How to be a successful entrepreneur? This is the question I ask Helge Seetzen one of my mentors.
I had the chance to work with him in the past at TandemLaunch Technologies. He accepted to answer my questions. I am glad to share with you his valuable answers.
Could you introduce yourself to the Becomer’s readers?
My name is Helge Seetzen. I am a serial entrepreneur and technologists currently leading TandemLaunch inc. My background is in physics and computer science with a PhD in those fields from the University of British Columbia. While at university, I had the pleasure of building display technology ventures that enjoyed some success.
Could you talk about TandemLaunch technologies?
TandemLaunch builds startups around consumer electronics technologies from international universities. We do so by matching world-class entrepreneurs with leading inventors, fund their ventures with up to $500k and help them to conquer major markets.
How can you explain your personal success today?
I have had the good fortunate to work with many good people. Startups are very difficult and it doesn’t always feel like there will be success. In all my ventures there were moments of despair but all of them had successful outcomes at the end. That’s why it is important to have good people around you – both in the sense that they are capable growth drivers but also in terms of their good faith when the road becomes rocky for a while.
What was your very first investment?
My first investment was $5k into my first venture – Sunnybrook Technologies inc. At the time, this was just about all I had (I was still a junior undergrad at the time). Fortunately, it paid out quite well a few years later J.
What kind of investments do you prefer?
I am a big believer in alignment of interest. As a result, I prefer simple common share deals for my own investments. The more complex an investment becomes, the more likely there will be tensions between the stakeholders later down the road. Of course even a simple deal is no guarantee that there won’t be tensions, but it’s the best starting point.
Do you have an everyday routine? If yes what’s it?
I walk my kids to school in the morning and then head to work. This gets me into the office fairly early so that I have at least a fighting chance to catch up on emails before the day fills with meetings.
What advice would you give to beginners who want to be financially successful?
Become a doctor or lawyer. Seriously – entrepreneurship isn’t the best route to financial success even though some of the outlier outcomes can be big. But if you are set on the path of an entrepreneur then the best advice is to focus on building good teams and aligning their interests. Every day I see isolationists trying to be entrepreneurs – you know, the guy who slaves away on his big breakthrough in a basement somewhere. Never works. In fact, every time I expanded my team it ultimately got better (not because every single hire/partner worked out, but because the spirit of expansion ultimately prevails and leads to growth.
What are your favorite books and why?
I really enjoy reading, but mostly as a mental diversion. In other words, I read all and everything.
Do you have any secret to be productive?
Not really. Just focus on getting something useful done each day and it adds up.
What are your plans for the future?
TandemLaunch just established a new $10M+ fund so we will be building lots more projects in the next 2-3 years. In the long run, we hope to be the place where entrepreneurs, technologists and investors converge to build great companies in many fields (consumer electronics and beyond).
Interviewed by Simon Cave
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