We have had some surprising successes and embarrassing failures in 2019. In this episode, Emil is interviewing Erik giving an overview of the year that has passed. It started as a vague idea, but how did it turn out? How much money did we actually make?
[00:00:03] I am sitting in the middle of the forest. I hear the sparkling sound from our fireplace.
[00:00:12] Wasn’t that a cool sound effect? In fact, it wasn’t the real fireplace.
[00:00:19] It sounds like a fire in the story in my family’s cabin in the middle of the forest. And I am so nervous because I’m just going to record the first ever episode of the Becoming Great podcast with my good friend Erik. And I would say we’re both pretty nervous because we have never done something like this before. And just the thought of people listening to us, super scary. Now, it’s one year later and I’m sitting again in the middle of the forest fire making sounds and I’m the same person, but in a way a lot wiser. And a lot of things have happened this year both for me personally, for me and Erik and our organization, great dot com. And this would be an episode where I interview Erik Bergmen, the founder ofgreat on how we’d done this year, how we changed, how we grown and what is different now compared to one year ago. So, Erik, good day. Good morning, Gary.
[00:01:29] Good morning. Good evening. It’s in the middle of the day. We’ll say good day.
[00:01:33] It’s pretty much dark all the time. Erik is back. Erik is back in Sweden from Oslo. Yeah, I’m in Sweden. And I’m contemplating if this is really good place to be. It’s not easy.
[00:01:45] And I’m here with my good friend Emil, who, as you just heard, was with me from the first episode of this podcast. He is the host, but also the first guy joining in the projects and pretty much the smartest person I’ve ever met. So I’m looking forward to this episode and I’m looking for it to be interviewed in the coming great podcast.
[00:02:08] I am looking forward to that, too. Very much. I think summarizing progress is so important because when I take the time to look back, I really see what I have accomplished. I’m looking forward to do that as the organization. And if you’re new here. Welcome. Welcome. This is D becoming great podcast. And the purpose the reason why we do these dialogues is to help you who are interested in entrepreneurship and want to use your skills to make the world a better place. So hey, let’s get into it. So where were we? In January last year, Erik? Not only physically like in the forest, but where were great com.
[00:02:51] I’d say the January last year was when great dot coms started to happen. So the projects hasn’t been running for almost two years now. I bought the domain name in January the year before that, but 2000 was just a very fluffy year. We didn’t really get started with anything. We didn’t really know where we were going. In January was the first time we started the podcast. We started with regular meetings in a structured way. We started doing things, but all in all it was very, very vague. We didn’t have a clear vision of where we were going and we hadn’t really a clear vision of what everyone in the team would be doing or why everyone in the team were there.
[00:03:33] So if you could summarize just in two sentences what is great dot com. What is the purpose of this organization?
[00:03:41] It was a tricky question. The purpose of this organization is to make the world a better place in a way that we really enjoy making it a better place. And what is the business model? This is gonna be a marketing company working on commission. And at this stage it’s gonna be focused on the gambling industry with the goal of moving money from the gambling industry to the climate change and hopefully save our planet from global warming.
[00:04:13] I liked it here, obviously. So how much of that idea was crystallized in the beginning of 2019?
[00:04:22] So we had come to the conclusion I had come to a conclusion that I really wanted to build a company that made money in the gambling industry to give it away to better purposes. I had not think about really where I wanted to donate or how I wanted that to happen. I hadn’t thought about how this was going to be communicated, exactly where we were gonna build this product or how the product would look like. Pretty much nothing. All I knew was that I wanted to build something very long term and I wanted to make money in the gambling industry, too, donated to better causes. That’s pretty much the only thing I knew in January last year or this year.
[00:05:05] Mm hmm. So.
[00:05:11] And did you have any idea of.
[00:05:15] Have you had the thought that the money would go to the climate change to preventing climate change?
[00:05:21] Not then. So a year ago, I wasn’t at all involved with the climate question. I wasn’t actually concerned about it at all. I thought that the climate would mainly be a problem for polar bears and possibly for cities very close to sea level. I handle all grasped the size of the climate change problem and that was something that came to me when when Joe Akim, who works with us, had a presentation this summer actually showing the magnitude of this problem and realizing what that could lead into this. It’s actually quite likely scenario that billions of people will be without water, and that’s actually a likely scenario for a third world war. And I was like, huh? Third World War. That doesn’t sound like a good thing. Maybe that’s what we should prevent. Yeah, that’s pretty much what happened. Yeah.
