When we open the doors to our newest coworking-space Apache in Sandnes, an awesome bunch of companies, organizations and resourceful individuals are ready to move in! Say hi to one of our first members Roy-André Tollefsen.
Are you looking for a unique collaborative community that will help grow your business; and feeling curious about the awesome people who make up the startup-ecosystem in Sandnes? Alright, we were hoping you would say that! Get ready to meet our Apache-members, starting out with Roy André – founder behind several companies, with the most successful to date being Trollweb Solutions, which got acquired by Visma, Europe's largest software company, back in 2017. Today Roy-André helps companies and organizations navigating and surviving on the technology super highway in various ways, from being on the board of directors or leading efficient advisory boards to simply being hired by the hour for short-term navy seal missions.
Q: Now, who are YOU? Please tell us a little bit (but we prefer a lot..) about your amazing self!!
Tl;dr: Honest, useful and greatful, with a salty bit of humor. That’s at least my desired output, especially during business hours.
Born and raised in downtown Haugesund in the 80s and 90s (yea it was rough times back then, I tell you), with love and work having teleported me over Boknafjorden to Stavanger/Sandnes just as I tipped 20, where I have truly lived happily forever after. The end.
On a day-to-day basis I am mainly an entrepreneur. I am also an active investor in a few dozen companies, and I do lots of various advisory for all kinds of companies from startups to large enterprises, from tech-related topics to strategy, product, brand and what not.
Being on both sides of the table; both the entrepreneur and investor, gives me great insights and understanding beyond what most get to do. At least that’s what I like to think.
I have also managed to get a pretty decent exit with Visma acquiring one of my companies back in 2017, making me basically not having to work ever again, and one of the best phone calls of my life was when the CEO of my (now former) bank called me on a rather rainy Saturday morning and very sorry told me the amount that had popped up on the account was way too high for them to handle, and that I very unfortunately had to change bank.
I told her not to be sorry :-)
In late 2019 I decided to do a relatively significant rescheduling of my allocated “active” time, dropping out of most business-related obligations, and moving over to my self-implemented 100/50/25-rule, spending approximately;
For an extended edition of my life, feel free to check out my About-page.
Q: What does your background look like? Let's talk education for a moment!
Rewinding back to when I was around 8 years, and in my “peak” of building crazy LEGO cities, I started to hack on computers. Not long afterwards I pretty much exactly knew what to do later in life; Educate myself in computer-related stuff, begin working with both hardware and software to get as much of experience as possible, and later in life start my own company. Which also turned out to be the exact case when looking back today.
I early on figured the computer- and internet-industry moved way too fast for me to learn everything I wanted to by reading printed books and listening to lecturers who were soon to retire, and so basically everything I have learned is from the school of life.
Speaking of education, I am a strong advocate on the subject of creativity, and predict that it will simply be the number one know-how most employers will look at when hiring people in the coming 50 years (starting today). Creativity will even be much more important than mathematics (which was my favorite subject at school - did I say I am a super-nerd).
Most children these days don’t get to be as creative as they should. Not very much at school, nor at home, with most of their life already planned and booked up to the Moon and back by us as parents.
If your kids tell you they are bored, it’s simply because both their creativity and iPad has run out of batteries. Be sure which one to trigger to be recharged, and let them do the recharging themselves.
Q: What is the focus of your business right now, we would love to hear more about what you are working on.
After the acquisition of Trollweb Solutions to Visma, my next main endeavour is Enjoy; the new marketplace for all activities and events happening around you. What Booking and Airbnb are for accomodation, and FINN.no for classified ads, Enjoy is for activities and events.
With Enjoy we collect and structure thousands of activities, and further publish and promote them on the Enjoy marketplace at www.enjoy.ly/no, through the Enjoy-app and via the Enjoy-network of all our partner websites - with the ultimate goal to use technology to get more people out, either physically active, or visiting and enjoying all the great things there to discover and experience. In other words, the opposite of what Facebook wants, which is to work hard to force the user to be on their platform for as long as possible, to show more ads.
We want for the users to quickly find what to do on Enjoy, and then get out and.. drumroll, enjoy it.
With Enjoy we were selected among five other startups (including Spond) to the EMNY - Entrepreneural Marketing New York program, which is a special program from Innovation Norway where they select and invite a few startups which they believe have international potential. And, back in 2018 we were selected by Google to be a showcase-app, and invited to Google I/O and GooglePlex.
