The innovation coach of Telia Company, Lauris Muzikants offers mentoring and coaching!

Lauris is just starting an innovation consultancy, and was until recently working with the global part of Telia Company. A place where they build products and services for the future of telecommunications. He helped project teams and management teams that innovate and evolve their ways of creating and delivering value for their customers and capturing value for the business by coaching and training.

Lauris helps his mentees to zoom out from just the product and help them innovate and create around more of a value proposition and more of the parts that needs to be in place for their stuff to work.

Is it fun to be a mentor?

Oh yes! I have been to a couple of startup weekends and hackathons before and there is lots of fun! Initially we used the Hackathon at Telia and Ericsson to build a platform for autonomy, which is proven to create motivation for people. I enjoy the traveltech area very much as we have to solve problems that everyone has. So I am really looking forward to mentor at Startup Weekend. As a mentor one might think you are alone, but I feel you are more surrounded by people who get very excited when they come to this temporary job to create something fantastic. You have only 54 hours and whatever you are up to, you always make fantastic progress. It is good to see where people can get to. Besides creating new things, I see them learn and create new connections. It’s like they build their own personal business models, where product development is only one part.

When helping teams, I like to think of the wall as the new desktop. We can create common space there for people to cooperate on problems, get a common visual language. I then give them the means – if they don’t have it already that is – to find the right things to do and what to do first. It’s like getting better at finding the right path to reach their destinations. Doing that in a visual way, brings them together on a common platform. It’s like you cannot divide work up and split into silos. The environment shapes that path.

In San Francisco the Startup Weekend event was organized together with the yearly Lean Startup Conference arranged by Eric Ries’ team. It was in October and November last year. A particular focus in this event was the extra weight on customer discovery. The rooms were small and it was like the teams felt relieved to get out of the building to interview and test with customer.

In Stockholm it looks like it’s going to be a thrilling diversity at the Startup Weekend, among the organizers and the participants, as well as us mentors. I like that.

Who have been your mentees?

One example from a large corporation is an IoT team that was aiming to make train transportation better by detecting damage very early. The whole ecosystem that needed to be in that cooperation was there – the consultants, the software company and even the innovator himself, besides the IoT team of course. One of the things that we were working on was the business model and how to set up the cooperation between all these people who can be seen as entrepreneurs in already huge companies.

A second example from the startup scene is a mobile app company that aims to help companies reach customers nearby. We have met a couple of times and it’s thrilling to see their endless source of energy as real early entrepreneurs in the search for a plan that will work and make them great.

And a third type of mentees are social entrepreneurs on a startup scene in Berlin. What’s interesting here is that even though they are non-profits they still need to have great value propositions embedded in great business models. They are – how unlikely as it sound at first – in a market full of competition: they are all compteting for the money from the donors. Because the donors want their money to turn into as much value as possible. So the Social entrepreneurs are also often happy mentees of business model coaching.

Last but not least, there are these cool startup teams in San Francisco, Tallinn, Stockholm, Stavanger, Berlin and more. These participants come as individuals and leave as teams. They come full of energy and leave fuelled with learnings and growth. Some of them even change their course of life. One team from Tallinn grew out of their market and moved to England within months.

Do you have a favourite traveltech area?

That’s a tough one. Starting somewhere, the sharing economy is getting bigger and bigger now. Look at Uber and AirBNB and the like. They are disruptors of older business models. But I’m sure that someone will disrupt these businesses as well. And that will happen faster than expected. So there must be something after that. So what would that be? Maybe some kind of traveltech?

Another perspective to this question is the vehicles. Railways are very interesting – there are trains where you have panoramic windows and you can see the landscape passing by and they has a chef in the car and own departments for the guests “upstairs”. Train related vacation sounds like an area that is under evolution, and maybe innovation.

Is there a bad question?

No. Feel free to ask me anything.

Do you have favourite travel destinations?

My travel destinations are different depending on the context.

In winter and there needs to be a place nearby, I pack my skis and go for cross-country skiing preferably in the northern of Sweden. There is where I clear my head and make my body work instead of my brain.

My favourite place going far away is New York – that’s a retreat for me. Just be there. Feel the pulse of that huge city where there is still warm and welcoming people. When I travel, I enjoy the terminal buildings too. I love to walk and explore, sit and drink a cappuccino and watch people running by – it makes me get refuelled and it is a sort of recreation for me, for example after day-long workshop. That goes for a lot of the stuff I do. I enjoy the journey as much as the destination. As an entrepreneur I enjoy the search as much as the outcome.

Do you have a favourite vehicle?

The airplane. Definitely. It does not matter how bad the weather is, the sun always shines above the clouds.

Which superhero or film character do you have similarities with?

This is a really tough one. I would like to go for Batman. He has the resources and skills to make good for the society. He is generous, and he creates a vast amount of tech stuff. Especially his vehicles of different sorts and imaginary equipped. He is sort of an inventor super hero. And his words are comforting for innovators: “Why do we fall? So that you can learn to pick ourselves up”.

Magnus Burvall can help you realising your dreams!

Magnus Burvall is the founder and CEO of Syntesia, an important contact to reach out to on Startup Weekend Travel!

