Today, our CEO Therése Gedda features in leading Swedish newspaper, SvD (Svenska Dagbladet). Thank you Linnea Bolter for an inspiring interview. Below is an English translation of the interview published in the print and online version in Swedish:
The facilities at Saltmätargatan where Stockholm School of Economics (SSE) incubator SSE Business Lab is located may be small and inconspicuous but since its start 15 years ago a lot of magic has been created there. Of the 140 startups that have been part of the incubator, more than one hundred startups have become established companies, which is something the team is proud about. The brightest star being Klarna.
Students and alumni from SSE are seeking to be part of the incubator to help realize their business ideas. However, a good idea is not the only thing needed to convince the admission committee, says Erik Wetter – Researcher at the school and Director of SSE Business Lab.
– “Entrepreneurship is a team sport. Most of the time the team is more important than the idea since almost everyone joining the incubator develops and changes the idea. We try to make an assessment of how well they will handle and deal with the setbacks and challenges that will happen along the way.”
No matter how incredible the idea may feel for the founder, it almost always needs to be developed and adjusted based on feedback from customers, suppliers, technology and resource constraints.
– “As an entrepreneur, you need to be persistent, but being too in love with your idea or product is often more a disadvantage than an advantage. There tend to be many attempts at any good idea. What Paypal became, for example, wasn’t the original idea. Similarly, Angry Birds was the 52nd gamed developed”, says Erik Wetter.
Researcher and Entrepreneur Therése Gedda thinks that many people are too concerned that their idea will be hijacked, which means they often miss out on valuable feedback.
– “It’s a common mistake for first-time founders,” she says. She also explains that when her current business was emerging, 30minMBA – a company dedicated to mobile learning – they invited 500 people to develop and give feedback on the product:
– “It’s great to invite customers into the process as early as possible – the likelihood that someone will take your idea is extremely small. We didn’t even have a prototype when we started to involve the market in our product development. People gave feedback on paper sketches pinned to a wall.”
The early testing phase is also important for those who are admitted into SSE Business Lab.
– “The idea is to be able to fail in this environment. Using a variety of resources, it’s easier to work on your idea than start out on your own without any support”, says Erik Wetter and continues:
– “Too many people sit at home for too long before they go out and test their idea. Some feel they have a big solution, but no one else perceives that the solution is solving a real problem. Even if you invent the perfect mousetrap, there’s no guarantee that someone wants to pay for it because existing mousetraps are good enough”.
He also thinks that first-time founders are too focused on finding a unique idea of their own.
– “There is a myth about coming up with a unique idea. The companies in Sweden who make the most money sell clothes and furniture, which is not particularly radical or innovative. Execution is more important than the idea itself – otherwise, no new advertising agencies would be founded”.
If you come up with something entirely new, it’s rarely an advantage, says Erik Wetter.
– “If you are completely alone in the market, you should be a bit nervous. You don’t need to stop pursuing your idea just because there are other similar ideas on the market. It may even be good since you then know that there is a market with potential customers.”
What makes what you do uniquely is more important than simply coming up with a unique idea, says Therése Gedda.
– “Focus on how you are different from others – what do you do better and cheaper than the competition? Be clear about this in your communications and branding.”
She also thinks that your gut feeling plays a significant role.
– “Your intuition means a lot; you have to believe in what you do while simultaneously check-in with your target group to make sure you are creating value. To be successful, you need to commit fully and be passionate about what you do, which should carry across to others. It’s much easier if you are passionate about your idea.”
Original article (in Swedish/Svenska) by Linnea Bolter titled ”Finns en myt bland entreprenörer om den helt unika idén” can be found below: