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Today I Feel Lucky
If you have been following me closely, you would have seen some crazy shit come out of Tradeshift. Instant Payments, SHIT HOT customer wins, Tradeshift App Store and now an IMPRESSIVE investment round. The secured $17 million – valuing them at $137m, making this one of the largest investment in a Euoropean tech startup this year!!
The investment is led by ru-Net and Kite Ventures.
23 month ago I met Mr. Lanng – and we convinced each other to try to build a BIG VISION: Change the way invoices are sent (its kind of stupid that people type them in – print them – dend them – and retype them) – and make it free. (I choose this Chairman post over 2-3 others with much better cash compensation and without getting shares – despite my bankruptcy – because I think Lanng + Gert + Mikkel are the best DNA that can be produced in the Danish wellfare system. And because they did it all before in the Danish Government – AND FOR FREAKING EU – WILD!!
Today is a VERY VERY big day for this vision. Edward (Kite) and I have been flirting for a long time – and I really respect Edward for his absolute high-powered brainCPU (and self ironic attitude). But to be honest I did not expect us to get in 17.000.000$ this fast – specially when we loose quite a lot of money every month. But – the client list is INSANE – and some clients will VERY GENTLY ask their +100.000 suppliers to use tradeshift – if they want to get paid.
Our big task will be:
A) To make the simplest and best – FREE PLATFORM
B) To make the on-boarding process of +250.000 b2b users = shitAss simple and automated (We cant handle 10% of those calling us).
C) To fulfill the needs of all these +250.000 new users – in terms of business process and value-creation. Free is worth nothing – its all about the perceived value for our clients.
Important note. Lanng and Jeppe has been fantastic in this fundraising process. And yes – I take credit. But in reality its the TEAM BEHIND – teach and sales – that has made a true fucking miracle. THANK YOU TEAM. Thank you.
Opportunity of a lifetime
We will deliver – Im 100% confident. But I also kindly suggest You (dear highly valued reader) – to have a look at Tradeshifts API – and collect a group of smart friends to get started cranking apps. This is a goldmine for smart people – who understands that Tradeshift is The Social Mother Graph of B2B in very short time. And you can leverage – the acces – just like Zynga leveraged FACEBOOK. Get moving out there… Im dead serious when I say that this is the biggest opportunity I have ever seen.
Link to Tradeshift API http://developer.tradeshift.com/rest-api/
I have no idea what it is. But Berlin somehow has something I have never felt in any of the +120 Cities I have visited. I so much wonder what it is…
Put you idea/comment here…
This is a long message to officially apologize to my friend Eran Davidson at HPV – with a lot of background. I had a bad day – I forgot the power of my word – and I was angry (self generated rage is a huge driver for me).
A TUESDAY in Berlin, sept:
I had a good meeting with Rouvan and Eran Davidson (from Hasso Plattner Ventures) – about a new project Im doing – and since Im so much in love with it. I GOT FURIOUS (mostly at myself) WHEN THEY DID NOT WANT TO INVEST INSTANTLY. Most entrepreneurs who have been pitching projects to VCs turn the rage against investors – to keep motivated and survive the insane pressure – instead of giving up. I did so very much (same as many years ago when I was visiting 7-8 of the 40 investors who we pitched Skype – and ALL SAID NO!). I so much wanted Rouvan to invest (I wanted him and his brilliant brain on my side) – I wanted them just to take the deal – so that the new company would get going – and I should not do the normal 15-20 pitches to VCs/Fund/Investors I normally have to do to make a deal* happen. And the reason I went to Rouvan and Eran – was simple: They are some of the best in Europe – at what they do – AND they are some of the (only) guys who will survive financially. Most funds are just dying because they cant raise their next fund. Note: With Hasso Plattner as investor – they stand incredibly good, despite the global financial crisis.
*DEAL= raising money to a company I like -and where I believe in PEOPLE, PEOPLE, PEOPLE, PRODUCT, TECHNOLOGY and TIMING.
Close your eyes for a second – and think about where you are in life. If you are just a bit like me – you have achieved a lot (maybe even gotten kids) and you are proud like hell (despite whatever fuckups and failures you have made….). But you will still think of yourself as a nobody – without any real idea of whats going on. I simply dont have that ability to take myself too serious. I doubt all the time – and Im driven by my doubt, curiosity and ambitions – plus my highly agressive inner voice that JUST WANTs TO WIN.
I never (or very very seldomly) think about the fact that – shit loads of people (You – my Highly Valued Reader) reads my blog – and that I speak in front of 50.000 people a year. It would make my nuts to think about it – and block my ability to dare to say, write nor preach anything. CONCLUSION: My inner self dont think I have any power – and Im sure that everyone knows that all I is: Hearth-driven - ideologic and with the purpose of creating change and happiness. PROBLEM ONE: I dont enjoy being any kind of negative!
I fight 100% for the things Im assigned to. I dont give up – (many people think that I just fly around – do my speaches – and the have nice dinners) – but I do sales meetings 3-6 times a day. On Phone, Skype, Location, Office – and during dinners and lunchs’s. Im pretty visionary – but nothing special – I mostly get / or go with medium ideas. In reality: Im a sales guy – and its my only asset. I love to sell ideas – and thereby create companies and movements. PROBLEM TWO: I dont enjoy when sales is difficult – and get agressive.
WHAT DO I ACTUALLY DO
I sell EVERBREAD, Tradeshift and 1-2 Deals* pr quater (just to stay in “deal” shape) – to partners, OTA’s, Airlines… – but most of my time (like many earlystage CEO’s) Im selling our companies and the visions to investors. And it takes 95% of my awake time – handling the relations – making information packages and nursing the VC’s who have interest – and handling the existing investors (BIG JOB). Because Im very positive and because I had a great childhood: I always communicate happily about where I am and what I think and what I do – but sometimes the world is not acting like I want – and underneath I get a bit grumphy (some would say older).
3 DAYs LATER in Berlin:
I was at the CEO Dinner – held by Hasso Plattner Ventrues and Team Europe – very nice dinner – very cool format: CEO gets to meet and promote themselfes to VCs – VCs gets access to talent and the people in power to buy the VC’s companies. SPOT ON, alligned interest. During dinner – I make a couple of jokes about Kite Venture (who is backing 2 of 3 deals I have done lately) and say that its a lottery fund – and that they are shit lucky (my way of saying smart, still self-ironic and humble) to have Russian passports and thereby have access to DST kind of BIG DO$… We have fun. Edward from Kite and Lukash Gadowsky are very smart – and very self-ironic people. They spend – like most very succesfull people – most time makes jokes about themselves and their failures and problems. We have fun. After dinner (and 3-4 cigarettes) – we end up at the table and Yaron Valler from Hasso Platner Ventures shows up. I make the same jokes – and say that HPV is shit lucky to have Hasso – and I make a joke about Eran and Rouvan. AND THEN Mr Yaron Valler (who dont know me and did not sit a the tabler earlier) – suddenly freaks out and starts a verbal fight (something I not really do – and Im very very bad at – since I never had siblings (whom seems to teach eatchother every chapter in that handbook)). I recall my rage from not getting a deal with Eran and Rouvan (and just to tease the dude – I say that I would hire Rouvan any day – and I reacall a earlier phonecall with Mr Yaron Valler (says something nasty about how I could have done the deal in 5 min) – and things get out of hand…
PROBLEM ONE and TWO gets FULL ON OXYGEN – makes me conclude – that either I punch the dude in his face – or (as I choose) I tell him to leave the table.
I totally forgot about it. We had a mutual bad day – and fuck it. But my very very good personal friend Eran Davidson – yesterday told me his version of the story. TO MY BIG SURPRISE – He was sad and felt that I had been saying bad things about him and the fund.
