LØRN Case #C0444
Build more meaningful relationships
In this episode of #LØRN’s Silvija talks to co-founder & CEO in Mingl, Daniel Caetanya Fossum, about how we can build more meaningful relationships and how Mingl seeks to inspire and help others to fulfill their true potentials. Daniel believes that if you want people to truly connect with you and feel safe in making lasting relations, then you need to give them a reason to. The talk of a QR-code being the solution to how we can simplify our ways of interacting with each other come to bear in this episode.

Daniel Caetanya Fossum

Co-founder & CEO

Mingl

"Smile more, listen more and next time you meet someone, ask them how you can help them."

Dette er LØRN Cases

En LØRN CASE er en kort og praktisk, lett og morsom, innovasjonshistorie. Den er fortalt på 30 minutter, er samtalebasert, og virker like bra som podkast, video eller tekst. Lytt og lær der det passer deg best! Vi dekker 15 tematiske områder om teknologi, innovasjon og ledelse, og 10 perspektiver som gründer, forsker etc. På denne siden kan du lytte, se eller lese gratis, men vi anbefaler deg å registrere deg, slik at vi kan lage personaliserte læringsstier for nettopp deg. 

Vi vil gjerne hjelpe deg komme i gang og fortsette å drive med livslang læring.

En LØRN CASE er en kort og praktisk, lett og morsom, innovasjonshistorie. Den er fortalt på 30 minutter, er samtalebasert, og virker like bra som podkast, video eller tekst. Lytt og lær der det passer deg best! Vi dekker 15 tematiske områder om teknologi, innovasjon og ledelse, og 10 perspektiver som gründer, forsker etc. På denne siden kan du lytte, se eller lese gratis, men vi anbefaler deg å registrere deg, slik at vi kan lage personaliserte læringsstier for nettopp deg. Vi vil gjerne hjelpe deg komme i gang og fortsette å drive med livslang læring.

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Varighet: 27 min

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What is the most important thing you do at your work?

Inspire and help others to fulfil their true potential.

What are the central concepts in your tech? How do you usually explain it to kids?

Simplify how we interact and remember each other. To kids I tell them it’s like Spotify or Netflix for people.

Why is it exciting? What drives you here?

Meeting a new and interesting individual is one of the most exciting things one can experience. Being able to do spread that message on a daily basis creates a great inner drive for me.

What do you think are the relevant controversies?

GDPR and the blurred lined between personal and professional life.

Your own favourite projects?

Founders Forum OC.

Your other favourite examples, internationally and nationally?

Airbnb, Slack and Favrs.

Who are your customers?

Entrepreneurs and investors.

What do we do particularly well in Norway or in your country?

High integrity, high trust and high loyalty.

A favourite future quote, as a gift to our audience?

I see no point in having a point of view.

If people are to remember only one thing from our conversation, what would you like it to be?

Smile more, listen more and next time you meet someone, ask them how you can help them.

What is the most important thing you do at your work?

Inspire and help others to fulfil their true potential.

What are the central concepts in your tech? How do you usually explain it to kids?

Simplify how we interact and remember each other. To kids I tell them it’s like Spotify or Netflix for people.

Why is it exciting? What drives you here?

Meeting a new and interesting individual is one of the most exciting things one can experience. Being able to do spread that message on a daily basis creates a great inner drive for me.

What do you think are the relevant controversies?

GDPR and the blurred lined between personal and professional life.

Your own favourite projects?

Founders Forum OC.

Your other favourite examples, internationally and nationally?

Airbnb, Slack and Favrs.

Who are your customers?

Entrepreneurs and investors.

What do we do particularly well in Norway or in your country?

High integrity, high trust and high loyalty.

A favourite future quote, as a gift to our audience?

I see no point in having a point of view.

If people are to remember only one thing from our conversation, what would you like it to be?

Smile more, listen more and next time you meet someone, ask them how you can help them.

Vis mer
 
Tema: Moderne ledelse
Organisasjon: Mingl
Perspektiv: Gründerskap
Dato: 190625
Sted: OSLO
Vert: Silvija Seres

Dette er hva du vil lære:


FoundingInnovationQR code

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Tekst for Case #C0444

Velkommen til Lørn.Tech – en læringsdugnad om teknologi og samfunn med Silvija Seres og venner.

