Kasper Hulthin – Podio 1 of 2

“Experience is best gained from bad decisions made fast.” Podio is an online work platform enabling users to customize their experience with flexible apps.

Matthew: Hi this is Matthew Wise with Founderly.com. We empower entrepreneurs to have a voice and share their story with the world, enabling others to learn about building products and starting companies. So I’m really excited today because I’m here with Kasper Hulthin, founder of Podio. Podio is a collaborative online work platform that empowers people to more effectively manage and customize their work by offering hundreds of specialized work apps for free. So that said Kasper, we’d love for you to give our audience a brief bio.

Kasper: I’m Kasper, I’m one of three co-founders of Podio. I’m Danish. Four or five years ago I was finishing my graduate degree in business school and had to decide what to do. There were a lot of jobs in my field at that point. But I really wanted to do the entrepreneurship. So I started my first company within children’s furniture. Then I did something within student media, then I was in toys. So it was a very diverse path before I joined Podio. I was building up our US team here in San Francisco.

Matthew: Excellent. So can you tell us what is Podio? Who is it for? Why is it unique and why are you so passionate about it?

Kasper: So Podio is an online work platform that enables everyone without any programming skills to build their own applications to structure their workflow. That could be a CRM. It could also be bug fixer. It could be setting up space with a few apps to manage your client product or whatever have you. So it’s where you work and I think what I just mentioned, the empowerment of everybody to be able to build their own apps is really what sets Podio apart from the other tools. 

Of course we have the core elements like task messaging, calendars, content reporting, streams, and that stuff. But I think the flexibility of Podio is really what is unique. That’s also what makes me passionate about. With the users building their own tools, they’re also building their own stories. I just love to hear them grow and see more of those stories.

Matthew: Given your domain expertise, what are some of the technology and market trends that currently exist and where do you see things developing in the future for your space?

Kasper: First of all, if we look back a little bit, it’s not a new problem that we’re trying to solve to make work more efficient and enjoyable. There’s a lot of companies that have been trying to do that many, many years. I think the infrastructure that we have now is making different trends possible: Internet connectivity, the Cloud, the whole social aspect of everything. Everybody is on Facebook. Everybody knows how a stream works. The tools that we use in our social life have way expanded the intentions of the tools that we use in our work. I think we’ll see business tools trying to catch up over the next few years and hopefully move us out of the lock-in that we’ve been in for a long time with emails, documents, and old school tools that I think 10 years ago exceeded their confidence level.

Matthew: To cover your background and an overview of your market, can you tell us more about the details of the Podio story. How did you discover the opportunity and what inspired you to start Podio?

Kasper: I met with Jon and Anders, the other two co-founders, when they were setting up Podio. I joined the team a little bit later. But what really made me passionate and interest in this project was the reason I just said: they were very much into the idea that work was broken. It’s structured by the IT manager. It’s not built by the people that actually do the job. So there’s a lot of these philosophical things and growing pains and trying to build these tools. They were sitting in a small basement in Copenhagen telling me that they wanted to create the platform for work like Facebook is for your social life. With three guys in a basement that seemed like an impossible thing. I was thinking this either goes big or ends up in the waste bin fast. We’re not in the waste bin yet so I’m still aiming for the big one.

Matthew: When you were looking for your co-founders, what types of qualities were you seeking and how did you know they would be a good fit?

Kasper: I think, looking at Podio, it’s very much a culture and the vision of Podio that is very strong. You will be able to see it if you meet any team member of Podio. I think another strong point is that it’s a very diverse background. One of the co-founders used to be a physician. Another one is studying Danish at the university. Our developer is a media guy who has been developing since he was 12. So it’s a very diverse team in terms of skills. But I think we all have the same passion and we just fit well together and have fun.

Matthew: From idea to product launch, how long did it take and when did you guys actually launch?

Kasper: We started in January of ’09 building the product, doing workshops, talking to people about how they are working, and the challenges of what they are doing. Then in the summer of 2009, we soft launched Podio the first time. We made a decision day one that we wanted to sell the product on day one, not do like the all the other web companies–get 1000 friends of Twitter and try it all out. But we actually had some of the first users being paying customers. 

So within the first few months, we had a positive cash flow and we have been doing that for a long time. Then we got some investment and scaled up. Then four weeks ago, March 24th, we opened a here Podio store in San Francisco and launched the product for real after being in closed beta for one and a half years. We’ve acquired some investors already, which is cool, now that we’re coming off of beta. So it’s cool to see that enthusiasm for our small venture.

Matthew: Are there any unique metrics or social proof about Podio that you’d like to share with our audience?

Kasper: There’s obviously some metrics like hard core facts. We’ve doubled our user base in a couple of weeks. Now we see thousands of companies coming in every week, which is obviously interesting. But what makes me happy is the input that we get. We have one admin in our own use of Podio called customer emails and we share them. We got one the other day that said, drop everything you have and start looking at Podio. This is fucking awesome. Please go change the world and stuff like that. For me, this is what keeps me doing this.


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