Neil Patel

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Heini Zachariassen is the founder behind Vivino. He has raised for the company over $55 million to date. The app now has 33 million users, looking up around 2 million wines every single day, and is attracting 20,000 new users per day.

On a recent episode of the DealMakers Podcast, Heini graced us with his presence, told us what he is drinking now, and had fun debating some of the big questions startup founders are juggling today

In this episode you will learn:

  • The importance of building product customers love
  • Going from technical to sales and business
  • How to engage very successful people as investors
  • Scaling an app to millions of users
  • Pitching investors
  • Differences between family offices and VC firms


For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.

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The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks

Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400 million (see it here).

Remember to unlock for free the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

About Heini Zachariassen:

Heini Zachariassen is the founder and CEO of Vivino, which provides users with any wine’s rating, review and average price. Vivino is also the world’s largest wine community, claiming more than 15 million users. With more than $37 million in funding, Zachariassen continues to drive Vivino’s global expansion, via users now in 227 countries and on every continent around the world.

Having co-founded several startups, including antivirus software company BullGuard, Zachariassen has a varied background in software development and mobile innovation and a track record for building successful global businesses. He leads the team from Vivino’s headquarters in San Francisco.


Connect with Heini Zachariassen:

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Alejandro: Alrightee. Hello, everyone and welcome to the DealMakers Show. So today we have another founder which is very, very exciting but a founder as well that has international background. I mean I have that one, it’s really amazing to see. So without further ado, Heini Zachariassen, the founder of Vivino, welcome aboard.

Heini Zachariassen: Thank you very much for having me on board.

Alejandro: So before the entrepreneurial role, you went from being a CTO at Virus 112 to becoming the CEO of Bullguard so this is obviously a big jump from the technical side to more like strategy sales, the vision side, so how was that transition for you?  

Heini Zachariassen: Yeah, good question. I think I was always very, very technical and even education and background [00:51] as an engineer, I have a business background, but I’m always seen as pretty technical and so even if I don’t code myself you know I’m still seen as that. So for me, maybe it wasn’t that big a shift because as a CEO, as a founder I’m still kind of technical but it’s definitely a shift. It’s good to start at one place with more the tech part then move in to the more managerial stuff. So I think it worked really well.

Alejandro: Got it. So can you tell us a little bit about the experience at Bullguard where you were the CEO?

Heini Zachariassen: I think yeah that was interesting. The story with Bullguard is that Morten Lund, Senator Tyson is also a founder at Vivino. We had this deal with Kazaa which was the big peer to peer platform back then and to build some security on top of that, so that was the basic idea. Hey, you have this product called Kazaa which was the sort of follow up on Napster extremely popular and we built a security thing on top of that. For me, it was my first really being a founder early on. I always saw myself as a semi founder because Tyson and Morten started a little bit before but there wasn’t much there when I got there and being part of building that was an amazing experience and generally as a founder being experience having done it for now like 20 years is just you know it’s so valuable that’s why you really start thinking things out. But it was an amazing experience because we were put on this rocket ship called Kazaa which had tens of millions of users and we built use that as distribution and built security products on top of that.  

Alejandro: That’s amazing. So how many people were there when you arrived and to how many people did you scale that up?

Heini Zachariassen: Oh no, it was just, so it was just Morten, Tyson and me so it was just the three of us right from the beginning and we built that up to around a hundred people.

Alejandro: Wow, that’s amazing. So then that’s nice transition in to Vivino. So how did you get really started with incubating the idea, with the entrepreneurial bug? So how did that happen?

Heini Zachariassen: With Vivino, coming out of Bullguard there I was always you know I want to do something that’s a little bit more fun. What drawn me was my passion around Bullguard was really building the company and creating something. It was always about building something. The security aspect itself was not a big motivator for me. So when I went down and said I want to do something else, I wanted something that I felt was interesting and fun and obviously wine is and for me, I’m not from the wine industry. I knew nothing about wine back then. I know a little bit more now but for me it was about solving a problem that I had and I had an idea that a lot of people had. It’s walking into a supermarket, seeing this wall of mine and then figuring out hey, what’s good, what’s bad. How do we solve that problem? So that was the premise to get started because nobody had really done that before.

