CanopyLAB Unrooted: How the idea behind CanopyLAB was planted and grew

CanopyLAB Unrooted: How the idea was planted and grew

Last week, Kim Lindgaard Jørgensen, Head of Business Development at CanopyLAB, sat down with co-founder and CEO, Sahra-Josephine Hjorth for a talk about the idea behind CanopyLAB, what inspired her to start the company together with co-founder Christian Skræm Juul Jensen, and the fundamentals of eLearning.

KLJ: First of all, what is CanopyLAB and what services are you offering?

SJH: CanopyLAB started as a eLearning platform for youth, where we offered exciting courses for free. We wanted to make eLearning more interactive as we strongly feel that the other eLearning platforms out there do not allow for much interaction. So we were trying to create something that catered to learners by having a higher level of interaction with other learners and the learning material. That’s kind of how we started out. But CanopyLAB has expanded and changed a lot since then. While we started viewing ourselves as “just” an eLearning platform, we’ve matured into an EdTech company that also creates software for corporate learning.

Earlier this year, we released a new software, which enables completely personalized and adaptive learning experiences through the use of technologies, such as advanced algorithms, big data, and soon AI.

Our differences are our strengths
KLJ: What is the mission of CanopyLAB and what problems are you solving?

SJH: When I grew up, I went to a school called Rudolf Steiner. It’s a very different kind of school because there’s a large emphasis placed on creativity, social connectivity, and on sports. And then in the middle of high school, I changed into an international private school that had literally no creative subjects at all, where there was an emphasis on sciences and language. I think that the peers I had in the two schools were quite different, and their parents placed them in schools with a particular academic focus because people learn in different ways.

When we learn in a physical classroom, the teacher has some ability to individualize the course materials and how they teach to fit the needs of the students in the classroom, based on tests and ultimately a feeling about what level is suitable for the students. The teacher may even have prepared a multiple choice test of the next session, but the given day, he or she may spontaneously decide to host a debate instead. This debate will cater to the strengths of some students and prove challenging for other students. The following week, the same teacher will take the same students on a field trip to visit a museum and that captures the interest of some students, and others find it boring. I’ve always found it quite frustrating that the online classroom can’t accommodate people’s differences. Until now, CanopyLAB’s mission has been to bring the fact that people are different and that we learn in different ways into a virtual learning environment (VLE). We daily ask ourselves, how do we utilize all the amazing new technologies to create personalized learning experiences that are fun and educational?

KLJ: How did you come up with the idea behind CanopyLAB — the idea of an adaptive learning platform that allows students to learn in more than 40 different ways?

SJH: I think in some ways it was quite random that Chris and I end up creating learning software, but then at the same time, it also seems kind of predestined with the skillset that we have and how we have skills that are complementary to each other. I was working on my PhD, which initially wasn’t about learning. It was about social media and learning become a strong component of that. I increasingly became fascinated with online learning and it began to occupy more and more of my research. This was around 2013 and 2014, where a lot of research began to highlight some of the problems in learning. One of the most cites problems was the 93% dropout rates many learning platforms faced at the time. Researchers, teachers, and mass media began to question if there was an underlying problem with the Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) concept.

By that time, Chris and I were obsessed with the unrealized potential of eLearning, but we wanted to drastically alter the concept to account for people’s differences. This was after I had already tried creating my own YouTube channel and tested a bunch of concepts and ideas on how you can make learning more interactive. But I found YouTube very limiting because communication was largely one way, and through written comments or questions to the speakers. So I went to Chris, asked him what are we going to do, can you build something better? and he went sure, lets try! That is how Chris built our first solution in less than a week.

KLJ: What makes CanopyLAB different from MOOCs and other eLearning platforms?

SJH: The biggest difference is that we never saw ourselves as a learning management system (LMS) even though we have built a software that facilitates learning. We can do all the things an LMS can do, but those are just things that any system has to be able to accommodate. It’s our foundation and we knew we need to be able to accommodate more than that. My PhD research and all the data we have gathered in the last 3 years indicated that in order to create successful learning experiences online, there need to be a higher level of connectivity between the people engaging in the learning experience. What we did when we build our new software was that we took the best practices from an LMS and from social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook and merged them together.

