Alumni-reflections: reMarkable

In August we’re accepting applications to our third accelerator, where we invest 1MNOK in great technology entrepreneurs building something exciting out of Norway. Building up to that, we’ve caught up with some of the entrepreneurs we’ve worked with in the past to hear what learnings they can share with younger companies. We’ve worked with Magnus Wanberg and Remarkable since December ’14, and a lot has happened since then.

SL: Tell us, of all the problems in the world, how did you decide that you were going to build a paper pad company?

MW: To us, paper is a method, not a material. By improving the paper tools that we use to solve problems, learn and create — we enable better thinking. We love paper, so why not make it better?

SL: You had a big sign at your desks saying “Hardware is hard” while you were at StartupLab. How did you go about fundraising for such a project? And how did you decide on who you wanted to partner up with?

MW: Nobody wants to fund hardware, because hardware is hard. It’s unlikely to succeed. So we found investors who believed in us as a team, and got the message through: we can do this!

SL: Great teams build great companies, at least we strongly believe so. You’ve been able to bring in a bunch of really amazing people so far. What’s been your strategy when it comes to hiring, and what has this taught you?

MW: Talent attracts talent. Your people are your #1 resource. Companies are built by people, not by plans or capital. You need to say no to people if it’s not a 100% fit. We say no to so many applicants to protect ourselves and themselves from a situation where they work in a company where they don’t belong.

SL: One of the things that impressed us the most with you and your team, was your extreme ability to focus on the most important things for your business. We see too many entrepreneurs flying around at different events doing “fake-work”, but you guys were far out on the other side of the spectrum. Most people hadn’t even heard of you before you announced your pre-sales campaign. Was this a deliberate choice? How did you think around this?

MW: I will never understand why so many entrepreneurs prefer talking over working. In the beginning, you have created nothing, so what do you have to talk about? We decided to talk when we had created something that was relevant to people. I’m not saying it’s the only way to do it, but it has worked well for us. People only want to hear about your startup a limited amount of times. Don’t go spending people’s attention span lightly.

SL: Any other things you’d say you have been good at, that’s been important for the progress you’ve made so far?

MW: A fresh startup is a small business without revenue, product or team. Essentially it’s a shit company. It’s your job to un-shit it. So you need the skills to do so. If you’re an engineer, team up with a market guy, because you probably suck at selling. If you’re a market guy with a killer tech idea, get tech guys onboard from the beginning — unless your product is a powerpoint presentation. I think we quickly got the skills on board that we needed, which made all the difference.

SL: But you’ve been at it for a few years already. What’s your biggest, meaning most unexpected, learning so far?

MW: Looking back, I’m amazed at how poorly we anticipated our problems and our success. If you want to make God laugh, show him your plans. When we plan now, I always think about the unknown unknowns. That’s where your biggest problems and opportunities lie.

SL: Speaking of progress, you still have a lot of work ahead of you. Are you still on schedule to ship the first batch in August?

MW: Still on track! August 31st is still August, right? :)

SL: Good luck — we’re looking forward to getting our devices next month 👊

If you’re working on solving a problem and looking for funding, network and top-end support that gets you off the ground, check out or upcoming accelerator.

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