Dear Eran (HPV & Mr Valler)
Im am 100% sorry if this has ever been the case – or if you feel that I have been trying to harm you. My only intention was grill Mr Valler – test his ability to be self-ironic and not take himself too serious. BUT I FAILED – I MIXED IT WITH MY SELF AGGRESSION - I MADE A MISTAKE – STEPPED OVER THE LINE – and Im very very sorry for the inconvenience this might have caused.
PS: I will still hire Rouvan for my next fund :) – and Eran will be invited on the Board of my Holding one day (If Lisa won’t do it :).
PPS. this will not be my last “Im sorry” post.
Sometimes:- You just know when something is RIGHT
You find the right PEOPLE
- You have the right STRATEGY
- You have the right INVESTORS (and enough$)
- You get the BUSINESS MODEL right!!
Tradeshift is one of those companies you only see very very “sometimes”: And now finally we told the world about it the real deal: Tradeshift Instant Payment
With Tradeshift – its really hard not to smile as a chairman. Founders are off course kick ass – but I must say that Im nearly more impressed by the people they have managed to hire. We have real ROCKSOLID TALENT & EXPERTS at every desk at that office. But we need MORE PEOPLE – see http://tradeshift.com/jobs/ – have a look – sometime you can be lucky.
Sometimes: Im shocked by the traction I see in Cloud Enterprise Software… If you (dear reader) have the brainCPUpower and interest – I will really recommend to do you next startup in Cloud based Enterprise Solutions…
PS. sometimes you can also be lucky to have a media (Techcrunch post) – that have all eyes from the industry plastered on the site…. And Mike Butcher always dares to promote hope – instead the killing depressive financial news… Mobile-Web/Cloud/Technology can and will change the business world – and there is a party going on for technolgy entreprenuers. FULL ON: Technolgy/Revenue/Profit/Champagne/Exit. The eco-system of trading – has found its way to technology – and wholly crap I meet a lot of young people who will change the world – and be millionaires before they are 30 years old. God forbit the last part :) – been there – fucked up…
PPS. Im getting really interested in the whole “CoWorking” -Space idea – and would love to have links to good articles about the topic. Sometimes: I feel that it could make room for a new investment vehicle…
PPS. Sometimes you need help – ASK FOR IT!
3 Apples changed the World
1st one seduced Eve
2nd fell on Newton
3rd was offered to the World half bitten by Steve Jobs.
I will watch this incredible speech over and over again – and use all my Apple gear forever… Maybe.
(Dear highly valued readers – Im sorry but I need to put this into words. Its a bit boring).
The EU and US financial world is ill – really ILL – it’s crazy – everything is upside down. Its nearly impossible to understand the impact of the crisis in Greece, Spain and Italy. The shit is 1mm from the fan in Italy and Spain. And some very few people in Europe has to take some game-changing decisions (aka Merkel and the two horny stallions from (F)+(I)).
I have a feeling that Greece will be left out – EU will not save Greece. EU needs to save the gunpowder – and be prepared to help Italy and Spain. EU cannot handle 3 countries going down financially (because most of the money is owed to brothers in other EU countries = read EU Banks) – EU can only handle ONE small country falling apart financially . We have really ugly stuff coming – but dont be over scared we can all survive and still have fun.
There is a very weird an strange chance that US – will come ridding in with financial AID. The Marchall plan repeated – and the US can easily do it. Stuff more dept on themselves – and get security in the EU heritage. I know its sounds whacked – but I think its viable.
The problem is just clear: We will have ugly social uproar. Because of the fact that GDP in most EU will go south for many many years. Im probably too exited about actually understanding some of this – via a new friend to be really afraid – but the warning signs should be raised. Im really not doubting that a Greek full on Tragedy will happen – its just a matter of when. And then its impossible to understand or predict how EU can handle this. EU has been build on success stories of rolling in in one country after the other – and all negative debate has been called non-democratic. NOW when EU will be in bad shape – have bad press – and be in trouble for a long time. We will see if anyone of the countries actually cares for others then themselves. Is EU just a club of teens who will all run away when the heat is on- AND THERE IS A BILL TO BE PICKED UP?
I really have no clue how it will pan out. But – Wow – I’m so exited to experiences this part of history.
PS. I’m actually very pro EU – but I have always felt strange about all the infrastructure that Greece suddenly got after they received the badge with 12 stars…
The Danes are the luckiest people in the world. But even in paradise the world occasionally changes faster then the Eden Gardeners Inc can restructure the flower fields. Im sorry to put this out in Danish – but its national matter :)
Venture Capital i Velfærdsland
- ja det er jo åbenbart en selvmodsigelse. For vi har ikke ret mange mennesker i dette land som virkelig har prøvet og mærket hvad Venture Kapital er.
Jeg er meget inspireret/uinspireret af Børsens skriverier om Statens Vækstpakke og David Trads artikel idag i Berlingske (om USAs foundere der geninvesterer).
Lad mig starte med at understrege at det er godt at man giver iværksættere og virksomheder en hjælpende på alle tænkelige måder. Men vi bliver nok nødsaget til at skæve til Darwin – for ikke at begå den tåbelige fejl at give de dårlige frø for meget kunstgødning.
Iværksætteri er ikke noget man kan lave i små klubber – det kan ikke emuleres i danskernes favorit loger = foreningslivet. Der er nemlig ikke noget hygge over at bygge virksomheder – det er behård Darwinisme – KUN de allerstærkeste overlever – og vi ved det jo godt. Og det er umuligt at lave store gamechanging virksomheder – på en politisk korrekt måde. Og det bliver ikke lettere af det faktum at 8 ud af 10 fejler – og pga velfærdsamfundets absolutte tag i mig – er det jo ligefør jeg mener at man skal passe på med at promovere iværksætteri.
MEN MEN – nu har Danmark en god mulighed for at benytte den tryghed der ligger i at have det rødbedefarvede pas – til at tænke frit og krøllet. Og det kan give nogle rigtig gode ideer. Men nu er ideer jo NUL værd – selvom vi næsten bilder og selv ind at Danskere bare tænker så stort at vi kan leve af ideer. Men lad mig understrege – til meget få erhvervslederes overaskelse: Det er det benhårde arbejde på den lange bane der gør forskellen – det er Ledelse, Salg, Salg, Produktion og så vil jeg påstå +75% kapital. Eller adgangen til kapital – i alle de forskellige stadier – her er en meget simplificeret lille model:
A tidligt start – B pre ide – C post ide – D protype – E stifterne siger op – F de første salg skal etableres
G finansiering af alle de store ordrer (fra de er i ordrebogen til de er leveret – og ikke mindst indtil kunden vælger at betale)
Alle disse kræver Kapital (det sker aldrig uden penge!!) – og men det kræver KLOGE PENGE. Hr Møller (Maersk) – er personligt nok ikke særlig stærk i A, B, C – men med hans kapital og alle de mennesker der findes i Mærsk – kan han hjælpe betydeligt senere i processen. Jeg mener at vi har nogle få menesker og de skulle tvinges :) (ligesom brandmænd der altid kan tvangsindkaldes – fordi de har nogle livsvigtige evner).
Her tænker jeg på folk som Frank Rasmussen i den tidlige ende A,B,C og Ib Kunøe til den senere del C, E,F,G. Her er folk som har skidt på fingerene – som ikke bare har arvet deres fars pumpefabrik. De har gjort det igen og igen – og istedet for at hælde milliarder i vækstpakker – kunne man give dem 1års skattefrihed og en tur op til dronningen. (Nu kender jeg ikke Frank så godt – men Ib ville gnække godt og grundigt i skægget og løbe dobbelt så stærkt – hvis Magrete skoddede smøgen i 5min og smed lidt sildesalat pa hans kravet). Selvklart for Danmark – og endnu mere for at vise sine skolekammerater fra Åbenrå at han faneme ka sit pis (OG DET KAN HAN).