Social network + LMS = a perfect marriage
What we’ve seen with social networks is that they can play an important role in formal and informal work relations, in social gatherings, mass organization, and learning. An example is how social networks play an important role in social movements, like “Bring Back Our Girls” and “Black Lives Matters.” But what happens after people managed to mobilize large crowds and get them excited an about and engaged in something? There is often a gap between passion and the skills needed to mobilize a movement that can make a change. Here, social media fall short. So we wanted to bring some of that passion and ability to organize into a learning setting. So we saw the ability to mobilize people in virtual communities and at the same time get them excited about gaining skills as one of our unique offerings. That’s one of many reasons why we chose to combine a social network with an LMS to create the backbone for CanopyLAB.

Inventing an interaction model for learning
One of the more complicated differences between our software and an LMS is that our software is based on an interaction model. With most typical learning software, learners have very limited options for interaction as I’ve already mentioned. You can watch a video, maybe it’s live, maybe it’s on demand. If you are lucky, you can submit a written assignment and get feedback on it. We felt it was essential to create a bigger palette of interactions in extension of the the argument I made earlier that people are different and they learn in many different ways. For example, if I were to take a class about the Dakota Access Pipeline, a topic that I’m interested in, it’s not only important for me to get to know more about topic, it might also be important for my personal learning curve to give peer feedback or to receive feedback. In that class, I have a classmate, named Peter, he is also interested in the Dakota Access Pipeline, but in order for him to develop new competences, it may be more important for him to learn more about public speaking. Our software enables learners to choose what competencies they want to practice, allowing each student to practice different skill sets in the same classroom simultaneously. That’s critical to learning success and to the success of our software. And at CanopyLAB, we’ve managed to convert YouTube tests and theories about learning into a technology that leverages big data, advanced algorithms, and soon AI to make eLearning interactive and customizable.

Learn more about CanopyLAB, and meet them at CBS Entrepreneurial Day 2017!




In the second half of 2015, we participated in the Go Grow Programme at CSE. And by we, I mean the two co-founders and three interns, which was what made up CanopyLAB. At the time, we had only just began our journey and were still a bit puzzled with everything. Looking back, it seems a long time ago that we were learning about the different business models, learned how to write a business plan, and practiced how to pitch our idea to potential clients and investors. CanopyLAB was an eLearning platform for youth then. Now, in the beginning of 2017, CanopyLAB has evolved into an EdTech company, solving some of the biggest business challenges for leading corporations in Denmark through our innovative learning software. However, we still run the open learning platform, which was where it all began. And to understand just how much has happened since we started out, let’s start there — at the beginning.

CanopyLAB was founded in August 2015 by Sahra-Josephine Hjorth, CEO and PhD Fellow at Aalborg University and Christian Skræm Juul Jensen, CTO and designer. The idea to create an online learning platform for youth around the world emerged in Australia, where Sahra-Josephine was teaching online herself as part of a research stay. She became interested in how social media can be used to create engaging learning experiences and empower youth through a strong online community. Realizing that no such thing existed, she decided to create an online platform herself. A burgeoning talent within her field of academia, it was not in the cards that her career would lie outside the walls of university. However, she wanted to make a visible impact and empower a generation through a new kind of learning. She asked Christian if he was able to translate what she envisioned into a learning platform and a social network. Within a week, Christian has designed and built what was the first version of CanopyLAB. The following year, the two of them tested and improved the platform, which grew rapidly. Users from all over the world were taking courses, learning about humanities and social sciences, gaining new skills and competencies, and building friendships.

During this period, they learned more about what works and what doesn’t in an online learning space. Something that is vastly different from the physical learning environment that most of us are formed by. You can say that they came up with the recipe for what an online course should look like. The most important thing, however, is the underlying understanding that we’re all different and as a result, we all learn in different ways. This is why learning in an online space must be personalized and adaptive to enhance the learning for all.

In the meantime, CanopyLAB had not only grown bigger as a team, in terms users, and markets, they had also attracted attention from some of the leading corporations in Denmark and the Nordics. Corporations, which were facing new challenges for their business, such as onboarding the most talented new employees, retaining the brightest and most hard-working, and creating an environment that motivates to continuous growth and development.

Sahra-Josephine recalls how she multiple times were asked by leaders representing larger corporations why CanopyLAB’s learning experiences exclusively were available for youth. And she realized that it shouldn’t be — that the need for personalized and adaptive learning experiences among larger corporations is huge.

