The history and future of European Media Partner
The journey from being a small start-up with two employees, to an international company with around 125 employees (as of Q1 2019) operating in five different countries has been far from smooth. It’s been a rocky – but fun – experience for the two founders; Fredrik Thorsson and Jonathan Andersson.
For those who don’t know the story of European Media Partner, we will talk a little bit about the background before we talk about the future. Because if you ask the two entrepreneurs what they have accomplished so far they will both answer “this is just the beginning”.
European Media Partner was founded by Fredrik Thorsson and Jonathan Andersson in a small office in Malmö in 2012. The idea was clear – create and distribute print supplements in the leading daily newspapers.
Fredrik and Jonathan created the entire product themselves and realized that Content Marketing is a concept that works. Shortly after the first supplement was published, they took a decision to expand the operation in Sweden.
– When we started, we didn’t have a website and we had no idea about what the layout would look like, we just had a dummy – similar to the one we have today – we believed in the product and wanted it to be successful so we just kept it simple and sold it! We have made a lot of mistakes on the way and are still learning every day.
Jonathan and Fredrik hired the first Project Managers in February 2013. In April, the company had grown to 12 employees and moved to a new office at Stortorget in Malmö. We published 36 themed supplements in Sweden throughout the year.
The first “real” office was situated in the Big square in Malmö.
2014 was a year of significant international expansion, as we opened offices in Hamburg (Germany) and Copenhagen (Denmark). Simultaneously, we moved into larger premises at Hamngatan in Malmö (Sweden) so we could house our 60 employees. Jonathan moved to Germany to set up the office there, while Fredrik remained in Sweden as we were expanding rapidly on the Swedish market.
– On the first of April 2014 we opened both in Copenhagen and in Hamburg – I was at IKEA and in the Apple store in Copenhagen on Friday morning, got the office in Denmark up and running, drove to Hamburg in the evening went to IKEA and the Apple store in Hamburg on Saturday, to get the office up and running in Hamburg as well – on Monday we were open for business on two new markets. It was a hectic but fun and intense period – every week for over a year we drove up and down between the offices. We had to adapt to new markets and cultures at the same time as running the show. We are definitely going to do this a few more times in the future.
The Swedish office as it looks like today (sales floor).
During 2015 the company expanded in Germany and, from the Danish office, we also published our first themed supplements in Norway. The Danish office moved into new, larger premises at Strøget, in the heart of Copenhagen and the German office moved into new premises at Neuer Wall in the centre of Hamburg. (Click on the link to see the German office).
– In the beginning, we always heard excuses such as “you cannot do this, and that”. It was the same in Germany and Denmark. But we sure as hell did, and we still are! In Germany they told me it was impossible to sell to schools and universities – I said “No” and we did a campaign on education just to prove that everything is possible!
The Danish office as it looks like today (sales floor).
We invested heavily in developing products for the digital market in 2016. The company went from offering “only” a print product, to also offering digital solutions to our customers. After a lot of testing, we launched our first campaign sites. At the time, we created and distributed nearly 200 campaigns in four countries per year, and were around 80 employees in the entire corporate group. By then we had over 60 different topics for our campaigns.
At the beginning of 2016 we decided to expand by opening an office in Amsterdam. Jonathan moved to the tulip city, together with two employees from the Swedish office (Amanda Ghidoni & Johan Wender), to start up the operations.
– We understood that the combination of print and digital media is an important step for the future, therefore additional and considerable investments in the digital products were made in 2016, Fredrik says.
– A major focus during the latter part of 2016 was to improve our layout and editorial concepts, both in print and digital. The initiative resulted in the concept “Analysis”, to further emphasize the topic, and help our customers further build their brands and reach out to new and established clients, Jonathan continues.
In order to reach our goal of becoming the biggest Content Marketing agency in Europe, we opened up yet another office in 2017. This time in Oslo, right by Karl Johans Gate. – We distributed our first cross-media campaigns from the Norwegian office in the fall of 2017 and the response was great. Once again, it’s proven that our concept works and that our clients like our products, Fredrik says.
European Media Partner Sverige were nominated for the big Publishing Prize (Publishingpriset) for best supplement in Sweden for the first time in 2017. We didn’t win but came third which is fantastic news for us! It shows we are making quality products and create content with a purpose. We were nominated for the second time in 2018, but our best time is yet to come.
2018 was more about working with the existing offices to make them solid and profitable. Norway took a first step in building up their Content Studio by hiring a junior editor (Emilie Wolf Joner). We had our biggest ever International Management Meeting and International Content Meeting (#ICM18), where we developed our products even further. Some results were shown already at the end of 2018. More is to come in 2019!
Jonathan Andersson and Fredrik Thorsson back in 2013 when European Media Partner celebrated its first birthday.
A lot has happened in only six years. But let’s forget about the past, what are the plans for European Media Partner in 2019 and beyond?
Jonathan & Fredrik: In 2019 we plan to geographically expand to two new markets – Belgium + a surprise! In the long run we will also open up offices in the United Kingdom, Austria, Switzerland, and New York, to begin with. We are not even half way done with expanding the business and building up a really cool international company with young professionals. Talk to your manager if you are interested in applying for an international career at European Media Partner! Furthermore, we will also start digital sales departments at some offices and launch a few new products in 2019. We will also expand our Content Studios to meet the demands of our customers and to keep producing quality content and products.
What drives you to always want to grow, do better and never be satisfied?
Jonathan: For me, it is the idea of building something great that impacts a lot of people. Both our employees and the readers we reach via offline and online channels – which really is a large number of people every year. We put a lot of effort into creating the best content campaigns on the market. Content Marketing builds brands and we help our customers communicate their message. This is a never-ending process and we should be the leading player on all our markets. To keep this up we need to reinvent ourselves and continue to grow all the time – it would not be possible if we were satisfied.
What was your biggest goal/were your dream goals when you were working on the first ever European Media Partner Campaign?
Jonathan & Fredrik: Right from the start we decided that we would build a company with offices all over Europe – hence the name European Media Partner. This is still our biggest goal and we are working very hard towards it on a daily basis – there is still a lot to be done and there are many new markets left to conquer.