Sven Houlberg: From Post Malone to The Mind
Sven Houlberg is an entrepreneurial spirit from Copenhagen whose journey has been fueled by a passion for advertising, music, and people. From club promoter to owner of his own marketing agency, his path has been anything but straight. On a grey and wet Tuesday in the Copenhagen borough Østerbro, Sven is in a middle of a call with a client when we greet him. His tone is warm and cheerful as he invites us to join his table in the café where the waitress knows his name. A people person indeed. It’s no wonder his career has taken him so many interesting places. So, without further ado, here is what he has learned along the way, and what we can learn from him.
”In high school, I began hosting parties drawing crowds of up to 2000 people”
MMG: You have a colorful professional upbringing; from being the preferred DJ in the fashion industry, to music manager at legendary Copenhagen nightclub Rust to now running your own marketing agency. All of which could be bucket list goals for almost anyone I know. How did it all start and how did you evolve through your career?
SH: My career trajectory has been in fluenced by my early life where I moved a lot between countries and schools. I’m an outgoing kid and a bit of a class clown, so I was good at entertaining others, which helped me build a vast network from a young age. In high school, I began hosting parties, drawing crowds of up to 2000 people. These events were so popular that nearby bars had to staff extra people to manage the overflow.
Sven’s efforts caught the attention of established promoters and venues, and soon he was organizing events featuring artists like Justice, Booka Shade, Surkin, and Deadmau5.
This experience culminated in a decade-long stint at Rust, a legendary nightclub in Copenhagen, where he brought in global acts like Post Malone and Lil Yachty.
SH: My time in the music and nightlife scene taught me how to ’read a room’; knowing the mood of a crowd, a brand, or a market and what to play next. All these experiences and the skills I gained from them, have been instrumental in my current role, running my own marketing agency.MMG: Running your own agency now, what is the best part of being your own boss? And the worst?
SH: The best part of running my own agency is the freedom it offers. It allows me to trust and act on my intuition, without the need to seek approval from partners or an employer.
On the flip side, he says. the most challenging aspect is the solitude as he is a one-man army.
SH: This choice of being alone is deliberate, as I want to learn every facet of my business before considering expansion. I believe in running a tight ship but maybe in the future, I will bring a partner onboard.
”The best part of running my own agency is the freedom it offers”
MMG: For someone dreaming about following your footsteps, do you have any advice?
SH: Always be humble, and know that there is always more to learn, but stay confident in your own abilities and the value you bring. Embrace a sense of naivety and allow yourself to dream, but stay aware of the realities and challenges that lie ahead. Find mentors, ideally three or four, who offers you a diverse perspective and use them as guides in the many aspects of your career. Learning from those who have walked different paths is invaluable.
Making mistakes is not just inevitable, but it’s also essential, Sven says. Every mistake is a stepping stone in a learning process, and a sign that you are pushing boundaries.
SH: It’s perfectly normal to doubt yourself. But even when doubt creeps in, push forward and do it anyway.
”When doubt creeps in, push forward and do it anyway”