Many of these corporations are facing challenges hiring and recruiting new employees and successfully securing that they are integrated into the company and deliver at their best. At the same time, employees have a need for constant learning to keep up with the rapid developments on the labor market. They need to acquire new skills and competencies and qualifications as a result of market-related technological developments, and require opportunities for personal growth and fast professional development that matches their ambition level.

As a result, CanopyLAB has developed a new learning software, which is launched in the coming week, that helps corporations solve these challenges through an innovative use of new technologies, such as algorithms, big data, and gamification coupled with a social network. The software allows corporations to create engaging learning experiences that suits the individual employee, while learning about the needs of their employees, both through data and direct feedback loops. And employees, they get the opportunity gain new competencies and skills, while being part of a community of like-minded and creating a network, which is both motivating in the learning situation and helpful for their career path.

At the time CanopyLAB participated in the Go Grow Programme, it’s fair to say they were a startup learning the game. Today, at the launch of their new software, which is already being used by some of the leading corporations, CanopyLAB has turned into a successful company with 11 employees, backed by a group of committed investors, still led by the same two founders, who are chasing the dream of making quality learning available for all.

Let me end by making an aside. I was one of the three interns. Afterwards, I got a permanent job, continuing to be part of this amazing journey.

If you want to learn more about the company and its services, visit CanopyLAB’s website, and meet the team at CBS Entrepreneurial Day!

Meet the Startup: PurCity









Morteza is the CEO and founder of PurCity, and the one behind the idea. He was born and raised in Tehran, Iran, which has one of the highest air pollution rates in the world. During his childhood, he lost one of his best friends, due to the lung cancer exposed by air pollution, which significantly affected him. Thus, he has always had the ambition to find solutions for this problem, and had several different ideas that led him to start up Purcity. Air pollution is a serious worldwide issue, that takes about 8 million lives every year, which is more than the effects of a war.

PurCity offers an innovative multi-functional construction panel (GapS) that smartly designed to provide several valuable benefits for its customers such as:

  • Purifying the air using highly efficient Photo-catalytic technology through natural ventilation
  • Adding extra thermal and acoustic insulation
  • Rain harvesting technology

GapS is a maintenance free product, and will be cleaned through rain. It is a 100% recyclable and environmental friendly product with a competitive price compare to normal composite panels.

GapS’ main applications are including of; Highway Noise Barrier, Building Facades, and others. 


Facing new challenges

In the beginning, Morteza’s biggest challenge was to figure out the right approach for the main idea. The first approach was – and is – brilliant and highly efficient. However, it was extremely hard and expensive to implement. After six months of studying, the team came up with the GapS’ idea, and then they faced the greatest challenge: to design an efficient multifunctional product, that can work the best, offer several great features, and still be as reliable, as it is now.

Founding a successful startup has a lot of challenges ahead, such as finding the right people, protecting your idea from thefts, taking your project to the next level, convincing people to trust you and your business, and so much more. It is a long roller coaster that your expertise, team and experience will make it easier to happen.


Nothing is impossible!

Every connection can be an opportunity; it depends on how you are looking at it, and how can you turn it into one.


Nothing is impossible; but it does not come easy!


Read more about PurCity on Facebook, connect on LinkedIn, or follow the startup on Twitter, to learn more about the inspiring business!




Meet the Startup: PIETTO

It’s Wednesday, it’s International Women’s Day and that means it’s time to get to know another great start-up: meet Pietto and a powerful woman behind it – Charlotte!

Charlotte and her team are working hard to create an amazing product that you simply put in your shoes after wearing them and it will easily and effectively remove all unwanted smells.

No more smelly shoes?  We’re in!

So, we asked some questions & Charlotte replied.

What thrives you?

The joy and the challenge of building something out of nothing – to create a product that doesn’t yet exist and to build a company and a brand around it – is so thrilling and exciting. I have been interested in and fascinated by entrepreneurship for years now and to finally have gotten a great idea for a product that is currently missing from the market is just amazing.

How do you keep yourself motivated and face challenges? 

