To be self-employed is suitable for women. We want flexibility, to have a multifaceted life, we want the right to say no to (too much) work and at the same time we want to keep several balls in the air.
Managing director and partner in WebHouse ApS, Aalborg
Bente Broberg is a pioneer. She is a first mover within web services in Denmark, and she is one of the few women, who runs a large IT-company – maybe the only one in her age group. She has taken part in establishing the first Danish business women network, Erhvervskvinder.dk, and she is one of the sponsors of the idea of a pan European network for female entrepreneurs. But more on that later.
She is 67 years old and has run WebHouse ApS in Aalborg for 15 years. Before Bente started her own company, she was office manager at the Danish Chamber of Commerce and as a result, had a large business network to draw on when she started her own business.
“I was introduced to the internet in 1995. It was completely new, and I was hooked right away. My first thoughts were: This is the future! I had worked with IT for a long time, but I didn’t have professional qualifications for the web, and not many people had at that time. But this was something I could employ people to do, I thought. I had a lot to do with young people, because I was behind a multimedia education that was established in connection with TV2’s regional TV-stations. I rushed out and hired four young talents – two of them were my own sons! I was 53 and thought: I’ve always dreamt about being self-employed – now is the time!”
She extended her private overdraft facility the first year, waited with the payment of wages to her sons and worked from home to start with. Just half a year later, WebHouse went to Paris to receive an EU prize for the “Best Website” in the category small and medium sized companies for an advanced website for Aarhus Harbour. The award created a lot of media coverage, which resulted in a lot of new clients, not least advertising agencies, who realised that it is time to take the Internet seriously.
”The fact that we were out early in Denmark, meant that we quickly got some of the large customers, who knew what was going on in the USA: Cheminova, Lundbeck and Grundfos. Others waited and wanted to see if this fuss about the web really was something, and that’s how it is, when you’re one of the first”.
Since then things have moved fast. WebHouse has grown, especially within the transport sector and has 15 employees. The sons are still there, but now as partners. Webhouse creates websites, but is increasingly suppliers of web software – for example to intelligent transport with complex web solutions to the European transport sector.
When the IT-bubble burst in 2001, Bente Broberg had to fire three of the then 18 employees, but has since been stable with 15. In the difficult year right after the crash, she started a regional, EU supported business network for women. In connection with this, she addressed a couple of powerful, female European parliamentarians with the suggestion of starting a pan European network for business women. It is not only Bente’s achievement – there have been many other people in relation to this – but this is the network that has now been realised.