Starting Over

A few months ago, I wrote this post on shutting down Hivebeat; a startup we had worked on for almost 2 years.

Although Emil and I have worked on our own stuff for almost 5 years, the last 2 years — and especially the last 12 months — have taught us a whole lot about running and growing a company. 500 Startups believed in us from the beginning and we spent almost 6 months in San Francisco chasing the dream. An invaluable experience that has changed the way we will start and run a company forever.

Getting over the anxiety that comes with failure didn’t take as long as I feared it would. We were honest about our decision all the way, and the supportive messages we received from friends, family, mentors and fellow founders helped make us comfortable about the choice we had made.

We were hungry for more, and we couldn’t wait to get started on a new thing. We sat down and talked about what we had learned and what we wanted to build next. Based on our experience, these were the criteria we ended up with:

  • It has to be B2B SaaS. This is what we want to work on and this is what we’re good at.
  • We need to build a 10x product. Before writing one single line of code, we wanted to make sure we were building something people wanted to buy. And the most important rule here is: Don’t ask your friends. Ask someone you don’t know and ask them if they would buy the product from you. Today. On the spot. We wanted to know the competition and make sure we didn’t just built a “cooler” or “more beautifully designed” product. That’s not going to scale. It should be at least 10x better than what’s out there.
  • It should be a product we can use ourselves. We spent the first two years of our tech career building a product for event organizers without ever having organized a single event ourselves. Not that we didn’t enjoy building the product, but we miss building something we would use ourselves.
  • The market should be huge and the possible impact the same. We’re still in this for the long run and we’re not here to make some quick money. We want to build a company that’s going to change how people work and we want it to have an impact on a lot of people.

With these four criteria, we started browsing the list of ideas we had built over the years and came up with this: We want to build a new way for European companies to run payroll.

Without going into too much detail about the decision-making process, I can say that we’ve talked to a ton of people in the industry and we are very excited about the product we’re building right now. We’ve found inspiration from a bunch of very succesful SaaS products, and we would be stupid not to look at what Zenefits (at least product-wise…) and Gusto are doing in this space in the US. However, it’s important for me to stress that we are going to take a completely new approach to this problem, and we’re going to build features that have never been seen in a payroll/HR product before.

Our initial market will be Denmark and 300k Danish companies, but we definitely don’t plan to stop there. I’m super excited for the months to come and I’d love to hear from people who are interested in joining us — that being full stack developers, investors, beta users and the like. Our new company is named Pento and you can visit the blog that we launched today(!) here (it’s in Danish).

If you made it this far, thanks for taking the time to read this. I’m @jonasboegh on Twitter and would love to say hi :)