Nothing drives him crazy, maybe the crush of his computer. He likes to work with honest people where mutual trust can be built. He is also pissed off when something does not work during his travels and he has to reschedule and reorganize his trips on the go.

Help Magnus reorganize his trips by finding new traveltech solutions on Startup Weekend Travel 12-14 May!

Do you have a role play name?

I don’t think I have any nicknames now, but as my family name is Burvall, some of my friends used to call me Burre.

Tell us about yourself! What are you good at?

I have a great ability to look into the future and see the paths of several scenarios and I am capable of orienting towards them. I am very curious and I try to learn and read as much as possible.

I am also a good analyst, as the name of my company suggests. Syntesia refers to the process where we tear the problem into pieces and then put pieces of the solutions together.

I am also creative and I can dream and find solutions that are great. I am also good at finding the good people for the roles that are needed in companies to reach the common goals.

I have more than 10 years of experience in working with startups with lean startup methodology as I worked in the Peak Region Science Park as well as in incubators and also have started a few companies. I have coached more than 50 companies.

What does Syntesia do?

Syntesia is a network company with a few experts and thought leaders. It helps entrepreneurs to succeed and fulfill their dreams. We work as an experts’ hub that brings in the expertise that is needed. We combine proven methods with our own learning experience and combine that with a positive and delivery oriented culture.

Do you travel to chill out?

When everything goes wrong, I like to do some sports to forget everything. Biking, playing golf, skiing – that is my medicine and I get fully energized by it.

What is your favourite vehicle now and what would it be in the future?

My mountain bike. It’s a little bit dangerous but it’s fun. I did a little bit of downhilling too, but injured my shoulder so I stick with mountain biking now. In the future it would be a time machine – I’d travel in time, rather than space. Back to the past and back to the future.

Why do you like traveltech?

There are lots of megatrends happening right now in traveltech as globalization and digitalization. Also, environmental concerns need to be taken care of. Many interesting things are happening, like the evolution of the sharing economy, which has just begun. There are many technologies that are also leaping forward: there is more intelligence now than ever before. We also need to solve the problem of environmental issues and reduce our footprints.

People are getting more and more mobile, gig economy is coming and there will be a lot of changes in the close future.

What has been your most interesting experience?

Maybe not the most interesting, but fun and a little weird. I was working with Scandinavian Airlines in a cost cutting programme. There used to be two spoons served together with the meals on the airplanes. I made an analysis on that and figured that they were spending 1 million kronas on two spoons and we could reduce this cost by half by serving only one spoon. This “innovation” was actually presented on the front side of SAS Magazine as a very effective cost cutting method and saved a lot of money, even though it was a very simple thing. 🙂

How do you feel about Startup Weekend?

I am particularly looking forward to Startup Weekend because I love new ideas and people and entrepreneurs and I hope we’ll have a wonderful event. As a mentor and coach I hope I can provide methods and models that help entrepreneurs to reach their goals. It gives me so much energy and I hope I can give some energy too. People should attend the event because it is a unique opportunity to work on ideas that can change their lives forever and get concentrated knowledge in an environment to meet new people who share the same visions and dreams. The  mentors and coaches will concentrate on leveraging your dreams in just a weekend. I think that everyone will be amazed how far an idea can get during an intensive weekend like this.


Danilo Nóbrega connects the dots at Amadeus and he can help you get connected on Startup Weekend!

He has spent almost 11 years in the travel industry. He started to work as a computer engineer in 1997 but since then he has grown to be the head of presales at Amadeus Scandinavia.

What are your superpowers, Danilo?

I have a good general understanding of the travel industry and what is „out there”. I try to keep up with all technology related news too, so I have a very good understanding of the trends and what is going on in general, including startups and market dynamics. Besides I am quite good at thriving in chaos too and I love it when there are a lot of ideas and no order – I try to connect the dots in such environments.

I’m passionate about business development – to create new methods or use old ones to  add value to a business. Now I’m working on chatbot technology that uses natural language processing – how we can gain scale and use it in customer service. We also have done a Mixed Reality proof of concept with HoloLens which has been fun to do as well.

What drives you crazy?

In my field there is nothing that pisses me off, all questions are good questions. When people have a negative attitude and think that something is not possible or they are referring to the establishment – that can piss me off.


Which areas do you think are the most promising in traveltech?

There are a lot of opportunities in AI, more specifically in machine learning. A lot of startups have already came up with ideas and the market is reacting positively to them.

Traveltech is very dynamic now and the most interesting field is related to big data. We need to crunch a lot of data to provide offers that did not exist before. Before this revolution we had to go to specific airlines where we had all the specific products, but now people are combining things in order to find more interesting and compelling offers to the customers. AI can also be added to all these services.

Adding a finance layer to travel is another option: it leads to a new set of products to guarantee a fare on a given flight for example or to predict how much it is going to cost, etc. It is also important how blockchain technology can be applied in travel as well as loyalty programs, bags tracking and virtual and augmented reality are very exciting areas too. We see where it is going and even though it is in a very early stage and has not struck a mass market, it has a more and more important role in the close future for sure. A company in Japan already offers virtual tours in stores so you can handle your shopping from your home. In travel, you can reach information in 3D on touristic attractions before you even go there. The devices are getting cheaper and cheaper as well.