[00:06:18] And if you are interested in hearing more of our reasons around choosing the climate change question, I would suggest that you check out episode number 35 that is titled We Will Give All Our Money To and we have here a spot. But it’s still a very interesting episode. I would say so. Tom Erik this year of 2010 and 19. I’m curious what the results have been because you say on your Instagram profile page that you are very good at making money. That’s what your Instagram is about. So how much money have we made for the polar bears and other things this year?
[00:06:57] Mother said you said a million. How many at home are you setting me up for humiliation now, my friend? You’re so good at making money. So you just assume that. Thank you, buddy. Thank you.
[00:07:11] We’ll need zero euros this year. We have had zero euros in revenues. But to be fair, we’ve had a lot of costs.
[00:07:22] That is that is relieving.
[00:07:26] So we haven’t made any money, but at least we have spent a lot. Yes, so far not the very successful project.
[00:07:35] So did you expect to make money this year? Has this kind of been part of the plan?
[00:07:40] I wasn’t expecting us to make profit this year, but I was expecting us to reach further than we have from a product perspective. I was expecting us to have a decent product live this summer and start making some revenues in August or September. So we’re not far behind schedule, I wouldn’t say, but we’re definitely behind schedule and. Far from where I would have wished we were.
[00:08:11] So why have why are we behind?
[00:08:16] Several reasons, I would say. One reason is that it’s been harder to build a remote organization than I thought it was. So for you listening, we’re seven people in great right now and we’re all spread across the world because, well, I believe that’s the future of building an organization with that flexibility. And it has led to decisions being taken a lot slower than I had first anticipated. So a lot of things have been going slower than I thought it would. That means launching the product. That means pretty much every decision that we’ve made has been a slower process than I thought it would, because before I’ve only been having companies where everyone is in the same room all the time. And that makes obviously decisions easier than if you’re spread across the world in different time zones. So that’s that’s a big part of it. And another big part of it is simply me miscalculating which markets to enter at what time. So we have launched some kind of a product in New Jersey and in Pennsylvania. And I thought that would go a lot easier and smoother than it did. We ran into a lot of complications that I didn’t foresee.
[00:09:29] So some some pretty much everything goes down to me miscalculating either how fast we can make decisions or where to make the decisions. So I take full responsibility for being really not so good at making money this year.
[00:09:43] And how do you feel about.
[00:09:45] The whole situation that we’re not making money.
[00:09:50] A couple of months ago, I felt frustrated about it. I felt. I delta the entire process. I doubted where we were going and if this is even gonna work. And today, I feel very confident with where we are. I feel very happy with the foundation that we have laid, even if we have made any money at all. It feels like for the first time. Everyone in the team is starting to find their places where they can really contribute with their skills in the best way. And that also took longer than I thought it would. But now it feels like it’s the one thing that’s done differently in this organization than in my previous organizations is that I have mainly recruited based on. The person’s qualities as a human being and talents and values compared to specific skills that would make sense since previous business, I would have hired someone who’s really good at writing.
[00:10:53] If I really need someone who’s really good at writing and have experience of writing texts or casinos, if that’s what I needed. Now we’ve been recruiting people, whereas like I really want to be working side by side with with you, for example, who have no experience in doing these things before. No experience in running a podcast before. Like I really want to have a podcast with this guy. We’ll just have to figure it out. Compared to hiring someone who had done a hundred podcast episodes before and could tell me how to do it. So that’s been a big part of why things have been progressing slowly is that I’ve really wanted to hire people that I really wanted to be with. That was far more important than that they had the previous experience needed and.
[00:11:42] You built a company called Catina Media before where you have made a lot of money in your personal fortune, which means that you haven’t had the same kind of pressure to make money right away when starting up great. Do you think not having that pressure is actually slowing us down, making you put maybe less demands on your staff? How do you think? Is it? Oh, we’re all a good thing to not have that pressure driving you toward profits.
[00:12:12] I realize that I don’t think I’ve actually answered the previous question about how I was feeling. I just said that I used to feel a lot of doubt. Now I’m feeling very I wouldn’t say very confident and very good with it, but I’m feeling okay with it. And I’m feeling happy with the position that we’re in.
