Digital Entrepreneurship, Growth Interviews

Ragnar Sass podcast: You need to challenge yourself all the time

In this week’s episode of Growth Interviews, we invite you to join our podcast conversation with Ragnar Sass, Founder & CEO at Salto Network, an active angel investor and co-founder at Pipedrive CRM.

Welcome to Growth Interviews!

Welcome to Growth Interviews, the fun, stimulating and engaging series of conversations driven by digital business growth. Our mission is to provide valuable insights from the eCommerce arena, and each episode is a fascinating quest into the best-kept business secrets and money-making strategies of an insightful world-class expert.

Serial startup entrepreneur and active angel investor Ragnar Sass invests only in companies, where his knowhow & network helps get the team to the next level and that means an average of 5 to10 companies per year.

His first startup was a social network for pet owners uniteddogs.com that had more than 350 000 users worldwide. After the UDC failure he co-founder Pipedrive in 2010, one of the most successful start-ups in the world with a team that today has 400+ members and offices in Tallinn, New York, Lisbon, Prague and London.

Ragnar invests all his passion and energy in helping startups develop faster. Starting from values, hiring the best talent and growing them with rocket speed, Ragnar is always happy to help mentor in those areas.

One of the best practitioners in the digital world, Ragnar Sass is the expert who stood at both ends of the table. Besides mentoring, he sometimes shares practical lessons in different conferences and startup events. With more than 80+ hack-a-thons organized in Eastern Europe, West and East Africa and the Middle East, Ragnar’s experience is super valuable and our talk with him should not be missed.

Here are the biggest takeaways:

  • Beginnings of a passion – 01.04
  • The most important challenges in developing a start-up – 03.46
  • Experience dictates a different approach – 14.37
  • The way to amplify company culture – 18.33
  • Excitements and Frustrations of a Digital Entrepreneur – 23.13
  • Machine learning and its implications in our everyday life – 27.36

Challenges in Developing a Start-Up 

From his experience with Pipedrave, Ragnar explained in our Growth Interviews talk about the most important things to look at when trying to build a tech tool. 

First comes the research of the competitor tools, that might be responding to the same market needs. How do they look, how easy are they to use, why do customers love them or hate them? It’s crucial that any new product that goes into the market to be original, and so easy to use that “they will fall in love with it”.

The second important thing is going global from day one. There is an array of tools that are crowding the markets so, the wider the communication of the USP’s, the better.

Third but equally important is the chemistry of the team. Ragnar told us how important it is for a team to get along and to listen to each other even when the ideas collide. Keeping the focus on the problem and not on the others is crucial as all relationships should be going smooth especially in the first phases of development and market testing.

Fundraising is a problem Ragnar insisted on during our talk and he remembered from his personal experience that the period of fundraising was a harsh time for all founders when they almost lost everything they had, in terms of personal properties. Like in many other cases the fundraising period brought for the entire founder team great financial proposals and partnership opportunities that had to be refused because they were not in line with the vision and Ragnar remembers it as the hardest period when they were penniless but decided to go with their best guess.

Experience Dictates a Different Approach 

Ragnar Sass is an eastern European with an undeniable professional worldwide experience that gave him a different perspective on what potential mistakes could be avoided when he entered in the world of digital start-ups. When asked “What would you do differently now?” he immediately answered that hiring specialists from Eastern Europe would be among the first things he would do. During our talk, he used as an example the CEO of Bolt, one of the most successful global startups that started in Eastern Europe, who has never worked in Silicon Valley and has mainly hired east European professionals.

Going deeper into the talent acquisition subject, Ragnar confessed that hiring a young passionate management team and “extremely passionate young people and helping them to grow” is an important thing he would go for if he were to start again.

The Way to Amplify Company Culture

The bigger the company gets, the wider its offices spread around the world, the way internal communication is being built becomes more and more important. All the processes in the entire organization must be permanently updated in order to be helpful and not time-consuming. 

Most important is not only creating a coherent internal communication process but challenging its efficiency from time to time. The more the organization grows the importance of bringing people from different cultures together, investing in the culture and talent acquisition should go on the top of the list of any CEO.

Excitements and Frustrations of a Digital Entrepreneur

In every digital entrepreneur’s life and mind, there are always things that are exciting and things that are frustrating but Ragnar sets an example by focusing mainly on what is positive and exciting. Like any other talented visionary, the most inspirational and most exciting are always the new ideas, the improvements and the developments. Seeing his company grow from scratch is for Ragnar Sass the most exciting thing these days and no matter how hard and frustrating the early days as a digital entrepreneur has been, no matter how hard his first entrepreneurship attempt failed, today’s success is only the proof that it’s worth it.

New opportunities reveal themselves every day and Ragnar considers that this is the most exciting time when the company is bursting with new ideas, thriving, quickly developing and the culture is helping people flourish.

Conclusion

Becoming a successful digital entrepreneur is not an easy road, but a transformational experience. The development of a digital product or tool, the entire process of creating, testing and putting it into the market, no matter how hard, is just the beginning of the journey for any entrepreneur. Every day the market reveals new products but no matter their quality and innovator spirit, final success is not guaranteed and, above all, from that point, all entrepreneurs should focus their efforts on fundraising.

We hope you enjoyed our video interview with Ragnar Sass.
For more valuable insights, make sure you come back to check out our next Growth Interviews as well.

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