🇬🇱 Startup Greenland: Malou Media’s Arctic Playground

By Elías Thorsson - August 31, 2023

In the Startup Greenland series we look at some of the startups that have been founded in Greenland in recent years. Every week, Björgúlfur Jes Einarsson profiles a Greenlandic startup that has caught our eye.

Martin Nordlund is the founder and CEO of the multimedia startup Malou Media. At just 19 years old he saw an opportunity to revolutionize the advertising market in Greenland. (Malou Media)

Malou Media is a multimedia agency based out of the Greenland capital Nuuk. They specialize in commercials and advertisement campaigns, but also provide services in animation, website design, graphic design and online marketing. The company uses Greenland’s unique landscape in their campaigns and in recent years they have worked with large international clients such as UNICEF, Google and Bayer.

The company was founded in November 2014 by Nuuk natives Martin Nordlund and his brother Mark. The idea for Malou Media came from a trip to the cinema, where Martin had an epiphany about the local advertising industry. 

“I thought wow, those are some bad local commercials, we could do better. Later, I was watching the national television station and saw even worse commercials. So I thought to myself: ‘there is definitely a market here’,” explains the 28 year old Martin. 

Martin, who was 19 years old at the time, reached out to his brother Mark who was living in Denmark and he moved back to Greenland to found the company. They named the agency in honor of their sister Malou, who later joined them as well.

“I was a rookie animator and my brother was a really good filmmaker so we combined those two, it gave us an edge in the industry,” says Martin. “Next year will be the 10 year anniversary of the company. It’s crazy that it has been so long, but it’s been a nice and wild journey.”

A campaign Malou Media did for mining company Greenland Minerals, which utilizes the country’s unique landscape. (Malou Media).

Their first big assignment was a campaign commissioned by the Greenlandic government aimed at helping kids and parents prepare for the first day of school. Martin says the campaign was a real “home run” and that it laid the foundation for what Malou Media is today. Following the successful campaign many other departments within the Greenlandic government started reaching out. 

“We then had another home run and national campaigns became our specialty,” says Martin. “When you’re talking to a public client they want one contact to solve all their problems, that is what we have grown into.”

A majority of their clients are local companies, but they have worked with several foreign companies that want to utilize the picturesque Greenlandic scenery in their advertising campaigns. 

“We helped Google with some assignments here in Greenland and we worked with the Bayer Group, which is a big Fortune 500 company from Germany, make a very inspiring campaign about sexual health that became very popular. We have also made a project for the Danish police, which will be shown in airports in Denmark.”  

UNICEF and the Danish military also came calling, but as Martin explains their primary clients remain Greenlandic organizations and businesses. The numerous local and international projects have provided Malou Media with plenty of success in recent years. 

“It’s been going pretty good in recent years. Three years ago we did around 8 million Danish kroner (USD 1.2 million) in revenue and then two years ago we did around 9.5 million (USD 1.4 million) and this year we are at around 7 million (USD 1 million),” says Martin.

That is not to say that the company hasn’t seen its share of setbacks. This year Malou Media lost two large clients, with one pulling out because of the war in Ukraine and the other going into bankruptcy. Those two accounted for 1.5 million Danish kroner in lost revenue. 

“We don’t have so much recurring revenue, we are more based on campaigns, which makes it hard to forecast growth,” says Martin who claims that the company should realistically average about 7 to 9 million Danish kroner annually.

The company hasn’t received any external financing and for the first 8 months the siblings didn’t pay themselves wages with all their income going towards buying equipment.

Last year, Martin’s siblings moved on to do other things in Denmark, which caused a lot of changes in the team.

“It’s a new challenge for me as a leader to go from running a company with my siblings, to move away from a family culture to a business culture,” says Martin.

A campaign for the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources showcasing Greenlandic culture, fauna and mythology. (Malou Media)

According to Martin, the startup scene in Greenland is very different from the one in Denmark, where Martin spends a lot of his time. 

“I navigate a lot of the startup scene in Denmark, because I have a large network of Danish founders. There are many entrepreneurs here in Greenland, but it’s a different ballgame,” says Martin.

He claims that the growth mindset of scaling and seeking investment is lacking in the Greenlandic startup scene. 

“I just don’t think that there is any culture for that here in Greenland, or a deep understanding of how to create that kind of a company,” says Martin. 

Martin hopes that a more formalized startup scene emerges in Greenland in the future, but explains that companies starting out in the Arctic country face a unique set of challenges.

“Of course what you can do is limited. It’s a large country with a small population, only 55 thousand. A small community makes a small network, but also a larger impact. You can really move quickly here,” says Martin. “We did almost 2 million (USD 300,000) in revenue the first year just doing commercials and I usually don’t see that in many other places, not even among my network down in Denmark.” 

However, Martin believes Greenland is a fantastic place for entrepreneurs that holds a lot of potential.

“It’s a great playground for startups,” he concludes.