Three Take-aways from Start-up Day

Start-up day is one-day conference in Stockholm featuring keynote speeches from notable entrepreneurs and business leaders such as David Noel from Soundcloud and Joy Marcus from Bloglovin. To summarize the day, here are three take-aways that are as applicable to start-ups as to large organizations.

“Nobody cares about the product, they care about the story”
Hampus Jakobsson

1) Tell a good story

David Rowan, Editor of Wired UK urged the crowd in his talk “Why founders need to be storytellers” to tell great product stories. Too often, he receives vacuous press releases from companies trying to convey their message.

Instead of writing press releases and paying PR companies a good amount of money to share a company’s story, David wants us to focus on the essence of the product, why the product exists. He exemplified great storytelling by showcasing a few successful startups that have leveraged videos to tell their compelling stories.


medical startup saving you a doctor’s visit by diagnosing your symptoms through a connected device.

The Copenhagen wheel

bicycle wheel that captures your energy to give you an extra push when biking

bicycle wheel that captures your energy to give you an extra push when biking.

Oscar Health insurance
An insurance company that uses simple storytelling for customers to sign up.

David’s further recommendations:

  • The product story should tell how it fits in your life and the problem it solves
  • Use the structure of classic storytelling, such as the Seven Basic Plots
  • Use the power of imagery and video

2) Talk to people

“Technology is about people not metrics”
Jane Ruffino

It’s quite obvious, but too often forgotten. Another key theme of the day was to stop focusing so much on analytics, metrics and big data. Instead, both Jane Ruffino and Hampus Jakobsson urged us to listen to real people. At Hampus’ company, they record all their customer phone calls and post them on Dropbox. Once a month, they create a podcast of the most pertinent feedback they receive. David Noel mentioned that each product owner at Soundcloud is paired up with a community representative who voices the customers’ opinions. The community representative is closely involved in the product development process.

3) Build a culture of shared values

The third key theme was around culture: how startups build successful cultures. Yuval Samet from Klarna has created a culture built upon Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle. Every product should have a Why, How and What. They use something called “Impact Mapping” to visualize how each line of code ties back to the vision of the product.

“Repeat your vision relentlessly”
Yuval Samet

To build a collaborative culture at, they have so called “wine dinners” once a month where employees share a couple of bottles of wine and talk about their current situation and how they want to change the company.