Interview with Greger Hagelin, Keyflow By Sofia Chowdhury
From backflips in sunny Cali to building one of the world’s leading brands in street fashion, to making a head-first deep dive into the world of mobile technology with the newly-launched app Keyflow, Greger Hagelin is not only sketching the future of event communication, he is taking over the world. sc: How did your journey as an entrepreneur begin? gh: I came to Sweden after spending 3 years in California skateboarding. I was supposed to go to university after “wasting 3 years”. Then one of my L.A. friends who had a skateboard company asked if I was interested to sell their products in Sweden. I said yes and opened the company BAM, had my office in the kitchen of my apartment in Sollentuna. It was supposed to be a short journey, but it was a great way to be able to keep skateboarding, build it up in Sweden and at the same time make some money doing it. Then I opened up G-spot with Pontus Karlsson. sc: Would you say that your previous skate years have had an impact on your entrepreneurship? ml: I guess, a lot. As a skateboarder you have to take risks. You have to find new ways of doing things, and we did it together with people we liked. That’s the way I do business. In both business and skateboarding you som times fall, but you need to get up and try again. sc: What was spending your teenage years in the US like? ml: I grew up in a pretty grey and poor part of the Stockholm suburbs in the late 70s with the Swedish “Jante Law” dominating. Coming to sunny and open California as an 18-year-old, spending the time with people you like, skateboarding, surfing and meeting girls – it was a dream. I also worked every weekend at Mcdonald’s and as a construction worker the whole summer to save the money before I went to California. So it felt that I worked my ass off to be able to go to the land of my dreams. sc: You are one of the founders of WESC back in 1999. What are the most important things that you learned from the 13 years at WESC? ml: When we started we were 5 friends and we had a common goal – to be the best street fashion company in the world. So the first thing is to set up a goal and make sure everyone you work with has the same goal, and make sure no one tries to change that. Second thing is that you need to work hard, but you need to have fun at the same time – otherwise you won’t last long. Especially if you work 12-15 hours a day and travel 200 days a year.third thing, you need to work with people that give you energy, rather than taking energy. Most importantly is that you have to surround yourself with great people, because you can’t do everything yourself. I always says that you won’t be better than the people you surround yourself with, but they need to be people with the same agenda. You need to work with people who wants what’s good for you and vice versa. That’s what I learned! sc: Why did
you start working with Keyflow? ml: To make a long story short, Stefan Ehrnst, who is one of my partners at Keyflow today, started Keyflow as a guest list system when he worked at WESC. He was my assistant 11 years back and our first employee at WESC. At WESC we did many great events, but because we always had problems with the guest lists we used Keyflow. When I left my position as a CEO at WESC, two years ago, Stefan and I started to discuss what we could do with Keyflow. It had run into a dead end as a guest list system.at that time I’d also read a study about nightlife having a bunch of the same problems no matter where in the world they operate. Then I said [to Stefan], if we build a system that can solve the problems and we take it to next level, I will be ready to take the role as a CEO and also invest more money. We started to talk to people who knew more than we did about building what we wanted to build, so we learned a lot. We then put together a group of people and we all invested in this so that we could take it to next level. And here we are. Ready to take it to next level.sc: What is your relationship to tech? ml: From the beginning, not more than an average guy. But after a year building Keyflow I know what we need to make sure we build the best system for nightclubs! Tech is a strange word. To be able to do what we want to do, you need all kind of technicians. They are all specialists in their specific area, and you need to know who you want on your team. Maybe it was good that I didn’t know more. We had the big picture and we did know what we wanted to achieve and didn’t see all the obstacles. But in the end, again, it is about the team. Great people working together. sc: Why do you think a tool like Keyflow is needed? ml: We live in a new time. Everything will change! Look at Uber, at how banks operate, how we interact with each other. It’s all moving towards efficient solutions with help of technology. Nightclubs have seen major changes with entertainment, service and their offerings to the public. At Keyflow we aim to simplify the interactions between clubs and guests, offering a great tool for both parts, and do it on an international level. We also aim to take the stress away from the management at nightclubs. Look at the music industry, they had it all. They had the artists, they had the music rights, were partners with the artist managements and they had the distribution. But they forgot one thing – the customers wanted to buy music on the Internet. Companies like Spotify saw the gap in the market and understood the consumer. The music industry didn’t see or didn’t support it from the beginning, but now it’s an everyday reality. It’s sometimes the same in the nightclub industry. It’s pretty hard to stop technology. sc: Tell us about your proudest moments in life, personally and professionally. ml: Ooh, that’s hard! Of course, being a dad. Proud to be a good family father. Proud that I have been married for 20 years with the same partner. That’s pretty hard these days, and it’s not always easy, but it’s worth it. Coming to L.A. when I was 18. I remember flying in over L.A. thinking “it’s okay if the plane crashes now because I have fulfilled my dream”. Then starting WESC with my friends and taking it to where we took it; we made it in the US. Then I was proud to leave WESC and take on a new adventure with Keyflow. I have the same feeling with Keyflow that we had with WESC in the beginning and when we went to Us.sc: What is the ambition of Keyflow? ml: Become the world leader in Global VIP Guest Transactions! We aim to have the best solutions for both the nightclubs and the guests when those worlds go digital. Then have a fantastic journey. sc: What inspires you? ml: A good book, nature, cities, traveling, architecture. Just to be alone on a plane. But in the end, meetings are good – fantastic people who share! I used to say that you can have a fantastic day because you met someone who inspired you, and at the same time, someone can ruin the day by just being an asshole, but you need to be strong enough to take in the good and keep the bad out. sc: How many apps do you have on your phone? Which ones do you use on a daily basis? ml: Maybe 40-50. SAS, Expedia, Spotify, Keyflow, daily newspapers, etc. sc: Is Keyflow for everyone? ml: Absolutely. The platform has revolutionary options to give special privileges to VIP guests, all controlled by the owners and managers of each club, but also the global reach for “regular” guests. It is definitely something for every type of club and customer.sc: Tell us how it works! ml: Three apps work together in synchronized fashion. The global marketing platform directly connects the venue with the guest. This enables new interactions. But really, the best way to find out is just to download it: www.keyflow.com/app. For guests, here are some key positive attributes: Social – the ability to invite and buy admission and tables for you and your friends. Plan ahead – the ability to secure your spot by buying ahead of time. Travels – find and get in to great clubs when traveling. VIP Cards – be awarded VIP cards to clubs that know you as a great guest! The ability to put yourself on the list after getting the acknowledgment from the club. Keyflow is the only system in the world offering this. sc: What is the next step for Keyflow? ml: We just launched. So the next step is to work our plan. We have been meeting clubs all over Europe, the US and also in Brazil over the last year. I’m at the moment in Asia meeting with clubs in Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and Bali. We are currently on board with amazing clubs in Europe. Next month it’s the US! We have the majority of the cities in the EU. It’s so incredibly fun to connect nightlife around the world! Remember this is just the start. We been focusing on the tech side, but now we will build a sales team, marketing team and open up a US office this fall. When we work, we learn and do it better and better, day by day!