Nov 9, 2014 Reetta Heiskanen
At the end of the ’90s Andreas Bernström was working at Goldman Sachs in London, but after three years he moved to TradeDoubler, an internet marketing company based in Stockholm.
“I had some Swedish friends that founded Tradedoubler. At that time the company had five employees. I started the London office and worked there for seven years. In the end we had 250 employees and a turnover of 300 million dollars”, Bernström reflects.
Between 2002-2007 Bernström grew the revenues of the company from $4 million to $110 million.
In 2009, Bernström became the CEO of Rebtel, which according to TechCrunch is “Sweden’s smaller answer to Skype” and a leader in the mobile VoIP space. As of today Rebtel has around 25 million users.
However in May 2014, Bernström launched his new company called Sinch, which had gained $12 million on funding from Index Ventures and Balderton Capital.
Sinch – app communications made simple
Sinch is a communications platform for mobile and web developers. The company employs a staff of 50 in Stockholm and San Francisco and manages around 100 million transactions per month.
Using Sinch, developers can implement voice calling, messaging, group messaging, call termination and SMS all within their own app. Sinch originally started as an internal project at Rebtel.
Andreas, you founded Sinch this year – how did you come up with the idea of the company?
The cost of voice and SMS has and will continue to fall, but the value in communications is huge as the valuations of for example Whatsapp, Skype and Viber show.
At same time all the apps are looking to become more social. We saw a huge value in democratizing communications and allowing apps to be social.
What have been the biggest challenges while building Sinch? How have you tackled them?
Product market fit is always tricky and what we are doing is very new. The way we tackle this is by going to the market, speaking to customers and by building after the customer needs. We have now signed with three companies that have over 50 million users each so it seems to be paying off.
How did you become an entrepreneur?
It has been all about luck and timing and I have always loved to build things. I worked at Goldman Sachs during the first dot com boom and wanted to get involved with entrepreneurship – I then jumped at an opportunity at TradeDoubler that made sense to me.
Also both of my parents have been entrepreneurs – I remember liking the flexibility of their work when I was young.
How do you find the startup ecosystem in Sweden?
I think the ecosystem is great – it is very supportive from the other companies involved. And I am very proud to be doing well but it is quite tough to hire people.
What are your keys to success?
1) People – hire motivated people who are smart and like an entrepreneurial atmosphere.
2) Create clear, concise goals and ensure that they have the tools to deliver on them.
3) Then get out of the way yourself.
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