What happened in 2017?! #nofilter

The year of 2017 has been an eventful one, both professionally and personally. I decided to take a moment to look back at what I’ve accomplished and share some of it with you.

I see multiple benefits:

  • It gives me an opportunity to reflect.
  • It requires me to write publicly, which is something I want to get better at.
  • It’s hard to explain what an “Internet Wizard” like me does for a living, so I’d rather show you.

Prelude

Back in December 2015 I had to close down the ambitious startup I co-founded five years earlier. We had a promising server technology that we invented. And we set out on the path: “Our solution will revolutionise...”, “We are making the world a better place by…”. We gave it a good run, went head to head against a larger company that later won the fight. So in the end, we didn’t save the world.

It was hard walking away empty handed and it felt like I had let people down. No matter how you twist and turn it, that was a disappointing end result.

Since that day I‘ve been focusing on helping people and to make people happy. And in the meantime live a good and healthy life. It might seem less ambitious at first, but ‘Oh boy’ is it more sustainable. I decided to try freelancing and started asking around…

I’m still humbled by all the interest people had in working with an old Internet Wizard like me. Having an entrepreneurial track record helped me get started, no doubt. Early 2016 I started my new consulting company called #nofilter.

The logo of my new company

Starting something new is never easy. In fact, one of my first projects failed and I lost a very good friend in the process. 😥 Not a good start considering my goal was to make people happy… *sigh*

That was the exception though. Thankfully the other projects was doing well and it felt like I was on a good path. No client required me to be in their office, so basically I could work from anywhere in the world. This allowed me to combine work with travel and more importantly: get my energy back.

All and all, 2016 was a year where I learned a lot and a good setup for the next to come… and best of all, I happened to meet the girl of my dreams!


Things I’ve done during 2017

Let’s take a look at some of the projects I’ve been working on throughout the past year. It’s true what they say:

We tend to overestimate what we can achieve in a week. Yet we underestimate what you can achieve in a year.

CloudKarafka

Most of my time I work with 84codes — a company we will get back to shortly. They have a bunch of online services and I got the task to make them look beautiful. First up was CloudKarafka. We launched a new web site during the spring. Here I created a brand new design, including a new logo. I also built the website, updated the HTML and CSS. The main goal was to make it look more professional. And give it a more coherent look throughout the user journey.

Visit https://www.cloudkarafka.com/ to see the end result.

What I did:

  • Brand Idendity
  • Web Development (HTML & CSS)
  • Online Marketing Strategy

Results:
Since launch the traffic is up by +350% and revenue is up +275%.

CloudAMQP

Same company, another service. This is 84codes’ best selling service called CloudAMQP. I basically did the same thing this time too (except they kept their logo).

Check out the new website: https://www.cloudamqp.com/

What I did:

  • Brand identity (not the logo)
  • Web Development (HTML and CSS)
  • Online Marketing Strategy

Results: 
Since the new site was launched in April the number of visitors has grown by +70% and the revenue by +35%.

Credits:
The great results on both CloudKarafka and CloudAMQP can not be attributed to the new web sites alone. It’s been a team effort, so a big shout out to my friends at 84codes! I’m so thankful for working with you.

UngDrive Piteå

UngDrive is a non-profit organisation that aims to build the best youth entrepreneurial program available in Sweden. The recipe is simple: Give youths (15–19 years old) the opportunity to start a company during their summer holidays. It starts with a one week intensive course lead by local entrepreneurs, followed by nine weeks of running their own businesses. With free access to coaching during the summer.

I decided to bring UngDrive to Piteå — my hometown in the very north of Sweden. Sadly our city has been dropping in the national entrepreneurship ranking, so UngDrive felt like the right thing to do.

The municipality (which would normally pay for such a project) gave me a bumpy start. They wouldn’t give me the budget that is required. Instead I had to fundraise myself. So I started talking to local companies and a good friend of mine helped me with introductions. In the end it all worked out. Even the municipality eventually came around to support the project. Better late than never.