Which one is your favourite place on Earth?

My hideaway would be a cabin in the middle of nowhere. It would be my dream house. I don’t have it due to some private reasons. It would be like the house in the film Ex Machina, but maybe a bit smaller.

Do you have a favourite vehicle or future vehicle?

Having a fully functional self-driving that can take you to hyperloop systems would be great.

Why are you excited about Startup Weekend?

I am very excited to meet a lot of new people and to see what people are thinking and what ideas they can come up with.

Travel is huge and it continues to grow. Even when there is a crisis, people continue to travel and big companies can’t even handle the huge demand. It is becoming easier and easier to be able to contribute because complexity is being simplified and is opening up: we see a lot of APIs and it is a very exciting time to try out travel.


Tatiana Solodko, Startup Weekend Fintech winner comes back to coach Startup Weekend participants!

Tatiana works with business development and innovation management at Amadeus. It means that she is engaged both in internal and open innovation. They are constantly getting ideas from the market and from startups.


Amadeus is connecting travel marketplaces with each other. They connect, for example, airlines with travel agencies, airports and rail companies with the travellers. Amadeus is a B2B company, but their services are mostly used when you do a flight reservation in Skyscanner. Most of the searches go through Amadeus’ system, so they are literally the Google for travel.


Tatiana has participated and won a Startup Weekend Fintech with her team in January. Now she comes back as a mentor to teach you how she did it!

How is life at Amadeus?

I have been working here for 6 years and it has been an amazing journey. In the beginning I was focused mostly on business development and I shifted more and more towards innovation. I am really excited about this area. Scandinavia is a very innovative market and there are very strong startup communities. Also, the travellers here are the most techie people in the world. Scandinavians are the people who travel the most, so it makes this market full of potentials. I am looking forward to see more and more startups popping up in Sweden.

Which one is your favourite place on Earth?

It is Northern Spain, because of its amazing nature which is not spoiled by tourism 🙂

Do you have a favourite vehicle?

My favourite vehicle is a plane if I need to get there by plane, but then it would be a bike or a sailing boat. I just have to get over my sea sickness on the first day.

You participated in the last Startup Weekend Fintech edition, how was it?

I loved the experience as everybody was so positive and supportive around the ideas. You will have incredible support and advice and you will work on the idea for 54 hours non-stop – where else would you have such an opportunity?  Apart from that, you will also get an amazing network.

The mentorship team from Amadeus will help participants with our industry insights, mentorship and technology as well as we will help you to test your ideas and validate yours assumptions with our customers that is a key step for startups. We can also provide some help from our innovation lab and from the head of ventures  as we have a venture company investing in startups. So, seize this opportunity! Amadeus takes this event very seriously. You should too!

Where are the needs to innovation in traveltech?

If we only bet on the customer needs as of today, then it would get difficult to scale because probably thousands of other companies are already on the market. But if you are aiming at the area that is going to scale and is emerging now, for example virtual reality, blockchain or AI, then you will find a great potential. We all know that future is almost here.

What is your advice to anyone who considers starting up a company in travel?

Choose an emerging technology and the customer need that this technology can satisfy to create a strong company!

Do it at Stockholm Startup Weekend Travel, 12-14 May! 

Meet Jesper Söderström, the general manager of Amadeus Scandinavia!

We made a short interview with one of our mentors, Jesper Söderström. He has been the general manager and director of Amadeus and he knows exactly how to make people get out of their comfort zones!

What are you good at?

I am good at seeing trends, understanding complexity and customer challenges and turning them to business ideas. My strength is in business development, understanding customer needs and how we can keep the focus on the customers. Also, I know how to turn the organization into an establishment that keeps the customers in focus along with the online or offline requirements and the new or old technology in mind – I am good at defining the set-up in all these aspects.

Is there anything that upsets you?

Very few things pisses me off at work. There are no bad questions, all questions are asked for a reason.

Do you have a favourite place to travel to?

My place in Mallorca where I have a wonderful view.

How long have you worked in your field?

I am 50 years old, so that is 50 years of experience… I spent around 20-25 years in the industry.

Which traveltech area is the most promising?

There are three areas that are going to completely change the industry: The first one is mobile and its effects, the second is AI. We can also mention the link of traveltech to fintech.

The most interesting technology in travel is probably the peer to peer technology – it has a lot of new structures and a lot of new ways of doing things. Another field is the implication of the mobile and the way it affects how we do things and how we attract customers. I believe that we haven’t even seen the start of it yet. IT allows everybody to be disruptive and this is extremely interesting to see how the old structures are challenged and how the whole industry is about to change.

Why is Amadeus a cool company?

Amadeus is a cool company because it keeps surprising me and keeps reinventing itself. When we started it looked very, very, different than what it looks now. And when I explain the company to someone, I do it in a completely different way than how I did just two years ago. I think that not many „old” companies can  that. We might seem to be old, but it is does not apply to our attitude.

Do you have a nickname or fantasy name? How do your colleagues call you when you are not around?

I don’t have any nicknames, I have never really had one. I don’t want to know how my colleagues call me behind my back. I’d maybe be Fantomen – the Phantom – or Superman. If there was a hero that can get the best out of other people – I want to be that one.

