Posted on Wednesday, Oct 13th 2021
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Founder Jorn Lyseggen started Meltwater in Norway and, when we spoke in 2015, had scaled the company organically to $200 million. Fascinating journey!
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your story. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of circumstances? Jorn Lyseggen: I was actually born in Korea. I came to Norway as a very small child. I was three years old. I actually grew up in a little farm in the middle of a deep, dark forest in Norway. You drive for hours into the deep, dark forest and then suddenly, there’s a small opening. Then, you come to a little village with 168 families. One of those families is mine. Sramana Mitra: That’s charming. Jorn Lyseggen: It was a full farm with cows, dogs, and cats. We had lots of animals. That’s where I started. I ended up taking engineering classes and got a Master’s in Electric Engineering primarily from Norway. My first job was as a research scientist at the Norwegian Computer Center, which is a prestigious research institute in Norway. They did research in artificial intelligence and digital thermal processing. I thoroughly loved that and thought I was going to be a research scientist for the rest of my life.
Then, I fell in love with the Internet. It was really down to one specific moment that I remember very vividly. That was when the Netscape 2.0 was published. I read about something about Java applet. That completely blew my mind. Up until that point, I had been very fascinated with the idea that you could publish a text that was instantly available for everyone. But I thought there was still some limit to how far this could go.
With Java applets, you have an opportunity to publish a software. This software can then be executed in people’s browsers all over the world. If you created an exciting software that people want to run, you could execute millions and millions of copies all over the world that would tap into millions and millions of computer resources. Fundamentally, that gave everyone the opportunity to run a super computer. That completely blew my mind. Although I never aspired to become an entrepreneur, I quit my job the next day and set up my business.
Sramana Mitra: What year are we talking? Jorn Lyseggen: This was in 1995. Sramana Mitra: It was the beginning of the Internet, roughly speaking. Jorn Lyseggen: Very much so. I remember back in the day that if I met people with an email address, I got really excited because suddenly you have something in common. It was very much the early days for sure. Sramana Mitra: You decided to start this company? What were you going to do with this company? Jorn Lyseggen: To be completely honest, I didn’t have so much of a business idea. To me, the reason why I started the company was really to immerse myself with this thing called the Internet because I was convinced that this was going to be such an important part in shaping the world moving forward. The significance of the Internet was profound and I was convinced that it was going to be as important and significant as electricity. I just wanted to be a part of it. That’s why I ended up starting a company.
What I ended up doing was evangelizing on the usefulness of the Internet. Then, I became a consultant because lots of companies had interest in the Internet but didn’t really understand it. I don’t know if you remember, but Internet consultants became involved back then. In the US, you had Sapient. I created a similar type of company in Scandinavia. We helped companies take advantage of the Internet. We created e-commerce solutions. We created the first transaction in the Norwegian market in December 1995. We helped Norwegian stock exchange to publish their share prices 15 minutes delayed, which people thought was absolutely amazing at that time. It was expensive to get access to stock prices. Suddenly, it was free. We also did a lot on publishing solutions.
Our conversation continues
here. This segment is a part in the series : Best of Bootstrapping . Bootstrapping to an Exit . Why is Bootstrapping Important? . How Can You Play this Low-Probability Game Intelligently? . Do NOT Go to VCs as Beggars - Go as Kings . Excess is NOT Required for Success . Bootstrap First and Raise Money Later . Some Bootstrapping to Exit Case Studies . The Buy Side of Bootstrapping to an Exit . Blitzscaling vs. Bootstrapping . Bootstrapping to Unicorns More »» . Cinedigm Acquires Bootstrapped 1Mby1M Company Future Today for $60 Million . Mailchimp Bootstraps to $600M Revenue . Bootstrapping from Arizona to $10 Million . Bootstrapped Basecamp Executes a No Nonsense Strategy . How Under30Experiences Bootstrapped to $5 Million . Bootstrapping with a Paycheck . How Algo.ai CEO Amjad Hussain Bootstrapped using Services from Michigan . Seed Investors Who Like Bootstrapped Businesses . How iHeartRaves CEO Bootstrapped a Niche e-Commerce Company to $20 Million . Bootstrapping with Services . How The Intern Group CEO David Lloyd Bootstrapped to $13 Million . How Passageways CEO Paroon Chadha Bootstrapped from Indiana . How SmartBuyGlasses CEO David Menning Bootstrapped to $50 Million . Death by Overfunding . How RainmakerForce CEO Mack Sundaram Bootstrapped Decisively to $5 Million+ . How FormAssembly CEO Bootstrapped a Virtual Company with a Paycheck . TimeSlips CEO Mitch Russo Bootstrapped to Exit with Sage . The VC-Entrepreneur Compensation Disbalance . BioConnect CEO Bootstraps with Sophisticated Strategic Maneuvering . Tremend CEO Marius Hanganu Bootstraps from Romania . Gesture CEO Jim Alvarez Bootstraps to $10 Million . SproutLoud CEO Bootstraps to $30 Million from Florida . Tuft & Needle CEO Bootstraps to Over $100 Million . Co-founders Bootstrap Linguamatics to Over $10M from the UK . Ownership Matters . Vainu Co-founder Mikko Honkanen Bootstraps from Finland . Entrepreneur Couple Bootstraps to $10M from Colorado . 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Master Bootstrappers with $1+ Billion in Exits . Bootstrapped Ultra Mobile to Over $100 Million . Bootstrapping a 2-Sided Marketplace to $10M . Bootstrapping a Virtual Company to Over $5M . Capital Efficient Entrepreneurs Turned $1M into $80M . The Journey Through Failure to Success . Bootstrapping TrendHim from a Small Town to $12M . Bootstrapped to Y Combinator and $10M Series A . Bootstrapped a Marketplace to Over $10M . Bootstrapping Freightwise to $33M . Bootstrapped First to $5M, Raised $10M Later . Bootstrapped in Europe, Raised Money and Went Global in the US . An English Major who Bootstrapped a Tech Company . Bootstrapped with Paycheck to $15M from Tennessee . Queue-It Bootstrapped from Denmark to the US . Bootstrapped a Virtual Company to $25M . Bootstrapped Using Services to $40M First . Bootstrapped Using Services to a Public Unicorn . Bootstrapped Using Services to an Awesome Business Model . Bootstrapped Wiredrive Using Services to $10M . 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