This week on the Scale Academy Podcast, Daniel Melkersson, Co-Founder and CSO of PinMeTo, joins Ned Arick and Hilmon Sorey to talk about the genesis of PinMeTo and how it has evolved and scaled to what it is today.
Daniel starts by telling us that he and two friends decided they should start some kind of tech company. They started collecting data from Google and Facebook, as well as several other platforms, and what they found was that all of the social media platforms had really poor location data, so they couldn’t find all the data they needed to build what they wanted to build. It was at this point that they decided that someone should build something that would give them the right data. Continue listening at 00:50 to learn what happened next.
Daniel explains that their pitch was that they worked with a lot of tourism organizations. Tourist organizations have web pages on which they are trying to promote a plethora of locations through very boring information, mostly written text. So, Daniel and his friends built a widget that acted as a social layer to tourist organizations- go to the web page, log in to the widget, and see where your friends have been and what kind of photos they have taken. Learn more at 02:47.
Daniel reveals that the pivot came when they found a different problem that they wanted to solve instead- that there was really poor location data. Part of the pivot was also related to the fact that tourism organizations are like government-run organizations and have really long sales cycles and don’t usually want to be part of a startup, so they decided to go in the direction of B2B instead. Continue listening at 04:26 to learn more.
Socializing the Message
Daniel explains that they definitely went out and got their message out before they spent time building the product. They wanted to make sure that there were customers to be had and a problem to be solved. In order to get their message out, Daniel and his team did a lot of cold calling and press releases. Daniel has built many B2B companies and knows the importance of getting the message out before you build the product. Why change what works? Learn more at 06:02.
Positioning the Press Release
Because they received a huge investment very early on, Daniel explains that they were able to land their releases in Sweden’s largest financial newspaper, as well as receive a lot of local press. He also says that he tried to get capital from industrial players, rather than traditional VCs, and this led to investments from major players, which also became very newsworthy. Learn more at 09:40.
Nobodies Start by Hanging Out with Somebodies
Daniel started by using other people’s platforms to grow his own platform; he built on top of other people’s brands to grow his brand. At 12:18 Daniel explains that doing things this way started when he was younger and playing in a band. In the beginning, he wasn’t always the headliner, but he made sure he was the opener for the headliner. “When you’re nobody, you make sure to hang out with Somebody.”
The Point of Expansion
Getting away from founder-driven sales took some time. Daniel had a few great salespeople early on, but that was it for about three years. Then, roughly three years ago is when Daniel says they were really able to start scaling and hiring. Listen at 13:21 to learn more.
At 14:30, Daniel admits that they should have started scaling much earlier, but hindsight is 20/20. While they tried to be very cost-efficient very early on, Daniel feels, if he could do things differently, he would have hired more leadership sooner. He feels it is important to be working ON the business, rather than IN the business. Continue listening to learn more.
Systems for Comfortability
Daniel reveals they have quite a few systems in place that make things easier. In fact, he built a system for invoicing on his own where he doesn’t have to do anything because his time was needed elsewhere. He also has a system in place for salespeople, CS, and support. He feels the most important system to put in place is some sort of system for fast communication because communication is core. Learn more at 19:26.
The Best Advice for Early-Stage Founders
Daniel’s best piece of advice for early-stage founders is not to listen to others; don’t listen to investors. Instead, listen to yourself, stick to the plan, listen to your co-founders. “Every great entrepreneur is naïve. And they need to be brave enough to believe that: That I'm a superstar. I'm a superstar of what I do.” Learn more about his reasoning behind this at 22:31.
Anyone who wants to reach out to Daniel can connect with him on LinkedIn or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
00:50 The Genesis
02:47 The Pitch
04:26 The Pivot
06:02 Socializing the Message
09:40 Positioning the Press Release
12:18 Nobodies Start by Hanging Out with Somebodies
13:21 The Point of Expansion
19:26 Systems for Comfortability
22:31 The Best Advice for Early-Stage Founders