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9 MONTHS IN THE LAB
9 months ago I went away from 100% focus on EVRBREAD and TRADESHIFT – they are simply mature – and dont need my pedantic focus anymore (now Im down to 20h pr week – due to amassing boards & staff in both startups).
I WANT TO CREATE STUFF
So I have been sitting on my top floor for 9 months straight – inventing about 15 new business from scratch (me + my mac + keynote). From Fashion to Payments and POS over Insurance to Wifi products – I have been bouncing ideeas with all my friends (mostly Filip) – testing on investors. I have been 100% dedicated to “sampling” ideas on top of existing technologies – with a touch of social graph (this means Facebook to me). Every project has been tested on people with world class knowledge and dedication – and lots of them are killer & cool. But very few has been good enough to actually attract a Jockey – and all of the ideas have been trough a 3rd and 4th and 5th round of iterations. Ideas are simply nothing – they need oxygen and top top people to kick then in their balls.
INPUT = OUTPUT
After testing a lot – I have been so endlessly fortunate – to attract 25 people who are all working like ants (most of them in highly paid and influencial jobs – working under cover). The rules are simple – everyone have to work 2 months for free – and show the stamina and dedication. Unlike when I was rich – and just blew my money on small ideas and had small ownership. With O Koo and Alex as blood partners – we are creating what I think is the right way of building valuable and profitable disruptive businesses – 100% controle and very majority ownership (mentally and equity).
Today we are slowly starting to show the world a fling of whats comming out – at www.onlyXO.com (still beta).
We will want to have lots of fun at onlyXO – but profit is more important (we have taken a couple of high level investors into out Singapore outfit – from where O Koo will run the show and I will slowly move there)… And just for the record - Im never ever going to to bankrupt again – it probably looks pretty heroic from the outside – but it sucks harder then you can ever imagine and it takes nerves of titan fiber (checkmark). But then again – if it doesnt kills you… and the optimism is cronic – and damn I feel alive.
(mostly interesting for Danish & EU citizens )
You can easily be very rich
Very rich – but not have a penny (in cash)…. Im in that situation – but don’t worry about me. Worry about your local society – your country
In Denmark is have seen the most insane example – and I have to say that I have very little hope for democrazy when the people who wants to spend there seems to be lame….
Stupid Fuck Up With Good Intentions
How did ATP (one of the largest pension funds in EU) and PFA (also pension fund) end up turning FIH Erhvervsbank (our only agressive commercial bank – or should I say: The only hope for any growth in GDP) – into a financial disaster when the business case made so much sense?
Entrepreneurs Needs Banks
Specially real entrepreneurs who made revenue and have to finance growth:) – But remember that funding is crucial to banks especially when having a deposit deficit. To get this banks needs a good credit rating which it the case for most major Danish banks. Small banks typically have lower ratings but this is not a big problem as these banks are primary funded via deposits.
This was where FIH was failing a year ago when ATP and PFA took over – lead by the absolute smartest guy I know living in Denmark: Mr Graven (clunky name :). FIH had a major deposit deficit (read not any significant deposits at all) and one of the worst ratings in the Danish banking sector at all. Therefore the bank had no chance of paying back the loans provided by the government. (Thank you Lille Lars & Helle).
Really Responsible People
Then ATP (the motherfu… large pension fund) comes in to the picture as one of the strongest financial institutions in Denmark. They took over FIH, put my hero, Bjarne Graven in to run it and the business case was crystal clear. Sudenly I had a little hope for the furture. Backed by ATP – the FIH would improve its credit rating – giving access to funding and the bank would be back in business. Who would it benefit? Investors in ATP (mening literally everyone in the country) and the entreprenuers and corporates lending money from FIH, which again has a positive spin off effect on the Danish society. That makes sense! I was so happy and proud to see that NOT ONLY DOES ATP – make one of the best returns in the world – they are also taking care of the business climate – despite a 3 year long winther. And Mr Graven – could prob have gone to any international bank and gotten 8-10mio€ a year – but he did a noble choice (prob because the wife and the kids didn’t like to move to NYC/London/Sing)
Then Someone Fucked Up
But what happened? FIH did not get the rating lift and ended up reducing corporate lending in such a brutal way that the Danish government now has intervened to make sure that FIH does not put Danish corporates out of business. That is crazy. What appeared to be a win for everyone (except the other banks fearing the competition) has ended up being a disaster and the government is now paying. Why did this happen – how could the politcal system lets this happen – while picking up the check from a endless number of banks going bust. why Why WHY – when we need it. Someone has to go in here and get it right. Our former primeminister – and a very smart mann (who unfortunately went on an insane crusade against capital fund structures) – Mr Nyrup should put on his biking hhelmet – and start the bike now!!!
The question is why?
My guess is that once again the Danish financial legislation and bureaucracy shows its ugly face and kills a good initiate and destroys value for everyone! Cooooome on – The result is that ATP has not been able to give FIH the financial backing need for improving the credit rating.
