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Internet/media December 4, 2013

Tuesday lunch break with Henrik Lenberg

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On Tuesday (Dec 3), the FastForward startups caught up for lunch with Henrik Lenberg, former VP at SoundCloud. During two years in Berlin, and two in San Francisco, Henrik was part of the core team that turned the music platform into its current state.

Now back in Stockholm, Henrik’s got his sight set on establishing his own music creation startup. The ex-Soundclouder also regularly coaches and teaches, to inspire and encourage other entrepreneurs.

Here are some of the insights Henrik shared with us:

Quit your job
“I think people should be faster at leaving their jobs and trying something new, when they feel they’re not doing the right thing.” Henrik is indeed a man of his own word. When he felt he was ready for a new challenge, and wanted to move back to Sweden, he picked up his things and left his position at SoundCloud

Start with why
Initiate a sustainable vision, or ideology, before establishing a business, is another great advice from Henrik. Most successful startups didn’t have a clear plan for becoming billion-dollar companies when they started. Focus on solving a problem that you care about, and have a clear “why” behind the business idea and concept

Think big but start small
According to Henrik, it’s important to steer away from thinking too big too fast. Having said that, a strong ambition is crucial, and there’s nothing wrong with an overarching goal of taking over the world – at some stage. Being a big advocate of the lean startup model, Henrik points out that a startup doesn’t need to have a crystal-clear idea initially. Rather, that’s a part of the iteration process, and will probably change over time.

A good team is your most valuable asset
This is perhaps of no surprise to anyone. Finding the perfect team is an enormous challenge. “If you’ve got a great little team, that is willing to commit, work together and start up a business together – but simply unsure of what kind of business – just get on with it!” A strong team is an incredible asset. Henrik discusses this further on his website: “I believe a great team is usually more valuable than a great idea, and that great ideas usually come from great people working on problems together.”

Make sure you’re geared up
Starting your own business inevitably means you need to be ready for it – on all levels. Somewhat financially, but most important: mentally. Persistency is an important skill shared by all successful entrepreneurs. Once the business starts moving, the energy and full attention has to be there every day, all day – from the entire team.

During the lunch, Henrik mentioned the following books for everyone involved in building a startup:

Thanks Henrik for coming over. Good luck with your startup, we look forward to seeing more of you and your creations in the near future!

Rekrytering February 4, 2013

5 reasons why startups fail

80-90% of all technology startups never reach their initial vision to become a large international growth company. Since I started STING 2002, I have seen more than 100 startups pass through our Business Accelerator. Some have already become international companies and some are on their way. But I have also seen several of our startups fail. There is, of course, not one single explanation, but I can definitely see a pattern among those who fail, and I would like to share these observations with you.

The most common reason for failure has to do with the team. For instance, if the founders and key players do not share the same vision of where they want to be in 5-10 years, they will sooner or later enter into a frustrating conflict on that topic. The result is often loss of time or worse; the company is closed down.

Teams with a shared vision of their roles, and of the company’s goal and strategy, have a much higher success rate. And it’s clear that those who do not very early develop a well-thought-out shareholders agreement tend to run into conflicts later on.

A startup’s success is also related to the energy and ambition of the founders. To build a large international growth company, the key persons must be willing to work extremely hard without much payment for many years and move to other countries. Having that kind of drive and international ambition is necessary.

What about the team competence? It is not required that the founders have all the required top skills between themselves – BUT, they must have the ability, the will and the magnetic power to attract those top people to the team. And startups who succeed often recruit individuals that are overqualified at the time of hiring, because they’re planning and preparing for the time when the company will grow into a larger organization.

Another observation relates to all industries having their specific rules and business logic. Teams who don’t understand this early enough and wait to bring on board people with relevant industry know how, tend to have a much longer way to market. Therefore, they are often out paced by other teams that do have the relevant industry know how, especially within sales and marketing.

My final observation is that startups that do not care about creating a strong, dynamic corporate culture and reinforcing the company’s vision and goal, have a much lower chance of succeeding. As always, it is all about people!

NEWS November 30, 2015

New business coach at STING: Karin Ruiz

Karin-Ruiz_LOWRecently Karin Ruiz joined the STING team as business coach within cleantech and health.

For more than 20 years, Karin has worked in international business development, marketing and sales management positions in both startup companies, multinational corporations and government agencies. Karin’s broad industry background covers health and medical services, Internet/media, ICT, WASH and Food, and the companies Capio and Tetra Pak. During more than five years, Karin was CEO of Peepoople, which gave her valuable experience in BoP markets, social entrepreneurship and expansion in developing countries.

Great to have you onboard Karin!

> Get to know Karin
> Get to now the rest of the STING team

NEWS August 13, 2015

APPRL secures 1 million SEK

Fashion tech company APPRL raises 1 million SEK in a seed round led by the private investor Jonas Dromberg. APPRL, a STING Accelerate alumni, enables bloggers and media to monetize their traffic by forwarding the traffic to online stores.

> Read more about APPRL

NEWS August 29, 2014

The STING story

Sweden’s tech scene is thriving, and we know great things are happening in our startup community – but it’s time to make sure the rest of “startup world” knows what’s going on here!

For that reason, the tech blog Swedish Startup Space compiled “The STING Story“, showing how STING has contributed to the Stockholm tech scene since inception.

SSS-Sting-infographic-v2-web-2000px-1000x2353 (1)

Courtesy of Swedish Startup Space

NEWS July 15, 2014

Codarica relocates to Los Angeles for Disney and Techstars

Codarica has been selected as one of 11 companies for the mentorship and investment program Disney Accelerator, powered by Techstars. The program runs for fifteen weeks, and gives the startups access to mentorship from top Disney executives, up to $120,000 in investment capital to develop their companies as well as special access to resources from across The Walt Disney Company.

The Codarica team recently graduated from the STING FastForward program’s second batch. The startup provides digital programming material for children with help from characters Cody Coder and Holly Hacker.

We wish them good luck on this journey, and for the future!

> Read more about Disney Accelerator program
> Read more about Codarica