I started working at a company that I found interesting. Today I want to share my experience with you. The company is called Fyndiq and there are two parts that I would like to share with you from this work. Firstly, the business idea. Fyndiq has no own products. It is a well-known platform, or website, in which merchants can integrate their web shops. Merchants are happy to be part of Fyndiq because their products reach customers without making own advertisements. Good for merchants, good for the end customers and good for Fyndiq.

The second point I would like to share with you is the way Fyndiq treats their employees. It is much about having fun at the job. Can you imagine a work where you can take a break the time you find appropriate to play ping-pong, billiard, play-station, table football and many other games?

For me, it is very inspiring way about how a company may invest their employees. It is not about to stress them with strict rules to force them achieve as many tasks as possible. It is rather about finding a good way to bring up their creativity.

Unfortunately I will work there until July and then I leave.

As vulgar as it sounds, people fuckup all the time and that’s the reason why the organizers name their events as Fuckup Morning Stockholm. Entrepreneurs experience setbacks and failures all the time but learning how to manage these setbacks on the route to success can be a tough journey. However, on the success stories of many entrepreneurs, these setbacks/failures were rarely being discussed. In this event, we had great take-aways from 3 main speakers who spoke about the f***ups they had before they achieved the success they have today.

a. Try and fail but never fail to try

Andreas Vural is the founder and President at Happy Plugs. Integrating fashion, design and music, Andreas created his company – Happy Plugs which sold earphones. One of the setbacks he faced during his entrepreneurial journey is that the ear plugs froze because of the cold weather and it broke when people wrapped their ear phones around their phones. This was a major setback but he did not give up and his product is sold in 6,000+ retailers in over 7000 countries worldwide now. This shows that you must always try and the worst thing is that one fails to put in the effort to try anything.

b. Turn your f***up story into something positive

Emilia de Poret, at the age of 23, was working with a record company and this bring about her pop-star dream. However, for a period of time, she could not contact anyone from the company. As she was wondering what’s wrong, she realized that she got fired by the company. Her dream crashed overnight but after 2 weeks of being in despair, she decided to turn her life around. She took charge of her own life and setup her own music production company which is now a success today. Emilia believes that f***ups do make your life interesting and one should always turn it into something positive. I feel that this is the spirit that entrepreneurs should have because one is likely to face failures and setbacks along the way and if you are able to turn it into something positive, the f***up event might be an opportunity for you instead.

Emilia also talks about her partner and mentioned that one should not do everything alone. Try to find a partner or a team because when there are successes, there will be double happiness and likewise, double f***ups, if it happens. Find people around you to become your partners/teams or network with others and if you find someone interesting, talk to them because you will never know what comes out of it.

c.  Find your customers!

Peder Dinkelspiel is a web entrepreneur with a lot of new ideas and he’s constantly working on new and interesting projects once he has a new idea. He’s inspiring because when someone has an idea, they usually think of a hundred and one reasons to kill the idea but he doesn’t. Peder knew nothing much about technology but with an interest in it, he went on to learn them on his own from the library. In my opinion, not many people have the perseverance to do that but he made it and is now working in the tech-based entrepreneurship industry right now with new ideas springing up every now and then.

During the Q&A session, he was asked about getting investors for his idea. Fortunately for him, he was mainly self-funded and do not have to rely on investors. However, one thing that struck me was when he mention that the most important thing is to find your customers. Once you get your first/second/third customer, they are important for your business. This is so much better than finding an investor because having customers prove that there is a potential for the idea to work in future.

The event has been an eye-opener for me and I have indeed learnt a lot from the session. (:

Recently, while completing the Individual homework for the Technology based entrepreneurship class, one question kept popping up in my mind. Is the freemium model really a revenue model or just a marketing strategy?

According to Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur, Business Model Generation : A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers, the term “freemium” was coined by Jarid Lukin and popularized by venture capitalist Fred Wilson on his blog. It stands for business models, mainly Web-based, that blend free basic services with paid premium services. The freemium model is characterized by a large user base benefiting from a free, no-strings-attached offer. Most of these users never become paying customers; only a small portion, usually less than 10 percent of all users, subscribe to the paid premium services.

Now as I was doing the assignment, my focus was on the Internet software and services industry and for the question, “What companies are most likely to disappear in the nearest future within that industry?” I noticed that most of the companies at risk of failure had one thing in common, freemium as a revenue model.

For example, one at risk company I identified was Evernote – a service that lets you take notes of everything, which in my opinion has lost it’s focus. Instead of focusing on its core note-taking product and on converting users to the paid service, they instead spent more time pumping out new releases that often don’t live up to expectations in order to gain as much interaction with potential paying users. Freemium will widen your customer segment, potentially leading to a flood, but if your customer and business development strategy aren’t guiding your existing customers to premium users with little or no customer acquisition costs, you simply have a disaster of support, hosting, and frustration costs for customers that don’t want to upgrade. Another company I found that could be at risk is Spotify, simply because in this generation where we are not willing to pay market value for music, I won’t lie I am also among these stubborn few, pushing a customer up to a premium subscription takes an extraordinary amount of intimate knowledge about their behaviour and incentives, let alone who that customer is out of the different personas you could be targeting. Hopefully in the future generations, people will be more willing to pay for music, who knows…

Another company is Flickr – a platform for sharing photos and videos which was already acquired back in 2005 for around $25 million by Yahoo, I know Flickr can’t be compared to the unicorns mentioned above, but this is just another example to prove my point. Now Yahoo is trying to sell it off again, the photo service that was once poised to take on the the world has now become an afterthought. This one’s main problem I believe is because they sold out to Yahoo, which didn’t share the same vision as the original founders of the photo sharing service. On acquisition, the Flickr team was forced to focus on integration, not innovation. All Yahoo cared about was the database its users had built and tagged, it didn’t care about the community that had created it and like I said before about how knowing your customer is key to higher conversion rates, this was just another recipe for disaster.

I could go on and on with examples of companies struggling with the freemium model but the question still remains, is it really a revenue model or just a marketing strategy? Successful companies like MailChimp – a mailing list service, were around for 10 years before they launched a free plan. Essentially, freemium didn’t lead them to being a good business. Being a good business drove them to freemium.

With that thought, what do you think, revenue model or just marketing strategy?

For another class, that I really encourage you to take (Business Model Innovation – ME2815), I studied the case of WhatsApp. As I found it really interesting, it seemed to me that it could be cool to share my thoughts on the subject with you so we could eventually debate about it.

Everybody knows WhatsApp right? A lot of us are using it everyday, with our friends, our family, and especially those like me who are living abroad. This is a brilliant, easy-to-use, ad-free tool that you must have on your phone today. In 2015, almost one in seven person on Earth was using WhatsApp every month [1].

For this assignment, I had to describe WhatsApp business model. I decided to describe it following the definition of a business model that Alan Afuah gave in his book Business Model Innovation (2014) [2]. According to him this is how we can represent the different components of a Business model:Capture d’écran 2016-04-19 à 16.01.08

  1. Customer Value Proposition: What WhatsApp has to offer to customers?

First of all, WhatsApp is free to use for the first year. It is a better and cheaper alternative for customers to send each other messages without having to pay for SMS or MMS. WhatsApp is an IP-based software (software that use the Internet Protocol to deliver content), thus in order to be able to use the application and send messages to his contact, the user only needs a WiFi connection or a data access plan.

WhatsApp is not only a text based messaging application, it is a real time messenger with several features such as: the ability to create groups, send each other images, video and audio media messages, share geographical positions and so on.

WhatsApp is available on every different Smartphone Operating System, but also on a lot of regular phones (with limited functionality), allowing therefore anyone with a phone and an Internet connection to use the Application and be reachable by everyone. It is also important to note that you can use WhatsApp even if you don’t have a phone or a smartphone. Indeed there is a Desktop version of WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is an incredibly easy app to use; it is in WhatsApp’s philosophy to keep it as simple as possible, just like their revenue model that I will discuss later. They want the app to be easy to download (be accessible on every application download platform), and easy to use. For example, because of their partnership with Facebook, once the application is installed you can see all the WhatsApp users among your Facebook contacts and directly chat with them, same thing with the contacts already registered in your phone.

Another recent and very interesting Customer value proposition is the fact that every message sent on WhatsApp is encrypted. With billions of messages sent every month on WhatsApp this point is a really good and impressive value added to the application.

  1. Market Segments: Who are the WhatsApp customers?

The median age of a WhatsApp user was 36 years old at the end of 2013, but because it is really easy to use the app is used by adults of all ages. WhatsApp is also very popular among teenager users. It can be explained by the possibility of having group conversations, the ability to send unlimited amount of images, audio messages and so on. WhatsApp is really popular among the community of people living abroad because of the possibility to send messages over the entire planet they can stay in touch with their home friends and family.

  1. Revenue Model: How is WhatsApp generating revenue from customers?

WhatsApp is a subscription service. It is free to use for the first year. Once the free one-year trial period is over, there is a subscription fee of $0.99 USD. It is also important to note that if you originally downloaded WhatsApp for $0.99 USD, then as a “courtesy for having to pay to download the app, you will retain a lifetime subscription” [3].

WhatsApp always refused to use advertising as a source of revenues.