Are you excited to be the mentor of Startup Weekend?

Yes, I am excited about being the mentor of Startup Weekend because it will be interesting to see people who are not held back by old experiences and old truths and see everything with fresh ideas  – I am really looking forward to see this.

I think that Startup Weekend is a fantastic opportunity to try out new ideas and to meet new people. Even if you don’t make a viable startup out of it, you will have a fantastic inspiration. I don’t work often on weekends, but I look forward to this one.

What was the craziest thing that you have done in your professional life?

The craziest thing that I have done in my working place was when I danced ballet in front of my whole staff in order to show that we have to go out of our comfort zones. I was definitely out of mine.

Meet Jesper on Startup Weekend Travel! Get your tickets today at !

Check it out, what Mr. Bitcoin has to say to you!

Ludvig is the co-Founder of Safello, SC2BTC, Swedish Bitcoin Foundation and Satoshi Square Stockholm. One of Veckans Affärers top 101 Supertalents of 2016 with over 5 years of experience within Blockchain and Bitcoin.


He fоund Safello in 2013 and since then it has become one of the leading bitcoin exchanges in Sweden.  Last year he joned ChromaWay, that is developing blockchain and smart contract solutions.


How did you start your career in fintech?


It wasn’t on a hackathon, I actually started my career by co-founding Safello with three other people. I am myself more of a business background.


As we know humans learn only from mistakes, could you tell us your biggest professional fuckup?


It probably has to do something with different press releases, when something went wrong and we needed to fix it and half of the article came out with the right message and half of it did not.


But otherwise it might be like being overconfident with a client and at the end we couldn’t deliver in time. These were not single events, but more like general mistakes I’ve been doing.  The important thing is to learn from these mistakes and ask for help if you need to. Don’t be afraid to take the advice of those who have more experience than you do.


Why do you think there is so much buzz around fintech?


A few years ago we didn’t really know which way things would go. We didn’t know if banks would fight this technology and try to keep it out or try to join and innovate. Now I think it is clear that the second option should be taken and we need to integrate it into our systems. That, together with opening up data and encouraging open competition, can lead to better services for customers.


We need to push this fintech wave and we’ll only grow if we follow these trends like in the new EU regulatory framework, so there will be more and more competition where fintech startups are coming and take a bit of the cake.


Being very traditional and staggering entities, what do you think can help banks to survive in this situation?  


They should not only innovate for the innovation’s sake – as I feel that most banks are innovating for the PR. They should actually look for long-term goals and how it integrates with their system and with who they are as a company.

If you only do a shallow corporation, then it does not lead to anything long-term and it will be just a waste of time for everybody. Banks need to think about integrating the ideas created in startup ecosystems. Different banks are doing this in different ways, but most of the time there is someone high up, like a Chief Innovation Manager, who knows the whole corporate structure and who can help startups to get to the right places within the banks.


Also, banks cannot do everything, and I think that the time, when banks provided all services for everyone is over and they have to specialize in what they are good at and cooperate with new startups and people offering services and integrate these for their customers.


Still the banks are the hubs where customers are looking for all the services. I think they should dare to perceive it as an ecosystem where other people can have access to their customers, rather than to let them leave and go away from the main platform.


If you had a chance to meet, Ben Bernanke, what would you tell him?


I would probably ask him about all his negative comments about bitcoin and then the way he became a pro in the blockchain technologies, so I would probably talk with him about that. He probably has some Keynesian economic thoughts, but it would be interesting to hear how bitcoin will fit into the current infrastructure in the financial sector.


Which area do you think is a game changer in fintech right now and why?  


Cryptocurrencies, and blockchain technologies are game changers because they have the capabilities to change the whole financial industry not just a specific sector.  I think it can do it so in a very substantial way. I see this as if it was the start of the internet, we can build new applications and a whole new infrastructure, which makes me very enthusiastic about it.


If you were hitting on a girl/man working with fintech, what would be your pickup line?


Some people have called me the Mr. Bitcoin of Sweden, so I might would use that one then. Hopefully it would work 😀


How would you pitch fintech to a 6 years old kid?


If you look at how the world has changed, you might see that your parents used to read newspapers, now you have an iPad. If you look at the banks, the same thing happens. The future of banks are going to be drastically different. That is quite natural, so it is very interesting field to be in, because it affects everyone. Everyone uses financial services, everyone takes a loan or buy things, send payments, and so on.


Who is the Elon Musk of fintech on your opinion?


I would say that is Satoshi Nakamoto, who invented bitcoin, but we don’t know who that is. So I think that Sebastian from Klarna is doing a great job if we are looking at Sweden. I think that there are lot of people who are doing a great work, but I wouldn’t say that any of them are superstars, but I think that there are a lot of different companies doing a lot of cool things.


Continuing question about Elon Musk, do you think that there will be banks on Mars?

If we get to Mars, there are probably gonna be banks, yes, I assume so. How will they look when we come to that point, I don’t know. There might be a delete all and might not be physical banks on Mars, but at least there may be banking services.


Do you think cryptocurrencies will take over traditional currencies?