[00:12:27] So just to put that aside, so I actually answer that question. And then looking into this organization comprising Catina, I definitely believe that it’s slowing us down and. That’s both a good and a bad thing. I would say I think that it makes us go on side tracks a little bit too often, spending a little bit too much time on a decision that might not be so important and. Doing a little bit too many side projects that might not make perfect business sense. And at the same time, I think that it helped us to really build a foundation that can last for decades and not just months or a few years. So I think it’s. It’s both the time that we’re spending not making money. Some of that time is probably wasted and we wouldn’t have wasted it if we had more pressure on us to make money. But some of it is very, very well spent time. I’m seeing in front of me, like if you’re building a house, you want to you start with the concrete and it takes quite a long time for the concrete to add to becoming perfect dry shape. And if you really want to rush something, you might not fully wait for it. And I think in Katrina, we didn’t fully wait for it, at least not in the early years when I was running everything. We kept building on top of it, which meant that if we built the house really quickly. But there were some parts of it that wasn’t as well thought through. And this is back in 2000, 10, 12 long time ago. And now we’re really building a pro, pure and proper foundation. And it might mean that we take a few more coffee breaks than needed because we’re not so stressed. And hopefully that’s a good thing because the concrete will really get the time to settle, if that makes sense.
[00:14:19] But it’s making sense. So how far has greater come come with the product, the casino affiliation that we’re gonna do?
[00:14:31] Huh? Well, it’s a little bit how long as a string we are probably one third of where I hoped we would be. We’re probably 5 percent of the product. I’m going for and we still have something out there. So let’s say we want to build a Ferrari. We are currently halfway to a Fiat Punto.
[00:15:02] All right. Sounds promising, doesn’t it? Yes.
[00:15:06] So we could say it still has four wheels. It has a somewhat of an engine. It has a driving steering wheel. But it’s not the car we’re going for.
[00:15:17] Mm hmm.
[00:15:18] So I’ve kind of been structuring my questions here today to look at the look at successes and failures. So we’ve been looking a lot of things that hasn’t gone as planned, but it almost seems a bit fair, unfair right now for the progression of credit. So instead, look at something that I think have gone really well. And one thing that really makes me enjoy being in this organization more now is that we have a clearer understanding of where the money is going to. So. Talk a little bit about the philanthropic work we have done throughout the years. Have we? Which organizations have we made donations to? For example?
[00:16:01] I’ll give a little bit of a background of how we got to where we were. So I’d start with my philanthropic backgrounds, like couple of years ago, I started giving donations to organizations where I had my heart in it. There were people I knew who were working in these organizations and were really close to me. It was an orphanage in Uganda, kindergarden in the slum of of Cape Town, South Africa. A school for 80 in in Ghana. And an organization working with child sex slavery and trafficking in in India. And all in all of these organizations, I had people close to me working and I felt very strongly for their cause.
[00:16:48] And what I learned after a while was that even though they’re really, really good organizations with really passionate people, there might not be the organizations that do the most good. And I learned that thinking about this child sex trafficking organization, that what they did was that they worked with rescuing children who were kidnapped and getting them out of there, which is obviously an amazing cause. But what I realized was that they didn’t do anything about the underlying problem. Someone wanted to kidnap people and children and someone wanted to buy them. So if you start rescuing a lot of children and there’s still someone who wants to kidnap people in some animals, buy them, they’re probably just gonna kidnap other children. And I realized that my donations here probably just resulted in some people being rescued and decided fate for some other children being kidnapped and sold instead. So I couldn’t know that my donations actually made something good in the end. Results. And that really scared me, it’s like, OK. I don’t understand the full picture here. I’m not dealing with the fundamental issues of this problem. So then I started doing a lot of research about charity and where to do charity, where you can really know if it’s making an impact or not. And I found out that one of the most efficient ways to save human lives is to give away mosquito nets.