It is time for a change even though I find it hard to see who will drive this!? Could we please redirect the outsourcing from the frozen cartoon figures in EU – to my friends and partners in Singapore?
NOTE TO SELF: Im writing all this boring stuff - because Tradeshift & My New Project can help Entreprenuers…
Im Changing Direction – Again
Tradeshift and Everbread are now runnin on their own – I dont have to be there every day. And I see 10 amassing startups every month – I cant stop myself anymore – I need to kick a lot of these guys in their bud – and help them to become global and succesfull. (PLEASE RT THIS TO DESIGN COMMUNITIES).
Im loosing it – in Design Talent
Im getting old – and I have lost my touch with the design community and the hackers – who are doing consulting – but really want to do thier own Agency or even better a Startup.
Keep Your Real Job (Clients)
If you are one of these Dudes/Duderinas – who are not spoiled by money yet – and who dont need anything but a MAC in your life. ( = You dont have very low cost of living). If you also understand that: This requires lots of late night work – since you have to be payed from your real job.
(If you are an existing agency – who wants on this movement – then you just invest X% of your pitching budget – easy peacy).
If You Can Do This Better
If you carry the belief that you can design there even better – make them look even coller then they are ( I love these sites)
Tradeshift.com / ZenDesk.com / Pinterest.com / JetSetter.com / New Vimeo.com
You must a a complete design junkie – or have one on your team. And you MUST BE admire Mint.com and GoodData.com – like you admire your best parrents.
Then Pls Email Me and Get On My New Projects List
And I will send a mail back with the rules. Since I have spend the time – whiiii – to do a pretty specific outline of the rules (and thats hard for me). Email: DesignIsEverything@lund.tv
PS. Three huggers and people who love this model – pls dont email me. I want to make money – its the only way to attrackt the best people. (Charity is something we do later).
PPS. Im also looking for a platform to run all this talent on… (Facebook Developer ?).
PPPS. And yes – am scared of overdoing it again – like when I went bankrupt – shit scared. But I cant help it.
Dear Valued Reader
Special note: To the hundreds of you who have asked to invest in my fund: I’m sorry – the paperwork to get this approved isinsane (it’s not legal to take money from normal people – only rich people are allowed – hmmm…).
Today, just a bit below, I will tell you the fastest way to become a millionaire—no guarantee that its fun, but rich you can become.
(I am so happy to have all of you guys following up on all my weird requests) – My blog and my twitter account simply makes me one of the fastest business developers in the world. And I can’t thank you enough. Crazy Crazy CRAZY things are happening and the next 2-3 months will change my life – again).
BASIC premise for this blog:
To start your own company or work for a really early startup – You must love change. One day you are about to close the company – next day you have the big deal signed and a company pays 27mio$ for a license to your software. Welcome to my world.
A. My Blog and Twitter
When Tradeshift was founded by Lanng and his friend/colleagues Gert and Mikkel, they got 40.000h of code from my twitter followers after my tweets (Note to self: I must find that tweet). Via twitter/Facebook - because Im using it a lot – I have gotten a piano teacher, cool iPhone Apps, investments, nice restaurants that way…
B. I need Help (Again)
Well what’s help and what recommendations? I think I need a recommendation: Everything will be about DATA-DRIVEN recomendations – EVERYTHING. If you fix that – you will be very succesfull. Remember when I said how to become rich above?
Anecdote: I went to see Chrix Dixon (we where kind of friends – but his IQ is my IQ-75% and his ego and mine are to alike so he stopped answering my emails). Never mind – he is one of the smartest (FOR REAL 360% SMART) guys in venture today and really cool. Well – I went to see him in 2009 about 12 months before he/they launched Hunch – and he explained how everything would be about recommendations – and how they wanted to build something smarter than 20Q.net where you think of something and 20Q will read your mind by asking a few simple questions (very interesting). I got seduced by his idea – and started researching a bit – but it did not turn me on. I could not see it – I did not really see the use for the comsumer (It’s one for the antiprotfolio)….. 2010 they sold to eBay for 80mio$ – bingo. And of course we can say now, ”it was a super cool product”, “they got the users”, “they educated eBay/PayPal in their own need.” BIG RESPECT.
C. Recommendations Is All
We need them. And now I ask you to recommend to me – all the recommendation startups and ideas you know ( ALERT: solid shit only . no dreams without technology- or market- proof behind).
Prefered people, teams, ideas:
- You are an expert
- You are deep into a weird niche (with lots of transaction i.e. payments, logistics…)
- You are a team (can stop doing it)
- You have 2-5years of real business experience in something boring
- You hate that the huge company you work at – dont just fix that database – and make an API – so that your job would be 100x easier.
- YOU ARE LAZY – and automate everything
- You love alerts – and setup “alerts to self” all the time
- You think Mark Zuckerberg will be the first Jewish Pope (Note to self: This is shit ass politically incorrect).
- You are in bed with someone who has big data
- You fundamentally believe in: It’s simple not easy.