Lad os nu stoppe med at skabe bureaukratiske VÆKSTFONDE – som er ledet af folk der har behov for et job. Jeg har følelsen på egen krop. Jeg ka ikke investere penge (fordi jeg kun lige er fri af min bankeråt) – men jeg har investeret min sjæl og min vågentid i 2 startups i de sidste 24 måneder. VÆKSTPenge skal placeres af folk der har personlig erfaring med at bygge virksomheder og financielt overskud til at tænke sig om. Og ikke folk der sidder med et Google Regneark og trykker på F5 for at se deres MANAGEMENT FEE (ledelsesgodtgørelse fra en fond) blive opdateret hver morgen. Og jeg bliver aldeles rasende – når mine fantastiske danske entreprenørvenner gang på gang ringer og siger: “Ja – vi kan sagtens få møder i London, San Fransisco og Singapore – men de danske fonde har ikke tid”. Tommy fra Podio klager aldrig – men han bliver ikke bestormet af DVCA(foreningen af Danske Venture kapitalister) medlemmer – men det blir han af internationale fonde. Heini fra Vivino har termsheets fra udlandet – men ka næsten ikke få møde i med DVCA. Og jeg kunne blive ved. Nu kan nogle fonde jo undsiges ved det faktum at de ikke har en krone i kassen. Jeg ved at Henrik Albertsen (en af Danmarks eneste rigtig succesfulde Venture Kapitalister) og Klaus i Nordic Venture Partners ikke har en bøjet femøre (fonden er tom) – ellers havde de selvklart ryddet bordet og nappet Podio, Vivino (ja – Tradeshift, Everbread, CPHSE – også selvom de ikke nåede toget på Skype – det var ellers damn close). Men det er desvære undtagelsen der bekræfter reglen. Der er sgu lim på stolene i DVCA – og alt for mange ser ud til at have allergi overfor FLYSÆDER. (Også når det gælder hvem der investerer i disse fonde – det er altid Danske/Nordiske pensionsmidler – ikke Harvards/Stanford Endowment Fund eller Guggenheim Partners, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Google…).
OG så kaster jeg op når jeg læser DVCA i Børsen:
En person fra DVCA – har givet den gas – og ytret at det er problematisk at KUN vœkstfonden og andre offentlige har fået statens vækstpenge. Og et interview er blevet givet..
- Direktør og formand for Vækstforum Bornholm Lars Nørby Johansen (formand)
- Direktør Anya Eskildsen, Niels Brock (personligt udpeget)
- Tidligere koncernchef hos Danisco, Tom Knutzen (personligt udpeget)
- Adm. direktør Merete Søby, Hitachi Data Systems (personligt udpeget)
- Adm. direktør Johnny Hansen, Better Place Danmark (personligt udpeget)
- Formand for vækstforum Ulla Astman Nielsen, Region Nordjylland
- Formand for vækstforum Bent Hansen, Region Midtjylland
- Formand for vækstforum Carl Holst, Region Syddanmark
- Formand for vækstforum Steen Bach Nielsen, Region Sjælland
- Formand for vækstforum Vibeke Storm Rasmussen, Region Hovedstaden
- Borgmester Kirsten Terkilsen, Hedensted Kommune
- Borgmester Erik Nielsen, Rødovre Kommune
- Forbundsformand for Dansk Metal Thorkild E. Jensen, CO-Industri
- Næstformand Lizette Risgaard, LO
- Direktør Poul Scheuer, Dansk Industri
- Direktør Christian T. Ingemann, Dansk Erhverv
- Adm. direktør Ane Buch, Håndværksrådet
- Direktør Claus Søgaard-Richter, Landbrug og Fødevarer
- Adm. direktør Lars Storr-Hansen, Dansk Byggeri
- Direktør Jørgen A. Horwitz, Finansrådet
BREAKOUTMen det er jo ogsaa lettere når man som i Singapore – siger tingene som de er. “Morten, we are very clear about not copying the Danish model – we think that its about atracting talent to our country – not about subsidicing those who cant”…Og jeg er jo alt for blød tåle at overhøre deres rabiate (men uheldigvis meget realistiske) ideer om at hjemløse familier selvklart får en bolig – MEN DET ER EN 1 VÆRELSES LEJLIGHED – som skal deles med en anden familie. For som de siger – “then there is a very clear incentive for everyone to get out and find your own place to live”. Wholly Moses der er hård kost høre om virkeligheden.END BREAKOUT
Is it like Google
(the service you know – that made the web worth using after ALTAVISTAs poor poor take),
- its shit simple (se my profile here)
- shit effective and looks/feels KILLER NICE & EASY (when you get it)?
- It’s like Google, but with faces and its your second chance to get your social network and HOW to share with WHO – right.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
OK. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
WHY DO WE NEED IT WHEN WE HAVE FACEBOOK?
SO WHAT GOOGLE+ GOT THAT FACEBOOK HASNT?
So it’s like a VIP club, is it?
FAST TRACK TO PLAY WITH GOOGLE+
Remember we started Tradeshift – via a couple of twitter messages and some sweat for equity (shares). And the companies and people who took shares – are some of the happiest in my business network… Also they where all kickass smart and has worked hard. Here is a chance for a small/medium sized team in India (preferable some champions like Real Entrepreneurs, x McKinsey, Accenture, Bain Indian dudes with lots of drive and energy – and a intense sense of urgency).
Message from Mr. Lanng (our CEO)
We are looking for a joint-venture partner who can deliver standardized integration and conversion services between Tradeshift and the millions of small business suppliers who need to be on-boarded. This really need to be a factory with standardized fixed cost per integration. Our estimates is this could easily be a 30m € business by 2012.
We will need this to be a joint-venture partner, as this is too strategic to outsource completely.
I’m in Bangalore from the 7th-10th of July, with the aim to finalize a deal.
(email to chl @ tradeshift.com )
When You Really Have To Pee
I feel exactly like when I have to pee while parking my car – its easy to manage. But then when I open the frontdoor to the house – and the toilet is so close – then it’s really hard to manage… :)
I’m getting so close to really ending my bankruptcy.
I run EVERBREAD – AND we are making a kill/homerun (and its ABSURDLY DIFFICULT TO MANAGE THAT MANY PEOPLE and EGOs) – AND I advise (Chair) Tradeshift and they are always a bit ahead of EVERBREAD or just a bit behind (in new clients, technology, strategy and sky rocketing valuations). I get paid insanely well – AND when I speak I charge a fortune (AND I meet incredible interesting people + go first class around the world). AND I am still helping people to raise lots of money and I get paid really well – like really. This is the only reason why I can pay a lot of cash (all+) every month to the creditors – but its over in 5 months (I made 18 month payment plans on most of the dept).
I’m almost 100% out of $ obligations – but the closer I get – the harder it feels to manage …
I’m getting close and thereby more nervous and that makes me wonder:
Why is it no one talks about MANAGING and BEING NERVOUS - in business . And why doesn’t anyone talk about BEING NERVOUS within all these startups and especially RE-STARTUP - conferences and books…I think its weird.
