An interview with…Julien S. Bourrelle

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Q & A with the author of The Social Guidebook to Norway.

With two Master degrees, both in Aerospace Engineering, a membership in Nova 100/Nova Pro, the elite organisation connecting the crème de la crème of students with companies, and is on his way to completing a PhD, publishing a book on the cultural quirks of Norwegian socialising may seem like a surprising move for Julien S. Bourrelle. Yet with 3000 copies sold in just three months and nearly 30 000 ‘likes’ on the official Facebook page, clearly Julien is skilled in more than just rocket science. As founder of MONDÅ, a company working towards building cultural interconnectedness in Norway, Julien shares his experience of what it takes to launch a successful idea.

Photographer: Jon Danielsen

Congratulations on your success with The Social Guidebook to Norway. What inspired you to create the book?

Norwegians inspired me. I saw that many foreigners did not understand the peculiarities of Norwegian culture and that Norwegians often did not realise these peculiarities existed – I decided to do something about it.

The Social Guidebook to Norway has popped up regularly in Norwegian media lately. What were the most effective ways of raising awareness of the book?

People who bought the book told others about the content and the news spread, leading to the media interest we have seen.

Julien’s tip: If you make a good product, people that buy it will want to talk about it – encourage them to do so.

What were the first few steps in getting this idea up and running?

The idea follows on five years of observations. A bit more than a year ago we tested the ideas through starting a Facebook page “I Fucking Love Norway”. Within 24 hours, we got 4000 followers. This was the first step to get the whole project running.

Julien’s tip: Test the market before you go full speed.

Your Facebook page for the guidebook, ‘I fucking love Norway’, has a whopping 25k fans. What is your number one tip for attracting high Facebook engagement?

Make your serious message funny.

What was the biggest hurdle in making this idea come to life and how did you overcome it?

Financing. The Norwegian financing system would benefit the country better if it would finance projects with potential impact on society, with good projected financial outcomes and projects that are led with passion by people determined to succeed. Mondå AS and the social guidebook were totally financed privately by myself. I overcame the financial burden by finding innovative ways to reduce personal expenses and invest in this project I truly believe in.

Julien’s tip: Invest time and money in what you believe in.

What has been the best highlight of this publication journey so far?

The Norwegian National Broadcating Corporation (NRK) featured the book on its front page and DN, the largest Norwegian business paper, has invited me as a guest speaker for their yearly conference.


Share with us your funniest/happiest/most memorable experience with Norwegian culture.

This is the story of the faces on the book’s front page. I was in the beautiful region of Catalunya with a good Norwegian friend of mine. After visiting the place where Cava is made we asked a number of further questions to our guide. After two minutes, she stopped talking, took a step aside, took my friend and shook him – looking at me and asking “Why is he not interested in what I am saying?”. My friend was, and he was very happy to hear about it, but the emotional feedback that the Spanish girl was used to did not appear on my Norwegian friend’s face.

Julien’s tip: Understand that what you perceive is not necessarily what the other person wants to express – this is useful in dealing with people in business.

How can a startup practically mould itself around team members with different cultural backgrounds?

By understanding that it is not about diversity, but about benefiting from diversity. Different ways of reacting to situations, seeing the world, different languages, different ways of relating to people – if lead correctly – can lead to more innovation and creativity.

What advice can you give to other entrepreneurs, particularly those with limited business experience?

Believe 100% in your idea and follow it with passion.

Julien’s parting words.

Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. The daily reality does not fit in a 9-4 schedule and the financial realities in the early stage may reduce significantly the level of life one may be used to. Be certain that you can handle the lifestyle and work independently.

The Social Guidebook to Norway can be bought at the major Norwegian bookstores and via the company website, MONDÅ.com

Are you an entrepreneur with a story to share? We’d love to hear more from you. Email:

Tiffany is the creator of Incubate Magazine. When she is not writing for Incubate or freelance gigs, she gets cosy with a book, wishes for an ugly dog and pines for the countryside. She has a Bachelor degree in Journalism and is currently studying a Bachelor in Business.

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