European entrepreneurs often successfully bootstrap using services. The chasing investor from the get go disease is less prevalent on the other side of the Atlantic, although the virus from Silicon Valley has been traveling now to all corners of the world. Dapresy has crossed $7 million in annual revenue with minimum outside financing.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your personal journey. It sounds like, Tobi, you’re the founder. Maybe, we’ll start with you and let’s go back to the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Tobi Andersson: I was born in Sweden, in the Swedish countryside. Very early on in my life, I decided that one day I would like to earn the money to have the opportunity to buy a really big farm. That has always been my vision – to create something that, on one hand, can give me money but on the other hand, I can create opportunities for people to develop. I’m very much like HR focused on life. I would like everyone an opportunity to feel that they have a good life.
Sramana Mitra: What about education? What did you do for your studies and university?
Tobi Andersson: I have a Master’s in Agriculture. I studied five years. This goes back to the 1990s. I realized that there are various opportunities for farmers when it comes to IT software. Basically, there was no software out there. I also learned to program. I also worked during school to pay for my study and to make sure that I paid the loan.
When I graduated from school, I had no debt. I’d been working during nights and studying in the day. I was in a very good position to start my first job. That is something that I want to tell the generation reading this. It seems that people think that becoming an entrepreneur and creating a company is very easy. I can tell you that if you’re going to be successful, you can’t rely on luck. There is only one way to create a company and that is to work hard. You need to put in place very good work ethics very early.
You need to start to understand that if you’re going to create a company, there are things in life that you need to walk away from. I had fun during my graduation but I was very disciplined in saying that, “If I’m going to create a company, I need to understand that I need to work very hard.” I actually did a calculation. I calculated the number of hours I’ve been working since I graduated. I’ve bene working twice as much as the normal person does. That is what you need to do because if you work hard and other people are staying the same, luck comes to you.
Sramana Mitra: You need to be prepared for luck.
Tobi Andersson: That’s one thing that I want to tell the younger generation. Be prepared to work hard and stay focused on achieving what you’d like to do. This is what I did. When I graduated, I took my first job. I didn’t work in the agriculture business because this was the beginning of 2000s. IT was booming. I actually used my skills that I’ve learned as a software developer. That job gave me the opportunity to work with data. All these data were delivered to customers in Excel sheets.
I was really involved in this. I’ve spent lots of times talking to customers. A lot of customers told me, “We can see that there are a lot of opportunities here. Can’t you do something for us that can make this data easier to consume? Can’t you do something that can take this very difficult data and make it more visual?” I told them, “Yes, I will develop a software for you.”
Sramana Mitra: What kind of data are we talking about?
Tobi Andersson: It was market research and marketing data.