This revenue model can sound really simple but the philosophy of WhatsApp founders has always been to keep their application simple: easy to use, and ad-free, as Jan Koum (WhatsApp co-founder) once said “do one thing, and do it well”[4].

  1. Growth Model: How can WhatsApp grow profitably? 

    If WhatsApp is against the fact to use advertising as a source of revenue, they also spent absolutely nothing on advertising or promoting for their app in order to grow. WhatsApp founders believe that there is no better promoting campaign than word to mouth and having a useful product used globally by everybody. Because of their anti-marketing strategy, their cross-plateform operability (on both smart and feature phones), the privacy and the affordability of the application WhatsApp is enjoying an impressive viral growth.

  2. Capabilities: What are WhatsApp resources and Activities?

WhatsApp physical resources are mainly their server based infrastructure (hardware) that has to deal with the incredible amount of data that the application is producing and their instant messaging application (software).

WhatsApp human resources are not that consequent, indeed the case in 2014 the company only had around 60 employees with a majority of them being engineers. It is also important to note that a part of the development of the application has been possible because of the work of volunteers that helped the developers to translate the application in more than 30 different languages.

WhatsApp organizational resources are composed of their partnerships with Software developers from Russia, and with device manufacturers and telecom operators that helped them to reach more users. In 2014 Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 Billion USD, giving them access to Facebook’s resources. I could also include in the organizational resources the 01 billion people using the application every month giving the company an incredible strength in the market. This large user base is due to the philosophy of affordability, privacy and ad-free that is behind WhatsApp, becoming a trusted brand for the customers.

Is WhatsApp competitive advantage durable?

WhatsApp was a pioneer in the OTT (Over-The-Top applications) world and benefits of the first mover advantage.

They created the market in which they are involved, doing that can be risky because you can face difficulties and these can shut your company down, while in the same time another company comes to the market, learn from your mistakes and becomes bigger than you. That is why the first mover advantage can be a short live advantage or durable advantage.

WhatsApp managed to create the market remaining faithful to their philosophy and building it the way they wanted. This is a proof of excellent management, durability and ability of evolution. WhatsApp have a strong and durable competitive advantage. Not because they have a technology leadership, indeed their technology is not superior to their competitors, but they have resources that are valuable, rare, difficult to imitate and difficult to substitute.

I talked about those resources earlier: their huge user base, and their trusted brand. Those resources are the real difference between WhatsApp and their competitors and they are what will make WhatsApp competitive advantage durable.

I know it might be a long post to read, but if you managed to read it all, do not hesitate to tell in the comments what you think about it!
Also I’m sorry if I made some english mistakes… Let’s not forget that I’m french!



[1]: WhatsApp website; Blog; https://blog.whatsapp.com/616/One-billion

[2]: Sample of Allan Afuah’s book – Business Model Innovation ( 2014) : http://samples.sainsburysebooks.co.uk/9781136656422_sample_553280.pdf

[3]: WhatsApp website; FAQ; https://www.whatsapp.com/faq/en/iphone/30060258

[4]: Growth Hackers website; https://growthhackers.com/growth-studies/whatsapp

As we all know, ideas do not appear out of nowhere. The products/services we have today arises from combinations of different ideas. The generation of a new idea today leads to more ideas that could be created in future. Innovation prospers, as people connect and recombine existing ideas into newer and better ideas that can change or improve their lives. However, people have been putting restrictions (e.g. having trade secrets, putting patents/IPs) on their ideas. This seems to be an ironic case because if restrictions are built, it inhibits innovation.

Mr. Musk, the CEO of Tesla, seemed to understand this ideology where he mentioned that the sharing of patents could help to speed up the process of innovation and create more opportunities for Tesla in the electric car market. However, some investors were not exactly happy as they felt patents were assets of the company.

Personally, I felt that the release of patents could be a smart move for Tesla.
1. Tesla could no longer rely on their patents to survive in the market. This forces the company to innovate continuously instead of being complacent. With disruptive innovation occurring at an unprecedented speed, this is important for Tesla if they want to survive in the market.
2. By releasing patents to the outside world, anyone could improve or modify Tesla’s existing design. As more companies enter the electric car industry, newer and better infrastructure might be setup to support the adoption of electric cars. This will provide more opportunities for Tesla to grow their business which may mean good news for them.
3. Also, having patents may introduce lots of lawsuits and cost Tesla lots of lawyer cost and time. By releasing patents free for all, it will save Tesla lots of trouble and allow them to devote more time/money on R&D for the company.

Despite so, the effects of whether releasing patents for public use is beneficial for society can only be seen in the near future. However, companies like Toyota is also following Tesla’s footsteps by intending to release its patents related to fuel cell technology.

