For someone who happily admits he isn’t very good at computer programming, Tommy Ahlers has done rather well for himself in the world of software.
The Danish entrepreneur is best known as the former boss and co-founder of ZYB, a cloud storage back-up system for mobile phone users.
The business was set up in Denmark in 2005 with only a handful of staff. Just three years later it was snapped up by mobile phone giant Vodafone for $50m (£31m).
Rather than simply sit back and count his new found fortune, Mr Ahlers has gone on to successfully lead another Danish technology start-up, project management software company Podio, which last year was also bought out in a multimillion dollar deal.
Mr Ahlers, 38, says that while he isn’t great at coding, he’s not bad at being a leader.
It made me want to be an entrepreneur, and the gratification that if I hadn’t done something it wouldn’t have been done”
“I’m a very passionate and enthusiastic manager,” he says. “My job is to convey my passion and vision to the team, to be a good communicator, to get everyone to believe in the same thing.
“The whole programming definitely needs to be delegated, but I can spot a new idea or trend, and then rally support around it from a team of staff and investors. If you have these things you can make something a success.”
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GetApp: Which technology company do you most admire, and why?
Ulrik Larsen: I really admire what Elon Musk has been able to build—both Tesla and SpaceX. As an entrepreneur you have to respect his vision and drive. Technology still lives in the abstract for most people, so convincing them to believe in something that isn’t tangible for several years down the road is a huge accomplishment. And doing it twice? Amazing.
GetApp: What thought leaders do you pay attention when shaping your vision for the future in cloud computing?
Ulrik Larsen: That’s a tough question. Jeff Weiner and Ben Horowitz come to mind. I appreciate their candor and wisdom. Both guys have a deep understanding of technology, cloud-based or not, so I pay attention when they offer advice.
Being based in Copenhagen has a lot of perks, especially when it comes to international recruitment, but we’re a long way from important ecosystems such as Silicon Valley and we have aspirations to become a global company. Same goes for New York; I keep tabs on industry activity and new product developments there too.
Read the full interview here.
Argentine-Spanish entrepreneur Martin Varsavsky has founded seven companies over the past 20 years. These include telecoms provider Viatel and, more recently, fon.com, which aims to create a global community of wifi users.
Ecuadorian Carlos Moncayo and his two brothers founded Asiam, a Shanghai-based offshore manufacturing management company that specialises in clothing, in 2003.
The company now ships more than $34m worth of clothing per year. Mr Moncayo was voted Asia’s Best Young Entrepreneur by Businessweek magazine in 2009.
Sir Martin Sorrell privately invested in Wire and Plastic Products (WPP), a UK manufacturer of wire shopping baskets, in 1985. He joined the company as chief executive a year later and began acquiring advertising-related companies. Today WPP is the world’s largest advertising group.
Sunil Mittal founded Bharti Enterprises in 1976. Since then, it has grown from being a manufacturer of bicycle parts to one of India’s biggest business groups, known for its telephone brand Airtel, while also prominent in financial services, retail and food.