Alejandro: Got it. So who are the cofounders?

Heini Zachariassen: So with Vivino, it’s Ty who was also with Bullguard and me.

Alejandro: Okay. So then you had the chance of being behind the trenches a little bit and at what point did you say, “Okay, guys, you know, both of you, okay, we’re going to do this.”

Heini Zachariassen: Yeah. I started out with the idea early on and after I have played around with it for about a year, I tried to convince Tys to join me and when he was sort of sold on the idea, also went to London to meet with one of the two founders of Skype and said to him, “Hey, we have this thing. We love to build this hub but you put some money in it,” and he ended up doing that. So when those pieces came together and Ty said, “I think we should do this,” and Janus Friis, Skype cofounder said also, “Hey, would you be willing to get some funding to begin with.” We just said, “Hey, let’s do this.” We thought it was an amazing opportunity and this is something I always say when we talk about the other day share that timing is something that people forget when it comes to startup. It’s so incredibly important. And when we went for this around 2010, it was the absolute optimal time. There were a lot of wine apps out there already. There were actually 600 wine apps in the app store when we started but the timing of the smart phone coming out a few years before, all the phones being online and also having a decent camera, that happened just around that time so the market was very mature to do something like this.

Alejandro: Got it. So how did you divide the responsibilities between the two of you?

Heini Zachariassen: Yeah. So for us it’s always been sort of pretty natural. First of all, we were very product focused both of us but he was always more product, more tech and I was more the business side if you want to talk deal maker. That was definitely always me. So we overlap heavily. So we have sort of checks and balances on each other, at the same time we know where we’re stronger sort of between us.

Alejandro: Got it. And the business model, what was the business model or what is the business model of Vivino?

Heini Zachariassen: Yeah. I sometimes joke that the business model is venture capital but back in the day it was about sort of a land grab. Okay, we think there can be a really, really big wine app with an amazing wine database behind it and we want to build that. So when we pitched this to investors back then we said, “Hey, if we get millions of users on this, obviously they’re going to wine through Vivino.” So we saw that right away. We just didn’t start building it. So strategy from the beginning is go in, build the best product in the world, win the space and have some ideas about what the business model is going to be but don’t start building it right now.

Alejandro: Yeah. Yeah. And you’re very humble, Heini. I mean you were talking about knowing a bit about wines but how many wines are right now in your database?

Heini Zachariassen: Yes, thank you very much. I obviously don’t know them all but we have around 10 million wines in the database from 200,000 producers. So it is by far the biggest wine database ever built and really what makes me happy and what makes me sort of satisfied is that you can walk in to a supermarket in Copenhagen now and look up every single wine there and we will have a rating. We’ll tell you if it’s good or not so good and you just couldn’t do that seven, eight years ago.

Alejandro: Beautiful. And how many users are using Vivino?

Heini Zachariassen: Yes, so we have 33 million users and they’re using the app quite a bit. They look up around 2 million wines every single day and the cool thing about an app like Vivino is that people, you drink wine with other people so we’re actually getting 20,000 new users every single day.

Alejandro: Got it. And I have to ask this what is your favorite white wine and what is your favorite red wine?

Heini Zachariassen: Oh, as you can imagine, I do get this question once in a while.

Alejandro: Right.

Heini Zachariassen: And I still never answer but I’ll give you like I live in California now so I drink a lot of Napa Caps. I drink a lot of California Pinot Noirs. I love that. And then I must admit all these like good sparkling like champagne I really enjoy that quite a lot too.

Alejandro: That’s wonderful. Especially going in to the holiday season I’m sure that the listeners are going to really enjoy that recommendation. So going back to the business, how much capital has been raised today for Vivino?

Heini Zachariassen: So we’ve raised $57 million so far and the last round was our C round just about a year ago.

