Jason Dainter: BASE10, how to find a good team and the future of Uppsala
Ingen av er har väl missat att Entrepreneurs Academy har flyttat in hos BASE10, Uppsalas alldeles egna tech startup-hub?!
Bakom detta fantastiska initiativ står serieentreprenören Jason Dainter, grundaren av Uppstart, tidigare Head of Brand Relations på Universal Avenue samt co-founder av både Ecomarket.com och Trooply. En riktig stjärna med andra ord. I denna intervju berättar han om framtidens kontor, vad studenter borde lära sig under sin studietid och hur han hamnade i Uppsala.
Tell us a little about you Jason; how did you end up in Uppsala after studying and working in England?
My background before Sweden was as an entrepreneur building various technology startups. At the time I was running an online eco-friendly marketplace that had just relocated to Shoreditch in London (also known as the 'Silicon Roundabout'). My girlfriend Karin (a Swede) wanted to come back to Uppsala to study and she convinced me to make the move (it didn't take much convincing!). Having worked in quite a few technology hubs and seen fast growth of the startup community in London, I saw many positive attributes in Uppsala (lots of technical talent, a strong university, good transport routes such as Arlanda/Stockholm nearby, and so on). I however also theorized that there was a lack of 'startup' culture in Uppsala when speaking to many of the entrepreneurs in the city and felt the main things missing were regular targeted and suitable events (especially for tech startups), and space to work. I set out on a mission to solve both of those problems!
You left Universal Avenue to work with BASE10 here in Uppsala. What excites you the most about this project?
I strongly believe that Uppsala has the potential to be a large global technology startup hub. As the fastest growing city in Sweden, and with many attributes already in place I feel the remaining 'problems' to solve, is creating a healthy events ecosystem and enough physical space for tech startups to work at. Realistically, this can be solved quite quickly. Uppstart was a big success, and the next event on 19th November expects around 1000 startups, investors, press and those interested in tech to attend at Uppsala Castle. More events are now materializing in Uppsala also such as the Uppsala Tech Meetups, the Uppsala Hackathon, Guerilla Office, and many others. Though there is still room for improvement on the events side, my focus recently now shifted over to the second remaining challenge which is work space, and hence started the first coworking center in Uppsala for technology startups called BASE10. I think the most exciting thing about the project is that it can become a success in a very short amount of time and could have a huge impact on the technology startup culture within Uppsala.
I heard BASE10 is renting out working spaces for 1.5 years. Is this only a short term trial project?
The vision is to be very long term, but the building we are currently leasing has plans to be demolished at the end of December 2017. We'll, therefore, use that time to build the audience and BASE10 brand, and then will be moving to a new location after that (probably bigger, and certainly even better!).
We see more and more co-working spaces, mostly for startups, here in Sweden, especially in Stockholm. Do you think this is just a trend or are we permanently saying goodbye to traditional offices?
Sweden was a bit 'late to the table' within Europe regarding coworking. Stockholm finally now has many successful hubs such as the fantastic Sup46, Epicentre, Impact Hub, Slottet, Knackeriet and many others. However a lot of this happened only within the six years I have been within Sweden. Traditional offices also serve a purpose, and the coworking culture doesn't really 'replace' offices if anything it acts as a compliment but in my view for a healthy startup ecosystem you need both. In order to have a thriving tech startup ecosystem, those startups need to have physical building that they can access (ideally for free, such as BASE10 which will have a free open areas that can be utilised), where they can meet likeminded people from different companies and organisations, attend events, and have an 'unfair' advantage through a network of targeted stakeholders (for example investors, or press). I think however, we will see many more co-working centers materialize over Uppsala in the next 5-10 years.
You have been working with several startups. People tend to talk about finding good teams and working with the right people. Easier said than done. How do you find a good team?
From an early stage finding a good co-founder (one, or more) is certainly a challenge. The people you found the company with not only need to be equally passionate about the problem you are solving, but they need to have a diverse range of useful and complimentary skills, but most importantly, they must like each other! (not as common as you might expect). Likewise, startups I have seen build very strong teams (for example Universal Avenue) have a very tight hiring process and aside from only hiring great talented people, they put a lot of focus on 'cultural fit' also, ensuring the people that join the team share common values aligned with the companies own values and mission. There is no textbook way to do this, and every company varies in how they do this, but nearly every question about hiring good teams comes down to culture (on both sides, the culture of the employee, but the culture of the environment you create for those employees to grow).
Do you have any tips/advice to students? How should we use our time wisely? What are some important skills to learn?
Networking is a very important skill to learn early; that is often undervalued (or even not taught) at Universities. Having the ability to easily connect and learn from people better and smarter than you, is a key attribute to any successful entrepreneur (even after you become a successful entrepreneur). I would recommend therefore that students try to immerse themselves in many events and projects within the industry they are passionate about. Building a strong network normally solves many of the common challenges you hear about startups life, for example, how to find a co-founder, how to hire a good developer or staff employee, how to meet investors, and so on. Being a good networker is not about turning up selling yourself too hard either, its about building meaningful connections, and often about asking the question 'how can I help you?' when you meet someone new.
Text: Jason Dainter & Marika Tedroff