[00:18:20] Mosquito nets prevent children while adults and children from getting malaria. And roughly one mosquito nets costs $2, 50 cents. And with a thousand mosquito nets, you can prevent 500 cases of malaria, which mathematically means that you save one life. And it doesn’t mean that anyone else is going to get malaria because you protected 500 people, it actually becomes less malaria. So for a while, I was very involved with this. And that’s where we were in January last year. Okay. We want to save as many human lives as possible. We want to do this. But both you and me and people around us had a hard time connecting with us. It’s really hard to understand. Mosquito nets was wasthat hard to understand. Sounds very abstract in the sense that it’s easy to see if we save a child from prostitution that’s been in hell on Earth. That’s a really good thing. If we give away a plastic net, it’s still hard to see the end cause of that. We don’t get to see which children that didn’t get sick. We don’t get to. We don’t. At least I don’t have a connection to the disease of malaria. So I don’t really understand it. I don’t have a connection to mosquitoes in that way. So I don’t really understand. It was really hard for my heart to connect with these causes.
[00:19:46] And you’re not. You’re not being affected by it either?
[00:19:50] No, I’ve never had malaria. None of my friends, at least none of my close friends have had malaria. And if they have had malaria, they haven’t had it in the way you have it in Africa where you suffer and die. They’ve had it in a way where they have access to health care and stuff like that.
[00:20:04] Yeah. And that difference become extra stark if you compare it to being involved in the climate change, which affects almost every human. Yeah. And malaria affects a very small percentage of.
[00:20:17] Exactly. So we were in the place where we. We tried to focus on all kinds of different causes that were just very efficient, but that I at least couldn’t connect to and no one in the team really could connect to. And then we landed on like climate change could actually be the biggest challenge that humanity has ever faced and could be the biggest. Reason for extinction of animals and for that matter, humans on the planet. And I could really connect to that cause in a way that I couldn’t connect to do the other things. So when we realize that, hey, this is where we want to focus all our efforts with great. To me that felt like, yes, that’s what we’re doing. It was like a key in a lock. And you’re saying click. And it just made sense.
[00:21:08] Yeah. And to me, it clicked as well when I saw the images. Let’s say we want a brand or brand ourselves as an organization that wants to help nature. I see images of nature. Yeah. And that is very appealing to me. And if we are organization that wants to prevent malaria, I see images of sick children. And that doesn’t become as appealing. And of course, that causes probably equally important. It’s just harder to connect toe to those kind of images.
[00:21:39] Yeah, yeah, definitely. It’s. And from all the things, I mean, we’re building a company around us. And then it makes sense to be able to build it with beautiful pictures of nature rather than, well, sick children or whatever it is, regardless how you do it. It’s cumbia before me. It was a very big step in progress to be able to say. Nature is the most important thing. The climate is the most important thing. That’s where we want to give all our efforts. And it felt from being very vague, it became very clear to me why we’re doing this and where we’re heading. And that was a big. Big milestone for great, but also for me personally, I felt like I had been missing that direction. And now it feels like I have direction. So that’s been one of the main successes, I would say this year, figuring out what it is that we want to do. Yeah.
[00:22:37] So what do nations have great done this year?
[00:22:40] So this year we’ve been donating partly to environmental organizations. We’ve donated $12000, $13000 to an organization called Coalition for Rainforest Nations. We’ve done a donation to an organization called Founders Pledge who is educating people to do efficient donations. So they’re actually educating mainly rich people of how they could donate to the best organizations rather than less efficient donations. So, for example, instead of me getting this experience myself of donating to all different kinds of charities and learning that, hey, this might not make a difference at all. They are teaching people and doing these things and they’re also guiding which environmental organizations is doing the main difference.
[00:23:26] So we’ve donated a hundred thousand dollars to them and then we do it and it’s through them that we have finally found the organ main organization that we are supporting right now.
[00:23:36] The Coalition for Rainforest Nations says it’s thanks to their research that we feel that we can do educated decisions about how to support the environment. And they are also giving those decisions, those gains as to other people making donations. So they’re basically, among other things, they look at like a thousand different organizations working within my environment and they then take a lot of tests and they find the top two ones and then they just recommend donate to these two because we believe those are the most efficient ones.
[00:24:07] Shulz match Scheft. Me It feels so much more engaging to know that the personal contributions I make to great will result in less carbon dioxide in the air. It’s very easy for me to relate to. I’m so happy to have found that angle. Now I would like to move on to something that you have told me that you are very happy with this year, and that is the recruitment that we have made. Why are you happy about that and why does that feel like a success?