Self-motivation is always difficult – especially as a solo-entrepreneur. The joy of finally having found a meaningful work life can only do so much. I have been very fortunate to have access to an office from Day 1; first at AKA Startup and now at CSE. Having a place to go to work every day and to work amongst like-minded and passionate people have definitely been alfa omega in my own day-to-day motivation. I have also found that having a great support system is key to the rough and challenging times. Talking to my advisory board, mastermind group or just my fellow startup colleagues always helps to make a problem suddenly seem manageable.

If you had to start all over again, would you do it? 

Absolutely!!! It would be a much smoother journey, though, as I have learned so much since I started but yes, I would do it again. In a heartbeat.

Are you crazy enough to think you can change the world?

(laughing) I am. Some entrepreneurs go out and try to solve the great problems of present-day society and I applaud for them – but I believe that you can also make a big difference in the world by improving the small aspects of people’s lives. By making a product that simply and effectively removes all bad smells from footwear, Pietto is able to solve a problem that is both practical and emotional for many people. If I can help someone achieve a greater sense of ease and joy in their daily life by removing an annoying – and in many cases embarrassing problem, then I’ll consider it a job well done.

We’re super proud of Charlotte & Pietto for coming such a long way already and having goals in mind so smash! If you feel like you would like to support Charlotte, just drop her an email:

Meet the Startup: BilletFix

If event organising and ticketing are your passions, you might want to meet our cool start up BilletFix, that founded a heavenly solution for all (student) event organisers nightmare – ticketing. Mads from BilletFix told us why they do what they do and how the road has been.

As Mads explains,

“A lot of students put a huge amount of work into creating events for their fellow students – and they even do it voluntarily! BilletFix’ mission is to assist these organisers by providing a stupidly easy and inexpensive online ticketing service so they spend less energy on administration and more time on creating awesome events. “

The best part of the system is the simplicity – it takes only a minute to start selling tickets and it does not matter which platform your event takes place. As you cannot sell tickets on FaceBook or through e-mail, you can just provide the BilletFix link to your event and it is done. The best part? If you’re an organiser, it is totally free of charge for you. The attendee can use their credit card of MobilePay to purchase a ticket.

Hitting milestones is essential for start-ups and businesses, and BilletFix is no different.
“We have sold over 10.000 tickets through BilletFix and have handled over one million in organisers ticket revenues. It’s kind of exciting and scary at the same time being responsible for that amount of money for other people. Besides we last week received a micro-grant from Fonden for Entreprenørskab on 45,000 DKK.”
So, back to basics.

We want to hear what thrives you to do what you’re doing?

“There’s not such one answer to that. It’s a great mix of building a company yourself with a fantastic team, all the inspiring people I meet, the skill set I achieve, the responsibility, and so on. It thrives me when I receive emails from customers saying that they loved the product and the service and they have already recommended BilletFix to other organisers. “

How do you keep yourself motivated and face challenges?
” First of all the amazing people on the team motivates me. What we already have and going to build is something only we can execute, and I’m feeling lucky with our small and talented team. Besides, I know we’re making a lot of people’s life much easier through the product. Long nights, hair ripped out of the head out of frustration, and an overdose of caffeine is totally worth it.”

If you had to start all over again, would you do it?
If we had to start all over again, I would find our third partner sooner. We have a tech-heavy product, and the third partner could have accelerated the processes a lot.

What about changing the world? Do you think you’re crazy enough?
Yes! Within our little niche, the world will be a better place after we have set our footprints.

Mads also shared some entrepreneurial advice to all the newcomers:

“Have an idea? DON’T just build the product right away. Ask a lot of people you don’t know. Even try to sell it before having the product! It doesn’t cost you anything but sometimes you would have spent on Netflix. What if that goes well? Can you pull the trigger starting a company? Yes, you can, and yes it’s scary running a company. But it’s exciting, and you can handle it! And yes, you don’t earn that much money. But the experiences will totally be worth it! And no, I’m not just saying it because I’ve spent 1,5 years running a startup. I could have quit a lot of times and get a regular student job.

And most of all, be patient. Success won’t come overnight.”

Inspiring! We are happy to read about the overcome struggles and shared happiness of our start-ups, as it is keeping us motivated! As every entrepreneur has felt, the journey has its ups and downs, but the little achievements mean so much. That is the beauty of entrepreneurship.

Read more about Billetfix and their cool concept on their website!