I am more than happy. The only problem is – that it’s much less worrying to be bankrupt – than being almost all at the goal – and SO CLOSE TO NEW VICTORIES… Its feels much more difficult being so close to the bathroom… I have started to get a bit more nervous somehow. The companies where I’m involved are all going trough the roof – simply amasing or amassing (yes someone (called Edward) told me how to spell it). I don’t really have something to loose – but I’m so shit ass afraid of failing again. So much – that I have 10.000x more attention on everything. Nothing can fall between chairs now – I need to really make it – I don’t want everyone to look at me as the dude – who didn’t make it out of bankruptcy for real… Weird – but not really.. the only problem ever – for me – was the fact that I spent 6-7 years as too wealthy and without any real feeling of URGENCY. I really like it (but NOT AS A PERMANENT STATE OF MIND) – but for now it tickles in that upper part of my (not small) belly. And maybe this is why I’m about to succeed again – the sizzleling nervousness sharpens the sense of urgency.
My Rules For Playing High Stakes Business Poker
1) It really pays of to play by the rules – with extreme ethics.
DONT JUST COPY
2) Be original and be careful with copying – it so dangerous – you might end up copying a failure.
3) The best thing is when you can blame yourself – then you also know where to start if it fucks up.
That is it folks. I love you comments – so shoot shoot.
UPDATE: If you want to have the background behind this post – we are back in 2008 – read here (250.000 people has been visiting this post).
I get the question all the time:
“What kind of investor should we take..“
Well its really hard to say – I will go as low a making a small list of things that it depends on:
THE “How hungry are you for cash” TEST
1) Its too yearly – we dont need $
a) It would be fun to try – but we havent got a clue
b) We are confident and have an uncle who can help with the language
c) We have done it before and know some VCs
d) We are just teasing until someone talks to us
e) We are silly bad at selling but the product is HOT LAVA
2) We have quit our Jobs (if you ever had one)
a) and forgot to raise (product ate the attention)
b) we heard it was so easy / but shiaat…
c) running this so much more exspensive the we thought
d) we are selling a bit and have interest
e) my partner Joe can pay the kids school
3) We are burning CASH IKE HELL and the end is near/here
a) The investor are smoking us out
b) the big client is delayed
c) my Grandmothers money is gone
a) My Car is gone
b) My house is gone
c) Im thinking about robbing a bank
d) We have already fired 50% and rent is an issue
e) Things r A OK – but we think 9 mothers can deliver a baby in 1month
f) The VCs are at the door – so why not
e) The big Ass VCs have started their Electric Jets
f) We are GOOD – and it “Fuck You Money” time…
When you have gone trough these questions 5 times – and added 10 new points (please put them in comments underneath). Then you will have a fine clue – weather its the local drug dealer or the big boys from Accel/Kleiner/DJF’s of the world - you should talk to. There is not that much difference :) (did I just use a smiley).
Advice on investors
No matter the size of the deal – its all about chemestry. Find someone you really respect HIGHLY (dont need to be a new best friend – that will only happen if you make an exit and become richer then him). But think about the fact that you will 99% (for sure) go trough REALLY UGLY SHIT TOGETHER – burning his money and your name/brain/vision/youth or marriage…
On the other hand – if you cant get the one you love – then love the one you can get. And get moving – speed matters and fundraising takes all your time (away from PRODUCT – SALES SALES SALES & MARKETING). Off course you should not give your company shares away – but dont shop too long. Get a good lawyer – or take a VC that dont want TOO MUCH BAD PUBLICITY if they fuck you.
IMPORTANT NOTE: VCs are my friends (I will be one again – one day) and I love the Venture Capital model – its where I work every day!!! I really thank the american foudners of venture capital – otherwise we would not have has this very sophisticated investment climate and ecosystem).
But some VCs and specially old school private Angels – they steal companies.
All in all I think you can do the math on mytest on top – and see there are endless stages – and therefor there are endless number of investor types. But somewhat Most important is:
1) Does HE have the MONEY and POWER to invest
(quite some funds cant fundraise them self now – and some (specially associates/juniors) at the VC funds pretends to be Warren Buffet – with the attitude of Godfather. And those guy cant even buy you an Ice cream without asking upstairs.)
2) Does He/She look like an idiot
(then he probably is)
3) Does He/She Understand Your Idea
(some dont – but if they are nice..)
4) Can He/She SELL
(most cant – they are money nerds who lured the trick of starting a fund – while everyone else in the class tried to build a business. And VCs are important when/if you want to SELL the Company – but also when you have to raise ore cash. Sales skills are required. You dont want an investor who are not friendly with the bigger fish in the foodchain. And He/She even has to be able to sell this to his partners)
5) Is He/She Trustworthy
Dont be afraid to ask for references and call most of the people they say they know – be extremely hard on EVERYTHING that He/She promises in the beginning (just like girl/boyfriends) – here you need it on paper. And dont be shy to demand A LOT – specially from the non MONEY PART. They wil try to get in as cheap as possible (well thats the game) – but you have to put all the promises you get while they are talking down the price – into the contract.
CONCLUSION: There is no rule – its all one big illusion game. And my only real advice is to inform everyone about your weeknesses and be clear about the fact that this is HIGH RISK. The only thing you can give away is your word – so be carefull and act with all the possible honesty you can.
If you fail (and sometimes you do – its a huge part of the game) – very soon after you will be back at the knocking the same doors.
NOTE2: I think “The Social Network” Facebook movie – gives the wrong impression of how companies are build – ists a movie it is NOT REAL and IT HAPPENS PRETTY SELDOM that things fuck up so hard. So dont be scared.
Gosh – that became a long one.. And sorry not to publish more often – its just crazy busy here … See you soon.
Business Philosophy Secret
I have lots a secrets business wise. A very important one is the usage of heroes. Well – my narcissistic self has been very open about Bransson and Clinton as heroes – but the lower level hero’s has never been something I have been unveiling. (comming back to that)
Speed Speed Speed
Mostly because I find it to be a very useful way to stay just a littlebit ahead in the HighSpeedTurboCrytonite-online business world. Things are moving faster then ever in history. Yesterday I watched some TV from 1970 – and the CEO of some company was sitting at a desk without a telefone (obviously no computer) – taking notes on a piece of paper – looking like a guy who had all the time in the world… It gave me a instant sting of jalousie - I WISH that was me (for a second). But then again the SPEED of communicating with the world – hammering mails, tweets, facebook messages and links back and forth with China, Singapore, San Francisco, Sophia and Frankfurt during my non sleeping hours is JUST AMASSING.
But its MUCH more interesting that Twitter is now Evan W @evhead and his teams second time of proving that they do communication and publishing platforms that are not only technology-wise interesting – but Twitter (and likes) are taking down regimes all over the world. The People are getting empowered and cant be stopped when information flows. The old farts who have been running dictatorships and regimes for 30+ years – have no guns nor time enough for torture that prevents the masses from uprising – AND WINNING. Its insanely good – interesting – and melancholic and goose-bums exposing.
