(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)
Susanne Birgersdotter is a Swedish serial entrepreneur, investor, and global speaker. She is the founder of Stockholm App Lab, iGotcha, Birgersdotter innovate and SBDM Invest, as well as partner in the venture capital firm Milky Way Cap. Susanne’s strong instincts and intuition have helped her grow her companies including designing 5:2 Health Diet app ––- which was ranked as the number one app on the App store for several weeks. She was nominated for Sweden’s most powerful female founder in 2017 and 2018.
Susanne is an active mentor, member on several boards, and a popular global speaker giving lectures and workshops on entrepreneurship and venture capital. She is also the author of “Pivotal Moments”, a book which reveals the behind the scenes of her life as a business owner and the emotional roller coasters she embarks on in the process of creating success.
What makes you do what you do?
I love to dip my toes in new industries and new ventures. I am never tired of learning so that’s why I always continue to start new companies. But it all started with my daughter that needed help with her math and I made an app for her (in spite of not being a programmer or IT developer).
How did you rise in the industry you are in?
I worked hard and I never gave up, even though I wanted to so many times. Its hard to be the founder of tech companies without the experience of being in Tech. There were so many times I felt that maybe this is not meant to be for me, with that being said, I just keep on working. It was also very important to me to network all the time and talk to people that posses the skills I don’t and that really made me rise.
Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
My first Tech/App company I started came from a need I saw for a MathApp. And when I founded the game studio it was because I could see that something was missing with location-based games (this was before Pokemon Go came into the picture).
Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?
Yes, I had a mentor when I started and that was the key for so many things. And today I’m a mentor myself and I can really see the difference in the way companies are build when you have a mentor. For me, that’s always a better way.
How did you make a match if you did, and how did you end up being mentored by him/her?
I meet a person who was an investor when I started my game studio and I asked him if we could have lunch and we talked. After that, I just asked him if he could mentor me. He was the perfect match at that time since I was taking money into the company and really needed to learn everything about it.
Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
I always try to find people that are the opposite of me. I need to surround myself with people that have the skills I don’t. It’s also important that they listen to me, in the same way I listen to them, no questions are too stupid to ask. It’s also very important that they know when to “kill your darlings” and if something doesn’t work, we just have to go on to the next one.
Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
I support diversity in everything for me diversity is not a matter of political correctness, it’s the key to growth.
What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
You need to listen to others and make them feel like you see them. If someone feels like you understand them, they work so much more productively and become better at what they do. It’s also important to share what you as a leader are up to with the company, always include the ones working with you. Give feedback and take feedback that is given to you as a leader. Give credit to your team when you are reaching a milestone.
1. Surround yourself with people that have the skills you don’t have.
2. Do not just hunt for the money, see the value in new relationships, all the new experiences you get along the way and the strong community you build and get connected with other entrepreneurs.
3. Kill your darlings. Test your idea on others. If it is not good enough, try something else.
Susanne Birgersdotter shares her entrepreneurial journey at TEDx Wilmington and in her upcoming book “Pivotal Moments”.
She was an outsider in school. She didn’t know what to do with her life. Her first business failed miserably. But she never gave up. From her kitchen table, without any prior knowledge of IT or programming, Susanne created an application that rose to the top of the App Store. There are pivotal moments in our lives — moments that shape us. Follow Susanne’s exciting journey from high school dropout to becoming one of Scandinavia’s most successful tech entrepreneurs. If Susanne could do it, you can too. You can pre-order Susanne’s upcoming book at book can be pre-order at www.susannelive.com
If you’d like to get in touch with Susanne Birgersdotter and find out more about her book Pivotal Moments, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/susannebirgersdotter/ and on Instagram: susanne_birgersdotter
To learn more about Stockholm App Lab, please click here