I recommend for you
to do a startup in this recommendation space – NOW – or email me and my team firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember when I said above that I’d tell you how to get rich? This is the real one. :-)
I dare to recommend this – because I know 3000% more about business software and enterprise software today (but I still feel like a freshman to the industry) – and I spend 20h a day with the hottest enterprise software startups in the world. And now I FU&#”€! NEED ONE ofr 2 projects – again because its ALL ABOUT Recommendations.
4. mail to email@example.com
So please let my know if you are into recommendations technology wise, business sector wise (grocery, books, sports.. whatever) -
Note To: Bizz Journalists
Everyone is speculating on Facebook going IPO. I have a very clear opinion on that: “Facebook is worth 2x Apple – any day – buy all the shares you can get – and lend money to buy more when they doubled in 3 months”. Facebook is Apple without hardware production – apples hardware will go to Samsung and the asian sons (Note to self: and daughters)… Apps and Payments and Advertising and all business processes – from buying grocery, servicing your car to chatting with financial tax advisor – ALL WILL BE ON FACEBOOK in 2-3 years. Facebook is the next platform – we dont need anything else – just a browser. Some are Journalists are JALOUX that Mark Zuckerberg makes a gazzzilion – and some are worried about privacy. BUT FUCK THAT – its free – if you dont like it: GO AWAY – become or stay lonely. Facebook is helping us with democracy - and for me (since I have absolutely nothing to hide) FACEBOOK brings social relations back into play on a global scale. Small villages often has little crime – its stupid to rape someone if you know the parrents – and maybe FACEBOOK can lets us become a global village. (And yes there are lots of problems with bullying and racism- but its nothing compared to the upside). And every quater from now I predict that FACEBOOK will buy a recommendation engine (from me, You…) – :) (Note to self: Did I just use a smiley … thats gay … gay is fine with me – stop thinking about that…).
Act Dont Talk
Friday was a huge day in my life. Alexander (my partner) – managed to settle a very very very complex legal fight (article here).
I have never been a fan of lawsuit and stayed out – for as long as in any way possible. But it got nasty – and our counterpart was both hard and smart (unfortunately). The problem was one of those big ones – that you cant wait out… We had no chance to do any business – and the more heat we had – the more of our clients got scared.
I should have listened 18months ago (but I was too self confident & stupid) when a very good and highly respected friend told me to (lets call him Rob Stavis): “Morten – you must freaking settle instantly and get to business – it does not matter if you are right or wrong”. He was so right. To small new players in a giant market should not spend 1min fighting – they must join forces not to get killed by the Hangar-ships send by the existing big “land owners” in the marketplace.
I was to slow – to much thinking about ego, fairness, rules, laws and pride – instead of just doing what took Us 18months.
I have the greatest respect for our competitors – and specially that we have done it gentlemen style – and will for sure have a beer after the fight.
PS. Im a little very proud (mostly proud of Alexander). Unlike the other day at The Europas (I will post about that soon)….
(can also be read if you are working for an entrepreneur and find him/her weird some times)
To all of you guys out there who work every day on your dream. Who get up every morning and work like ants on creating you dream. You guys who don’t get disturbed by the common rules – or your mother in law – who wants you to take a real job. Quite often it can be a little lonely – and very few people understand what the crack you are trying to do = you might feel a bit lonely some times.
Most of us ENTREPRENUERS are often called stupid (because we are sometimes) – and laughed at – and we try not to show the world how nervous we are while we are strangling with that crazy idea. That dream of a company – a vision coming live. While we are trying to persuade friends and partners and people with money (and hopefully a bit of brain and knowledge) to join our vision – to take part in the unknown. We are trial and error people – who knows the very best: There is no formula!
There is so much hope.
Remember the small victories (and celebrate them) – and don’t give up. The world needs you – and only innovation can solve the crisis we see in the western world.
And remember that Zuckerberg, Zenstrøm an Evan Williams are people like you – and they had no clue that Facebook, Skype and Twitter would become so silly big… You can copy and learn and read up – but I think the real trick is hard work, long hours, focus and the ability to mobilize people (employees, partners and clients/user). You have the same chance.
Im writing this because I get so so many fantastic e-mails from people who wants to start a company – make a vision come trough or just have an idea. But right now – Im not able to help out – not able to invest (money is still super tight). My only way to help is to give a little oxygen to the entreprenuerial flame(s) out there – and underline that crisis is a fantastic time to start companies. 1) Many game changing companies have been started in recession – and despite all the warnings about double dip (and this is not salsa and guacamole) – the economy will come back somehow. 2) Only the hardcore – who are really serious try in this climate 3) Building a global company has never in history had such low entry barrier. (Imagin how much time a the founders of Johnson&Johnson must have spend waiting for snail mail 100years ago – when the went global with theyr plaster).
And Im proud to see them brave “idiots”
Around me – who don’t get scared by a all the hick-ups a small company has – and stay behind they vision and dream. Despite the fact that they could take a silly well payed job (and potentially bored themselves to dead). And I say idiots – because the risk is silly high and friends and family sometimes suffer – but that what it takes to be an entrepreneur. And I see people who made enough$ to relax and live on a beach – who keeps doing it (like me – back then). And then I see how most people with this religion called entrepreneurship – get a lot of energy from meeting up in groups and discuss and unveil all they problems and SUCCESES.