Alejandro: Got it. So it was like the $57 million it was done in trenches so how much did you raise on the C round?

Heini Zachariassen: We did $20 million on the C round. We did 25 on the B and we did 10 on the A.

Alejandro: Got it. Got it. And I see that you guys have raised from like really fantastic VCs. I see Balderton, you have them on board. So how did you get in front of these investors?

Heini Zachariassen: Yeah, I think what I often tell people is that you know raising millions of dollars is not hard. Building a product that millions of users use is hard. And for us, it’s always been about building the most amazing product trying to win the space and from that you know finding investors and so on. As soon as you have built something, people say, “Hey, there is something here.” They will come to you. Obviously you build a network around it and so on. So you just have a lot of conversations, a lot of lunches and so on and it just getting in front of them has never been a problem for us. Obviously closing the deal and so on can be a little bit more complicated.

Alejandro: Yeah. I mean especially if you have all these millions of users you know I’m sure that it gets a little bit easier to really get in front of folks. And just out of curiosity here between you and your cofounder, did you guys divide and conquer when it came to financing or it was the two of you very much involved?

Heini Zachariassen: I always let that part of the business but that said when you get to hey, now you’re doing a proper pitch in front of a management group or a partner group at a VC you should always be two people. That’s something an advice I really want to give to everybody out there. You really need to be two people always. It just works better so definitely it must be two people and whenever possible, he would be with me for that. Everything around that, I would manage.

Alejandro: Got it. And how because in many instances you see how VCs are like completely turned off when they see like founders talking over each other or that lack of alignment or you know sense of the same vision and mission being shared so how for example did you guys had that alignment? Because I mean you need to have an unbelievable alignment to raise you know this over $50 million that you guys have raised?

Heini Zachariassen: So absolute alignment, we’re probably never going to be there which is fine but I tell you when you speak to investor, there is absolute alignment. So there’s no such thing as disagreeing when you’re doing meeting if it’s external like when you have kids, it’s the same thing. The parents you have to align exactly. If you disagree, you will disagree later. You will not have any disagreements in front of the kids. You will not have any disagreements in front of visitors. I don’t mean to compare investors to children but there’s a comparison there. When you go in to that room, you are hand in hand. There is no misalignment of any kind so we’ve always done that really well but we also worked together for the past 20 years. That helps, right?

Alejandro: Got it. Absolutely. And I guess multiple rounds that you guys have raised and obviously every round is different as you continue to push so you did your B, 25 million; the C, 20 million. So in terms of for example like the way you approach this like for example did you have like any bankers supporting you on this say later rounds?

Heini Zachariassen: So when we did our B round and C round, the investors that came on board actually had bankers.

Alejandro: Okay.

Heini Zachariassen: And the C round was not because it was mostly an internal round so that was a little bit different but the B round the incoming party had a banker. But apart from that I haven’t really worked with bankers. No. I think it definitely can make sense especially at later stage, I don’t believe in using bankers in the early stages at all. Just my simple philosophy on that is that the bankers that will help you raise say smaller money they know that they’re based on commissions and raising small amounts of money just isn’t very interesting so whatever bankers are helping you raise a million bucks, they’re not going to be the greatest bankers because they’re going to be raising $100 million because they know they got a cut off that. So I don’t believe in using bankers in the early stage at all.

Alejandro: Yeah. And I agree with you. I don’t believe in bankers. I don’t believe in brokers and that’s actually why the nature of my next business which is Panthera Advisors which is basically an extension of the teams that we work with on the advisory side of things. But anyways, that’s another conversation. So you on boarded family offices as well such as SCP, which is the investment firm of Kristoff Navar who was the head of Moir Hennesy which is really nice strategic synergy for you guys. So what is the difference that you have seen between dealing with VCs and family offices?