Yes, i think we are getting closer and closer there. I think we might end up with a lot of different ones, we might end up with different national currencies, but more and more of the kind of traditional fashion is to look at bitcoin and blockchain technologies and kind of use that technology to get an updated infrastructure, so we might end up in a world, where bitcoin will be a world currency that is not used for everyday purchases, but more for international transactions.


Are you using bitcoin from time to time?


Yes, I use bitoins often. Webhallen in Sweden is one of the biggest stores you can use Bitcoins to buy electronics, for example. I have bought T-shirts, and so on. I don’t do it on a daily basis, but I do use bitcoins regularly.


What message would you send to wannabe entrepreneurs?

You should dare to take risks and get help from other people. Throw yourself out there and try to validate your ideas and see if they stick and get help from other people, because you don’t know everything when you are starting up. So dare things, that is my most important piece of advice.

More information about Stockholm Startup Weekend Fintech here:

Which learning method is the best if you want to launch a startup? See what Sreemati Lalgudi, head of product management at Qbrick recommends you to do!

Sree is the project manager of Qbrick, the North Star of video technology. Her background is in payments industry and engineering where she has been working for 5 years.

She is superenthusiastic to see young talents on Startup Weekend!


How did you start your career in fintech?

I started my career in a very traditional way. I did my masters as a software engineer, but I have to say I had a very agile career path. If I didn’t like a theme too much, then I felt like I could experiment a little bit more and tried to fulfill different roles. I love technology but I also enjoy working with business. That’s why I am in product phase, because there you can make ideas happen and you can still work with technology and business. So this is how I shaped my career to

When I came to Sweden I tried to find a job and I happened to start working for a mobile startup where I got involved in payment methods.


Why do you think there is so much buzz around fintech?


I like payment industry very much. Even though it is very standardized right now, there is still so much room for innovation. Right now we are for example tackling how the mindset of consumers regarding finance is changing. They are not ruled by institutions anymore, but they are ruled by convenience and efficiency. They are ruled by: “Here is the problem, let’s solve it!”


That is why I think that payment industry is so interesting, since there are so much evolution to happen. There are a lot of structures and standards which are good, but they don’t necessarily confine the consumer. Technology should not be complex. We can make these things easier and the same time giving consumers what they need. For example banking for the non-banks, blockchain technology, all this to make things less complicated and to embrace simplicity in the compliance side. I think those are the sides where we should innovate and to find the problems of consumers and solve them.


Which area do you think is a game changer in fintech right now and why?  


Actually I see two. On one hand I see Klarnas and iZettles getting along. They are working in a space where they say: “Hello banks or financial institutions! This is how you have been doing things! Now we are doing them differently!” They are making things easier for the consumers and for the businesses in between the banks and the consumers. So the first opportunity / gamechanger lies when you start defining your ways based on the needs of the market and the consumer.

On the other hand,  look at Stripes and Braintrees. Braintree is a spinoff of Paypal and what those guys did very good was that they simplified the technology behind. So, simplification of the complex technology is definitely the second game changer now.


Who is the Elon Musk or Zuckerberg of fintech on your opinion?


I think we have a lot of them. But the guy who invented bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, might be THE one. He took this idea to make the currency as a gamespace and make payments secure and standardized across the world, which is fun.


Continuing question about Elon Musk, do you think that there will be banks on Mars?


I think there are going to be virtual banks. But what I also think we should not limit our thinking. The idea of startups is not to build a spaceship, but to aim for the spaceship. If we can solve the technology need and the challenge where payments can happen without challenges between countries, then why not? It is still not simple, but once we solved that, then Mars will be the simpler question in the pile. But we will get there, definitely.  


How on your opinion will Trump influence startup climat?


Please don’t let them Trump it! I know that it is crazy. There are Swedish startups that are going global and the first place they expand is the US. If that community feeling at startups start to become difficult, then it can become challenging.


I hope that the new government will realize that it is a healthy thing that globalization is happening and startup communities are growing on this shared knowledge and economy in general and in fintech as well. Working in payments industry I see that there are so many different startups and that is affecting how things can be made simple for consumers. I hope that the new US government won’t make it challenging for them.


What can US banks do in this situation?  


I think that banks per se could learn from Swedish banks. Swedish banks are traditional in many ways, but what they have done very well was that they came together and did a lot of innovation, like Swish. I don’t know if everyone is aware of that, but the technology behind it, was simplified and standardized. So even though these banks are competing each other, they are still working together to innovate. This is one way to do it.

Another one is that banks need to change their way of thinking and start to understand their customers’ needs and not dictate them as they have done before. Banks need to make it easy for innovators to create a platform. Then the banks can still be there, because they have the infrastructure, they can just let the people run with it. The health care is doing this and if banks need to replicate that, then we could create a shared economy in fintech, which would be beneficial for all of us.


How would you pitch fintech to a 6 years old kid?


“There is an app for your piggy bank.” This is where the fintech industry is heading to. A 6 year-old understands iPhone as much as a 60 years old. Why? Because of its simplicity of use. And if someone can create something that can be used a 6 years old and a 60 years old, that is the thing. There is an app for everything. People will forget that they had piggy banks. There are many parts of the world, where people don’t use cards too much – when I go back to India, I always have to remember to take out money. We adapt to everything, we do what is the easiest.