Twitter = Anti Info-Bulimia
Facebook and Twitter is just amassing - after reading yesterday that 69% of FB users in many big countries are login in daily (link here)- I really smiled all day. Just think – if FACEBOOK lauched a TV CHANNEL IN THE TOP RIGHT of the page – it would be the #1 TV Channel in the world (and in each country) in 1h – with perfect targeting – click to act – the full shabang.. But Im betting on Twitter for some reason – I simply love to go into my Twitter account and get updated – its so short – and people have to think a bit before they post (140 char is nothing). And I get fully updated on the world and my social circles in a snap: From Egypt to Johanns stupid ideas about pushing Cats (real ones) to all his friends over Kawasaki’s spamming of weird news…
I bet on Twitter – The simplicity of the interface and the lack of noise (from length of messages) is just so appealing. Contrary to this way too long blogpost. To twitter is a combo of bookmarks, news, micro-emailing and
Bill Gross – The Hero (Unveiled)
With Twitter becoming so important in the revolutions around the world and my all time number one internet-commercialisation hero of the internet Bill Gross moving into this Twitter space (UberMedia buys TweetDeck). Makes me smile. And series A guys are also pretty impressive (dont really understand how the 30mio$ he spend yesterday came in):
I think that Bill G will be controlling more then 20% of the Twitter inputs “Apps” and prob go even higher very soon – this is not that interesting – but from a commercial perspective I so very sure that he has a couple af really interesting tricks up his sleeves… Very soon this will all be monetized to perfection. And Twitter will be bigger and more FREE then ever…
So why so much fuss about Bill: Well – I really like that he is always hungry and I see a chance that he can do something good – while making one more fundamental business model fro an enormous industry – that is just being born…
Here are some personal notes – just to make sure that you know how my mind works - before getting the full understanding of the last mile of this amazing and huge industry : Travel
Every Back-End Technology (and Philosophy) is +30Y Old
For the sake of argument, we can pretend that all the systems to support flights, tickets reservations and bookings were born (at the conceptual level) on April 6, 1926 when United Airlines was formed. The date when mail, passengers and cargo really started functioning in an organized manner through flights being attached to schedules. Back when reservations where written into huge books by the weird thing called human (manual) labour (real well-dressed people). Back when the volume grew so much, that a Pulley Boy (the human running to fill out the plane floor seat, using pulleys) became an official work title. But it was not until 1946, American Airlines installed the first automated booking system, and eventually to be called a GDS (global distribution systems) – introduced computing – in the shape of machine with temporary storage based on a magnetic drum. Of course, the technology has been developing fast – but legacy and bureaucracy has always been in the DNA of this industry. I think that its because of the risk that was involved back then when flying was not SAFE at all (as well as the size of the systems).
What makes me SO ABSOLUTELY MADLY IN LOVE with the Airline and Travel Industry is that – now the Internet is here – and even the developing countries in Africa are starting to book and buy travel more and more, especially online. I’m so genuinely proud to have Stephan Ekbergh as an investor in EVERBREAD – for a DJ – now heading up his second +250mio$ online travel company – guess where: in Africa – off course :). We spend a lot of time talking – and with his extra age and tons of experience - he directs me with lots of corrections and lots of motivation. It feel like he (who does not have to work) – really wants to fund fresh blood into an industry that is really hard to understand.
In my brain – I am taking it a step further and moving from understanding to changing: with my team in Sofia, who are smarter than any team I have ever seen before, a very strong founder, and with a board like this:
Montie Brewer, former CEO, Air Canada
Michael Jackson, former COO, Skype
Vagn Sørensen, Director, Air Canada. CEO, Austrian Airline
As the latest technology is sneaking in everywhere – I met a danish über Hippie this summer who had been in India for 4 years – he only comment was: Wow – at the train station I saw a guy with a computer in his pocket – and at this party everyone has it…(He talked about the iPhone)… Hardware, infrastructure, code and coders getting smarter and better every hour – with better tools than ever puts us in a situation that gives us nothing more than insane and limitless opportunities to change the Airline and Travel Industry. And it is SO obvious and not surprising that even the Private Equity guys get it (I mean pretty much everyone with a calculator and the guts to fire 1000+ people in order to make money :). Its simple – NOT EASY.
NOT Simple – Not EASY
Hey – I admit it – I’m not the fastest horse on the track (sharpest knife, most accurate mouse, speediest processor) – but I have seen quite a few businesses in my life. And even 1000+ business plans down the road – I have NEVER EVER SEEN A MORE COMPLEX BUSINESS THAN THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY. The math alone (Traveling sales man problem) – what route to use with one stopover (you could fly to any point in the the whole world via that stopover) is crack ass difficult. I was told in school that its was not possible to solve… But that’s nothing compared to navigating all the rules that apply to these flights and fares – just as an example: a person who is married to someone who works at the Vatican - must have special price and maybe even a special seat/available seat. Not to mention that this mind-boggling calculation takes the processing to a task, that requires the calculation of 10 x 10 x 10 … (to the 20th) within the time when you click SEARCH on the website and you get your results. When complexity and history have such deep touch – very few people will stick around to fight this problem and get their head around it. And like in any other business ->
Its All About The People
And in my short time in this industry I have met them all (that not true – but nearly) – mostly super brainy – and always insanely persistent… Here are just some:
A small group of Really Really Smart and Persistent People – with hardcore stamina – on this shit difficult industry. Again, this industry is insanely hard to get around, involves 360 knowledge of everything Technology, Logic, Abbreviation, and development that touches it and accounts for 10% of global GDP. (The last stat is funny when you see business-plans in this industry – everyone has an insane potential in their own mind – like 10% of GDP :). The great thing about all this is – when an industry is this difficult, you have to be insane enough to enter it. (And quite some are – love it).
I actually just remembered lately that I was in the TravelMarket.com board (blogpost in Danish) and I took a stake in FairCompare pretty early… I was even considering leading the first round in Kayak – but was not convinced they could beat Mobissimo :). Who said: Anti portfolio.
EVERBREAD works with an unorthodox German guy – who has decided to use an American name – and who talks in a way that teens would consider rude. He and his COO have all the money you can dream of (unless you just IPO’ed or had Groupon founder shares) – AND they do not cut anyone slack. The guy has treated me so well that I can’t believe it – he even thinks it is OK to explain everything 5 times to me since I am not that familiar with all the ins and outs of the industry. He stays up all night and even monitors his business on a Sunday morning (very early) – because he knows that 50% of all Germans who are thinking about booking their summer holiday package – will drop by a site that is powered by HIM & HIS AMAZING PEOPLE. That is stamina. And I like his geeks socially. 1) Because they dare to work with him; and 2) Because they FIX STUFF – they act – and they do it with German Grundigheit. (What other country can promote a piece of chocolate globally as ”Quadratisch. Praktisch. Gut.” (“Square. Practical. Good.”).
EVERBREAD also work with the unbelievable consultants. Two of them are beyond smart. They are hungry and aggressive – and unlike many other very large industries – they don’t wear tie. But they have a solid impact on everyone they talk to - as if they knew who had the Kryptonite in a cartoon. These guys are also extremely nice, which I do not fully understand, because consultants are not usually good to people. (Or maybe its pretty easy – we have something 100% unique – and they see we are also trying to be nice, humble and pretty polite…). We have small bitch-fights and some disagreements now and then – but they are REAL MEN – and it is not a problem to have a beer after a fight. (The beers could become dangerous… shit it feel easy to get drinks, beer and wine nearly every night when you are on the road.)
At EVERBREAD we work with all the professional nomads on the road. AND PEOPLE IN THIS INDUSTRY ARE: ON THE FUCKING ROAD. Many have 140+ travel days – and most have lived in more than 6 countries. These people are a small group of people who really know what it means to be alone and suffer. (of course, taking out the high compensation they get for the misery on road ;).
And we work with all of them. To disrupt an industry that has been focused on getting around technology obstacles and doing pricing rather than shopping. Because despite all the +30Y technology products and philosophy that goes into this business, we still trust the human touch, the Pulley boy, to go and pull out the best fare in the market, because the person on the other line of the phone knows how to fly people for the right price. And that human part was in effect not changeable. I think that given the history and complexity of this industry, we, the bunch of smart people I work with and myself, have been able to defy a market and a philosophy that has been constrained by the technology limits. The product that will allow the automatic selection for the right route based on the right price for the right person… You and Me. Wow – sound like an american infomercial.
Its Even Possible to Sell Non-Revenue Companies
I did warn all in one of my latest blogposts about the danger of building companies, whose raison d’etre is only to disrupt (thats not why EVERBREAD is alive – we will make MONEY MONEY MONEY). But I did not say that its stupid to go into a sector where you can sell a company with no real cashflow for a fortune. Such companies should be careful in how they make friends and enemies, especially given the fact that if you have Asthon Kutcher as an investor, you can get 5-6mio$ investment – for something that will take Expedia and Kayak 3 days to copy (and by the way, something that was showcased by ITA 5 years ago). Plus a company like the AMMASING Tripit.com - just got sold for 120mio – nearly without revenue (i think). No wonder I love this.