 

Silvija Seres: Hello and welcome to Lørn. My name is Silvija Seres and our topic today is social technology and social media. My guest is Daniel Caetanya Fossum, founder and CEO of a company called Mingl. Welcome, Daniel.


Daniel Caetanya Fossum: Thank you very much.

 

Silvija: You are a co-co-founder, so there are several of you. You’ll tell us about your Mingl-journey, and I’m hoping you can help us understand the new mix between physical and digital socialization. Before that, I was hoping that you could tell us about yourself?

 

Daniel: So, I was born and raised in Norway. My mom is from Guatemala, and my dad is Norwegian. 


Silvija: But your name is Indian?

Daniel: Yeah, they both kind of found this passion for a spiritual path, and fell in love with this Indian guru in their twenties, so my dad was actually a spiritual monk for eight years. Then he met my mom in Los Altos Hills, which is ironic because that’s kind of in the center of Silicon Valley. And then they moved to Norway and my dad was no longer a monk, and then my brother and I were born, and we were given spiritual names. So Caetanya is a spiritual name. I was born a vegetarian, I was born into yoga and meditation.

SS; Do you still practice?

Daniel: Yes. I’ve never eaten meat in my entire life. The answer is that when I grew up, I was always the different kid and now, suddenly vegetarianism, meditation and yoga is very broad. So now everyone is like yeah, you were right all the time. So, in a sense you’ve always taken this bet, that’s like yeah, I think this is actually a good choice. And I have to say that it’s nice to see that people are actually accepting that a lot these days, which was not the fact when I grew up on the West Side of Oslo.


Silvija: Everyone was asking why you didn’t want to eat meat?

Daniel: Yes.

 

Silvija: So, Daniel. Loads of really cool controversies here that we could play with. One of them is the very spiritual start and the first part of your life. How old are you, by the way?

 

Daniel: 34.

 

Silvija: 34, okay. You’re now doing a startup, I don’t know if this one is your first, but it’s focused on very superficial socialization. Can you tell us if you did other startups?

Daniel: Well, it depends on the definition of a startup, but I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I went to NHH, The Norwegian School of Economics. I was only there for three years, but I think my inner entrepreneur was born there, because NHH has this great student organization, which I’ll say that together with NTNU, is one of the greatest in Norway. They have so many activities, they have conferences and such, so I was part a lot of cool stuff when I was there. We were creating all these ideas, and I think that’s where my entrepreneur was born. I left school in 2009, and I started a fitness-center out of the blue, and that became my NBA of entrepreneurship, because I just jumped into it. Then I got a little into a health-food store that my parents started, and then I stumbled across the technology startup. I remember I was observing MESH from the side-line and was just kind of urged to get in, and then in February 2016 I was sitting there with Sondre, being interviewed. We clicked, and he told me I should come there, and I met Johan in the hallway, and I just felt so at home. The irony is that just two, three weeks later I stumbled across this idea that eventually became Mingl while I was kind of in the mindset, so it was this law of attraction pushing me into technology.

 

Silvija: Fortune favors the prepared mind. You were in the mood?

Daniel: I like to think so. I’ve always had this belief that everything has a meaning, and I have so many stories about being in the right place at the right time. Like how I met our first investor, Trond. It’s just a fairytale. And how I met Frida, my co-founder, is also another great story. We don’t have much time right now, but there is a lot of cool stories that we actually share on stage today because it also shows this power of relationships. 


Silvija: We are in Voss today, at the Startup Extreme, so I’d actually like you to tell us a little bit about your Mingl-journey. So, one is having the idea, tell us about what it does? And then tell us about finding your first good investor. 

 

Daniel: I was actually asking someone for a business card. And I have business cards, I’ve always had them. You have to have business cards, and then someone introduced me to this smarter way were everything was just this page online, and then they texted it to me, and it was like an Instagram profile, except with all the information that you’d have on a business card. Then I thought I’d just come across the greatest idea ever, and I started thinking great and big, and like, you’re so naive in your early days, and then there was someone who started it and I got involved with that. Then it was twelve-eighteen months of just making all the mistakes you can.


Silvija: In terms of product?

Daniel: Everything. It wasn’t my company at the time, so what happened was that I came to a point where I started over, and we rebranded it to Mingl. I wanted it to have more of a global name. 

