“It took 18 months to see our first pay cheque…”

Seeing the payoff of a new startup can take time, but as one of Scandinavia’s most exciting entrepreneurs, Mette Lykke knew she’d struck gold

In 2007, Mette Lykke was happily working in New York as a management consultant when a big – slightly risky – business opportunity came her way. She took the plunge to launch one of the world’s first GPS-based fitness trackers and after a rocky start the gamble paid off , fuelling a business that was later acquired by sportswear giant Under Armor. Today, the Danish CEO has senior positions in both companies and a young family in Copenhagen. But, like any parent juggling work and home, it doesn’t always go according to plan…

Sometimes fate plays a part “I was consulting for McKinsey & Company when I was approached to help create a startup focusing on making people more active – now Endomondo. I either had to stay with McKinsey or go start the new business. A gypsy lady came up to me on the street and gave me a postcard which read, ‘Whatever your wildest dreams may be, they only scratch the surface of what’s possible’. It was an incredible coincidence and convinced me to do something new. I still keep that postcard on my desk today.”

Hang in there “It took us 10 months to get the first version of Endomondo to market. On the day of the launch, we all huddled around a computer to see the sign-ups as they came in. We saw the names of friends, family, colleagues and then, finally, someone we didn’t know. And another. And another. We were off. It was exciting.”

Stay focused “When we were setting the company up, a persistent challenge was the need for continued funding. Potential investors would set aggressive milestones and then raise the bar, meaning we’d never get there, so we borrowed. We had ‘friends, family and fools’ who invested small amounts and we managed.”

Money isn’t everything “When we set out, we didn’t know it would take 18 months to see our first paycheque – or how small it would be. We lived very cost-effectively. We used savings, borrowed and got by. I learned that you don’t need a lot to have a good life.”

Maintain momentum “When you meet new people, you realise others are taking notice. I was introduced to a guy at a job fair in Copenhagen and explained what I was doing. He shook his head and said, ‘That sounds a lot like Endomondo and they’ve pretty much covered that space.’ Yeah, that’s us.”

Connect for success “I was at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and struck up a conversation with one of the Blackberry delegates. I explained what we were doing and he came to see a demo. It turns out he was very senior, featured us in the Blackberry app store and altered our direction.”

Family life goes on “Juggling entrepreneurship with motherhood can be tough, but not impossible. I was once at a meeting in London with Google and noticed I had a little bit of baby vomit on my shirt. It was embarrassing, but I cleaned it with a tissue and moved on with the meeting.”

Go with your gut “When we were in negotiations with Under Armor, we flew to Baltimore to discuss plans and were blown away. The place was filled with energy and we knew they meant it when they said they wanted to make athletes better at what they do. We always suspected that it was going to be a good fit, but that visit convinced us.”

Company culture counts “As a company with a lot of engineers, it can get quiet in our offices, so we off set that by socialising together and, crucially, exercising. We all use our product every day and want it to be the best it can be.”

This interview was carried out by SIM7’s Simeon de la Torre and first appeared in easyJet Traveller magazine. To read the latest issue (and the entire back catalogue of magazines), visit: https://ink-global.com/our-clients/portfolio/easyjet-traveller/