Heini Zachariassen: Yeah. That’s very interesting. So when we did our B round, Kristoff Navar came on board, an amazing industry giant who had worked in liquor and wine for the past well like 30, 40s. He’s been leading LDMH which is one of the biggest groups for the past like 15, 20 years and so, an amazing privilege there. Obviously, there’s going to be some clashes there because he comes from a different industry with a different mindset whereas I feel that the venture capitalist and so on are more aligned with our mindset. Obviously he comes from a completely different mindset but that said, that mindset, that experience can really help us a lot but it’s very, very different obviously.  

Alejandro: So diving a little bit more in to that mindset because I agree with you. I mean I’ve dealt and raised money from family offices and venture firms and they’re completely different. So I guess like what does that mindset look like for the people that are listening so they get more a visual you know insight in to that?

Heini Zachariassen: I think if you look at VCs, you have to remember all their funds are time limited so they have a specific pattern. They go, “Hey, we’re going to invest here. We’re going to maximize the value of this company for whatever five to seven years and then there’s going to be some kind of liquidity event, and that’s pretty standard for a lot of these early stage and I think there’s reason that model is there. It works pretty well. I think a lot is going to change in the future but it works pretty well. When it comes to a family office, it can be anything. It can be someone that says no, no, no.  I want to keep this for 40 years for my kids. So it’s about creating long term value. It can be someone else coming in and saying, “Hey, no, no, I want this to be profitable tomorrow.” So you really, really have to be careful with what you do with that and in my opinion maybe especially people that don’t have experience like if you get early stage, people on board, if we have someone in the very early stages who just said, “Hey, you need to go out and make some revenue right now,” we would have lost this game. We would have spent all our energy on building revenue and at that point we’ve lost the global land grab that this was. So timing that right and getting the people that are aligned with whatever your vision is is incredibly important. Money can come from a lot of places. You get the wrong money in on your cap table, you could really be screwed. So always you know you will make a lot of mistakes doing a start up, but don’t mess with the cap table.

Alejandro: Yeah. Yeah. I agree 100%. You need to guard that jealousy. So family offices are sacred, Heini, and I guess just for the people that are listening as well and based on your experience, how do you typically find these family offices? What’s the way to get in front of them and also close them as investors?

Heini Zachariassen: Yeah. The funny thing is we talked about bankers earlier. Actually it was their banker that found us. Again I’m a little bit different in the way that Vivino compared to the size of the company and so on is very, very high profile. So we get a massive amount of inbound interest from all kinds of places so I’m not the best, the most typical example of that. We haven’t done a lot of outbound reach in that way but family office are all over and in that case you might want to go to specific events or have people introduce you to these groups. They can’t be hard to find.

Alejandro: Yeah. Yeah. I agree. And you were mentioning earlier during our conversation, you were talking about the Skype founder. Perhaps that person has another family office but that’s another conversation. I guess what I wanted to ask you here is at what point did you feel it was the right time to start having conversations with high profile people like that?

Heini Zachariassen: I think it had gone to a point where I alone or Tyson we needed to take it to the next level and really commit to this and maybe get some more people join us then you’ll need some funding. And that stage, you [190:1]. We’ve done startup before, reasonably successful and at that point it’s a lot about the people, right. So in this particular case, we knew Janus from before. He had seen us built something before and he said, “What you built so far, it’s not much. It’s mostly a Powerpoint and some ideas and you built a little bit,” but he had faith in us as people so in the early stages it’s a lot about having trust in to people. So however early you can start building relationships with people, angels and so on, so they can see, “Yeah, this guys is straight,” that helps you at some point when you need to raise the money.    

Alejandro: Yeah. And in your case, moving through let’s say the seed to the A, B and then C rounds, did you see the mindset or the type of concerns or the questions that the investor were asking shifting perhaps more from growth on the user acquisition and retention side to perhaps more the revenue side as you would continue to grow and mature on the financing life cycles?

