“Some investors have the Napoleon complex”

Acast founder Karl Rosander shares his most important lessons from 25 years of entrepreneurship

Originally published in Swedish in SvD Perfect Guide – November 2, 2020

1. Focus

– Do one thing and do it well. Diverse business ideas are like companies without revenue – just a hobby. Youtube and Slack are two good examples.

Youtube started as a dating site, where you could upload videos and search for partners. It wasn’t really working, until they ignored the dating and focused on letting people upload videos in a smoothly fashion. The rest is history.

Slack was originally a game with a chat feature. After a few years, they skipped the game and focused on making a good chat. The rest is history.

2. Surround yourself with competent people

Having talented people around you is a must. My employment philosophy is ‘hire slow and fire fast’. Recruitment must take time, but if you notice that the person is still not equipped for the job, you cut him or her quickly.

Remember that it is a team effort: no one can do miracles by themselves. The key is to recruit talented people and let them grow. Give responsibility. Give freedom. And let others make money too.

3. Think differently

My partner Måns Ulvestam and I are starting a new venture. I can not tell you much about it, other than that it will be something disruptive. I have no desire to work with companies that do not try to make big changes.

We are now taking on the commercial filter bubbles, where all content is being locked into subscriptions. It leads to digital segregation and is ultimately at risk of becoming a democratic problem. We want to solve just that.

4. Research the investors

As an entrepreneur, it is important to do due diligence on investors. People tend to interpret the world based on their skill set. An excel person will give you Excel thoughts. A salesperson-type will focus on sales.

At Acast I came across an investor with Napoleon Complex. Even though he we said no twice, he came back again and again, all because he was so thirsty for prestige. Understanding what drives the people you do business with is crucial.

5. The business idea comes first

The business idea is number one. Number two is the team. Of course I look at the size of the market and do competitive analysis; But without a good business concept and great entrepreneurs, it will never fly.

The entrepreneur Karl Rosander founded the world’s largest podcast company, Acast, together with Måns Ulvestam. He is now an investor and advisor to other entrepreneurs.