Morten BlomfeldtÂ is currently the Co-Founder and COO of BlueCloud, a global minded, but Sydney-based company developing solutions to shake up the call centre industry.Â
Prior to this MortenÂ rolled out some of the most successful online marketplaces in the Asia Pacific as COO for a media group in Singapore, associated with Schibsted Classified Media, the company behind some of the most successful online marketplaces in the world such as blocket.se, leboncoin.fr, subito.it, mudah.my and many others.Â
Luckily for us Morten managed to find some time to chatÂ about a range of topics from what goes on in aÂ day in the life of aÂ Co-Founder of a tech start-up, where the future of Online Market places are headed and evenÂ where heÂ lovesÂ to travel in his spareÂ time. Enjoy!
You've made a major career move from consulting at EY now to a tech founder, what inspired the move?
It is kind of like moving from a marching band to a crazy jazz quartet. Still playing music, but it is now your responsibility to set the beat, mood etc.. The sheet music is out the window and the whole quartet needs to listen to each other extremely well in order to keep the flow. I wanted a more freedom of movement and a chance to use more sides of myself.
Two and a half years as co-founder, what has been the biggest change in the way you approach business?
I think I have been pretty good at setting strategies, improving processes identifying risk etc. in previous roles, but the biggest change has been the need to be equally good at the small stuff. Like managing cash flow from one week to the next at times and like meeting a large strategic partner one day, only to find myself directly coordinating all the nitty-gitties with their whole army of middle managers the day ofter. I am still doing customer support every day, while some sort of long term investment document or partnership programme outline has to be put aside until some empty minutes appear. Not a huge believer in multi-tasking in the traditional sense, but the situation kind of forces a kind of multitasking now that I have had to learn along the way.Â
We're seeing online marketplaces springÂ up in various industries, where do you think they'reÂ headed?
The short answer: In your pocket. Or mine. Mobile platforms are growing extremely fast. I think the extreme convenience of a device that is always with you, plus now also a great user experience while using them with larger, sharper screens etc. We have a few global giants that are dominating marketplaces around the world, but some of the mobile only players have been challenging their model, and have even become market leaders in their respective markets in just a year or two. The barrier is lower for new entrants now, and that gives me good reason to think we have a few really exciting years in front of us with new and innovative marketplaces.Â
How can businesses prepare themselves to ensure they remain relevant?
They will increasingly need to think like entrepreneurs. In all industries where technology makes it easier for new entrants (which is almost all) the key to remaining relevant is to create an organisation and a culture that allows the company to maintain their curiosity, innovation (sorry about theÂ clichÃ©) and not least speed of development. Keywords are small cross functional teams (yes, break that old idea that departments is the way to go), autonomy (to speed up decisions), frequent launches, continuous learning, and customer development. The great thing is that any business can do thisâ¦but not without being willing to endure some pain in the process.Â
Describe what a typical day looks like.
Up early. Get the brain organised while taking my dogs for a walk first thing. Work from home first while the brain is still untainted by the chores of the day. Have a quick meeting with the tech team to discuss todayâs task. Spend the rest of the morning doing creative tasks when schedule permits. I will only respond to emails if they are super urgent during this period. Will often have a chat to our partners in Asia just ofter lunch, as this is still their morning. Client demos, training sessions and emails are usually dealt with in the afternoon. I usually leave the office at 5pm to beat the traffic, and have a break until 8pm or so to have dinner with the family etc., and have another work session from 8pm to 10/11pm. This evening session is something I do out of necessity, but will also be the first to get cuts if/when schedule permits. That said, evenings are often a great time to work on more creative tasks, such as interface design, partnership models or pricing structures.Â
As an employer in a digital/technology landscape that is changing fast, what do you look for in your people?
Passion for what they do and the ability top adapt have always been high on the list for me. Regardless of what entity I have recruited for (even back in EY). Roles that are filled today, may not exist in 5 or 10 years, but ideally the key people around you can still be there and still continue to add value to your business. Personality and attitude is far more important that formal qualifications.Â
Tech startups are hot right now. People either want to be a founder or work in one. What are the realities of working for a startup and running one?
A lot of people are not ready for the sacrifice. Your salary will be cut by half. Maybe even more. You canât tell your spouse what will happen 3 months later, because you no longer know. Hours are long, but I think it is a bit of a myth that they are so much longer than many corporate jobs (I used to work 60 hours week in the corporate world as well). I think patience, persistence and confidence in what you do are qualities you will need in large doses. That said, there is no more rewarding thing to do in my opinion. There are virtually no boring days, and I think most people will find that they learn more in 12 month as a founder than they can pick up in an MBA programme.
What is your favourite local food?
Easy. Thatâs Pavlova (although some Kiwis also claim ownership here).Â
Where is your favourite place to travel?
Less time and money to travel now than before, and as I pick destinations with a specific idea in mind, so will have to divide my answer here. For adventure: Nepal. For relaxing: Maldives. In Australia, by best experiences have been a road trip on Tasmania and hiking in the Snowy Mountains.Â