Independent University Newspaper
Copenhagen Business School

Popular searches:

Independent University Newspaper

Copenhagen Business School

From a jungle in Sri Lanka to Silicon Valley: How a CBS start-up grew from near closure to three-digit growth in one year

(Photo: Chabber)

In March 2018, the founders of the CBS start-up, Chabber agreed that they would give it one more shot before throwing in the towel. At the end of May 2019, they set off for Silicon Valley to try and enter the American market. “I can’t recall experiencing anything this intense,” says co-founder Valdemar Gaarn Rasmussen.

News |   17. Jun 2019

Anne Thora Lykkegaard


On a stone step in the middle of the Sri Lankan jungle on April 16, Valdemar Gaarn Rasmussen sits with an iPhone in his hand. The poor internet connection is making it difficult for him to be part of a highly important Skype interview.

In Scotland stands Sebastian Løvgreen in his best hiking gear, ready to explore the highlands. And in Denmark sits Ronni Jørgensen. They too try to connect to the Skype chat. The interview that the three founders of the CBS start-up Chabber have planned is with a guy from the Silicon Valley-based accelerator, Y Combinator. An accelerator known to have taken companies such as Dropbox, Airbnb, Soundbox and Airhelp under its wing and helped them to become really big.

“The internet connection was so poor, I couldn’t hear half of what the guy from Y Combinator said, and I only picked up some of the things my co-founders said. So when I hung up, I had no clue where things stood,” says Valdemar Gaarn Rasmussen and explains that they had one day to coordinate the logistics of being in four different time zones in order to make the interview happen.

The founders of Chabber at Y Combinator in Silicon Valley. (Photo: Chabber)

So the guys from Chabber – a start-up that connects freelance kitchen personnel and waiters with event agencies, hotels and private users – just had to wait for an answer. An answer that could result in a visit to Silicon Valley and a second interview with Y Combinator. The step before getting funding worth 150,000 dollars and access to the American market and everyone else who’s been through Y Combinator.

And so the answer came.

‘You can come to Silicon Valley for a second 10-minute interview at the end of May.’

“If accepted by Y Combinator after the second interview, the next step is to move to the U.S. within four days and stay at Y Combinator for three months and launch Chabber in the U.S. Immediately, we started thinking about how we would manage the Danish and newly started Norwegian market,” explains Valdemar Gaarn Rasmussen.

Goodbye Danske Bank and Deloitte

Valdemar Gaarn Rasmussen and Sebastian Løvgreen graduated from CBS in 2017, and during their studies they had student job positions at Deloitte and Danske Bank. But something didn’t feel quite right.

“In a drunken stupor at Distortion in 2015, we decided to do a start-up. We just started to write down every single idea and spent six months talking back and forth about which one we should pursue,” says Valdemar Gaarn Rasmussen.

Both of them come from families of restaurateurs, so they themselves had experienced their fathers calling and begging them to cover shifts during peak season or for staff who were off sick. And this was where the idea for Chabber started.

“We went to the Copenhagen School of Entrepreneurship and in July 2016, we launched the beta version of the platform. This meant that we quit our jobs at Deloitte and Danske Bank and became waiters again. And we actually did jobs through Chabber to make it work in the beginning,” explains Valdemar Gaarn Rasmussen whose mother said to him:

“Valdemar, you know it’s okay if you don’t succeed, right?”

It gave us an enormous confidence boost that they actually liked Chabber and believe that it can be big

Valdemar Gaarn Rasmussen

Slowly, Valdemar Gaarn Rasmussen and Sebastain Løvgreen get companies on board and freelancers who start to connect and help each other out. But in March 2018, things aren’t quite going according to plan.

“At that point, we’re four founders and two student assistants, and we’re about to throw in the towel. But we decided to give it a last shot and push up the price of our service. That, combined with the start of the spring season, seemed to do the trick,” explains Valdemar Gaarn Rasmussen.

Today, Chabber is a company of 25 employees. The platform in Denmark counts 1,000 customers and about 13,000 chabbers, as the freelancers call themselves. They’ve teamed up with Claus Meyer and are slowly getting a grip on Norway and plan to expand the service to Sweden and Holland this year.

Sebastian Løvgren and Valdemar Gaarn Rasmussen founded Chabber back in 2016. Now, they are ready to expand to America. (Photo: Chabber)

“People continuously ask us what we do besides Chabber, and I get kind of annoyed and say: ‘Dude, this is a full-time job and what we do for a living,” says Valdemar Gaarn Rasmussen.