[00:24:37] So we have been experiments with this podcast. I’ve done a lot of experiments in social media. I’ve been a guest on a lot of podcasts. And that’s also been a pretty vague strategy in general. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was just putting things out there to kind of see what’s what’s stuck. And from that, we have hired well, four people have joined the team thanks to finding us in different places and they have found us. And before I’ve always been chasing people and trying to recruit people and using agencies to find people, using advertising, to find people. Now, suddenly, really brilliant people find us and they want to work with us because what we’re doing and that alone feels like such a huge she’d meant. And so I’m really, really proud of that. Like Joe Ackerman and to be us who have joined us this year have both chosen to significantly lower their salaries just because they want to work with with great so from different jobs they had before. They now work for significantly less money because well, we want to make a difference with our money. And I feel so proud of these super smart, talented people have listened to our podcast, among other things, and wanted to be a part of it.
[00:25:59] That’s how that feels to me, like probably the biggest success of the year, because at the end of the day, no company or no project is better than the people in it. And if you can create something that people just want to work with and want to look for and be a part of. It’s so much easier to build an amazing company than if you always have to go looking for other people and really fight to keep them, fight to keep them paid, to get them.
[00:26:27] Then you’re paying for their motivation. Yeah, these people, they were found us. Now they have an intrinsic motivation. They want to participate in discourse. Yeah.
[00:26:36] And I’m really, really proud of that. Same for now. Just lately, we’ve got two assistants like Martin and Kareem who helps me out. They found me through Instagram and both of them reached out to say, Hey, Erik, I really want to work for free with you just because I believe in what you guys are doing. And they’re really, really smart guys. And he’s really happy. Been really blessed being in that situation where people reach out and say, how can I be a part of this? That’s a really big sign for what we’re doing.
[00:27:08] Yeah. And when we started this year, this podcast had zero listeners. Your Instagram had maybe 2000 people on it, 12 years. Now 40000, maybe something like that.
[00:27:17] Over 40. Yeah.
[00:27:19] And still we managed to attract these kind of people. And that is worth something that has a value. So, yes, we do have zero revenue, but that is a machine that has been built this year that still has a lot of value to it.
[00:27:32] Yeah, definitely. Basically, this is probably something that is not really well known if you’re not running a company yourself. But one recruitment, if you’re doing an average recruitment of a person in any company is often between five and twenty five thousand euros in recruitment costs like fifteen thousand euros for like a pretty standard position is not an extreme at all.
[00:28:02] That’s half four years work.
[00:28:05] Just to find the person, it takes time. You usually pay for advertising and you should pay for agencies to help out.
[00:28:12] It’s it’s a lot of call and it’s no guarantee you’ll find a person that is a very good fit either.
[00:28:17] No, no, no. Not at all. And not a guarantee that this person actually believe in the cause rather than just want to make money. And here we know that these people are not in it to make money. Then they would have gone somewhere else. Yeah.
[00:28:33] And it’s very exciting what you have built with Instagram and the opportunity to reach that many people with the cost and a purpose and the business model that great has, especially if you grow your account bigger because there are opportunities that will come in that we can see right now. So to me, we’re on the edge of. I like to call it chaos, randomness, unexpected good things can be expected to happen in 2020.
[00:29:01] And so it is very exciting. Yeah. All right. So let’s move there.
[00:29:06] Yeah, because you mentioned that everything has changed and we’re gonna create the whole episode about what we think will happen in 2020 and what plans and goals and strategy we have. But can you please touch briefly upon it so people can be a little bit excited for probably episode number 50?
[00:29:27] Prah. Final comment. Yeah, preliminary eliminates the episode 50.
[00:29:32] Yeah. Well, so we started this year with a very vague idea where we were going. We didn’t have a clear strategy in place. We didn’t really have proper goals. We didn’t have a vision, wouldn’t have values of what we wanted to represent. And that’s something that thanks to Jokin, we now have in place. I felt that this was kind of fuzzy. And he’s like, Erik, you need to sit down. We need to structure this. We need to figure out where we’re going, why we’re going there. So now we have we have a strategy in place like these are the milestones we we want to reach. We have some goals in place, like by the time by the summer, next year, by August, we want to be breaking even, meaning that now we are making zero revenues and we have costs of about 30000 euros a month. So by August, we need to make at least 30000 euros per month to actually be self-sustainable. So that’s a big step and a clear goal and a clear milestone that I’m really excited about. And now we have some more goals, more we’ll touch upon them in episode 50 or whatever it’s going to be. And we’ll also have a clear idea we’ve been talking about what is the values that we represent. What’s very important for us as a team and among other things, we have reached that.
[00:30:44] Well, when the team spoke about the values, I think the most common words which were being used was honesty. And I don’t. I was very excited to hear that that was such an important thing for everyone in the team because that’s never been a part of any company I’ve been involved with before. And just having an organization that so deeply connect with honesty for me is really big that we have that value. And we definitely did it a year ago. We didn’t know each other a year ago. Well, you and I did, but not the team in in all. So I feel that. If January last year was just a big fog and we were out on a ship and we kind of knew that we were heading north, but that’s pretty much as much as it were because our compass didn’t work.
[00:31:30] We just knew that we were going north. We didn’t have a compass. Now, it’s still not clear. It’s not clear skies. It’s not just a sunny, relaxed day. But I can I can really see the lighthouse. I can see we’re heading towards that lighthouse. It’s still foggy, but we have a very clear direction now. We’re not just going randomly thinking we’re going north. We know where we’re going. The compass is working. The team is working together instead of like being a little bit all over the place and.
[00:32:03] I’m very excited to be there and hopefully a year from now where we do the same the same preview of that year. I was going to say we are like the Titanic. But yeah, we don’t want to be elected.
[00:32:19] We don’t want to be like the Titanic.
[00:32:20] I don’t know the name of any ship that haven’t sunk because for some reason only the ships that sink is famous. They’ve also ship. It’s ugly. They’ve also ship sunk as well. And that ship that you last year outside of Italy is on where?
[00:32:34] What was the name of that one? Some other big ship, so we’re like a big ship that works like the Titanic without icebergs, like the vast ship, without crazy kings, that they put on more guns on it. So we will go down. And yeah, I feel. And I feel confident that a year from now we will have that ship. It will be strong titanium ship with engines that really work. And we know exactly where we’re going. And I’m very excited for you for where we’re heading. And I feel confident that we’ll get there.
[00:33:12] Me too, buddy. And if you are interested in more details about our plans for moving forward. I was lying to you. It’s preliminary. And episode number forty seven. That was a really good joke. Episode number 50. That is an in depth deep dive in. Why and how?
[00:33:31] Building an Instagram account can benefit your business. I have one question left, Erik. And this is unprepared. Before we end this episode, and that is, if some unexpected thing happened for great, why would be the best thing possible next year?
[00:33:49] Some unexpected thing happened.
[00:33:55] That would be.
[00:33:59] That we for some reason that I haven’t been able to foresee get skyrocketing rankings in in Google and start making a lot more money earlier than I had anticipated. And we can start scaling from that.
[00:34:15] Yeah, I think that’s that’s what would give me the most comfort in where we’re heading. A feeling that now this is real. We’re still in a stage where it still feels like my crazy hobby because we’re not making money. It’s still Erik. Spending thirty thousand euros a month on a crazy project and it would give me a lot of comfort. Coming to a place where is like now, now it’s self-sufficient. It makes money. It’s growing. And. It’s a project on itself. So I think that’s. That’s the best thing that would happen for me right now, that would give me a soothing perspective on everything.
[00:34:59] And if someone listening to this would like to help us out, what can we do to help us?
[00:35:05] I’m going to go on a tangent here and go with a little sidetrack. So usually we say go to i-Tunes and give us five stars. So please do that. But other than that, right now what we’re lacking is links. We need links pointing towards great outcome because that’s what will help us to rank in Google. So. I would love to do interviews with different Web sites. I would love to do interviews with news magazines or big blogs about the project and what we’re doing in a way that it could get us links. So if you have any way of if you have a Web site where you could link to us or if you’re working with a magazine or any way, you wouldn’t do an interview with me, please reach out and help us on this mission, because it’s very important to us.
[00:35:58] All right.
[00:36:00] That is it for today. See you in the next year or next week or whatever you want to see.
[00:36:05] See you when I seize. You want to see you. Merry Christmas, everybody.
[00:36:09] Merry Christmas. And welcome back to Sweden.
[00:36:11] Thank you. And happy New Year. Cheers. Shares.