Swedish Startup Space

Micael Widell (Fyndiq): “My Path to Entrepreneurship”

Written by on June 7

Editor: This post originally appeared here and was written by Micael Widell of Fyndiq

To give the readers of this blog some context, here is a quick summary about my background.

I have always been extremely fascinated by computers, ever since I first saw one (my cousins C64). And I have been unhealthily interested in building websites since I first read an article about a site called GeoCities that enabled you to create a homepage for free.

At age 16 I founded the digital agency Xeniac Design together with a friend. Xeniac was my IRC nickname back then. Over the years we produced around 30-40 websites for companies. Everything from pure Flash sites to large community sites. I have always really loved the combination of working with both design and programming.

After high school I wanted to dig deeper into programming, and I wanted to move to a bigger city. So I moved to Stockholm and started studying Computer Science at the Royal Institute of Technology.

During my studies thoughts started forming in my head about starting a scalable company. I watched TV shows such as The Rebel Billionaire and the Apprentice, I read books such as Rich dad, Poor dad. I got really inspired to be an entrepreneur (even if these bullshit tv series and books didn’t give a just image of what it means to be an entrepreneur and why you should do it).

However, after finishing my studies, I didn’t quite know where to turn to start a company. I had no self confidence, no useful contacts, hardly knew anyone who had anything to do with entrepreneurship. So I felt that step one for me must be to step out into some normal job to earn and save some money, earn some real life experience, and get to know other people who are interested in entrepreneurship.

I saw an ad about a job at IBM, which sounded really cool. I got the job and worked for almost two years building and maintaining the Stockholm congestion tax system. This was a very nice job which I liked a lot, but I couldn’t fend off my entrepreneurial dream. I remember sitting there in the office space thinking “this is really an ideal place to work. the only things that could be better is if I could pick exactly what people to work with, what technologies to use, and if I could get more of an economic reward when I do something good”.

I started to get some entrepreneurially minded friends outside work during my time at IBM. But I had this quite common world view that the best road to your own startup is to start a hobby project in your spare time and get that going really well until it earns so much money that you can actually quit your job.

This strategy did not work that well. Sure I had a lot of hobby projects, but I never had the discipline to actually consistently get shit done when coming home tired after a workday. After over a year of trying to start something on the side I realized that I could keep trying for years, it would probably not happen. I would need some way to get to spend more time on a startup.

One day when I sat by myself in the gym during lunch it dawned upon me that if I would quit my job, sell my apartment, find some cheap place to live, I would actually have enough money saved to live on for a year if I lived austere. I started thinking to myself, “what is the worst thing that could actually happen?”. Well, the worst thing that could happen is that I quit my job, try for a year to start a startup, fail, and get another job. Nothing lost! It is not very hard for a computer programmer to find a job.

So that was exactly what I did. I quit my job, sold my apartment, managed to get a cheap rental apartment in a suburb. It was a totally wonderful feeling. The first few months I started small projects, both by myself and together with others. I had the strategy that I would start around 3-4 web/startup projects in parallel and then after a while see which one seemed to have the brightest future, and then focus on that.

I soon realized that the founding team of Fyndiq was really the kind of big-vision people I would like to work with, so I decided to focus everything on getting the Fyndiq idea off the ground.

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