Advice from Skype founder just as relevant for small business

Before today I had never heard of Jonas Kjellberg but I have heard of the companies he founded and sold - iCloud and Skype. 

Here are my personal highlights of Jonas' short and insightful interview with Tony Robbins, which are just as relevant for small business as they are to tech titans. Scroll down to play the audio of the 22 minute interview:


  • When asked for his best piece of advice on marketing, Jonas said businesses must innovate around customer acquisition. In the early days, when Skype couldn't afford marketing, they were forced to innovate in customer acquisition. They introduced a small pop up window after user calls. This opened the user's inbox and sent an email to everyone in the user's address book promoting "call me for free using Skype". The effect was viral.
  • It took Skype 3 years to get to 20,000 users but it wasn't until they found the key to unlocking customer acquisition that they really grew their customer numbers.
  • The important question to ask - How do you drive customers? and the answer may not be the rusted on tactics of Google Adwords or Facebook Ads.

Friction-free storytelling

Jonas says that many companies have difficulty answering the question "what are you selling?"

He used the example of Harley Davidson which sells the experience for middle aged men to be outlaws for 30 minutes on a weekend, as opposed to helping people get from A to B. 

In the case of fashion retailer H&M, he says their friction-free story is that they are a fashion company with "a zero less on the price tag".

We certainly struggle at times to bundle the many facets of Mallee Rising into a friction-free story - do you struggle as well?

One piece of advice

Jonas says that entrepreneurs need:

  • commitment - "get out of bed, look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself this is going to be the best day of my life, put on your smile and try to change the world because doing this every day will take you places". 
  • to be prepared to pivot - don't stay too long with one idea. If it's not working don't be afraid to change your business. Good businesses are constantly changing. Constantly iterate and move on...