I must say, sitting in the Google HQ drinking beer with Googlers is still the definite peak in my career. Even more than visiting the Tesla Factory in Fremont for a full tour. Surely, I am a huge Elon Musk fan.
One of the investors in Enjoy (other than myself, obviously) is Eilert Hanoa, the CEO of Kahoot!, which also founded Mamut back in the days, and having such great investors who truly understands the long-term marathon is really important for a startup.
And oh, yea, we will be doing another funding round on Enjoy later this year, so feel free to share your interest directly to me if you want to invest in a really good service, both for the consumers (getting out, offline) and the organizers (helping getting people to their events and activities).
Q: What are some of the short term/long term plans for your business?
Short-term we are very soon launching a user-optimized booking system for organizers to super-easily receive bookings for activities and similar, and we are currently inviting beta testers to our 3-months pilot-program.
Long-term the plan is to conquer the world, land by land, continent by continent. And maybe take on Mars in a few decades, depending on how Elon Musk’s Mars project evolves.
Q: How, and when did your entrepreneurial journey start out?
I started earning my own money when I was around 11-12, assembling and selling uhm half-legal pirate cards for satellite receivers, delivering newspapers to households, doing relatively tough work at a few local farms, and selling everything I came over, from fish to lottery tickets to what not.
Learning to earn your own money early on in life and the whole concept of the buy/sell-thing has most certainly made me able to handle relatively complex sales processes. As a related example I handled the whole Visma acquisition myself, without advisors or lawyers or anything, from the initial process to due diligence (my awesome CFO at the time assisted greatly on the financial DD) all the way through to the relatively extensive paperwork and dozens of papers to be fully understood and signed.
Q: What makes you passionate about your work?
All entrepreneurs love to build great things for a better world. Same goes with me.
Q: What do you believe are some qualities of a great coworking space, and why did you become a member of Innovation Dock?
Being an entrepreneur, focus is a key component in everything we do. And so being allowed to work fully focused towards the company’s mission statement is extremely important being in a great coworking space. More concrete this means being able to work at any given time of the day without too many distractions.
A brilliant developer I once had on one of my teams told me he would normally require 10-15 minutes just to get back into the development-flow every time he was disturbed by something as simple as being asked a basic question from someone.
At the same time, being an early-stage entrepreneur means few employees and few people to interact with in the daily job time. And so, being part of a coworking space which organizes both fixed and occasional happenings like “Friday Lunch” is also important. Both to discuss business-related topics, but also to simply just talk about random topics with like-minded people.
Q: What did you learn from your experience as an entrepreneur? Any “ups & downs” and “lessons learned” you would like to share?
The experience gained by every single entrepreneur can fit into several books, and likewise with me I guess.
One thing I heard a lot in the early days, and still hear occasionally, is “- You will fail 100 times before you get it right”. Surely, we all make mistakes and learn from them, but with every mistake or wrong decision we also lose extremely valuable time, especially as an early-on entrepreneur. Therefore, try to not make too many mistakes, though keep in mind done is always better than perfect. And, again; Focus. Priority. Creativity. They are so key especially in a startup that if you master them well, then you are already half-way there.
A while ago we were part of YC (YCombinator), and learned a lot from there, and I strongly recommend all entrepreneurs to use the brilliant YC library as much as you can by heading over to https://www.ycombinator.com/library.
And oh, one thing I also learned after meeting literally hundreds of leaders like CEOs, CMOs, COOs, C?Os and what not; The higher up in the “hierarchy” a person is, the less busy he or she is (managers are normally great at.. well, managing their time). So, instead of approaching a non-decision-maker, simply aim for the leader or manager who can make a decision whether to proceed or drop the talk from the beginning. Just be sure to not send too many reminders and pokes to these people if you do not get a response, as no response most often simply means... no.
And, have conversations, not presentations. Meaning, remember to listen to others. There are always at least two parties in everything we do, and so instead of just presenting your own stuff, be sure to spend time understanding the other person’s needs as well.
Ok, one final tip. Competitors. Don’t focus too much on competition. Be sure to know who your main competitors are, but don’t compete with them on a daily basis. 1) It takes a tremendous amount of time and (again) focus from you, and 2) It ends up in you making just a slightly better product than them, as your main comparison is towards their existing offerings. Instead, focus on the user, and with a tiny bit of luck, timing and super-power you will one day prevail :-)