Swedish payment company Klarna took five of the eight awards at the 2012 GP Bullhound Media Momentum Awards last night in Berlin. The win follows seven years of seriously hard slog, judging by co-founder and CEO Sebastian Siematkowski’s talk this week.
The awards, hosted by British investment bankers GP Bullhound, recognise Europe’s 50 fastest growing digital companies each year. Klarna won awards for leadership, best global potential, innovation and the overall judges’ award. Klarna deputy CEO Niklas Adalberth also won “Man of the Year”.
Germany’s SponsorPay (Berlin) and Flip4New (Frankfurt) made the ten-company shortlist, with Flip4New winning the category for fastest growing small company. SoundCloud and Madvertise (Berlin) didn’t make the top 50 but were named as “ones to watch”.
“If you want to build a successfull company, you cant just follow TechCrunch, you have to find something you just believe in and work on it until it gets trendy,” Siematkowski told the Heureka! conference (below) on Monday. Hard work is an obvious essential – after an argument with his co-founders (above) over who worked the most, Siematkowski worked out he’d worked seven and a half hours every day, on average, for the last seven years.
One of his favourite quotes comes from IKEA founder and fellow Swede Ingwar Kamprad: “When you’re becoming really tired and it’s getting close to three or four am, then you get some cold water and put your feet in it. That will make you endure a little bit more.”
Siematkowski recommended founders make sure expectations with partners are clear, focus on big markets “from day one” (Germany rather than Norway or Finland, say – it ended up taking Klarna about the same amount of effort to succeed in each), find a great mentor and “never be desperate” for cash. “Raising money is like flirting,” he joked – don’t return calls immediately and don’t rush to promise exclusivity to potential investors.
Since starting up in 2005, Klarna has grown to over 700 employees with offices in seven countries. The company, which provides an after-delivery online payment solution, raised $155 million from Yuri Milner’s DST Global and General Atlantic last year.
The Media Momentum Awards, now in their second year, close the annual invite-only GP Bullhound Summit for founders and CEOs of European digital companies. The summit is held in a different city each year – last year Barcelona, this year at Berlin’s Nhow Hotel.
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