 

Silvija: So Mingl is based on a QR-code that your phone translates into a contact file, or?

Daniel: No, QR is just one way of transferring a profile. So, the whole concept of Mingl is that we base everything around your own personal, unique URL. So, on Instagram you have your own, unique URL, and you have the same in Mingl. But what’s cool with QR is that in the QE-code you can capture a lot of data. So, you see all these e-scooter on the street all the time, and you take your phone, you scan the QR-code, and you’ve paid and authenticated, and you register where, when, and what. So, in one scan you do a hundred things at the same time. Before QR we used Airdrop, so when I met our first investor, Trond, I Airdropped my Mingl to him. I could’ve sent him a text, or it could’ve been in my email signature ect. But what we saw in QR was first of all that Apple suddenly integrated a QR-reader in their cameras, and then QR exploded because suddenly it was so accessible. 

 

Silvija: It’s just kind of a square with more small squares inside, and that’s a highly packed piece of information.

Daniel: QR is a quite old concept, but I like to say that imagine how the barcode revolutionized retail. Like, what did we do before the barcode? I really believe that QR has the same potential in this online space in terms of how you transfer information from physical to digital. All online platforms today, even Vipps, now has QR. So, we kind of want to be the profile above all profiles. In Mingl you put in a link to your Lørn-chat, you put in a link to your Vipps; you put in all your relevant information, but it’s much more connected to when, where, and what, and your physical presence. So, it’s like a smart, intelligent business card turning into a new category which will be what we call a PRM for humans. A People Relationship Manager. That’s kind of the moon-shut we want to create here, where everything is about where and when you met a person, and in your Mingl you basically add whatever, because it will be a landing page.

 

Silvija: So, I would go to Mingl, create a profile for myself, and I could add a video-CV, a link to my presentation and to my Lørn-pod. I could add a list of information that I want to share with the world? 

 

Daniel: One hundred percent. And that’s the case, no-one’s really tried to take this position where you’re like, this is me, and this is everything I use. 

 

Silvija: How is this different from LinkedIn? Because of the lacking physical link?

 

Daniel: This is the most common question we get. We call ourselves the contact manager, the PRM-system and such. We’re obsessed about the details, that’s important in a relationship, and so is context. Which is where and what. LinkedIn is a recruitment platform, an education platform, it’s a Facebook for professionals. So, LinkedIn, even though they have some functionality around this, they don’t have the UX ect., of actually extracting and organizing. So, we want to take two, three features that are hidden in LinkedIn and just become global leaders on that. We believe that there needs to be a filter on top. 

 

Silvija: So can I just say that you have a different prison that you look at things through. LinkedIn are for finding people with different skills, while you are for connecting.

 

Daniel: One hundred percent. I talked to someone who said that LinkedIn is like a destination site, while we are much more like a navigator. We want to connect, and we also create this filter on top. I remember that our first investor, Trond, he said that he had three thousand connections, and that he couldn’t remember where, when, and who they are. For me, Mingl should be this filter on top, where I can organize my connections in lists, groups, tags, ect. People who’ve been using business cards their whole lives used to write down on the backside of their cards, so in Mingl you’ll eventually be able to put in notes, maybe audio-files; the context of other people, which we do in a CRM system today. You know, you have to make sure that you talk to your clients, that you send your invoices, and we saw that there was no library where we could build this context on each other, and if you look into what are important in relationships today, it’s paying attention to the details. What do you like, what do you care about, what do you hate? You never learn these things in school, so we want to take that position and say hey, there is a reason why some people are good at networking and relationships, and that’s because they pay attention to these details.

 

Silvija: And with Mingl you really want to win friends.

 

