Words can’t really do justice to Morten Lund‘s speech to close 2010’s GeeknRolla event. The Danish serial investor and entrepreneur, who invested in more than 80 start-ups including Skype but was declared bankrupt in January, brought the house down with his straight-talking advice and on-stage antics (video below).
When a conference speech involves teaching VCs to play flutes and a clip from a decidedly adult-themed TV show (Marcy’s Waxing Parlour scene from Californication, if you must know) to make its point, you know you’re watching something a little different. And when the speaker drives for 18 hours from Copenhagen to London to give a speech – thanks to Volcano-related flight cancellations – it’s safe to say he’s a bit more passionate about his work than the average Joe.
Flutes and soft porn aside, here are just some of the things Lund had to say…
“I’m 38 years old, I have four kids and I’m an entrepreholic – I can’t stop doing it. I love sales – but we need much more sales.” Lund makes clear he made a “shit load” of money from his $50,000 investment in Skype, which sold to eBay for a $2.6 billion in 2005.
But he doesn’t avoid the issue of his financial problems, or how he lost his money:
“I had $50 million on my account, I was a little bored and then I had a debt of $200 million. I was afraid for a while, but then I found how nice people can be – I’ve had a blast.
When I had the $50 million I was like Santa Claus. Everyone who drank a glass of wine with me ended up with $500,000 for their start-up – no wonder I was so popular.
Lund’s advice for people seeking to follow his path of high-risk tech investment? “If you want to do these things you need to find out how close to the edge you dare to get. You can go into real estate… or extremely risky dangerous ventures.”
“You have to find the right way in – find the right team and project and know a little bit about the market. Most importantly you have to trust your gut feeling and the people that you’re with.” Lund warns that to really success in stat-ups, you need to “be ready to do everything and I mean everyhing”.
When asked what he thought was the next “big thing”, during a fireside chat with TechCrunch Europe editor Mike Butcher, he replied “I have no fucking clue.” He he offered the suggestion that whatever “it” is, it will be about risk, networks and following hobbies and interests. But when looking to the future, be warned: “There’s a fine line between vision and hallucination.”
Money is less important than people, according to Lund: “Don’t believe that money can take you anywhere. It’s a super-nice tool, but it’s about the people and creating sales, or a product that can virally sell itself.”
The start-ups game isn’t for everyone – Lund is proof of how much success and difficulty can happen to one man. Seven out of ten start-ups fail, he says. “You can burn out – maybe some of you should just pack your shit and go home. I’ve been through it.
“I think you should do it, but just be careful because it fucking hurts when they slam the door of the court in your face and say you’re bankrupt and you can’t start a company for the next 12 months.
“It’s extremely important not to buy the textbook – do it your own way. Right now, have a pretty fast path to revenue and don’t be too shy.”
Video of his speech can be found at timecode 4.45