My role:
Project leader and coach (who spent too much time fundraising)

Results:

  • 12 sponsors financed 28 seats at the end.
  • 48 applications for 28 participants that started 16 companies.
  • 100% would recommend UngDrive to others.
  • 72% were happy about the money they made.
  • 84% worked more hours than the minimum level we recommended.
  • 15+ articles in the media.
  • Three participants went on to compete in the Swedish Championship for Youth Entrepreneurship. And they did well: A 1st place, 2nd place and 6th place out of 72 participants. I’m so proud of them!

All my expectations were either met or exceeded. Evidently, we have a lot of young people who want to try entrepreneurship in Piteå. Not only that. We seem to have some of the most entrepreneurial youths in all of Sweden.

Credits:
My awesome co-coaches Sandra Hallnor and Ana Arab. Niclas Wikström, Piteå’s Entrepreneur of the Year and forever “poster boy” for young entrepreneurship. Every UngDrive participant (you’ve been awesome!). All the sponsors: Företagarna Piteå, Piteå Entreprenörerna, Skoogs Fastigheter, Sparbanken Nord, PiteEnergi, PIKAB, Lindbäcks Bygg, Wibax, Handelsbanken, Clarion Hotel and Piteå Kommun. Thank you all!

The UngDrive App

UngDrive HQ asked me to help them build an iPhone and Android app. That was a particularly challenging project since I’ve never built a mobile app before. Steep learning curve. Before the summer started we had launched on both app stores. I designed the app to make the job of our UngDrive coaches easier. It helped the organisation save hundreds of man-hours, especially for tracking youth participation. In previous years, all of this has been done manually.

Instead, this year we decided to print a scannable badge for every participant. So the coaches can now use the app to check-in the participants. The app will then automatically report attendance to the system.

My role:
iPhone, Android and API development.

Results:
300+ man-hours saved

Credits:
Stefan FalkBoman — client and sounding board. Anders Bälter (recently acknowledged as one of the best developers in Sweden) who helped me with the first version of the API.

Learn Arabic with Maha — Video

A video project? Yeah. That’s right. Thanks to my girlfriend we had the opportunity to visit Palestine to learn Arabic. And our mission was to make a video about it. I really really enjoy making videos.

The ten-day intensive course was hosted by our friend and YouTube-star Maha who grew up in the area. We met lovely people from all over the world. Together we embarked on a fantastic road trip to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jericho, and the Dead Sea. All inclusive. I highly recommend this to everyone who wants to learn Arabic! Check out the video below.

What I did:

  • Logo
  • Producing and editing the video.

Result:

Credits:
My camerawoman and initiator Ana Arab. Maha. All participants that volunteered.

A new face for 84codes

Yes! It’s finally time to talk about 84codes. I can’t stress enough how happy I am to be working with these awesome people. The company’s founder is an old uni friend of mine, Carl Hörberg. He moved to Bali for a couple of years to live a good life while keeping costs down. As a “solopreneur”, Carl started 84codes by himself and steadily grew it to the point where he could first hire his brother then his friends. They now have 12 employees, a crazy lineup of big clients and the business is thriving overall. What makes this company so different from others is the following:

  • Employees above business. Core values include: Freedom in time and place, meaningful and challenging work. And last but not least: quality of life.
  • Remote-first. Even though we have an office in Stockholm you are free to work from wherever you want (like me).
  • No deadlines. It sounds crazy, but it works extremely well and it creates a stress-free environment.
  • Profitable since day one. 100% bootstrapped. No external investments.
  • Awesome work-aways, two times per year (previous destinations: Sri Lanka, Brazil, and Bali).
  • To this day the majority of the employees are old friends from Linköpings University where we all studied together.

84codes has been growing a lot and deserved a new look. Check it out! http://84codes.com

What I did:

  • New logo
  • Brand identity
  • Web Development: HTML & CSS

The Copenhagen Letter

Back in September, I was one of 150 participants in an invitation-only event during the Techfestival in Copenhagen. It was a “call to action” that is best described by the organizers themselves:

cph150 is a two-day think tank with 150 philosophers, designers, technologists, artists, researchers and writers. We focus on critical reflection of design principles and challenge best practices in technology.