Use all the new initiatives – Startup Bootcamp, seedcamp.com, … They are fantastic meeting places and generates tons of new teams and ideas.
The Temperature of Venture Capital
- right now – the VCs (of whom many has problems raising a next fund) are very active – and a bit more polite then before. And if you can assemble the rigth team and the rigth vision – there is TONS OF INVESTOR CASH TO COLLECT. But you have to be fair on valuation and extremely focused on building a real revenue generating business – AND THATs IN MY OPINION VERY VERY GOOD. Sanity is back.
Dont spend time on reading to much about the new big Angels versus VC discussion – thats a way too niche discussion to care about as an entreprenuer. Just find what suits you – and be carefull with generalising about investors. They are all as different as 10 siblings – same family – but all have their own personalty… From Conway over Fred Wilson to Andreessen Horowitz and maybe your next door neighbor.
Just Do IT
Yes – bacause you can. And technology is faster and cheaper then ever. Just remember that most people around you will not understand you – and that does not mean that you dad is wrong in everything he says. You have to create a VERY SOPHISTACATED filter when it comes to advise and help – and you can start by decifering the crap that I have just incepted to your brain here/now… :)
Its simple – not easy.
“I keep having this dream where I’m stuck in the bottom of a drill – I can’t jump high enough to catch the top and get up… ”
U don’t have to be clairvoyant or a numeric healer to understand that dream. For me the important part has been to cope with the fact that I’m a failure and forget about my cosmetic aware nercicistic self – AND MOVE ON. It did not take that long for the awake me and I make a small sallery and pay my bills partly from talking openly about my bankruptcy and working for EverBread where no one gives a shit. But apparently the deeper part of me is not really coping with the situation since this dream keeps comming… Its strange but maybe its also the key to entrepreneurship:
You r a failure since u don’t take the NORMAL CARRIER ROUTE -
when u get successful (and loaded) u r once again A VERY DIFFERENT KIND OF FISH but with self-confidence.
3) THEN FOR SOME YEARS
U learn the new lifestyle – rick – successful – kind of admired. You start talking way more then you listen (be very aware). You start being late for to many friend meeting… And You try to find out who u are – and build whatever you can with this weird self-confidence from money: – family, friendship, companies.
4) AND THEN
( if did not give up at STEP 1,2 or – became a coke head at 3 (still haven’t tried that kind of dope – it would be like reverse Woody Allen on downers). And if you really go all in to feel the kick from building something and you dont just sit on the money (or a stupid real estate portfolio). THEN IT HAPPENS -> SOME go bankrupt – and start over again. (then GO TO 1).
No Matter What Step you are at – Its About People
As always its about PEOPLE and the values inside yourself – and if u want to build a big vision or a big company u HAVE TO HAVE the ability to atrack people and talent that is way over your head – ITs CALLED SALES – sales of your vision. A term that seems to be eroded from all businesscards I have received over the last 5 years (I just checked).
No Matter What Step you are at – Its All About Sales
As an entrepreneur: Every day you have to sell your idea, your product and your self. And dont try hide behind it – with endless development or launching without called clients – following up – or even worse – A VIRAL STRATEGY and MEDIA. Call client and partners… EVERYONE AND HIS DOG.
It Takes A Lot Of Self-confidence
I had endless love in my childhood from everyone around me (parents, neighbors, teachers (even those with bad teaching skills, friends and Mentors) – and I now even have the unconditional love from my kids on top (and a incredible patient girlfriend). And that’s more I could ever dream of – so when I’m awake and have control over my brain I’m proud and happy. And I do sales and get a no every day.
BUT BUT BUT there is some unfinished business deep inside (its cosmetic – and its about some people (the first in my life) who fucked me over – and its about my personal brand and integrity) – something I haven’t been able to connect too and analyze – even though my shrink has given me a credit-line (but we mostly talk about sex anyway ).
I will keep fighting – and I feel stronger then EVER – just have to fix that dream part – Standing Stuck down that drill.
FlopStar – refers to Morten Lund to rock GeeknRolla, April 20, London
After this reboot of my business life (and personality) I have really learned many things that are obvious to others – but ofter new to entrepreneurs.
If you are an entrerprenuer you are braking new ground (even the German VCs who are copying as if the where chinese hifi producers in the 1980′ies). You are figthing so hard to get in front of the clients – to be innovative – to break trough – that it can be really hard (nearly impossible) to absorb knowledgge from your surroundings – aka listen to people with lots of knowledge . NOTE FOR NON ENTREPRENEURS: Despite what you hear – it always starts with NOTHING – only human capital (PEOPLE) and an idea. Then comes product, money, clients, cashflow…
I have realized that – being a serial entrepreneur – the thing you naturally and unfortunately forget is: TO LOOK BACK and LISTEN TO THE ELDERLY. Its clearly because most elderly will tell you: ITS NOT POSSIBLE to do what you want to do. But my lesson over the last 18months is that you have to listen. You have to force yourself to listen and suck knowledge out of people who have exspeirience in the business you are about to enter. Consider it presales. (Hard Core Entreprenuers will say: We dont give a fuck – we are groundbreaking) – but never the less try if you can.