I thank the Wright Bros
- every day. Both for giving me the chance to get around with having to use trains only and because they created this AMAZING INDUSTRY. That I’m just about to get under my skin…
Always remember the luck part. I was dumb-founded for 12 months – putting all my trust in Assen Vassilev (my founder) and his amazing vision. It’s all about luck – I needed a Job and Assen needed a guy crazy enough to dare to jump this 100% disruption of air fair search…
PS. The big secret behind Everbreadss SPEED is – Filip (The Wunderkind), Ian (The Stoic), Ann (The Wonderwoman) – and +50 People (PHDs to Office managers) who all take this seriously and get up pretty early and go to bed late. Lets just call it hard work.
PPS. sorry to post without giving you insights to our product and strategy :)
The worlds biggest economy is mostly FREE and CALLED NETWORKING. Its a dangerous animal – it can be the fastest way to success as well as it can it can suck you dry.
With DLD (one of the best conferences in EU) coming up and with my own praising of St Gallen’s Symposium (blogpost here) – I feel that I have to do a brain dump on conference and networking. Its mostly a closed club and you have to be invited to the really hardcore and best ones. It takes a lot of hard work and luck to get there – and off course you also want to be invited to the speakers dinners etc – if you are untamed curious and want to see whats really happening behind the scenes.
I started out back in 1996 by pretending to be a journalist (blogging was not really a term) – I wrote that I had a blog ( we had e.magazine.dk) and wanted to cover events like Sime (since I could not pay the fees)- and they did send me a ticket (or two) – and I went to interview the Speakers with my old Sony HighCam (as big as a truck) – having my xwife to hold the cam. That was a silly fast way to get under the skin of the techstars of the time – hanging out with Jack Ma, The Razorfish Dudes, The Swedish DotCom Superstars of the 90′ies (what a circus)…
“PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON’T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT PEOPLE LIKE ME AS A MEMBER”.
Groucho Marx – said it in a weird way. I dont really understand what he wants to say – since I really believe the reverse. Find the clubs that wants you and move on from there… :)
Many people call me to acces my network – and Im very proud to know a lot of really nice, funny and often interesting people. A good network is silly important if you want to bypass or even disrupt any structure (business or bureaucracy) - and it has been the main reason for most of my ups – but also for my downs… So I have to warn all of you guys out there.
(Am I just doing one more warning? Shit Im getting old – but well maybe I have always been :) – just taking a childish aporach).
- Be extremely carefull with networking – it can become a fulltime job if you are not very care full.
- Be 100% honest.
- Hang out with people who are smarter then you.
- Do more favours then you get*.
- Combine the info you get – and start sampling and testing the value and the truth level.
- Ask a gazillion questions! And dont be shy to look like and idiot just because you dont understand an acronym – there will for sure be 25-50% others who dont get it… I always ask and ask and ask – and many times I have tried that a lecturer doesnt even know anacronym.. :)
- Trade information – let people who are not super interresting for you right now – what you want in return (info not money or food) -
Plant tons of smart hearth driven seeds – and be longterm = follow your dreams, interest and hearth and adjust your materialistic dreams fast.
*life is not fair – and you will for sure ending up giving a lot of energi and brainpower – before you can harvest.
Dont Be Fooled By The Few Successes
Dear Highly Valued reader – and potential entrepreneurs of the 2011 class. I know that Im one of the most intensive promoters of entreprenuerial lifestyle in the techworld. Ups and Downs – Good and Bad – Fantastic and Horrible. I know a lot you highly valued readers are either entreprenuers – who reads my bullshit – just to get confirmed that there are people more crazy then you. Or you are wannabees who just flirt with the idea – or you are just about to jump into it…
Valuation Hysteria Is Comming
I feel that I have to state it AGAIN: It takes about 5 years and its seldomly without profit you can sell companies for sky high numbers – and get a chance to be called an over night succes…
Im working more then ever -
and I feel more succesfull then ever.
And I think the technology entreprenuers are having a better time then ever.
But be carefull – we are on a direct path to a new tech hystria – Facebook and Groupon drives it - these companies are historically growth monsters breaking all existing rules for generating growth and profits. And they inspirethousands of people to go into tech ventures*. AND ITS GREAT – the Kaufamann Foundation points at entreprenuers and entreprenuership driving nearly all Jobs Creation in the US. We need Startups to create those jobs – to preserve the biggest luxury we dont remember on daily basis: Social Stability in many many coutries. But.
But There Is A But
But Twitter (and Skype) is planting a dangerous virus in the newcomming entreprenuers heads.
But I have to warn all the startups who thinks HAVING NO REVENUE MODEL LIKE TWITTER is a way to build a company. A company has to make CASH – one way or the other…
Its VERY SELDOM that a company can be sold on promise, idea, userbase or disruption alone. Write it on your laptop!
I still recommend everyone who gets goosebumps – when they visualise a day where they have their own company – and decide themselves what to do – and work on exactly what they love to do! But remember its shit hard – and you still have to do a lot of household stuff – like taking out the garbage and deal with crazy good competitors from the whole world… Its not heaven – but its close – and I love it. LOVE IT. Its takes just in between 5years and a lifetime to make it. Just get used to it – you probably have to be a bit crazy – look who is writing.
*The Scial Network (the movie) – is one big promotion and vocabulary on building a company and reaching the skies – off course also showing that capitalism is hardcore. But get used to it – it insanely competitive.
Im a Apple FAN, I love Jobs, I cry when I see his Stanford speach – I nearly stand in line when they launch a new category killer. I AM A FAN.
I get high when I see how Apple makes money like no one else (I love rebounds) – I love to talk about how smart (nearly psychic) they are launching Pro, Air, iPad, iPhone, Nano… all with a perfect range of disk size 320GB, 128GB, 64GB, 64GB, 16GB – and me a perfect EXCUSE FOR HAVING ONE OF EACH :)
But I also love that – no matter how FUCKED UP SMART – and HOW FUCKED UP CLOSED the iTunes loop is. I’ve started using a better service – SPOTIFY. They are cornering iTunes on their own devices – looove it. I can have all the music I want (FREE WITH ADDS) – SUBSCRIBE (or get a voucher) AND I CAN go into offline mode and bring SELECTED MUSIC to the plane (or other of theose last and rare places without internet) – but always have NEARLY ALL MUSIC IN THE WORLD when on the www-grid.
For Apple its classsic situation – the WEB2.0 is just so fast and smart (and now the fucked up record industry has woken up and handed out more lisences) – and even Apple (my heroes) becomes a legacy hell. And iTunes is YESTERDAY – subscription ALL YOU CAN EAT is TODAY.
Wondering whats tommorow – old school Radio (or Rdio :) ? Well lets face it – growing up is hard – remember back in the teen years when you could throw a big party just by dialing via that old land-line phone and having a venue…
On the contrary Im just blow away by Facebook – I liked the movie and Peter Thiels response. And not only did I like the Facebook Message announcement – but I was blow away by this interview with Founder “Field Suckermountain” – he is pure BRILLIANT AND INTELLIGENT.
Talking iTunes and Spotify: YES Facebook can do a Spotify in 6 moths (and buy it in 1 ) – they are becomming such a defacto – and now you have MONSTER BRAND sites just looking like facebook (and its not design stealing – no no – just a fussy and comfy design). This example tells a LOT
Spend your day well. And remember rule number 6 (Don’t take yourself too serious).
Im just wondering when the Airlines and Travel Agencies all over the world will be wearing EVERBREAD shoes.