What message would you send to you in the past,  let’s say you 20 years younger?


I would say: don’t be afraid and don’t follow the norms. If you think that you can do things differently, just pursue it. You will both fail and succeed, but failure is  not a full stop, but it is the progression to the absolute path to success. Just don’t be afraid.


What advice can you give to Startup Weekend participants?


I remember once I was participating in Startup Weekends with an idea. I really pursued it and everything was good, but sometimes you might find bottlenecks. The thing that I have learned is that if something is technology based and you are in control of it, then it is simpler to implement if you are focusing on those ideas. Those ones that require the connection of physical equipment and technology can take longer time. You need to be able to take a chance on that. Those ideas that can be onboarded quickly are better first, because otherwise there will be more factors that you can’t be controlling. So that’s my advice.


Are you using bitcoin from time to time?

I do not use bitcoins, but I am very interested in it. Bitcoins make the technology simpler, but I like working on ideas that make everyday life easier.


Can you imagine a world with only cryptocurrencies?


I can, because I think if you can solve the problem of cryptocurrencies being used in every channels, whether it is mobile, laptops, desktops, then it can work.


Any last notes?


Just don’t stop trying – one percent of ideas will be successful, it may be your idea that you have, or could be one out of the 100 ideas that you have tried. Just try fast, use lean methods, go and validate and make a lot of mistakes and learn from them. And when you do mistakes, do it cheap. You will reach that one percent of the ideas, just keep on trying. You should just keep pursuing your dreams.


Use this weekend to onboard your ideas, but also learn from everyone, because this is a platform, where you can really take an idea to execution very quickly. The idea is not only to win, which you can also aim for, but to learn. Startup Weekend is a place for you to fail fast and cheap. Have that mindset to learn from your peers, mentors and the process in general. And don’t forget to have fun, because it is awesome!

More information about Stockholm Startup Weekend – Fintech here:

Robert Pohl, mentor of Startup Weekend Fintech gave us a few hints of a techie’s life

Robert is a hands-on techie who loves to create services that people would want to use. He has 15 years of software development experience doing creative solutions for major brands and businesses. He has always been improving creativity, development and internet related businesses.

Why on your opinion it is so much buzz around fintech?

It is a lot of buzz, but not always groundbreaking. New solutions and services will make a big difference in most peoples lives soon.

How would you pitch fintech to a 6 years old kid

Fintech is for banks and shops what Minecraft is for games.

Which area do you think is a game changer in fintech right now and why?  

PSD2 will change the game, since it gives the power from the banks to the people.

As we know humans learn only from mistakes, could you tell us your biggest (professional) fuckup?
Hmm.. not really 🙂 Well, mistakes I’ve made has a lot to do with trusting people and always expecting them to act reasonable.
If you were hitting on someone working with fintech, what would be your pickup line?

Hey there handsome, how do you get paid?

If you had a chance to meet, Ben Bernanke, what would you tell him?

Would You Rather Fight a Horse-Sized Duck or a Hundred Duck-Sized Horses?

Who is Elon Musk of fintech on your opinion?

All of us trying to make a difference and chasing the dream.

What message would you send to you in the past  let’s say 20 years younger?

Go on.. this will change your life for the better.

Do you think that there will be banks on Mars?

No, but there will be Mars-Bars !

Being very traditional and staggering entities, what do you think can help banks to survive?  

Listen to and invest in new companies.

How did you start your career?

I got an ZX81 computer from my grandfather. Since it din’t have any games, we bough a C64 and then i started to code C64 Basic.

The rest is, as they say; Many hours copying code from books and magazines, letter by letter, trying to make a balloon bounce on the screen….
There are only two days left and you can ask your own question from Robert on Stockholm Startup Weekend Fintech @ SUP46!
More information about the event and registration here:

Frank Schuil, CEO of Safello, mentor of Stockholm Startup Weekend Fintech

How did you start your career in fintech?

I started straight from school. I had a group project and I asked the teacher if I could do something else outside the scope of the project and alone. I chose to work on a location-based social network which became my first company. So it all came very naturally.

What message would you send to your 20 years younger self?

When I was 10 I didn’t know what I wanted to do, when I was 16, I wanted to be a DJ, when I was 18 I wanted to be a rapper and at 20–22 I started my first company. The lessons I learned as an entrepreneur regarding my current company would probably lead me to advise: “Be careful to start a fintech company” . There are so many regulations, so much redtape and regulatory complications and no bank wants to work with you. So I would actually have picked an easier area. Nevertheless we are working with many institutions, like Skatteverket, Financial Inspection and top four bank in Sweden and Barclays, so we have our fair share in working with banks. They are not unwilling, but they are also bound by regulations.

What would you recommend to young founders?

Go as far as you can without taking in investment money and until you you have some product market fit, because once the investment money comes in, the expectations rise.

“Don’t necessarily go for the highest valuation, which is something you naturally wanna do, but I know from experience that you can inflate your valuation where you will need to defend what you have first and then build on top of that to raise your next round. This can lead to higher expectations and pressure that you probably don’t need in the beginning.”

Picking the right team is very important too, in the beginning.