WHY AM I POSTING ABOUT THIS
I have always tried to have people in the board who could advise me – but it has never worked – mainly because I have been an idiot who thought I knew better… But in the last year I have been very KEEN on having board members who can support and help. Now – in the bankrupt version of me – I have been operational and not an OWNER – and I have had to listen and digest and iterate. Its highly likely that my lack of self-confidence due to my circumstances (no one has felt it ;) – has been a key. I can conclude that it has been SO EFFECTIVE and I CAN REALLY RECOMMEND IT :).Find older people with heavy industry experiences and LISTEN.
REAL WORLD EXAMPLE
In london Tuesday I had a chat with a travel industry veteran, this was our second chat – he is a big kahona. And he gave me an advice that I could implement INSTANTLY on our Everbread business model – and WOW it worked. Conclusion: Listen – feel your advisers – make them comfortable – and then SUCK the 20+ years of experiences into you bizz.
Two days ago I
An email this morning from my friend Matias – made me feel stupid.
During 2009 – I have felt some self petty and I have been thinking that life was hard – but imagine if I was into real old school business – like farming (where we all came from – and yes my grandfather has a medium sized farm until early 1970′ies). But fuck me – and all the spoiled kids in the tech world. Its hard but NOT THIS HARD – as in farming where:
- Product cycles are 3-4 years
- Weather can kill all
- Its hard physical work
- Capital requirements are insane
- Lots of heritage
- Lots of environmental trouble
I feel humble that I can work in a sector where the screen always lets me work when and where I want to – mostly with whom I want to. And the fact that 99% of all offices are nice and warm. Well then there is the hardcore sales (the big secret of tech success) – where one have to aggressively show the vision and product (even very early stage) to endless amounts of clients and investors – but but but – the always offer you coffee and they are seldom rude.
Dear tech entrepreneur og colleagues out the – let be humble and proud and happy to be here in evolution.
Happpy Neew Year.
So the cocktail party ended at 5 in the morning – and was one hell of a mingling and “friendling” session. Thanx a billion to Tommy and the amasing people Fiskebaren for sponsoring a bankrupt friend. It was a bit more then wild to get a call from Richard that he wanted to have dinner and exspected a cocktail party for the http://www.carbonwarroom.com/ people. But – who in this world would say No? Ricard and Nick (his right hand mann) told about they whole group strategy nd made lots of jokes about themselfes – and I learned some very interesting insights about Virgin – impressive story – even better then the book. It had to be very closed and small – but what a party – I think the pictures tell.I was very impressed by the 45y old major of Vancouver – who was a fantastic guy and seemed like he meant it when he talked about going green. (Off course it was also nice to get an invite for the Olympics in feb).
A term sheet arrived in my inbox
Around 2pm a very good and pro VC pinged in with a term sheet – on VERY respectable terms for one of the companies Im advising. And the phone started buzz like it had a virus – what did they mean with A, B and C – and the smiles where combined with a sting of disapointment from the evaluation. But WOW – they already have 3 term sheets. And got one more big contract Tuesday – PLUS a writer from the worlds best tech magazine did an interview on the Tuesday.
The best board meeting in my life
Today was all crazy – Everbread had its first board meeting – and the UPPER IMPRESSIVE board:
Vagn Sørensen (x CEO at Austrian Airlines)
Montie Brewer (x CEO at Air Canada)
Mr X (x Amadues)
Michael Jackson (x Skype)
+ 8 staff
Showed up at 17.00 and after rehersing and preparign for 2 weeks – Assen and I (and Filip and Ashley) walked trough the presentations like two boy-scouts at the final “start a fire without matches” test. But it went really well – and everyone got psyked when Assen pulled of the working prototype and showed result that will redefine the industry.
WOW – shitasspetfuckers adrenalin kick. And the guys from the establishment (Montie has never been in a startup before) really smiled and talked about real innovation and disruption. I cant fall down (5.36am) – it was so nice to collect a bit of the fruits from 8-9 months of hard from the INCREDIBLE techteam in Sofia/Mallorca picture updated. How can I be so lucky to be surrounded big genuine brilliant smart – and nice human beings on this level??
I didnt even mention that Flydini.com our showoff appetiser got a new design and usability total makeover at 4pm – a 200% upgrade – play with it. If you travel a lot – be carefull – its highly addictive.
Twitter Flydini Q & A:
@ML how does that help me apart showing the flights? I could just use lh.com and book there as well
Answer: GOOD QUESTION! This is only a very mild teaser – and the only place where you can get results that mix LOWCOST and OLDSCHOOL Airlines. Play with it – and you will se lots of value.
PS. On LH.com you see only Lufthansa flights – but maybe you want to use Air Berlin to get to Frankfurt and then LH to Rio?