Meet the Startup: PackItUp

If you’re planning a trip where you would like to meet new interesting people, you might want to get to know our start-up called PackItUp! 

As Amalie from the company explains:

Inspired by our own worldwide travels, we are determined to create a quality social network for explorers. Our vision is to make it easier to find interesting trips and meet like-minded people – ideal for travellers, backpackers and locals. We bring them together through their own trips on a map-based interface, so they can find travellers around them or wherever they plan to go.

So PackItUp is developing a travel app to assist people in connecting with other travellers while exploring new places.

Their recent big milestone? Developing and publishing Android version of PackItUp app this fall!

Excited to read more?

What thrives you to do what you’re doing?

We are very motivated by the vision we have for the app and the idea of having it realized. The fact that we really feel it will add value to our users’ (and our own) lives makes it easy to put in the time and effort it takes.

How do you keep yourself motivated and face challenges?

Whenever we hit a bump in the road our approach is always to try and look at it from all perspectives and in union come up with the best solution. Specifically, we find that a good old pro’s and con’s list will solve most dilemmas. But the collaboration between us is really what is key for us in this process

If you had to start all over again, would you do it?

Yes. No doubt. First, we both just find the work and making something new and useful really fun. Furthermore, we have now put in so much time and effort that the though of it being a waste is just not an option.

Are you crazy enough to think you can change the world? 

The simple answer to this is also yes 🙂 we definitely see a world where people no longer have to spend hours browsing travel sites on Facebook etc., but can simply look up their destination in our app and find likeminded people going there. To us, it will change the way people travel.


We’re so glad there is another great app coming our way making travelling easier! And we can’t be more proud of how the team is working so hard!

If you wish to contact them is happy to answer all your questions!

Meet the Startup: AvoGenie


As it it time for the Entrepreneurial Wednesday post, we had a little chat with Adrian from AvoGenie, who has a really structured and sharp approach to the entrepreneurial life. No nonsense, just actions! We can all learn from him! 😉

So, what’s AvoGenie about? 

In short, AvoGenie is building virtual cash that is backed by the blockchain. The best part is that everyone already has a virtual wallet, aka a smartphone. It is just like real cash: you can spend it on whatever, no one can freeze your account, you are able to give it to anyone you want to accept it and if you lose your virtual wallet, you lose your virtual cash just like in real life. 


What thrives you to do what you’re doing? 

There are very few times during one’s life where one can truly develop at the forefront of the technology. The blockchain is currently in a state like the internet was in 1990 and it is an amazing and exciting opportunity to be emerged in this space at this time. This is truly a greenfield technology, where no one knows the full potential yet, but almost everyone agrees that its impact will probably be bigger or as big as the internet. Those are the reasons why I wake up every morning and feel excited about another day.

How do you keep yourself motivated and face challenges? 

It is not about keeping yourself motivated, it is about showing up. Every morning I wake up, leave the house and arrive in the office at 08:00 sharp. After this I work for at least 11 hours only on AvoGenie and whenever I am stuck I don’t read an article or watch a video, but rather try a different angle or go for a walk. 90% of motivation comes from showing up.

If you had to start all over again, would you do it? 


Are you crazy enough to think you can change the world? 

I am 100% sure that I can and will change the world. Steve Jobs or Bill Gates also woke up every morning, brushed their teeth and pooped. There is no difference between them and everyone else, except that they showed up every day of the week and worked. No one is born a superstar but superstars are born from the fruits of an insanely hard work ethic.

My advice: Stop reading inspirational quotes or watch enlightening youtube videos. Instead focus on building a product that makes you feel excited about life.

We can’t agree more & we truly like the way Adrian is taking his life to another level! Read more about AvoGenie on their website and Facebook page.

Meet the Startup: Larsen & Eriksen











If you feel like getting super inspired today, then we have good news for you. Get to know the brand: LARSEN & ERIKSEN is Danish watch & accessories brand, based in Copenhagen and launched by 2 guys who just got fed up by everyday boring life and wanted to do something that would make them get up with enthusiasm each morning. Are you already motivated to reinvent your own life? Read more!


