Kalle Mobeck: From Startup to Scaleup

Kalle Mobeck has a long and successful career in the startup industry with a focus on marketing, SaaS, and new technology. His last “startup journey” with Relatable ended with a sale to Bambuser for $24M. Leadership, new technology, and always being one step ahead drive Kalle, who lectures on “the future of work” at Boston University, is an advisor to startups and is responsible for sales at the digital agency Twigeo. Find out what is it about startups that particularly attracts him, and what’s his view on the Swedish startup ecosystem.

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1. Hi, Kalle. Thank you very much for agreeing to do the interview. Please tell us about your background and connection to the startup world.

The force of the startup world pulled me in and since I joined it, I have never been able to leave. My career started on a cold winter day in 2012 in a small room in Malmö. I was armed with an old Nokia and Lenovo. Even though we had 0 resources, I just knew we were going to have an impact on the way companies perceive social media. Since that day, I have been actively pursuing commercial roles in startups with a big vision. All of them have either been acquired or raised a lot of money.

2. You’re the Global Sales Director at Twigeo, a Swedish-born, full-service digital marketing agency with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Stockholm, and Varna. Tell us more about your mission.

Twigeo’s mission is to help companies take their app or subscription business to the next level. If you have an app that people love, we will turn it into one of those apps that most people associate with a specific niche/vertical.

In other words, our job is to help clients to get the maximum growth. We help our clients do that by creating top-performing ads and making sure that they can measure the real impact of each marketing activity they do.

3. You have over ten years of experience in leading startups from a small team with a big vision to successful organizations. What is it about startups that particularly attracts you?

Helping talented people perform at their highest potential. Throughout my life, I have always wanted to help people and I always wanted team members to win. At startups, I have gotten the opportunity to meet, hire, and coach individuals who have massive potential. My role has always been to make them harness that power and help them reach new levels in their careers. There’s nothing that makes me prouder than to see an old team member reach new heights in their career. 

What I enjoy about startup journeys is that they are journeys. What separates these journeys is how big the founders dare to dream as well as the people they recruit to help them reach their goal. I flourish in environments where the rules are not really set and you need to figure things out as you go.

4. Could you share some advice for founders? What are the most important things you’ve learned over the years of working with startups?

The first piece of advice for founders is to understand how to sell their service or product. l have never witnessed companies that started to sell their product too early. Many founders just wait for that next function, but it’s always better to start selling early.  If you do that you will get real feedback from paying customers and that’s the best way for your product to cross the chasm. Your product will never be ready or finished because you will constantly improve it so why not aim for real input from the start? 

The second piece of advice is to hire great people. Without great people, you won’t have a great company. You need to get out there and attract top talent aka the a-players. If you cannot get them onboard early on, you will end up with a team of b-players and unfortunately, these teams do not win. The first couple of hires are key. They will be crucial when you scale up to 30 to 50 people so make sure to get these right. 

The last piece of advice is to dream big. Hiring a-players and winning over clients is more about selling a compelling vision than selling your actual product or service (the service and product still need to be great). The most successful people I know dream bigger than anyone else and that is their superpower.  You need to believe that you will make it and that you are going to change the world. 

5. What’s your view on the Swedish ecosystem? What are the challenges it’s facing? What’s going well?

We are currently facing a problem with most of the VC scene going on defense, not wanting to invest, and on the other side the companies that want to “raise” based on valuations from 2021. Another challenge is that in Sweden, we need to catch up with AI both on the consumer and the B2B side.

However, on the upside, many startups/scaleups that came to an end, like Memmo for example, led to 4-5 new really promising companies, founded by some amazing people. I am impressed with the Swedish mentality and how we tend to “rise like a phoenix” time after time.

Thank you very much for sharing your insights, Kalle. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

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