Today, I have my interview with Lasse Clausen, the co-founder, product designer & CEO of FOUNDD - the personalized discovery engine.
Hi Lasse, Thanks for doing this. How are you doing today?
I’m doing well, thanks for having me. We recently launched our iPhone app and got featured in the Appstore a few countries, so I’m happy.
Can you give us some background information about yourself?
I grew up in several countries so I’d like to consider myself a global citizen. Workwise I’ve always been entrepreneurial, working on my own venture already during university. That was an e-commerce site for handmade designer goods.
Tell me how you initially got into business?
As teenagers my brother and I always encouraged each other to think entrepreneurial and see opportunities everywhere; I think that shaped my personality so that a normal employment never really was an option.
How did the idea for FOUNDD come about?
A friend bought a home cinema and we wanted to watch a movie together. It took us forever, arguing back and forth and at the end we still watched something bad. That was the moment I decided to go for it, but I’ve had the problem of oversupply and noise for a quite a while before that.
Tell me about the early days, what was the hardest part of starting the business?
I think we’re still in the early days… Everything about a startup is incredibly hard, but with the right attitude, a lot of patience and a great team you can solve any problem.
What is FOUNDD and what are you trying to solve with it?
FOUNDD is a “find engine”. We see a huge search market where people just vaguely know what they’re looking for, so they can’t express it in a search query and therefore Google isn’t helpful. We’re starting with entertainment and are building it out to further product categories bit by bit.
How have you been able to fund it?
First by bootstrapping, then with angel investments from other entrepreneurs.
About the first few months, how excited were you, tell us about how those months felt, what happened?
So quite typically for a product person, I’m always super restless for the next product phase to be live and have people use it. So I was even more restless when we had nothing online yet. Fortunately that wasn’t for too long since we’re big fans of the lean framework so after a few months we got the version online already. And people used it.
How did you initially get traction?
The press really liked our group recommendations, which find movies that everyone in a group will enjoy together.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
Building something small, measuring how it’s being used and through that learn what the next step for the product should be.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Seeing the good response to our launch. Building a product is a pretty emotional thing and it feels great when people see value in what you’ve put so much blood, sweat and tears into.
What should we be expecting from yourself and FOUNDD for next year?
We’ll spend the next year building out recommendations for more entertainment verticals (internet videos, apps, books and games) and we’ll be on more platforms (Android, tablets, iTVs).
Lastly, what three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
1. Your team is the most important and valuable part. They better be people whose values you share. That’s why I don’t believe in incubators where they cast together teams.
2. Don’t worry too much about growth before the product is ready. That’s what kills most startups, because there’s so much pressure to show huge user numbers. Even your mom’s first question will be how many users you have. But it will just waste your resources if you’re making noise for a product that nobody is coming back to yet.
3. There’s no advice, just someone else’s experience. Humans crave patterns to do the thinking for us. But in a startup there are so many variables that you always have to make your own decisions.