Who are the co-founders? How do you hire them in a later stage?

That’s the most important. So you typically have 4 years vesting and you do a 1 year cliff, so those who leave earlier, before the 4 years pass, return all or part of their equity. That’s a healthy way to filter out those who end up not being motivated. It happens in many companies that some founders leave.

With your founders you have to have a good vesting scheme. If somebody has to leave early, the equity should flow back to the company.

Then you have to put up a stock option pool that incentivises employees. This happens to be quite hard in Sweden due to tax reasons. So that might lead to a bit of a complication. In certain countries it works better than in others, but you want to motivate them by doing the same kind of vesting scheme for employees so they are part of the company. Otherwise you just have to pay which means that you are burning cash.

Nevertheless, in Sweden more and more people are getting familiar with the startup world and more people are incentivised by it. In a startup it’s better to set it up early and have those incentives in place, because if your valuation goes up, or if you are overvalued it even becomes a burden for the employee in some cases to pay for the initial options.

Has it happened, that your investors wanted to switch one of the founders?

No it hasn’t happened to me. There has mostly been frictions between the founders and I think that in general this is the case. It is rare that the investors have frictions with the founders to the point where they replace them — it can happen mostly in the growth phase, when different expertise is needed. This is what happened at Google for example when Eric Schmidt became the Chairman and Larry Page, the COO. So you might switch around a little bit and change roles. Founder driven companies are statistically the best performing companies, so when you have a change from the Board of Directors, it is probably not a good sign.

Why do you think there is so much buzz around fintech?

In Europe particularly there is the Payment Service Directive which requires banks to open up their data for the fintech market, a huge opportunity. Also, there are already many fintech companies that try to disrupt the existing incumbents. And then there is the blockchain technology which can change the entire underlying financial infrastructure. So you have a perfect storm of financial institutions that — for the first time — need to worry about their future. If they are be around as banks in the presence of these new fintech companies, who are eager to fight the big dogs.

How would you pitch fintech to a 6 years old kid?

I would just tell, that bitcoin is on the phone, go and play around with it. So it’s like having your own bank. Generally young people work with money in a very different way as I did when I was a teenager. And most of the people in cryptocurrency space come from the gaming communities, so they already see money as a virtual token to play around with. And fintech technology might tap into that and make it easier. But this is probably not the way to tell this to a 6 year-old, right? My kids are two years old, so now for them it’s just like “gagagagaguuu moneey”.

Who is the Elon Musk of fintech on your opinion?

There is none in fintech. There are people who built Neo-banks and stuff like that, but I really have a hard time coming up with anyone even remotely like Elon Musk in the fintech space.

Do you think that there will be banks on Mars?

This will most likely be done by Elon Musk… He would be the first one colonizing Mars and I’m sure that he is a fan of cryptocurrencies, so everything that will be connected will pay for itself, based on whatever you are doing. So I don’t think there is a need for classical banking in that sense, but to have money of course. But what is that you want to buy on Mars..? A rock… or beer maybe?

What should banks do?

We have spoken to a lot of banks and we work with them and typically we find that at the bank there are people who have a lot of ideas and want to embrace innovation.

Banks are already doing the things they need to be doing: they try to accelerate themselves, they try to work with startups, they have internal teams exploring bitcoin and find ways to implement it.”

Some of them are more ahead than others. BBVA is way ahead for example as they are already creating an Open API platform. So it is “evolve or die” right now for banks.

Do you think cryptocurrencies will take over traditional currencies?

Bitcoin particularly was designed to be a replacement for traditional banking and to potentially become a global reserve currency. I personally invested heavily in the idea that it is a good store of value with the hope that it will have some broader kind utility as a currency in the future. It is still too early to tell, but it grows in a healthy way. As of today, its market cap is around 15 billion and it has been going through hype cycles in the past few years since its invention in 2009. Things might take off with the geopolitical situation with Trump and Brexit in combination with a financial collapse, but we can’t really yet .

Also, Peter Thiel is one of the key advisors for Trump, being one of the lead investors in Bitpay, one of the biggest bitcoin companies and he is looking at other people for his administration who are probitcoin, so I am positive. By the way, he was also the only one from Silicon Valley who put some investment in the Trump campaign as he invested 1 million dollars. Once Trump won and they had this awkward meeting with all stakeholders from Silicon Valley, he sat next to Trump, so he was definitely the “belle of the ball”.

Are you using bitcoin from time to time?

Sometimes, yes. I have paid for occasional dinners with bitcoin here in Södermalm and I have paid for some drinks in London in a bar — but it is very sporadic now and there aren’t many shops who accept it.

Bitcoin today is for speculative purposes mostly and it will continue to be that way in the developed world. But there is an exponential growth in the developing world, among those people who want to protect their purchasing power and they want to send or receive money to and from other countries.

There is also a possibility to connect your bitcoin wallet with your credit card (Martercard or Visa) and then you can use it anywhere. In the early days of Bitcoin someone made an experiment, how long they can survive with only bitcoins, but after this solution had appeared, it became just too easy and the experiment was sort of done. Now you can get your salary in bitcoin, pay your expenses in bitcoin… paying your taxes is a bit more difficult, but pretty much everything else can be paid with it.

