Blacklane cofounder Jens Wohltorf and Rovio Entertainment’s former CMO Peter Vesterbacka discussed the challenges facing entrepreneurs and startups on the road to an IPO at the Forbes Under 30 Summit Global Retreat in Bratislava, Slovakia, on June 7.
Investors and employees can clamour for a listing to cash out their investment and shares but founders need to make sure the company culture is right before turning to public markets, says Wohltorf, who cofounded the high-end chauffeur service. “If you have venture capital on board – at some point you need to let it go.”
“It’s a continuous journey. You start as a two man show – you do everything yourself. You’re so deep into the operation. But we’re a long way from going public,” says Wohltorf.
Peter Vesterbacka also shared his experience of working with Rovio Entertainment, the Finnish video game developer that created the Angry Birds franchise. Startups and businesses need to maintain their entrepreneurial culture even as they grow, says Vesterbacka, who left Rovio shortly before it went public in 2017.
“We grew from 12 people to 850 pretty fast. I remember being told – we’re not a start-up anymore. That’s bullshit. Everyone should feel like an entrepreneur in the company.”
For Vesterbacka it’s not always the case that small means nimble while global corporations are saddled with bureaucracy. “I like working in entrepreneurial environments. You can have tens-of-thousands of employees and it can still be entrepreneurial.”
Entrepreneurs can chafe under the pressure of quarterly reporting and managing shareholder expectations but Apple and Google were two examples of companies that maintain their culture of innovation, says Vesterbacka.