I wish I didn't have to sleep.
My first startup was six friends who just wanted to hang out together back in 2001. We started a company to handle three hobby project but were soon contacted by our Sony. One thing led to another, and soon we found ourselves in supplying software to some of the world’s biggest mobile manufacturers and having our external communication to reflect that. Customer development for us was more like “working hard while stumbling into it.” We never raised any angel or VC money, but the customers paid the bills.
When we realized that we found something we were good at and people were more than willing to pay us for, we doubled down. The company entered a phase of a relentless chase of signing the top players and kept signing one per till we in 2010 had four of five as licensees. The company was now 180 people, mainly in Sweden but with local offices in the US, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan.
What enabled the growth stage were two things. First a focus on signing and serving the target companies. Secondly an utmost attention to recruitment and culture. When we felt that we were bottlenecks, we recruited our own managers and kept being the magnet and breeding ground for hard working, friendly people that were great in our field.
There were also many serendipitous incidents; both Google and Canonical (the makers of Ubuntu) ended up customers. Even if weren’t our core offering we ended up designing the user interface of Android for Google and the desktop version of Ubuntu 10. Most of these came from the fact that we strove to be the thought leaders of the industry and created an incredible amount of content. We didn’t plan on making content that converted, improved SEO, or even came with a certain cadence; we made stuff that we loved and put online.
One day in 2010, we were called by Blackberry, who was one of the biggest smart phone manufacturers then, who wanted to acquire us. They had a very compelling vision and solved a lot of our growth cramps and stall points we were going through, so we accepted their offer. Six weeks from contact Blackberry bought TAT for $150m, and the whole team joined.
The last year alone, 2010, TAT’s software shipped in more than 13% of all the mobile phones produced that year. And this was from six guys who just wanted to tinker with their hobby projects and not get employed. We didn’t have any plans, but I think that we always strove to learn, were gritty, and wanted to be a group of nice people helped a lot.
I co-founded NordicMakers as I love learning and talking to people who are building things that impact.