will return and buy it all over again. But why would they?

Scandinavian style: the perfect balance of elegance and function

Nordgreen sells a watch that’s made to last. Their watches are priced at around £160, which places it as an affordable investment. Superior craftsmanship and materials ensure that consumers will be enjoying their Nordgreen watches for years. 


But there’s more to the customer experience than the product. When startups get into the business of selling things, it can be easy for them to overlook the customer journey that surrounds the purchase. Nordgreen hasn’t made that mistake. Their online store is crafted with the client in mind; it now has over 15,000 reviews, which are overwhelmingly positive. Nordgreen understands how essential it is to have an easy and pleasant shopping experience.

Custom selections on the official website

One of the best lessons to take from them is how fun the website is. Customers are encouraged to customise their watch, choosing size, metal colour and strap material. They’re enjoying themselves but also, even at their early stage, forming a relationship with the product and the brand. It’s not just a beautiful watch — it’s their beautiful watch.

In addition, Nordgreen peppers their site with plenty of options for help. Live chats and customer support mean that every shopper, experienced or novice, can use the website. Not only is customer satisfaction increased in the moment, but it improves the brand’s reputation through word of mouth and social media. 

Despite the fact that they sell analogue watches, Nordgreen has created a shopping experience that is excited for the modern, digital consumer. It’s key to their success and continued growth.

Key to Success #3

Sustainability: an identity, not just marketing

Every time a Nordgreen watch is sold, part of the sale is donated to a not-for-profit charity. 

It’s not a new concept. We’ve seen it with Starbucks abolishing plastic straws, or H&M collecting used clothing instore. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is now a cornerstone of most brands’ marketing department. 

What makes Nordgreen’s approach different?

Eco-friendly packaging, made from plastic bottles

Sustainability is not about marketing to Nordgreen — it’s embedded into their DNA. Even their name reflects this: Nord-, for their Scandivanian heritage, and -green, for their prioritisation of the natural world. Social responsibility is not an afterthought for this organisation, but rather at the front of everything they do

This means actively considering how they can make the world a better place. Nordgreen was quick to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, teaming up with Fuel Them LA to support their efforts to feed front line workers nutritious meals. 

We’re seen an increase in social responsibility as marketing, but Nordgreen sets a pioneering example of how to authentically integrate it into the brand’s identity. For customers making a decision about how to spend their money, it’s points of difference like this that help them make a choice.

Curious to see for yourself? 

An exclusive discount for our readers

We have a small gift for you if you read this far. 

If you enter the Supreme Five coupon code SUPREME when making your purchase on the official Nordgreen website, you can take 10% off your entire purchase.

We recommend a bundle to get the best deal. Bundles include one or two extra straps and are usually discounted by 20%. Add our code SUPREME to that and you’re set up for a great deal.

Nordgreen watches make a great reward for yourself or a gift for a loved one. You can see for yourself the combination of quality and social responsibility that defines the Nordgreen brand.

Check it out for yourself at the Nordgreen website.