Mag­nus Grime­land suc­cess­fully sold Zalora and is now busy shap­ing Antler, a new startup gen­er­a­tor in Singapore.

At the Nor­way-Asia Busi­ness Sum­mit two years ago, Mr Mag­nus Grime­land was cel­e­brat­ing the suc­cess of regional e-com­merce giant Zalora.

Norway-Asia Business Review - - Contents - CHEYENNE HOL­LIS

These days he’s look­ing to help get the next Zalora off the ground. Two years is a long time in the age of in­no­va­tion. For Mr Grime­land, he went from Regional Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor and Co-Founder at Zalora to Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of Antler, a startup gen­er­a­tor.

“Zalora was an amaz­ing jour­ney and a lot of fun. It’s a great com­pany,” Mr Grime­land pro­claimed. “Now with Antler, we want to help oth­ers build their own busi­ness.”

These days he is fo­cus­ing on em­pow­er­ing the next wave of great tech­nol­ogy star­tups. From be­ing a founder at a tech startup to help­ing the startup founders of to­day who may not know where to be­gin their own jour­ney, it brings his jour­ney full cir­cle in many ways.

“The op­por­tu­nity to build a busi­ness rarely ex­ists,” Mr Grime­land stated. “We re­ally wanted to set up a plat­form that pulls out top ta­lent from academia, busi­ness or any­where else. The goal is to pro­vide them with the tools and sup­port that al­lows them to build great busi­nesses. That’s why we started Antler.”

He added the com­pany’s core vi­sion came from a be­lief there is a lot of ta­lent that wants to found their own busi­ness. The only thing stop­ping most of them is a lack of sup­port and op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“We want to get peo­ple out from where they are and give them cap­i­tal and busi­ness sup­port to be suc­cess­ful,” Mr Grime­land ex­plained. “We will give them a global net­work and re­ally en­able them to build a busi­ness. It is a plat­form for great en­trepreneurs.”

Many won­der when is the ideal time to cre­ate a startup. Ac­cord­ing to Mr Grime­land, it’s a de­ci­sion that can be made at any time.

“Mak­ing a de­ci­sion to be­come a founder can re­ally come at any point dur­ing a per­son’s ca­reer. We’ve seen re­cent grad­u­ates, those who fin­ished MBAs, coders and peo­ple who have over ten years work­ing ex­pe­ri­ence ap­ply,” he noted. “There is no right or wrong time to be­come a founder. You just have to feel that now is the time to fol­low your dream of build­ing some­thing. We will let you try it.”

The big­gest mis­con­cep­tion some have about mov­ing into the world of star­tups is that they must have the prover­bial mil­lion-dol­lar idea to be suc­cess­ful. An idea for a startup can be use­ful, but it is not a re­quire­ment.

“You don’t need an idea or a clear prod­uct to work on. You just need to de­cide that you want to make a busi­ness that can change the world,” Mr Grime­land pro­claimed. “No­body has the golden ticket idea when they start. It builds over time. There are lots of ex­am­ples of com­pa­nies build­ing away from their ini­tial vi­sion, such as Mi­crosoft and Face­book. It is more about hav­ing the drive and abil­ity to suc­ceed, not the idea.”

Antler has iden­ti­fied three ar­eas where most star­tups fail. These are an in­abil­ity to cre­ate a mar­ket, lack of cash and a team that might not be the right fit. The firm then sup­ports founders to make sure they can nav­i­gate these chal­lenges as well as other is­sues that may arise.

“We pro­vide founders with a grant up­front as an ini­tial in­vest­ment. This al­lows them to fo­cus on their vi­sion, not fund­ing,” Mr Grime­land said. “We will also put to­gether a team of co-founders that will help find the idea for their team to work on. From there, you can build a busi­ness.” Knowl­edge and In­no­va­tion

In or­der to be suc­cess­ful in the startup world, knowl­edge and in­no­va­tion are ne­ces­si­ties. For Antler, both of these need to be on the lo­cal level. As Mr Grime­land found out dur­ing his time at Zalora, this can make a big dif­fer­ence as to whether a startup suc­ceeds or fails in South­east Asia.

“Lo­cal in­no­va­tion is a big part of the process. Tak­ing a global idea and mak­ing it suited for the lo­cal mar­ket is some­thing that can be lost dur­ing the process,”

Mr Grime­land pointed out. “We think ev­ery com­pany needs some sort of real in­no­va­tion to be suc­cess­ful. This can be tak­ing an ex­ist­ing idea and in­no­vat­ing it to the lo­cal mar­ket or it can be some­thing en­tirely in­no­va­tive on its own.”

As for knowl­edge, Antler has en­listed a team with ex­pe­ri­ence at both the regional and global level. Ad­vi­sors in­clude Ste­fan Jung, Man­ag­ing Part­ner at Ven­turra Cap­i­tal, John Ri­ady, Di­rec­tor of the Lippo Group, and Mag­nus Ek­bom, Chief Strat­egy Of­fi­cer at Lazada Group. The goal is to have a di­verse knowl­edge base and lo­cal ta­lent to cre­ate di­ver­sity.

“Knowl­edge at the lo­cal level is im­por­tant too. We have re­ally tal­ented peo­ple from around the globe and can pair them with the top lo­cal ta­lent,” Mr Grime­land said. “We are look­ing for ta­lent from the re­gion, as well as glob­ally. We re­ally want to have di­ver­sity.”

Antler is cur­rently in­ter­view­ing founders and plans to start its first cy­cle in July. Ad­di­tion­ally, work con­tin­ues on build­ing its own ad­vi­sory board which will pro­vide founders with knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We want to cre­ate a re­ally strong ad­vi­sory board with lots of ex­pe­ri­ence and re­search,” Mr Grime­land noted. “Strong men­tors mean founders are twice as likely to suc­ceed.“

Fu­ture po­ten­tial The road from Nor­way to South­east Asia and from Zalora to Antler had its fair share of twist and turns. How­ever, Mr Grime­land has a clear idea of where he wants to be two years from now.

“In two years time, we will have built about 100-150 in­no­va­tive tech com­pa­nies owned by founders in South­east Asia. Some of these com­pa­nies will be on the path to be­ing lead­ers in their fields,” Mr Grime­land de­tailed. “We will also have ex­panded to Europe and South Amer­ica. We hope to have helped 300400 founders build suc­cess­ful busi­nesses glob­ally in the next two years.”

PHOTO: NBAS/ALEX JANU PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

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