- – - – - – - -
Answer: This is just a teaser (but I use it all the time and it gets me combinations that I cant get anywhere else (you have to be a bit geeky to really get the value). We will not do a consumer solution with return, pricing and availabilty for now. We are B2B – and a still bit secretive. Sorry – I know it like eating candy with the paper on.
The best part
During the 5h board meeting the kids came over and wanted to sleep here – and behaved like angels – went to bed without trouble and where just soo cute. I will head up to them and get 1h sleep.
I love my life. LOVE IT. Copy Paste ;)
Here is one of the few interwieves I have ever given – where i felt I had something to say:
(it here in Danish) – thanx to Ari Gold Wegther from translating.
Morten, it was your engagement in the Nyhedsavisen venture that made you famous to the general public in Denmark. So let me start by asking which digital branches you have worked in?
Hmm… this is going to be a long article. After my agency days at Neo Ideo, where we worked with all sorts of digital clients since the birth of the Internet, I’ve invested in all directions. From Browsers, Guleroden.dk and VindENHund to Kazaa, Skype, Zyb and Bullguard to Online Backgammon, iJoule and Trivop. You could say that I’ve tasted everything on the menu.
Which role did you have in these projects?
Usually, I’ve been co-founder and involved in the development of the fundamental idea, sourced the management who could drive the project and secured financing. I haven’t been particularly hands-on operationally.
The theme of this edition of MARKET is Digital Strategies. How do you work digitally on a strategic level with different companies?
I’m not especially talented nor have I studied classic strategy at Harvard. For me, the key issue is to crystallize collective ideas to collective action points aimed at the biggest possible chance of success while following the business vision. So my core strength has been my ability to create strategic value, you could say, as measured by revenue and cash flow only.
What are the most common and serious strategic hurdles for companies that want to create an online business? I’m not sure I know what strategy actually means. In my view, it’s simply about aligning vision and execution, since everything in my universe is about sales – everything. I have a presentation entitled: ”Don’t overstrategize.” I really believe that is crucial. Many, especially large organizations, invite me to their strategy sessions. Usually, there are big white boards and heaps of candy on the table with an implicit demand that A STRATEGY MUST BE BANGED OUT AT ALL COST HERE AND NOW. That’s pretty hard to achieve in such a mad rush.
Are there strategies that you have experienced as particularly strong across different industries? Keeping it simple – that seems to apply frequently. I’ve noticed that a winning formula can be the combination of simplicity, an easily digestible message, uniqueness with a twist of rebellion mixed together with radical transparency. Especially because the Web is more ruthless and transparent than anything else we’ve seen historically.
Now when we dig in to specific industries, which strategies you applied have been really successful? I’m hitting a dead-end on this one. Sorry to disappoint you, but after having founded and funded more than eighty-eight companies, I don’t think that there is just one cookie-cutter solution or strategy that works for all.
Strategy is typically a flexible concept. In your opinion, how do you get the most from strategic work process? I’m thinking here of development and implementation respectively. You need to go back to basics and apply simplicity and honesty all the time. Employees and customers should be able to grasp your company strategy in two sentences, while they are interrupted by an SMS, email or tweet, for example, or before they drown in the pompous and patronizing propaganda that strategies often end up being. Personally, I had my most important strategy experiences, or lack of it, this year:
1) with Richard Branson, who asked me for advice when considering to enter Formula One racing. Of course he didn’t ask me because he thought I knew anything about that business in particular. Branson was just testing a gut-feeling that he had and soon afterwards acquired the Honda team based on common sense and maximum leverage of the Virgin brand. And most importantly, he made a swift and definitive call. No mucking around with twenty-five McKinsey guys running around doing SWOT analyses and plodding through a tediously slow, handicapped strategy process.
2) I’ve been fortunate enough to spend some time with Puma’s CEO, who came to the job 16 years ago with revenues at €200 million euros back then. Today, after having been at the helm during all these years, he has lead the business to €3.5 billion in annual revenues. Puma’s strategy has been quite simple: bone-hard work and focus on shifting from sport to fashion. Easy to grasp for everyone around him.
3) In Germany, Bionade started from scratch and created a new category of organic soft drinks that did not exist before. Peter, their CEO, shared their remarkable company history with me over a couple of buckets of red wine. Bionade’s evolution was not a properly planned strategy at all. In fact, the plan was rooted in the acute realization that their family brewery would not survive the global beer battles and consolidations. So the new business direction was an alternative to being acquired or bankrupted by the beer industry’s major players. Twenty years of innovation and development were kick-started by this difficult yet fortuitous fact. Fortunately, the family matriarch, who owned the brewery, gave her sons a free hand to experiment with 100 per cent organic brewing of strange and deliciously flavored soft drinks.
So, basically, this was a crisis-driven process, rather than the result of careful strategic planning. Dr. Oetker announced in December that it is taking a majority stake in Bionade and will provide six-hundred sales people along with their beer distribution channel in support of the company. As a direct result, they are poised to break the 200 million units-per-year ceiling. Is that strategy or just pride and consistency?
