Startup Tips from Nalden, founder of WeTransfer & Adelee

Applications are currently open for Batch 6 of the STATION F Founders Program! With 200 companies in the program at any given time, the Founders Program is the biggest program on campus… but not the easiest to get into.

Startups are evaluated by our Selection Board, a group of 120 top-entrepreneurs from 21 different countries. They are not only mentors for our community but they also help us review video applications and pick the best startups to join. We asked Selection Board member Nalden (most commonly known as the founder of WeTransfer) for his startup and applications tips!

 

How would you introduce yourself to someone who doesn’t know you?

First and foremost I am a human, a husband and loving father of two boys. Next to that I’m an entrepreneur mostly known for co-founding WeTransfer. Every now & then I invest in other founders and most recently I started a new company called Adelee.

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Can you tell us a bit more about your background and your companies?

I started as a blogger and now we here. From the age of 12 I’ve been blogging. It made me entrepreneurial in ways I never imagined. It allowed me to learn by doing. I was naively building communities without knowing it. I’ve been always very much design driven when building software, because I believe a great user experience is building trust and make people actually embrace technology.

This is more common now, but it wasn’t 10 years ago. WeTransfer was a great example of how to build a business by being very design driven, making it easy for people to use your service. I always wanted to create the best experience for people, even if that meant re-designing advertisements or even banning banners. It was always about removing any thresholds that would prevent people from using your service.

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Just recently I embarked on a new journey that resonates deeply with me and many other parents. With Adelee, we want to empower parents by building the tools to take on parenthood. We aim to become the operating system for families, but obviously have a long way to go. We need to take all these different dynamics, backgrounds, privacy and cultural values into account when developing a platform that can truly enable parents to take on parenthood and by doing so carefully, push humanity forward.

What’s an important lesson that you learned from building your companies?

First, it took me a long time to destroy the idea that you have to be constantly working or grinding in order to be successful. Secondly, the foundation of your company is essential. It is very difficult to change the DNA of a company. But you need to try. A company is shaped by its founder(s), but changes as it grows. You’ll need to learn how to let evolution happen. So, find the best co-founder you can cuz you rarely get a second chance. From here, don’t take shortcuts in hiring people. In the end it all comes down to people. No machine learning can fix that.

In choosing a co-founder to start a business, what matters most?

Well, there should be a sense of mutual trust and a certain degree of admiration. This is a person you’ll probably spend more time with than your spouse. You’ll have to be able to be absolutely honest with each other, which means it should be a person who can take critical feedback. It’s like dating, and I don’t mean that in a Tinder swipe kind of way. You should be complementary to each other. Ideally you’ll have some overlap in beliefs and values which can kickstart the culture of a company and moral decisions in your product. Try a small project first before diving into the deep.

Date someone first before you get married.

What is your top piece of advice for entrepreneurs starting out?

There is no top piece of advice out there besides your own gut feeling. Trust your gut! Believe in yourself first, before you’ll believe others. Never outsource your own thinking. Mind your own business. Focus with determination to realise your vision.

What are the key things that you look for when someone pitches you an idea?

Wow, too many variables to give a decent answer here…

Is this someone I know? If not, I would like to get to know someone first. If it is someone I work with I try to enable this person to execute on the idea fast to learn from it in order to understand if it makes sense to scale the idea. If it is someone I know, but don’t work with, I would like to understand why this person is sharing their idea with me. I’ll always give honest feedback based on the story, the conviction of the person, and perspectives it will generate.

There isn’t a fixed set of things I look for.

 

If you’re building an ambitious startup, join the Founders Program at STATION F. Deadline to apply is September 30th (for entry in January 2020) via stationf.co/apply.

 

Interview by

Cindy Yang
[email protected]

Get in touch w/ Nalden

Twitter
@nalden