Bla bla bla bla..
Well in reality Im happier then ever.
I have tried a LOT – but nothing like this travelshow EVERBREAD had 4 people participating in, in Singapore. With the creame de la creme of the Travel Industry at WIT Singapore (http://www.webintravel.com/). The lady behind this show Yeoh Siew Hoon - is the REAL ENTREPRENUER – someone who does stuff that is really challenging and risky. EVENTS like these are game changing for any disruptive B2B company.
Rmember: Only B2B
When good becomes great.
The EVERBREAD team was so amasing – working together in this homogenous and tense way that even real good startups seldomly experience. WHen good becomes great. But off course it feels good when all the major players and the smartest guys in the industry wants to talk you AND WE SIGNED 10+ contracts at a conference. But it felt like spring – after very long 16months of winter (development and client tests) and trying to tell the market that EVERBREAD IS FOR REAL. SHOUTING: “Yes – we are able to do search better then anyone else in travel.”
Being Back In Asia
I got some amassing insiders to how Asia works – I love to hang out with the people who really make business happen in an exploding city/region. And I must say that my relations with the Singaporean government and one of the largest companies got to a whole new level. Wish I could say more… :)
Getting on the MAP
Any startup needs small miracles – and we also have one of them in Singapore – when CNBC suddenly invited us on the SQUAK BOX – and after this little clip – I suddenly realised that some people actually still watch television (or maybe just investors :). And our phone has been ringing like mad ever since.
SOME WEIRD STUFF you might wanna know:
A) You can get frre land in the land of the free – link
B) The people at Tradeshift got a Parrot Drone you can controle with an iPad – delivered to the office - video
C) Here are my notes to a TRADESHIFT movie we are making.
You are wondering
about why Im angry – when I post like a very happy Saliery who just succeeded in stressing Mozart.
But one of my secrets is that when I do something – I really do it all the way. AND now that Im running a company – I really (NATURALLY) dive 100% into the spirit of being a CEO and the spirit of the Business – and hang out with only SUPER FOCUS CEO’s who are in MY EXCACT SITUATION. Its about 5-6 and all of us are having the same problem with VCs, Private Equity, Pension Funds – say Investors.
Everyone one in this CEOgroup says the same – after getting some tracktion they suddenly feel that ALL OF THE INVESTOR UNIVERSE WANTS THEM AND ARE (WULFF)HUNGRY FOR THE SAME COMPANY – but 99,5% of these institutions are all about saying: We really like this (sounds like WE ARE READY TO TRANSFER MONEY – for any CEO/Founder) – lets follow you guys closely. And by the way – we know this guy X – he is an industry expert (and can eat all you time as a CEO – because he has no job or is silly rich and bored – and shit ass clever very oftenly).
- so they reject you and say the magic words: “Can You Come … Later”*
*Its makes me even more angry that I was the same way 4-5 times in my time as investor – using time as a parameter to get the comany closer to the edge – here called: Bankruptcy. Only problem is that if I could just have acted like any big fund that I talk about about. Well – then I probobly could have had a VERY LARGE FUND – But not the people, the daily miracles and the fun I have with my amasing latest adoptions: EVERBREAD and Tradeshift** :)
** On Tradeshift thing are so crazy wild and I cant really comment on anything. One thing I want to say is that: I think we just fixed some lower level global problems . its a long story (maybe the film will take more then 50sec) – again I cant say more – just that its beautiful and you will love it. Specially the ones of you who are noble Real Three Huggers – who didn’t forget about the environment just because it becoming mainstream.
“I think we can tell ourselves “everything” to survive and turn every crappy situation in something good”.
Im really trying to see what could be wrong – every day. I feel that Im not allowed to be happy. And I feel so deeply happy despite the fact that I went bankrupt and lost everything. Since I swapped the Amex Black Card with a calling card – and my houses went on forced sale (dont know the english word). In the back of my head Im still wounded – my pride – my facade is not happy with this shit. But Im back on my feet and own most of what I had before – and dept that is manageable.
I LOVE THIS
But my life is 100 times more intense and real now. The daily flow with the EVERBREAD team and the 2-3 phone calls with the TRADESHIFT founders – is something I enjoy.
Well thats obvious – when things are possitive and moving forward like a rocket-ship trough the stratosphere… But I like to have controle over whats going on – I like to be deeeeply into the details and solve real problems and off course SELL SELL SELL. I love it.
On the other side I unfortunately have to say: “Thank you so much for thinking of me – but NO THANX” – to a lot of interesting projects and startups (4-10 pr week). But thats not hard anymore – it was in the beginning since evaluating new ideas, projects and companies was what I did for 5-7years. Although I was bad at EVERYTHING after first meeting and transferring cash. My problem: I had a table so full of amassing dishes and I did not know where to start nor where to end my days… I was distracted.
I STILL FEEL GUILT
Maybe one of the things that really makes me angry with myself – is that quite some people lost money on my too wild newspaper venture-ride. And off course – IT IS SOMETHING THAT I SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF. Everyone knew this was high risk – and 80% on the suplier side got over paid – but still it might have taken some of the 20% down – and I HATE IT. Also I really hate that all these people suddenly had no job.
Besides that – it feels like the lesson was needed. To go back to the humility – and not just blow it all up. But instead – I should probobly have saved some energi and money. And spend some time – sitting all still – on PAUSE – to preserve and be proud of what I had. Hmmm…
Next time. Next time it must be…!
I WAS ALWAYS TOO YOUNG
One of the big problems with getting wealthy and successful as a very young mann is that:
A) You dont get an upgrade on you brainchip – but everyone around you suddely listens too all you bullshit. And you find yourself in situations ALL THE TIME – where you are asked questions – where you have no clue about the answers.
B) Believing your own BULLSHIT – suddenly you start actually believing all the bullshit you say and think – and all the edgy ideas becomes: “Something we just do with a good team and throw some money at…”
C) THE REAL PROBLEM. You cant attract older and wise tallent – its hard to spend the time it takes to build trusted relationships to mentors, partners and fresh entrepreneurs. Thats where I went all wrong.
Should you ever end up in that situation, I can only advise you to do what you have to do. But try if you can tame the flame a bit – and find someone elder to get advise. For me its been a journey – and still is – I have learned that money really matters less and the energi from within is not at all tamed.
I have learned it all on my own body – and Im taking my own medicine:
People, People, People is everything – FOCUS HARD – very careful with hallucinating visionaries – and 100% focus on the fact that succes comes from sales not from funding…
Maybe nothing is wrong – maybe Im just happy and lucky to have the ability to adjust. Like I have done trough all the years as a pretty edgy entrepreneur. I’ve never had a book or a blog where I could read about thoughts like this – and I would probably not have listened. Its nearly impossible to learn from others when you are as selfmade as most successful entrepreneurs. But I want to say one thing: REMEMBER TO BE PROUD OF THE SMALL THINGS YOU ACHIEVE – and dont be shy to defend your achievement instead of hunting the next big thing.
Since I can see all this (and even get it into writing.
It looks like Im getting old and loosing the REBEL inside :( – Maybe I am – since Im now doing B2B software – hardcore science and business structuring.
But what the heck.
I FUCKING LOVE IT. Its never too late for a fresh start – BINGO!
PS having close friends, advisors and being in love really helps
(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.
Impact – by teaming up with MONSTER BRAINS.