Last notes?

I am passionate about all innovations, but blockchain technology can lead to complete financial inclusion and can give the opportunity to those who can’t have banking services to be banked. This is really a bank in everyone’s pocket.

We are very excited about Startup Weekend Fintech on the 27–29 January in SUP46! Will you be there with Frank?

More information about the event and registration here:

Angelica Lips da Cruz, Startup Weekend Fintech Jury: Get out earlier!

Our team had coffee with Angelica Lips da Cruz, our mentor and jury member. Having spent 15 years in a traditional heavy lifting banking, now Angelica is fully focused on accelerating the world’s transition into social innovation, future technology, blockchain, distributed ledger, circular economy and sustainable solutions for us and our future together.

Could you please do an elevator pitch of yourself and little bit about your background?

I am a very driven person, a change leader and I love to build up business. I have a very multi-cultural background. I am specialized in South America, Nordics and Latin Europe. My background is in economics and finance, always alongside with new systems’ implementations. During the last years I have established a business in Brazil, a bank in the 4 Nordic countries and worked for 2 other large banks in London and in Stockholm, covering the needs of large, mid and small companies within investment banking in different areas and positions: it could be anything from shaping up a new credit and risk model or setting up a new large corp’s complex structured finance. I operated as vice-president at Citibank London, I built up Renault Finance Nordic operations and I was a pioneer within SEB Merchant Banking sponsoring and running the first projects that included UX and new digital solutions.

My passion is cutting edge technology, in a way that helps our lives to become better, achieving more comfort to all.

Why do you think there are so much buzz around fintech?

Because it is needed. Because there are too many old tracks in the banks, built during the 60s-70s, and they became old, expensive to maintain and need to be changed. And I think that new technologies, fintech, are the solution. Simple as that.

Do your kids know that you are working with fintech? How have you explained them that?

I used to say that there is way of getting to what you want and that way is not only by having money, there shouldn’t be any cards, no old SWIFT transactions, if I may say that. I tell my kids that if you want to make your dreams happen, there is way to achieve that and that’s what I am building, a smoother and fair world with a better financial system.

In startup world we talk a lot about mistakes and fuckups. I know that in traditional banking people are not that really eager to share their mistakes, but did you have any tough situation in life that you would like to share?

Oh, that’s a tricky question. I have been around for awhile, I need to pick one 🙂 Once I was starting a business in Brazil together with Swedish investors. I had the project in hands. It was not a bank, the business was about a transport communication. And when it has something to do with transportation, you need to take a lot into consideration, like for example environmental aspects. It was then when we were face to face with corruption. But I said to myself: “No, stop. We are not going that way.” Certainly, it was a shame that we didn’t continue. It was a brilliant proposition. Cutting edge that would set the city of Rio de Janeiro at the high end. But now, years later, I am very happy that we didn’t go forward, taking into account corruption scandals in Brazil. So my advice is that transparency is key.

What part of the fintech is actually a game changer now on your opinion?

I think you can pick and choose. You can do anything in the fintech area right now. The 90% percent of financial services area are shouting for improvements. There are a lot of people going for loans, private banking, where individuals want to have a better, cheaper and quicker service. As for the trickiest ones, that would be service for large corporations. You need a lot of capital to do that and it is very complex.

Do you think that in future banks will survive?

Very good question. Yes. But not all. Everyone is already trying to adapt. Huge changes are already happening. I was part of the globalization at Citibank, so I know how it went. Everyone was expanding globally in the 80s and 90s, banks did it as well, nothing strange about it. Following your customers. And I know that many corporations, not only banks, are not so happy about the current situation. The question is what were the results 20 years after and what is needed now. We need to rethink and reboot. The Macro scenario has changed. We need to dig into the whole system, including politics and regulators, to see what we can do better and change it for the good.

Who is on your opinion Elon Musk of Fintech?

Elon Musk is the one and only! And remember he started in Fintech! Now is the time to help him as politics over the Atlantic are facing ‘offshore’ winds 🙂

Satoshi Nakamoto, the famous inventor of the bitcoin protocol, do you think he exists?

Yes. His solution in theory is perfect, but the cryptocurrency perhaps didn’t go the way he imagined? Money tends to get dirty and that’s a problem. That is why if you are seriously thinking about better standards and sustainability, on your backbone like I am, there isn’t anybody yet. And we need to clean up bitcoin or any cryptocurrency before we can do larger projects.

Do you want to say that bitcoin is already dirty?

There is a fight for it. Like in anything else.

Do you own bitcoins?

Cannot comment on that 😀

What advice would you give to yourself 20 years younger?

“Get out earlier!” Being a good girl, working for large corporates, studying, learning took a long time. Somethings that I have learnt at the university, the theory, wasn’t really matching with what was happening in the real world. So I needed experience. And if you look at the large corporations and how they operate today, I am too busy to wait for changes to happen. And that is one of the reasons why I left: I would simply retire before I can get things done!

If you had a chance to meet, Ben Bernanke, what would you tell him?

Crisis is in our mind. Let’s get out of it.

Hurry up and register for Stockholm Startup Weekend Fintech on January 27–29!

More information about the event and registration here: