Niklas Laninge: The Entrepreneur Everyone is Talking About

Niklas Laninge is a psychologist, entrepreneur, and learning and education enthusiast.

He runs, a startup that makes learning fun, frictionless, and bite-sized.

How did you start out as a marketer?

As an entrepreneur, you really have no choice.

Your idea is just 1% of the work; then you have to create it and make sure people hear about it.

Writing has always been one of my favorite activities, so a lot of my marketing is basically me writing stuff.

I quickly started enjoying marketing activities because it’s a perfect blend of moving fast and breaking things, getting attention (as an only child, I must admit I love attention), and having to force yourself into learning new things and discovering what works best.

Looking back, what was your hardest struggle when it came to delivering results?

I find it always difficult to assess what gets results and then stop doing activities that’s not paying off, even if they are joyful activities. In my last startup, we got a lot of press coverage, but looking back, it’s easy to see that all that press amounted to zero business opportunities.

In a sense, it was more of a way for some people at our company to build on their personal brand, something I realized way too late.

In my new business, I always try to make it about the product and the vision, and if there is a need to talk about the people at the company, I try to highlight the people that actually make the magic happen, i.e., my awesome team members.

How did you get your first client back then, and what kind of service did you do for them?

So, I’m more of an idea man with no patience.

The first seed of Daily Bits Of was planned and shipped in just 24 hours with no intention of making money.

The product was rough, to say the least, but some PR managers saw it as a diamond in the rough and asked us how much it costs to use the platform.

Platform, though? Cost? And there I had it: a business model, a product, and our first paying customer. All without taking a single marketing action.

What do you find most rewarding about what you do?

Talking to the team and the users and seeing our KPIs go up.

Sure, as I said, I do enjoy the attention PR and marketing create, but at the end of the day, our business is about helping people improve themselves on a daily basis and delivering a service that delights them so much that they want to pay for it.

Building a company with my awesome team is all the reward I need.

We have a lot of readers who are bent on becoming freelancers. Aside from freelancing, how else can someone earn online? And what is your advice?

Make and sell courses on Daily Bits. All jokes aside, I must admit that it’s hard to make money online these days. If we’re talking pocket money, I find that services within the sharing economy are helpful.

I sort of moved in with my partner after just seeing each other for a few weeks, not just because I was really into her but also because I was AirBnbing my apartment like crazy, which allowed me to work on stuff that didn’t bring in that much cash in the beginning.

Another piece of advice everyone could try: try charging twice as much. Your customers might not go for it, but then they will feel that they “won” the negotiation if they can lower your price by just 25%.

If you were given the chance to build your career all over again, what would you do differently so that you could achieve your dreams faster?

I’m a strong believer that our past experiences make us who we are. That said, I wish I could have met my co-founder, Björn Henriksson, earlier.

How is your typical work day structured?

I always plan the coming day on the evening before. I try to sort tasks into an A, B and C priority, something I learned from a therapist while working on my stress issues. A is the kind of stuff that needs to get done, B is the kind of stuff that’s not crucial and C is usually some icing on the cake.

Also, I try to only check the email once before lunch, once before leaving the office and then once I have gotten my baby daughter to sleep.

Can you tell us about a time where you had to put in significant effort up front and then wait a long time for success?

Haha, running a start-up, hopefully.

First, I would talk to the team about what kind of company they believe we’re building. Then talk to our power users about why they use our service.

Then I would bring in 4-5 of the smartest people I know and brainstorm ideas. Lastly, I would talk to my friend and cofounder, Mathias Eriksson, a true marketing wiz, and the two of us would hammer out the strategy.

Can you tell us about a past situation where you had to juggle multiple projects with competing deadlines?

My first business was a consulting firm I ran with 10 other psychologists. We did everything from public speaking to advising ad agencies on product design.

And since we were young, hungry, and naive, we did it all at a very low price. Needless to say, there were a lot of sleepless nights, panic, last-minute work, and a lot of fun. Something I could never do these days.

What recently developed marketing strategy, technique, or tool interests you the most right now?

We’re betting big on bots. Not necessarily as a marketing tool, but more as a platform for delivering our bite-sized courses. I am really looking forward to seeing what the bot movement might mean for us and the rest of the world.

What do you do to stay up-to-date with new marketing techniques?

Not much, to be honest. I try to keep an open mind, talk to a lot of people, and listen to a lot of podcasts. I use Economist Espresso to stay up to date on the latest news and enjoy Marketplace on a daily basis. Kai Risdahl is my favorite host (all categories) of all time.

Can you tell us about a project you’re most proud of from your past work history?

When I worked at the innovation agency Rodolfo, we launched an auto-reply service for social media.

The product was brilliant in all its simplicity, but we did some amazing PR work focusing on the stress some people feel from social media. We got a lot of press coverage, tens of thousands of users, and I ended up getting interviewed by USA Today.

Which one book or blog post would you recommend every marketer read?

Know your sociology. Sure, Seth Godin’s books are brilliant and useful; the same goes, but all that stuff will get to you somehow through Ted Talks and generous coworkers.

Instead, spend some time with a good book that tries to grasp the times we live in and what has shaped society so far. Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty by Zygmundt Bauman is one of those books.

What advice would you share with other marketers who want to become more productive?

Measure what has an effect and stop doing stuff that’s not making a difference.
Know what you are good at, and do more of that.
Delegate the rest (if you can).

If there’s one marketing guru you’d recommend, who and why?

I try to stay away from naming the obvious ones; they don’t need more inbound links. Instead, I would like to highlight my friend Mathias Eriksson, who deserves more attention.

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