Hello, Sillicon Valley

Ronni Jørgensen, Valdemar Gaarn Rasmussen and Sebastian Løvgreen arrived in Silicon Valley the day before the interview on May 29. In total, 500  start-ups were invited for a second interview, but only 100 would leave Y Combinator with a 150,000-dollar deal. That’s one percent of the number of applicants. And it all depended on the performance in the 10-minute interview.

“We had a pretty good feeling that we were in. They were really cool, asked a lot of great questions, and we also had time to joke around a bit,” says Valdemar Gaarn Rasmussen and continues:

“We were told that we would get an answer at 6 PM. At 6:30 we still hadn’t heard anything. We were going to the airport, and when our plane departed at 8:30 we still hadn’t heard a single word from them. Lucky, we managed to get connection to the Wi-Fi during the flight, and we got an email from them with a rejection.”

Valdemar Gaarn Rasmussen explains that the Y Combinator team liked the Chabber team and the idea, but thought there were more growth opportunities in Europe before entering the American market.

“Although we didn’t make it this time, they encouraged us to apply again. It gave us an enormous confidence boost that they actually liked Chabber and believe that it can be big,” he says.

When asked what it would mean to Chabber if they got accepted to Y Combinator, Valdemar Gaarn Rasmussen breaks into a big smile.

“It would be huge. We’d not only get a headstart in a huge market, we’d get the Y Combinator ‘stamp’ on the company. With this, you can literally kick in the door of every investor, more or less,” he says and assures that Chabber is ready to give it a second go at Y Combinator when Norway, Sweden and Holland are up and running.

“The U.S. has always been our dream,” he says.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

From a jungle in Sri Lanka to Silicon Valley: How a CBS start-up grew from near closure to three-digit growth in one yearby

  • News

    Staff layoffs: What happens if you’re fired

    The clock is ticking. On Thursday morning (5 October), CBS employees will know if they are up for dismissal or not. But what will happen on the day? What emotional stages are you likely to encounter? And who will be there to pick you up when you are feeling the blow of being laid off? CBS WIRE has talked to HR and the consulting agency Actief Hartmanns to provide you with answers.

  • News

    Network, network, network – CBS graduates advise on getting your first job

    There are many approaches to finding your first job. Three recent CBS graduates talk about how they landed theirs. Their approaches were quite different, yet they all highlight networking as a key element.

  • News

    A-Z of the dismissals

    In these final days of September, the fate of a number of CBS employees is being decided. The final amount of money saved on salaries via voluntary severance agreements (aka redundancy packages, Ed.) and senior agreements will be known.  After this, the actual number of employees up for dismissal will be decided by management – and then the individuals will be selected.

  • News

    Layoffs break the crucial trust between organisation and employee

    CBS is laying off a number of employees soon, which will affect our university in different ways. When employees are fired without having done anything wrong, it shatters the trust between the organisation and employees, while also taking a toll on productivity, according to a CBS expert. Layoffs also affect the ‘survivors’, who are forced to adapt to a changed workload and the loss of cherished colleagues.

  • News

    Here to help – at the touch of a button and at Campus Desk

    Exam anxiety? Lost student card? I’ve wedged my car between a Fiat 500 and a lamp post, can you help? You never know what you’ll be asked next. But that’s just how the Campus Desk team like it. And if they can’t fix your problem, they’ll know someone who can. CBS WIRE asked the team about the whole range of topics they advice on every day.

  • Gif of the week
  • News

    CBS Quiz Time: Unraveling the success story

    A successful university environment such as CBS is often associated with academic pursuits, but campus life extends far beyond the classroom. At CBS Quiz Time, a student society motivated by creative thinking and social engagement, students join in a refreshing range of creativity, excitement, and social interaction. CBS WIRE talked to Celine Møller-Andersen to find out about the society’s vision, strategies and the factors that are driving its rapid expansion.

  • News

    Why so sudden? The CBS financial crisis explained

    Employees and union representatives have posed many questions in the wake of the 17 August announcement of a firing round. In this interview, University Director Arnold Boon explains how Senior Management has been working with the budget and a change of financial strategy since the fall of 2022, and why layoffs are now necessary.

Follow CBS students studying abroad

CBS WIRE collaborates with

Stay connected