Daniel: Exactly. It’s fun, because when I met Trond I think we realized that we have a lot of things in terms of relation. He’s always been the put-forward mindset, he helps anyone who asks him for help, and he’s done this his whole life. We even had an event that we called The Power of Meaningful Relationships. We invited Trond to talk about anecdotes of his life, and we invited Henrik, from WeWork Nordics, who told the incredible story of how he got the job at WeWork, and everything was connected to this relationship that started 10-15 years ago. My connection to Trond is that one of the members in my gym, who joined in 2011, used to work with him at McKinsey, and she wanted to introduce me to him in 2017, six years later when I was looking for an investor. It’s a funny story because I asked her if she had his contact information, and she said no, and that she only had his old contact information. What she ended up doing was taking a screenshot of his website and sends me a photo of his website. I didn’t have to write it down. So, what I did when I met Trond was that I traded the Mingl for him in advance, and then I told him the story. I said: do you know how I got your contact information? And then I showed him. This person, she’s a top-notch executive, and this is how she shares information. And then I asked him to turn on Airdrop, and I sent him something, and suddenly Mingl was on his phone. He just smiled. So, we were kind of solving the problem while meeting him. If we see how things are done today, it’s so primitive. When we say we want to be the Spotify for people, it comes down to when we looked at how we sort and organize contact information today, and it’s very much the same as how we organize our music fifteen years ago. We had CD’s, and it’s the same with media content: we had DVD’s. It’s kind of the same as a business card. We had iTunes, where you had to sort and organize everything yourself with the artist, the name of the song and so on. So, we want to give that same user experience: you log into an account, and everything is there. You just have to pay attention to the search part.


Silvija: It’s your real connection network.

 

Daniel: Exactly. 


Silvija: And it has to do with you physical life, which is what I like. I think the problem we have now in our LinkedIn and Facebook accounts is that we don’t know how many people we are connected to. 

 

Daniel: It’s so impersonal. 

 

Silvija: I think there’s many of my own connections that I’ve never met. People send me a follow request and I accept, and then what happens is that you can’t find the ones that you really need to connect to physically. 

 

Daniel: In Mingl we use this term a lot. We want to help people build meaningful relationships. Because what does a connection on LinkedIn mean today? There are people giving lectures about how you should add everyone, and that you should have bots that sends requests out to five thousand people, because then if you post something, it reaches. But how are you going to create meaningful relationships like this? Often, I’ll ask someone if they can connect me to a person because I see they are connected, and often I’ll hear that they don’t really know who they are. This happens more and more, and these connections have become diluted. So, we want to be the filter in between where you can choose that someone actually has to get your Mingl from you. 

 

Silvija: Is it possible to check the strength of a relationship? I think that would be cool, because there are people who are very strongly connected to me and that would be an easy recommendation for me to make to others. And then there are other, more remote, connections. I know you don’t want to be the social scoring people, but a connection is not connectional, same as an importance of a position is not defined enough by its title. So, finding out the real weight of a connection or a position would be very useful. 

 

Daniel: We have discussed this a lot, and that’s where all the metadata comes in. So, for example, if you start adding tags to yourself about your skills, interests and such. Frida, my co-founder, is so passionate about virtual maps where you can see who is connected to what, and today this is done very manually. If I’m trying to find an investor I often go on the persons LinkedIn to see who they’re connected to, and then maybe I’ll go on Proff, the register of investors, and I become sort of an investigator and I look for who’s the person to talk to here. I often find it, but it requires a lot of work. So, it could be recommendations that we give within the app, so there’s a lot of elements here but the more over to our business model: we actually started selling this. We sold this to law firms as digital business cards. We sold it as a license with a startup fee, and then our margins were quite significant. I think that’s why we got investors so early on, but what we saw was that it didn’t really scale because it required a lot of manpower. So, we use Slack a lot, and I still haven’t met a startup that doesn’t use Slack. I started looking into it, and I saw that they tried to sell it pretty early on, but no one would buy it. So, then they started putting it in the ads for people they thought would have use for it, and it exploded from there. We are taking the same approach because what our focus has become is product lead growth. We build a product people love, and the more they use it we monetize on either storage, usage or data history. We’ll start saving all the people you’ve met, but after six months you will have to upgrade if you want to keep your story. Or if you for example upload information or notes, you’ll have x amounts of notes. These are hypotheses we’re trying to prove, but if we then focus on creating something that people really enjoy, they become addicted. 

 

Most startups pay for using Slack because Slack’s brilliant conversion is that after you’ve sent ten thousand messages, Slack will say that they can’t save what you’ve written before the ten thousand messages. I think these freemium business models are good because you give people something and then make them addicted. For example, we use Trello a lot, and when the day comes that they’ll start charging us, we’ll pay because it’s deserved. The users basically form our product, so now we are in a stage where we talk to our users all the time. User interview after user interview, all the time.