Heini Zachariassen: Definitely. Yeah, very much. I think when going through the stages first of all Janus is very, it’s very easy unique because he’s been so extremely successful and so he thinks big obviously. But when it comes to local, maybe seed investors in Denmark going to [20:27] who’s more of a Nordic player, going to [Bolterton 20:30] who’s more of a European global player, the real shift there is how big they think. Like once you get to [Bolterton 20:40] they will not invest is my thinking at least if there isn’t a chance of this can become a billion dollar business. And for the seed investors in Denmark, they may not need that so the mindset from like thinking big and size is very, very different. Then when you get to an industry magnate like Kristoff, it’s different. He’s thinking okay, how can we put $20 million in marketing and get that money back and so sort of more of a growth kind of mindset which is different. Yeah.  

Alejandro: And you know it’s interesting that you were mentioning this because on my previous company that we built, so that was a marketplace, it was really interesting to see the mentality for example because some originally from Spain the mentality that the investors had there like I remember at a series A or seed, they were asking me about revenue. I was like I cannot believe that they were asking me this because ultimately profits and hey, if you’re a VC in Spain right now listening, you know like the truth is that profits today is not going to mean success on a marketplace tomorrow. Would you agree?

Heini Zachariassen: No, I wouldn’t. It very much depends on what kind of company you’re building, right. If you do a software as a service B to B, obviously revenue is important because that’s what’s going to drive you all the way. We were a community where we wanted to win the space and then put the marketplace on top. At that point, it really makes sense to wait and always like one of my sort of main philosophies here doing the start up is just focus. You always lack resources. Don’t try and do too many things. Whatever you do, when you take resource from something, you will lose somewhere else. So as soon as you use 10% of your time getting revenue, that 10% is not coming in growth somewhere else. That’s just the way it is.  

Alejandro: Yeah. And I guess we were talking about the size and the scale of what you guys have done with Vivino which is remarkable. I mean over 10 million wines on the database, over 30 million users. What have been some of the scaling challenges that you guys have experienced?

Heini Zachariassen: Yeah, that’s a podcast by itself almost. Building this big a database has been a big challenge also because we decided starting out which is aggressively and not thinking too much about the quality of the data and say, “Hey, we want to grow fast. Let’s get all the data in there and see how it goes.” And obviously we ended up paying the price for that at some point because you have to clean up the data. So we went through many, many different stages here from just having a data team that added anything that was out there to now really having a very structured process doing really good qualities on most of the wines out there so there are levels of this and I would you know depending on what you’re building get the ball rolling. Don’t try and build perfection in the beginning because if you try and build perfection in the beginning, people will think well this database does have anything. Sure, it has 3% of what I want and it’s perfect but you have to make a trade if there’s a [24:07]. I’d rather have 60% of what I want at an okay quality. So those traders are incredibly important in the beginning and we made that choice saying okay, we want to have a lot of wines in there and we paid the price in the quality and not until 13, 14 we really started to improve the quality and now the data is like unique and incredibly good.

Alejandro: Got it. And one of the things that I think is interesting and I identify and relate myself to you here is that you as a foreign entrepreneur coming here to other markets like let’s say the US, you’re facing a different culture, a different market, so what were some of your learnings during this process of adjusting to a different you know place?

Heini Zachariassen: Good question. I think first of all you know coming from somewhere that’s very different than Silicon Valley, I really like coming here. I really enjoy Silicon Valley. For someone who’s from a different place like it’s like coming home because everybody talks tech and startups which is what I want to do too so it makes a lot of sense. Learnings, one of the things I really appreciate picking up in this culture here is how people think big. It actually takes a while when you come over here and you think, damn, this is interesting. Just the mindset of say, “Hey, okay, good, that’s cool. Can we put $30 million at it and make it really big?” That mindset can be harder to find in smaller countries. So just doing that was incredibly valuable and learning that.