Together we wrote a progressive manifesto on responsible tech development.

Some prominent tech people attended the event including Charles Adler (founder of Kickstarter), Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi (founder of The Pirate Bay), the charming Linda Liukas (prominent programming instructor & founder of Hello Ruby) just to name a few.

After it was all done, I volunteered to publish the manifesto online so people can share and sign it. Check it out: https://copenhagenletter.org/

What I did:

  • Design
  • Functionality for collecting signatures: API and website development.

Results:
4000+ signatures

Credits:
The event was initiated by my friends Thomas Madsen-Mygdal and Aydo Schosswald (my brother from another mother).

YoungDrive

This sounds familiar? Yes! YoungDrive is a non-profit and the sister organization to UngDrive. But this time with an international focus, so far active in Botswana, Zambia, and Uganda. Here the mission is not only to build the best program, but also the most scalable and cost-effective entrepreneurship training program — in the world. To put things into perspective: In Sweden UngDrive we had 600+ youths during 2017. Not bad at all. However, in one year alone YoungDrive managed to educate 12,000+ kids in Uganda!?! And the cost per participant was less than $2 (?!?!?!). Yes you heard right, two cheeseburgers. Crazy! And the program works.

In October I had the opportunity to visit Uganda for the first time. It was great to meet some of our old participants, they are doing really well.

Mosa’s chapati shack. One of our participants sells LOADS of bread from this place!

The main goal of the trip was to prepare another roll out of the program for 6000 youths in the Tororo region. My job was to check if we can make it easier to collect data and measure long term impact.

Until then, all data has been collected by hand out in the field (pen and paper). Super time-consuming and not scalable. I find that all non-profits and NGOs seem to struggle with this.

I will spare you the details since this might be a topic for a future post. But to cut a long story short: During the trip we found a way to use old phones (so called “feature phones”) for data collection. Not only can we survey and register our participants in YoungDrive this way. We can measure how their businesses are doing — in real time! This is a game changer. The solution involves blockchain and mobile payment solutions. More on this another time…

PS. We are always looking for people who want to help and to come with us to Uganda! Or why not donate to a good cause? Check out our website for more information: http://youngdrive.io

My role:
Technical advisor and developer (volunteer)

Results:

  • During 2018 we will roll out our youth entrepreneurial program to 6,000 young adults in Tororo.
  • We have good indications that we can use technology and partners to build the most scalable and cost-effective entrepreneurial program in the world.

Credits:
Iliana Björling. Dan Lainio. Josefina Lönn. Stefan och Linda FalkBoman. All our staff in Uganda. And last but not least our fantastic backers Emil Thidell och Erik Bergman! Thank you for making this project possible.


Final words

There are a lot of projects that I didn’t have time to cover here. E.g: I helped a friend launch a webshop: https://anaguardiola.com/. I launched a website for Ideahunt, a project I will continue to work on and report more about in the future.

I’ve also advised a couple of startups that are in the middle of fundraising — crossing my fingers they will all close their rounds soon.

It’s been an eventful year. Many of my goals for the year have been met. I think I’ve helped a lot of people and businesses. I hope I also made someone happy. I really wanted to reconnect with my home town Piteå. And I did so through UngDrive. Fun fact, I even got invited to host the local business gala together with Annelie Näs.

Last but not least, the year of 2017 is extra special since I also got engaged to the woman of my dreams. Talk about an achievement of a lifetime!

My fiancee picking olives in Spain

Going forward:

I’m impressed that you made it this far! Thanks for reading everything. I hope you also had a good year.

I’m not sure what 2018 will bring. I’m really looking forward to continue this adventure. I’m going to launch a side business of my own (at least one). And of course, I want to do more sports and find enough time to grow some olive trees in Spain. 😀

If you have any questions or if there is anything you need help with, just drop me a line and we will take it from there. Have an awesome year!

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