Few people know that Andreas Sjölund co-founded the billion dollar company Skype with Niklas Zennström. Now he has started a new company.
Every time invitations were sent out for greater gatherings, both friends and business acquaintances, Adreas Sjölund found it frustrating. There could sometimes be 40 “reply all” e-mails sent back and forth to book one single date.
All of this led to him starting Meetbug two years ago with another person, who at this time wants to remain undisclosed due to his present employment. They have financed the company with their own means in combination with $75.000 from Almi Business Loans.
“We figured there must be a simpler way to make appointments. At a previous start-up, we used Outlook which worked well for internal meetings where everyone uses the same system, but as soon as you wanted to set up a meeting with an investor or partner, these reply-all email chains occurred again”, Andreas Sjölund says
Andreas Sjölund has been active in the Swedish tech-scene since 2001. As a 26 year old, he moved to Sweden after having spent his entire life in USA. He did, though, speak Swedish fluently since his parents always spoke Swedish at home.
He worked as a consultant for the Internet consulting firm Result in New York. When he moved to Sweden, his mind was set on getting a job at a big Swedish company with paid vacation and a steady salary.
But it didn’t go quite like that. Instead, he met Niklas Zennström through a mutual friend. At the time Niklas Zennström was running the filesharing service Kazaa from his home office.
“He was a very interesting and smart person. Companies like Kazaa changed so many things and I wanted to be a part of that. I started working out of the guest room in his apartment. When he sold the company we had a number of business ideas built on peer-to-peer technology. One of them was Skype, which I was part of since day one”, he says.
Andreas Sjölund, who has worked behind the scenes started working as Head of Product for Skype and was responsible for launching the VOIP service. When Ebay acquired the company for $2.6 billion in 2005, Andreas Sjölund was able to cash in as well.
How come so few people know about you?
“It was partly a conscious decision on my part. I was probably a bit shocked by how big Skype got and suddenly I got a lot of money out of that deal. Many people were interested in talking with me but non-disclosure agreements meant that most things were still confidential to talk about during those years. That was one reason for my anonymous stance. But it has to be said; Niklas took the major financial risk and had the vision for Skype. I was young without possibility to invest”
Since then, Andreas Sjölund has invested in several companies and been sat on various boards. In September 2010, he started Timesulin with his brother – a service that diabetics to remember when they last took their insulin injection.
This time around, the idea is to create a tool for booking of meetings. Up until now it has been a closed beta-service with some 1.000 users.
Here’s how it works:
The person booking meeting suggests different times to meet up, after which an invitation is created with a link that can be shared among guests at will. The guests vote for the meeting times that work for them and the group can chat regarding where and how to meet. At the end, said meeting is saved in the calendar.
Plenty of private people use Facebook to create events. Isn’t that enough?
“Facebook works well if you want to invite people to an event. Meetbug helps where the date is not set in stone and where you need room for people to vote about a date. It could be anything from a bachelorette party to a ski trip. Also, not everyone wants to be on Facebook”
Who do you see as your competitors?
“There are some niche companies doing what we do, Doodle for instance. This works just fine if I want to meet my programmers in a meeting but it’s rather geeky and reminds me of VOIP before there was Skype.”
In what way?
“Skype was not the first VOIP service but those ahead were created by programmers without focus on design or user friendliness. I have brought this insight with me to other companies I have worked with and at Meetbug, we hired a designer before we hired a programmer. It should be a nice looking and fun service to use.”
The service is free to use. But further down the line, Meetbug will be able to capitalize on the knowledge of how many people will meet where, when, and how, for restaurants among others to reach out with offers ahead of a meeting,
“But the core purpose is to make a really functional and great looking product that people like”, Andreas Sjölund says.