Alejandro: Yeah. I mean I remember I have a funny story as a founder coming here to the US. When I started doing my first round of financing, I had an investor at a pitch competition that said, “Hey, I love your presentation but I think you should get better at pronouncing the word ‘entrepreneur.’” And you know my response was like, “Thank you very much. I would love to see you giving the same presentation in Spanish.” And everyone started laughing and funny that investor ended up becoming an investor of ours. So if you’re listening investor, you know who you are. But anyhow, I wanted to ask you because one of the things that I really loved about your background, Heini, was that you’ve been in different pieces or in different parts of being behind the trenches of building and scaling a business. So you’ve been on the COO role. You’ve been on the CEO, on the board member, on the chairman role. So if I may, I want to ask you on each one of those what someone needs in order to be effective? So let’s start with the COO, what does a COO, what makes a COO a success?  

Heini Zachariassen: Yeah. I honestly think that’s not my natural habitat to be honest but that’s someone who’s really good at operating, putting things into system and like really running those processes and so I think the difference between look I’m really good at processes too but I don’t like maintaining them. So someone who’s chief operating really should be good at maintaining too which is maybe not what I’m good at. And moving in to a more CEO role, founder CEO is probably more my natural role. You have to be an amazing evangelizer, getting people on board, creating the magic around the business. You also have to be very creative, find ideas and how to solve problems that seemed completely impossible but yeah, many, many things. When you get to next level which is like a board or so, that for me is starting that’s a different thing because and I’m not sure I’m good at it yet at least because my nature as an entrepreneur, as a founder is complete obsession, right? And that’s what I’ve always done. When I do something, I do it for long. There’s no in between. That as a board member or as an investor, you have to be careful. You can’t go in and get your fingers dirty because then you own it. So you have to be careful finding that right balance. I think a lot of founders like myself might struggle a little bit with that when they move to a board or investor role.   

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Alejandro: Yeah. And then the chairman role, what does a successful chairman look like?

Heini Zachariassen: Again, same thing with the chairman role is that you definitely want to coach the CEO but you can’t start doing, telling that person what to do and actually doing it for them because then you own it and then you take sort of the role from the CEO which is super important that you have to be the coach and help them find the direction but you can’t do it yourself.

Alejandro: Got it. And in many instances, I really think your case you recently stepped up to the board level more focusing on strategy and brought in a CEO and we’ve seen this happening with tremendous amount of success on companies like for example LinkedIn where Jeff was brought in by Reed. So I guess for example in your particular case, what was the trigger for you to say, “Okay, now time to bring in fresh perspective,” and what were you looking in that candidate to fill in this role?

Heini Zachariassen: Yeah. I also that’s really it can be a lot of different factors but at some point having done this for eight years, you go through 10 different phases of a company and you think to yourself, “Am I still the best to do what’s coming in the next few years?” And we’re transforming now from this large community in to an actual marketplace and we started thinking like hey, has someone, because that’s something you learn over the years is if somebody has done something similar before they can usually just do it better and faster. And we started looking and thinking hey, are there companies out there, are there CEO candidates out there that have done this before? And we were incredibly privileged in finding Chris Tsakalakis who is a part of building StubHub from something like $300 million marketplace with all kinds of complexities to multiple million billion in marketplace. Even though that’s tickets, there are a lot of similarities in building a marketplace and bringing him in board has been incredibly good for us.

Alejandro: And you know I speak with a lot of founders that are kind of like in that process of hey, it’s time to really take this thing to the next level and perhaps bring the expertise for this next like in the journey of the business. So would you have any type of recommendations or tips for those that are in that specific spot right now?

Heini Zachariassen: Yeah. Especially when it comes to the on boarding, if you’re bringing on board a great and experienced CEO, then you cannot be in the way anymore. You have to let go. There’s no sharing that role. The time that that person walked in the door, he or she needs to have that responsibility. So don’t try and do anything half assed like you’re trying to control a little bit here and there. There are clear roles here and you can’t share that role.

Alejandro: And how many employees are right now in Vivino?

Heini Zachariassen: We’re just over a hundred people.

Alejandro: That’s amazing. So you’ve come from nothing to like over a hundred. So in your case in yoru experience, Heini, how do you identify the right people?