So here is the story:

“Two years back, the idea of LARSEN & ERIKSEN was born. In order to understand why, take equal parts of the following ingredients:

  • Two best friends since 3rd grade
  • Two 9-5 day jobs that were “perfectly career oriented, very well-paid and extremely pretty-f***ing-average”
  • A nerdy passion for watches
  • Many years of never being able to afford to buy watches
  • Many years of travelling the world and seeing the diverse destinies of its inhabitants
  • A good old Danish winter depression + a strong lust to create something from scratch and to shape ones own life.

There you have it. That’s the foundation of LARSEN & ERIKSEN – and that’s why we do what we do.”

How do you keep yourself motivated and face challenges?

“In the two years that have passed since we came up with the idea of LARSEN & ERIKSEN, we have – like every other company – been through endless amounts of ups & downs. And through this, we have been through a pretty solid testing of our willpower as well as our ability to turn challenges into solutions.

What we find fun about all of these startup challenges is that (at least for us) two working days are very rarely the same. And just as we find ourselves starting to feel confident with one area of building our business, we bang our heads against a sky-high wall. Then we have to work our way around it by

  1. Learning (sometimes very) new things
  2. Igniting our creativity
  3. Igniting our diversity*

What is so beautiful about all of these ups-and-downs, all of these sky-high walls and all of these forced new learning processes is the feeling we have when we (every once in a while) leave the office. The feeling that has never been more stimulating, more meaningful and more rewarding. This is the exact feeling we felt, when we launched our business at the end of 2016.

Prior to that was three weeks of working an average of 17-18 hours a day. When we went to bed at 4:30 the morning before our launch, we simply couldn’t wait to get out of bed to work 17-18 hours again. Although we use the term “work” and we combine it with “17-18 hours a day” it simply doesn’t feel that way – it feels like being in control of our own life.”

*Jeppe is born and raised in logistics, Magnus has a degree in psychology.

If you had to start all over again, would you do it?

“ABSOLUTELY! So far, devoting ourselves to lives as entrepreneurs has been the best decision we’ve ever made.”

Are you crazy enough to think you can change the world?

“We might not change the entire world with our adventure but we definitely believe that we can scale our business and hereby – both directly and indirectly – touch the lives of a whole lot of people all over the world.”


Oh, and by the way:

A wide selection of Larsen & Eriksen designs are now available at the legendary Louisiana Museum. The museum shop was recently awarded as the best museum shop of the world and we are probably as excited as they are!

Check out their Facebook page and website!

13 Social Media Week Tips & Tricks

From February 27th until 3rd of March anyone interested had a chance to take part of Copenhagen Social Media Week, where speakers, marketers, social media experts and other influencers had a chance to talk about their experience, tactics and what makes social media great.

Our team joined a couple of lectures and we live-streamed some that we thought would be relevant to our start-ups and entrepreneurs.

We joined Chris “Kubby” Kubbernus in Huset KBH to hear out his 100 tips and tricks about social media and different platforms. From what we learned from him, is that consistency is key and you really need to know what you’re doing but don’t forget to have fun! It’s called social media for a reason ;)!

His suggestions to stay active and relevant on social media?

  • Post 3-4 times a day but keep it on high quality and don’t lose your focus
  • Max out your hashtags to get more engagement from relevant communities
  • No click baits! Seriously, guys, this is the one that takes away your reliability!
  • Wake-lunch-bed – this is the time when users are most active, so plan accordingly ;)!
  • Use your Instagram & Snapchat story a lot! You want your name to be seen all the time
  • Understand, that you can’t reach all your audience at once that is why he suggests posting several times a day
  • FaceBook groups are better than business pages. WOLT is a great example of giving people a little “VIP” feeling for having a closed group for most active users 😉
  • Content – how your page looks and what you post are they key elements of growing a following
  • Shoutout for shoutout – This might be obvious, but don’t be afraid to pay people to shout out your business’ name or your Instagram page
  • Give people value then and there! People nowadays have really short attention span, so you need to take maximum out of their attention
  • Giveaways, games, contests People love free stuff, so once in a while host a game where you make people engage with your page
  • Seek engagement, not just likes and followers This one is really important as you want your people to engage with your service or brand, not just like your page and forget about it!
  • Analyse everything Whatever you do on social media, always follow up on analysing the results, so you know what to do better next time, what works, what doesn’t work, reactions, engagement… Everything, really!


Happy socialising with your customers! 😉