- seems to be what really trickers me. And I cant really go into detail on the busines impact that I feel I have been a part of over the last 12 months. But Google was so kind (99% or anti trust reasons) to
Remember: I was bankrupt – I had no clue what would happen to my house (where the kids lived with their mother) – I had no control of my portfolio / AND THE WORLD WAS HIT BY THE BIGGEST FINANCIAL CRISIS POST WAR…
It was not really until Friday I understood how much (read on)
Impact EVERBREAD already has
Here is notes from our internal daily newletter (and yes that the level of profesionalism we strive for at EVERBREAD) when Google bought our competitor ITA for 700mioUSD – and chose to mention EVERBREAD IN ALL SLIDES
BIG G BUYS ITA
The entire industry is buzzing about it. After quite some time evaluating the product, Google closed the deal at $700 million, buying out air travel search tech provide ITA Software. The team (500) as well as QPX will be in the hands of the Mountain View search giant, but timing on when exactly that will go live to consumers was not confirmed by Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt. According to Schmidt and Marissa Mayer, Google will try to provide flight information in innovative way and refer travelers to websites where they can complete the booking, but overall, the two Google execs deferred questions on future developments. In that case, Kayak should be a bit worried (as a horde of article already mention that), as well as Bing (Wired’s magazine is priceless – Google Dings Bing….) and Expedia, Orbitz and quite a few of the rest big boys right there.
The FTC and the Justice Department will be looking into the deal to ensure there is enough competition out there. Also, something that you might have not read yet in the crazy article storm – apparently, ITA’s revenue is not enough to require European Commission involvement, which is definitely a good sign for the deal to come through.
Some interesting pieces:
Press Release ITA: http://bit.ly/bjDbRo
Press Release Google: http://investor.google.com/releases/2010/0701.html
Search Engine Land (a very, very good piece): http://selnd.com/akyv6o
Simply very hard to understand from a time persepctive (11months) – but obvious when you see your product live…!
At the same time Trade-Shift Happens
Again – I was contacted by people with drive, brains and experiences that is BEYOND NORMAL. And we have been working like mad ants to get our visionlive – here is a guest post from co-founder Christian Lanng (and yes – I have taken the chairman seat after ending bankruptcy).
Inside the hype machine
Tradeshift has officially existed for 9 months and 4 days and it’s still
hard to understand how far we have come. I keep being reminded whats
possible with the right team, and timing. But had I not met Morten exactly
a year ago and had he not been bankrupt, we would probably never have
developed the idea that became Tradeshift, we would not have had the
focus or time needed.
The idea is really pretty simple, that all business should be able to connect
and trade as simply as people connected on Facebook. To which the
most common reaction have been, are you sure that have not been done
before? And the simple answer is: no – for many reasons.
That does not mean Tradeshift was created overnight (no such thing as
overnight successes exist. We spend the last 5 years before Tradeshift
creating the worlds first p2p business infrastructure in Denmark, and
after that participated in global standardization of the e-business field, so
we had a lot of knowledge with us to begin with, but together with that
knowledge a lot of frustration.
Most solutions in the market, was expensive, poorly designed and typically
only worked with one big partner at the time. So Tradeshift represents our
bet, at a solution to the problem of connecting business online, but this
does not mean we think it is perfect, far from.
@Hartvig Hit the nail spot-on, when he criticized the beta product we
launched in May in Denmark (in Danish: http://hartvig.com/2010/5/19/
px) – we had been so focused on getting the fundamentals right (simple,
free, global), that we missed a few points:
• Product / Market fit might differ substantially in your launch market
and target markets
• If your product is hyped it can NEVER live up to the hype, people will
be disappointed get used to the idea
• Don’t be afraid to show the world where you are going, stealth is for
cowards (ML: COWarD$!)
Product / Market fit:
All start-up theory talks about reaching the mythical product / market fit.
And as a start-up you are soon faced with a dilemma, should you design
your solution for your home market or should you aim your ideal market
from the beginning. In the end it’s a matter of logistics and cash. In our
case we choose to go for the big play right out of the box, building a truly
global product for small business invoicing, but we chose to launch it in our
home market first.
• Only 50% of the 20M small business in Europa have an accounting
package or use an accounting package in their business, these
where our starting point (they have no fixed idea how business
software should be and are therefore a good starting point for
• Make sure you get localization right, test, test and test some more.
NO translation agency or copywriter can get it completely right, in
the end rely on your users to give you the right feedback (we learned
this the hard way).
• When we launched in Denmark, we launched in a market hugely
different from most of our target markets, more than 70% of the
companies have accounting software, and they expect all invoicing
solutions to work with this out of the box, so instead of disrupting we
immediately felt the pressure to conform to the existing solutions.
In the end this taught us some extremely valuable lessons, and after
the initial backlash we saw that the product had a completely different
reception in Germany and UK, where most small business don’t have
accounting software. Luckily we did not panic and over focused on the
Danish feedback, but we where left with some depressed supporters.
The hype machine
Working closely with Morten Lund, you realize that he is a marketing
monster early on, I don’t know if many others in Europe could have pulled
off landing some of the interviews we got early on, in Wired, Techcrunch,
etc. what most people don’t know, is he is able to do this, because he
has a no-bullshit attitude to reporters and journalists and they like that,
and in the end it always comes down to the content, not who made the
The dark-side of the hype machine is also very obvious, we where
stunned to see the tweets and some of the news being circulated about
what Tradeshift was and could do (basically we would disrupt the worlds
financial system single-handedly, while creating peace in the middle-east).
As the hype grew you suddenly got caught in a catch22, improve on your
product, so it can live up the hype or release early, and risk disappointing a
lot of people. In the end we took the tough decision to release what we felt
was a very early version of the product.
Today we are very happy we did this, some of the feedback we have
gotten in the last few months have really changed the direction and priority
we have given to a lot of features. Instead of sitting in “stealth” mode
imagining what the world would want from Tradeshift (Did anybody say
Duke Nuke’m Forever?). But we don’t forget the cost, we disapointed a lot
of people, and ironically instead of just shrugging it off, this is one of the
things that drive us today, and our development effort – we want to make
sure that we can deliver on the initial promises (maybe not peace in the
Don’t be afraid
That leads me to the last part, today there is all to often a sort of secrecy
culture around start-up projects, people are afraid of getting whole ideas or
concepts ripped of, in the early days it made a lot of sense, when products
where basically “mail on the web” and it was all about getting that critical
As a start-up there is no such thing as getting your ideas spread too early,
and even though we have some very advanced magic going on on the
inside of Tradeshift, I always know that it can get ripped off in 6 months by
the right team, but I’m not afraid since i know how much further we will be
in those 6 months, and furthermore I know we have the vision, the idea of
where we are going, and they do not or else they would be there by now.
Thats also why we put our roadmap (link: http://tradeshift.zendesk.com/
entries/195589-the-next-3-months-of-tradeshift) , out open on the internet
for the next 3 months for everybody to see, that means my competition
can see it too, but in the end they can’t win just by copying what we will do
next, they have to understand why we do it and that takes the vision.
All in all, I’m extremely proud of where we are today, but I still feel we have
a lot of promises to fulfill, that’s what makes the next 9 months and 4 days
Stuff I think you should think (deeplyabout)
TELL IT LIKE IT IS: Ohh finaly someone a Microsoft woke up at gave us a sign that the shark still has teeth – some dude in Cooperate Communication – Frank X. Shaw – did a blogpost that I love (and look at 30min a day). Its outlining how small everyone else is compared to Microsoft (and for startups is scary!! but also a great inspiration) / read here
YOU CAN DO IT: Another very interesting thing is the power of formerly young men – who are now grownups and have a LOT of power in the tech industry. EVERBREAD (announcing big thing within the next 4h) – would NEVER have been where we are if it wasn’t for a post potsmoking surfer called Michael Arrington and his UK work monster Mike B. AND The NYC scene is now booming thanx to many things – not the least Mr Calacanis and C Dixon – who apparently never sleeps. My conclusion: YOU CAN DO IT!!