Heini Zachariassen: Yeah. I definitely spend a lot of time like talking to people, doing interviews and so on, really like feeling them and what is their passion, what do they like and we motivate them and so on. I definitely with the size of organization that we have still you know hundred people not that big, I really look for entrepreneurial mindset. I really look for people that take responsibility, are willing to walk the extra mile but also what we call 360 people that can do a lot of different stuff. I think you need that when you build these companies. So I try and challenge people if for instance they come from big corporations. Hey, are you ready for this? We’re going to be, let’s say you’re 20 people, it’s not the same as working for Microsoft. It’s very, very different and try and really push them for that. Are you ready for this? And so on. I don’t know if there’s a clear recipe but really trying to find people that are passionate about what they do and really want to join this mission that you’re on.  

Alejandro: And obviously when they join the mission, they’re taking big sacrifices and in many instances really big pay cuts. People are especially coming from let’s say corporate more like earlier stage. So let’s say like once they joined like how do you keep them motivated because there’s a lot of bad days in early stage companies?

Heini Zachariassen: Yeah. That’s the thing. That’s where the founder, the CEO and the early team comes in and really hey, we’re building something big here. And as long as you do really well, the company is successful, people want to be a part of success and people really want to be build something and my management style is also always been to give people real responsibility. It’s not and coming back to the US, Europe, and maybe Danish Nordic style of managing, we give real responsibility like we will let you run with the ball and really do something. And people loved that. Coming over here, I need also realize there was a clear difference in management style and it is different but the people here really like it. They like that they get to do stuff. Work is about having an influence of what the outcome is and doing something meaningful and we’ve really believed in creating meaningful jobs.  

Alejandro: And talking about what work is about, I believe that culture is really big ingredient of a company being able to attract talent, to attract investors, to attract acquirers. So in your mind for example like from what you’ve seen and learn, how do you really build a strong and positive culture?

Heini Zachariassen: So I don’t want to talk about parenting too much but it’s also similar to parenting. It is the people around you are going to see everything that you do. What you say is less important than what you actually do. And that’s the same thing with parenting. It’s about how you behave. Whatever you do trickles down to the entire organization. So rather than doing rules and stuff, just do what you want them to do. I think that’s the most importing thing. Of course, you talk about it. You say it. You repeat it. And so on but really doing it so important.

Alejandro: Yeah. And if we were to let’s say have yourself go back in time and you see Heini there sitting down thinking about the idea, thinking about the approach and speaking with a cofounder about the journey that is ahead with Vivino, what would you tell your younger self in terms of advice?

Heini Zachariassen: That is an excellent question for sure. I’m not sure I have something sort of clear in my head. I think one thing would probably be to you know hold on because this is going to be a ride and we’ve done some, you know, I have three kids and moved three kids and wife and moved them from the safe haven of Copenhagen on to over here which has been a crazy ride. But I think you know enjoy it and you think about how privileged you are to be able to be part of this and you know travel can be painful but imagine all the places you get to go to and so on and enjoy it.

Alejandro: That’s amazing. I have a funny story here. I have three kids too, Heini. And I always say that kids are like startups but unfortunately there is no exit and they only break even when they let you sleep at night.

Heini Zachariassen: That is true. Yeah.

Alejandro: Anyhow, what is the best way for the folks that are listening to reach out and say hi?

Heini Zachariassen: Yeah, sure. I’m on all the usual things. I want to tell you one thing though so since I stepped down I’ve started to do some videos on Youtube and that’s been quite interesting actually. So they should definitely check out Raw Startup on Youtube. I’m up to a few videos now especially the last few videos I’m pretty happy about I did one on OKR which we use internally. I did one on building a Pitch Deck in day two so they should definitely check those out. I’m on Twitter and Facebook and so on. With my name, it’s pretty easy to find me.  

Alejandro: Fantastic. Well, it has been a pleasure to have you on the show, Heini. Thank you so so much.

Heini Zachariassen: Thank you very much for having me on. It’s a pleasure.

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Neil Patel

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