Today the EIT ICT Labs CLC in Stockholm hosted a talk on innovation and entrepreneurship by Nicklas Lundblad. He is Public policy officer at Google, and also an adjunct professor at KTH.

The discussion touched on different topics related to innovation, with a focus on what Google is doing.

As Lundblad said, innovation needs to be useful, therefore it’s important to take a look at how it can be embedded in society. When innovations fail to address people’s needs, they face rejection. For example, Google Glass has been considered a failure under many aspects. The company eventually realised that they were not a viable consumer product, because there was no use case in which people would be willing to use them. On the other hand, certain contexts (e.g. medical practice, construction workers, etc.) proved to be more fruitful.

Lundblad also talked about how government policy can influence the trajectory a company takes and this is especially relevant to Google, which has been under scrutiny in Europe. Legislators argue that the company has a de-facto monopoly in the search market, while they say to be in the “information discovery market”, which is much broader and where competition is more than abundant. While definitely clever, this position only circumvents the issue at stake and I don’t think it is acceptable to have big corporations try to dictate policies and basically undermine regulations in the name of a better market. It is true that the lack of a single digital market has consequences on the entrepreneurial efforts of Europe, as Lundblad highlighted, but the solution is not as easy as Google might make it seem.

The discussion also focused on what innovation really is, and using Google’s mission statement as a reference, Lundblad concluded that it could be said that innovation really is about organising information. In that sense, Google is trying to keep innovating by moving in always new territories.

Overall, this was an extremely interesting event, that nicely touched on many topics we discussed and read about during the course.

Pushbullet is a cross-platform application that aims to connect multiple devices to create a shared user experience: with it you can share your phone’s notifications to your computers, share files/links/notes between devices, and answer messages on your phone from your computer.

Developed by a six-person startup, it’s been described as a life-changing application. It recently received $1.5 million in seed funding, and it’s expanding rapidly: at the moment is available both on desktop (as a browser extension or application) and mobile.

I tried using it with an Android smartphone and a Macbook: in this case it’s especially useful, because otherwise the communication between the two devices would be quite limited.

Read More →

Last Wednesday I went with Niclas to Stockholm Entrepreneurs’ event “Innovation & Disruptive Technologies: Entrepreneurship As A Mindset” at Epicenter. The topic was discussed by a panel with a lot of experience in the field;

Mahesh Kumar – Digital entrepreneur, Innovation advisor

Lisa Renander – Founder of Hus24, ‎Manager & Advisor: Innovation, Entrepreneurship

Yatin Sethi – Innovator and Design Thinker, working on societal challenges

The event was moderated by the serial entrepreneur Peter Fosso, Founder of Global Music Project, NetMusic Entertainment, Stockholm Entrepreneurs.

They covered a lot of big questions about innovation and startups. The panel was very competent so it was really nice and interesting to hear what they thought about innovation in today’s society and also what they thought awaits in the future. The panel interacted with the audience and for example asked a question if we are afraid for anything due to future innovation? Should we? Some responds was about AI and data collection, interesting subjects which could not be covered in depth because of the limited time unfortunately.

Besides the panel discussion Hannes Sjöblad presented shortly Epicenter and his work with implanted microchips, which replaces access cards. He is currently using it to access his office, open his phone and computer and he believes it might replace credit cards and keys in the future. You can read more about it at bionyfiken.se.

Another cool item was presented by Robert Nyman from Google and it was the Google cardboard, http://www.google.com/get/cardboard/index.html. It is a simple cardboard box with two lenses that enables you to experience VR with your phone. Very simple but very fun, check it out.

I had great experience and I can truly recommend Stockholm Entrepreneurs’ events!

Yesterday I went to STHLM Tech Meetup and it was a really good experience. I really like the concept and how they carried out the event. It was a little bit like a talk show with a fun and outgoing host and his sidekick. They started of with some information about what is going on in the Stockholm startup scene and what media is writing about on the topic. It is great to summarize in a forum like this and highlight interesting and actual news.

Foto 2015-02-17 18 28 17

Then they smoothly transitioned to interviews where they talked to KnCMiner and their startup story. They also talked to Bonnier growth media and Dawn capital about what they are up to right now.

After the interviews three startups got the chance to pitch their ideas. The setup for the pitches was really interesting because the host interrupted and asked the jury what they thought so far, when only the basic outlines of the idea were given. It was interesting to see how the persons who pitched handled the situation and the input during the rest of the pitch. This way the pitches got interactive and the audience got a chance to understand what potential investors might think about during a pitch.

I had a really positive experience and can recommend a visit to the STHLM tech meetup which was fun and informative in a relaxed way.