”The public wants to be seduced: millions of Danes play lotto daily, even though statistically speaking it is completely idiotic.”
It’s ten years ago that the so-called Dot.com bubble burst. What’s your take on changes in the e-commerce landscape and on doing business online since those days?
Nothing much has changed, except that the Web has proven that it can generate real money now. For example, JustEat earns DKK 20–25 million selling pizza in Denmark alone this year. But it does fluctuate. We’ve had a global bubble in the meantime, which just burst and left a global mess, and we’re probably going through another bubble during these recent months. The public wants to be seduced: millions of Danes play lotto daily, even though statistically speaking it is completely idiotic. The winner appears on TV, but if you showed the scores of losers, it would take a year of non-stop broadcasting to parade all of them on the screen before finding a winner. TV will remain forever popular and Lotto will become illegal. It’s not hard to draw parallels for the Dot.com or stock markets. All Roskilde bank clients loved that bank, even though nobody know what the hell was going on inside. Now the situation is reversed, because people discovered that stock markets are a lot like Lotto. Any deviation from the interbank-rate can quickly result in massive financial losses, even to the point of losing your shirt entirely. Same for the Dot.com arena, where some very talented – and lucky – people made enormously successful companies that bled money yet appeared to be perfect strategic fits for established corporations. The hysteria was self-perpetuating: at some point, Framfab was worth more than Ericsson and AOL duped Time Warner into a merger – the cat was in the bag. On the other hand, some blue chips were clever enough to buy pre-revenue companies and turn them into fantastic businesses. That’s just how it is in times of upheaval. Dot.com is something people can understand now and there is clearly money to be made in this space. That was not the case back when investors blindly jumped on the gravy-train, lured by greedy aspirations, tons of hype and the adventure of the unknown. It’s true that a few exceptions confirm the rule. Like Google, for example, which didn’t have a revenue model for several years after it launched. Call it strategy or opportunism. Was it a mistake that Brin and Page embarked on a venture without really knowing how they would make money? They took enormous risks and tested boundaries to the very limits of their investors’ pain threshold. Now that is called Venture – the definition of real Risk Capital.
I’ve lived in the Venture Capital world since I pinched an edition of Denmark leading financial paper, Børsen, on my own newspaper route and hungrily consumed every article about Michael Mathiesen and a few other real pirates and risk-takers who created new companies and business models in the late-eighties and early-nineties. The rationale behind this is not the worth of each individual business (investment), but the sum total of ten high-risk investments yielding one or two big winners that profitably pay for those firms that are bound to fail. Although this might sounds totally crazy, especially when coming from a fringe-lunatic like me who just lost everything on one supersized investment and admittedly cannot make a proper return on a range of smaller ventures, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this concept. But it’s difficult at this junction in time to see the bigger picture. When even blue-chips like Maersk hit rock bottom, all those ridiculous cliches such as due diligence and prudence that that company has fostered sound pretty empty… is there anything left to believe in?
If we fast forward ten years, which successful business trends do you imagine the future holds? Software and technology double in performance capacity each year. I believe we’ll start seeing things that we can hardly imagine today. The core fabric will be a Twitteresque integration that allows us to measure everything and twitter in small nerdy groups about our main interests. Business models? Don’t ask me. Twitter and Spotify, both investment opportunities I missed when burning cash on my newspaper fiasco, are great examples. They don’t make a dime yet they’re growing massively in size and scope. These types of shops are changing the way we do stuff. Chris Andersen, the author of Free, was just in Denmark, and the cover title of his new book exactly illustrates what the Internet is really about.
What’s your experience with creating a business by giving something away for free?
Skype started as freeware and today generates USD750 million dollars. When something is new and disruptive it has the power to revolutionize consumer behavior, so its pretty smart to start by giving it away free. Consider it as a kind of sampler or teaser, if you will, that people gradually adopt in their daily lives until it becomes essential to them – at which point you need to be ready to deploy your payment model.
What should be free and what shouldn’t? No idea. But be very careful to avoid giving your stuff for free when you could have charged for it. Bits and bytes have the advantage of being cheap to duplicated and transport without any material degradation of quality.
Do you believe that it’s possible to earn money in the long term on something that ultimately can be digitalized?
Yes. But the innovation does not only come from the ability to digitalize things. We now have social software that makes good sense. Not just an ERP-system located in the cloud, but social online applications created beyond the cloud. Of course, that is monetizable, just look at online-dating.
A buzz word heard a lot in Internet business discussions is “affiliate”. How do you interpret this concept?
It’s genius. But just like black market money changers and side street brokers, among whom I’m sure there are some decent characters, affiliates are a mixed batch. You really need to define your performance metrics before you buy any traffic from affiliate vendors. Most of them cannot measure conversion rates or the performance impact you need to know. Also, marketing managers typically believe that they are artists and would rather stroke their Pantone color charts than a complex excel sheet. And they end up losing out. When everything is possible, it’s always the metrics masters who come out on top.