 

Silvija: Very cool. You mention Slack, Trello, Pieri and Zoom - the last two are very good Norwegian companies. You mentioned another Norwegian company called Favrs, what is that? 


Daniel: Favrs is started by a Norwegian founder called Alek Wikli. We met last year and he’s a fantastic individual that I hope gets invited to Lørn.Tech because he’s a guy that really inspires me. He was working in the army in the third world, and he saw that the people there were so happy with so little, and then he came back to Norway and he couldn’t really understand why it was so different. He wanted to do a social experience where he’d go around and ask people if he could do them a favor. Most people asked why he was asking, and then he asked if he could buy them an ice cream, and they agreed. He then bought the ice cream but said that they had to do this for someone else if they wanted it. What he was trying to do was create a pay if forward practice in the system, and he has a fantastic vision where you can convert this to a currency etc. It’s basically about getting people to realize the joy in giving. He did this experiment at a festival. He went in line and bought two beers and went to give them to a guy at the end of the line. The guy asked why he would do that, and Alek then said that he’d have to the same thing to someone else before you leave. This went viral at the festival and everyone was so positive and happy about it, because you don’t really expect people to be this nice. 

 

Silvija: Definitely loads of good karma.


Daniel: Yes. It’s such a pay it forward, simple thing.

 

Silvija: We are also so hung up on digitalization and products sometimes that we forget that the power of example can sometimes be the best product and marketing you can have. It’s a super cool idea.

 

Daniel: Exactly. 

 

Silvija: I asked you for recommended reading and you said Upstarts. Tell us about that.

 

Daniel: My favorite entrepreneurial journey is the Airbnb story. The Upstarts is both the Uber and Airbnb story.

 

Silvija: Why do you like these stories?

 

Daniel: It’s just this great narrative of how hard it was and how they just hustled, flipped and turned. Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were design students, but they had this drive and grit from early on and it’s a great story about how they were hustling all the time and running out of money. They had twenty-five thousand in credit card debt, and in order to stay alive, even before Airbnb was even born, they designed cereal. This was when Obama were being elected, and they created these special edition cereal boxes as Obama Oats and Captain McCain Crunch and such and sold them online. They sold it all out. When they applied to YC, Paul Graham, the director, thought Airbnb was the stupidest idea ever, but when they told the story about how they sold out all the cereal boxes and paid off their debt, he was thought they were onto something. If you follow their journey you can see that they’ve been working like this the entire time, and it’s so inspiring. 

 

Silvija: Very creative problem solving.

Daniel: Extremely. 

 

Silvija: I agree. Then of course you mention Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People. The book is around fifty years old, but it’s an interesting book for everyone to read, to remind ourselves of how politeness and kindness still is a good skill.

 

Daniel: It’s so simple. We even wrote the story to the Startup Extreme Festival based on this, and gave the advice to listen, ask, and smile when you meet people. Alek has this cool thing; when he meets a new person the first thing he asks them is how he can help them achieve what they want to succeed in life. It’s always about putting the focus on the person you’re talking to because that’s how you really connect with people. This is the brilliance of Dale Carnegie, and people have followed his examples.

 

Silvija: They’re givers. So, do you have a quote you could leave as a little parting gift? 

 

Daniel: Yes. I’ve never been asked to create a future quote, but translated it is “I see no point of having a point of view.” My point with this is that we have all these opinions in life, and I had the opinion that Mingl should do this or be that, or that I believed that this or that were the right ways to live etc. So, my favorite quote that is not mine is from Socrates, and it’s “True wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” In many ways that is implying this growth mindset. So, by having a point of view or having all these opinions on this and that, you need to question yourself about why you have this certain point of view or why you believe that this or that is the right way to live or not. If we think about it, it’s a lot more dogmatic than we would think. If we always go around thinking that we know anything and I’m willing to be open to anything; any situation or any opinion, and respect that people are different, I think that’s more needed in today’s societies. 

 

Silvija: If people were to remember one thing from our conversation, what would you like it to be?

Daniel: I would like for people to smile more, listen more, and realize that there is a lot more joy in giving than in receiving.

Silvija: Daniel Caetanya Fossum, we will try Mingl for spreading our Lørn-podcasts as well. It was such a pleasure and an inspiration talking to you, co-founder and CEO of Mingl.

Daniel: Likewise. I really looked forward to meeting you, 

 

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