Troubleshooter on practice
Attentiveness to details and complex vision of the situation seems to be the best duo of characteristics that needed for successful startupper. A 45-years old Thor Sigurdsson can be regarded as the representative of this group of people, and that is how he describes himself:
“I worked in the IT area for more than 15 years and understood the processes that can be made to implement a particular solution. So, I am a mastermind of ideas, pick thinker, and doer, but not a software developer,” said Thor but without any proud or arrogance. “I can see a problem in some sphere and generate a digital solution.”
Before establishing his current startup Expluria, Thor had two businesses that he sold. The first was IT solutions related to cloud backup, while the second was a gathering of all online stores in Iceland in one place. The last seems to be too easy to be called a business or a startup, but it confirms that Thor can define an issue and resolve it in a way that wasn’t implemented previously.
Expluria – an upcoming ‘must-have’ app
The recent Thor’s activity related to tourism, and the interviewee calls it “improving the post-booking service. Expluria is a real-time and secure way of communication between tour operators and customers, which is extremely important if a traveler is in the new country or city. Our customer-friendly design will help not to lose a tour bus, define the route via the online map, and even book the needed trip.”
Even though the presented solution has international potential, now the owner is already planning to expand abroad. “We discussed the idea of this app implementation in Scandinavian countries and have some strategy, so it is like a global solution.”
Details always matter
However, why did we claim that Thor Sigurdsson can define the essential details with complex vision? Before making the product, he practically chose the name of the application, studied competitors and their possibilities, determined potential clients and investors, and was sure in his software developers as well. That is how Expluria owner explains each of his steps:
“We spent around two months to define the name of the product. Even a domain generator for short names was used. Finally, the startup got the name ‘Expluria’ as a cognate to the word ‘explore,’ which is actual for the tourism sphere. To be sure that this name will be unique and covered by our needs, I’ve bought about ten domains having ‘Expluria’ and ending with various top-level domains like dot-com, dot-io, and dot-is.”
From studying to testing
Studying the competitors was always among the initial steps of business planning, and Thor came to this task carefully. “Actually, one company offers a complex solution for big companies and entrepreneurs. However, we are focused on the market of smaller firms and suggest the service that costs 3-5 times lower,” explains the interviewee.
Amid the opportunity to present the product faster for some immediate cash flow, and make it valuable before the release, but later, the owner of Expluria chose the second. “The product needs careful testing as it is a super complex. Numerous calculations have to be made, while enormous factors must be correct before the clients will use the app without any disappointment,” assured Thor.
Another Sigurdsson’s exemplary action relates to the business side of the project, which is often a challenge to most startuppers. Thus, he succeeded with investors and potential clients during the only one meeting. With the smile on his face, Thor explained: “I met one of my friends last summer and told him about the idea. By the way, if you have an idea, you should not be scared of sharing it as no one knows it better than you. So, I told him about the solution and desire to get some funding to facilitate the developing process.”
“If you have an idea, you should not be scared of sharing it as no one knows it better than you.”Thor Sigurdsson
Although many suchlike stories end at this point and are not interesting, the startupper continued with excitement. “My friend gave me contacts of two hotel owners from Reykjavik who could be interested in the solution like this. So, I had a meeting with them, and they bought the company’s equity.”
Personal costs versus investors
However, it could be not the most exciting information for young entrepreneurs about investors, as Thor also agreed to share the overall look on funding. “Using only personal money is a bad idea similar to putting all eggs into one basket. Nevertheless, every startupper has to choose proper investors from the industry he or she wants to conquer. Such an approach will give not only needed finances but also reliable contacts in the regarded area. Nonetheless, all these make sense only if you believe in yourself and know the battlefield.”
“Using only personal money is a bad idea similar to putting all eggs into one basket.”Thor Sigurdsson
Money versus connections
The owner of Expluria continued giving useful advice in the financial sphere. “If you have a choice between money and connections – choose connections as they will always help in getting costs. Also, it is better to pay a salary for workers instead of proposing them equity to avoid future problems. It can be compared to marriage: even strong and friendly relations may turn into divorce at some point, and property division can become a real problem. So, if one is thinking about such an issue, I recommend a mixed system like giving a chance to buy equity after some time, three years or alike.”
The technical side of the project
It was interesting to know how the person from IT deals with the technical side of the project, so we asked a few questions about the engineers, how to choose them, what are the requirements, and other related issues.
Cheaper workforce matters
“Our solution is a web platform with two apps for iOS and Android, but we don’t use a cross-platform approach,” started Thor Sigurdsson. “Every programming branch is developed separately to avoid compatibility problems, especially when the app is overloaded by users and multiple functions.”
Usually, it means a lot of money, but the startupper showed a reliable approach he tested on the previous businesses. “We have 9 outsource software developers who are working overseas, which saves costs drastically. It has its advantages and disadvantages, but in terms of costs there is a significant difference.”
Is it safe to have overseas developers?
However, work with remote developers has a lot of pitfalls and the current successful experience of the interviewee wasn’t the only feeling he had while working with remote developers. “I had an outsourcing team before for other projects, and it is like a lottery, especially if they are far away from you. A few years ago, I received a terrible experience with an overseas programmer, and it cost me even more than a local one.”
How to choose a remote engineer?
“You have to check the background of the engineer, what and how has he done previously, and the quality of accomplished works.”
The owner of Expluria continued by explaining how to avoid adverse outcomes. “You have to check the background of the engineer, what and how has he done previously, and the quality of accomplished works. When we started Expluria, we sent about 30 emails and requests to developers from diverse countries, including American region, Asia, and Eastern Europe as wanted to hire best. The final decision was made because of the solid background of the guys from India as they built a transport app for local government. Moreover, we are lucky as they proactive and can think out of the box.”
Replacing a CTO is possible?
Nevertheless, Thor Sigurdsson is sure that outsourcing is a better decision for startups as possible troubles can be overcome. “Of course, it depends on the particular situation, but if the technical side of the product is defined well, you can save so much money on outsourcing. In this case, the only vital element is proper abroad manager who can replace a CTO. If such a person is like our manager, who is responsible for the staff, can be online daily, and understands the technical side of the project – things become much cheaper without loss in quality.”
Be wise and dream a lot
“When I was 20, I was working in IT, collected some money, and decided to go on a one-year trip to Australia instead of buying a car. It was the best my decision as buying a vehicle is not a problem any time in your life, while a one-year vacation is much harder when you have a family and children.”Thor Sigurdsson
Thor Sigurdsson is an experienced businessman and startupper because of both his age and several success stories, so we asked him about advice for younger people. The answer “follow your dream,” seems to be simple, but the explanation was brilliant can help in decision making and prioritizing. “When I was 20, I was working in IT, collected some money, and decided to go on a one-year trip to Australia instead of buying a car. It was the best my decision as buying a vehicle is not a problem any time in your life, while a one-year vacation is much harder when you have a family and children.”
According to the Kellogg Insight study, a 60-year-old is 3x as likely to build a successful startup than a 30-year-old. Expluria owner is in the middle of this interval while he has already made a few successful startups, implemented the primary dream of his life, and always ready to give valuable advice. Or, maybe, he will surprise us even more during the interview after 15 years?