Can you imagine that the ability to create and optimize affiliate partners becomes a competition parameter in itself and therefore a future differentiation factor? Affiliate, SEO, AdWords, partnerships and content-driven attention are obviously the way forward. When you acquire a user, by which I mean a potential customer, for free through a search engine, you’ve achieved your goal and you think you’re fat and happy. But if you don’t know what you want from that user then she/he is just eats up your server capacity and it doesn’t matter that they were delivered right to your business’ doorstep. Measurement and performance metrics are the absolute key to online success. Creativity is cheap. Creativity is a commodity that can be bought anywhere.
It is fair to say that the proliferation of digital possibilities is about to drastically change all types of business. Which segments are most threatened, according to you, and what can they do against it?
Sure, I believe there are some traditional industries that are threatened by this development. That’s inevitable. So let’s use the glass is half full/half empty analogy here: Digitalization is both a massive opportunity and a huge challenge (read danger). However, in many industries, we’ve seen the incumbents and established players beat out the smaller companies. Case in point: TDC has swallowed ALL ISPs in Denmark over the years.
Finally, any advice on what to look out for in the near future? I’m laser focused on enterprise cloud software and search. You know, I don’t have time any more to tool around with a whole bunch of wacky consumer apps, like I did when I was loaded with bling. Besides, I don’t feel like a successful person who is in a position to recommend anything to anyone. It’s time to call my lawyers and hear how my personal bankruptcy proceedings are going!
Im so impressed by the energy of this guy – he NEVER stops! In the beginning i was pretty sure he was not in it with the hearth – but after following him intensely for 12 months I must say hat he makes me feel like a lazy pri.. His blog and twittering is stellar.
Here is all about Jason – CEO of Mahalo.com, a human powered search engine. Previously the co-founder of Weblogs, Inc. On the board of social shopping site ThisNext. Might remember him from the days as editor and CEO of the Silicon Alley Reporter magazine. Partner with Mike Arrington on the TechCrunch40 podcast. Schedule About Facebook Twitter MySpace LinkedIn Delicious Pownce Jason Calacanis on tumblr mixx
STATEMENT: I FEEL SO LUCKY
But I do wonder quite a bit about how networks and circles starts and goes on. Le Web 3 – makes me first wonder: “How the fuck did I get on stage again (after Mountain Partners, Sime (fantastic), TechTour (no good)…) – since I dont really have anything to say – specially since I cant tell my secrets and where I expect to make the next 100mio). Well I really try to be direct – and no bullshit (but then again full of it) and as honest as posible. But the I start thinking about the full circus – Lois, Martin, Danny, Tariq, Ola, Mygdal… And wow – its a closed loop – and maybe we are already a part of an old boys network in some form. And Im sitting of a loose mandate – so I can be kicked out any day – and I know Loic is busy doing his startup (Seesmic) – so he probobly havent been thinking about it every day… BUT what I want to say it – that I really hope to meet new and fresh people at Le Web 3 (attendend list in the end of site).
One Guy is missing
- there is a secret SUPERSTAR VC in Europe – Henrik Albertsen from Nordic.com – is the best these days – but keeps too low profile. A risktaker and a sales mann.
I find this VERY REVOLUTIONING – Google Maps for everyone video
I have never seen an advertorial on travel done so well – and then by NBC in primetime ;). This is one of my best ventures!!
Its ll about luck!
I simply love – www.twitter.com and everything around it. First of all that its SO ENDLESSLY SIMPLE – a brainer. Secondly that its done by the most powerful guys in the webspace – Evan and Obvious and Friends. Theyare winning all prices and awards this year and Im simply addicted. Looking forward to see the business model – but dont e worried – the service will survive – (Evan got a good deal when he sold Bloggger to Google – and any VC will give their left ball to get in now).
To be very hornest – i must say that I have not told you dear users about it – due to the greedy and ugly fact – that I have been thinking about launching something similiar. Bad me – Bad.
One of my startups is VERY SUCCESFULL – but it takes a positivist to get it:
They make NO MONEY
They use 200.000€ every month
Their product is free
They will go technically bankrupt in may
Wierd – weird – They are a TOP 100 Company in Europe
- and the team is amazing – and will succed and EVERYONE wants to finance them.
Im thinking a lot about what the Big Plan is – when you are involved with 50-60 ventures. And it looks more and more like having something to do with revenue…
The best technology event in the world - is now ready for 9.0 – come to Copenhagen – and give yourself the pleasure of NOT UNDERSTANDING EVERYTHING – and bump into people you dont met in other fancy smancy conferences. This is real. And a product of Denmarks Mr. Visionary – Thomas Madsen Mygdal
The best thing about Reboot is – that some people DONT LIKE IT - only in Danish
Formerly known as Jull og Stejle – and with a history going back to 1992 – HelloWeb – is now a part of HelloGroup. I cant wait to see what will happen when this giups turs just one year old in July ;) – its good people and powerfull execution. Personally Im very much looking forward to the days when they can do more stuff for LundKenner…