|Alumni stories - Tim Nilsson|
Tim Nilsson, the Managing Director of Glispa, graduated from JIBS in 1998
What does JIBS stand for to you, how would you characterize it?
JIBS to me is full of emotion. Ever since that first day we were in the Dagens Nyheter with a full page ad marketing the First class of JIBS. I remember feeling special being part of the very entrepreneurial first graduation class. We did not have the school built until the 2nd year, so we were in Erik Dahlberg Gymnasiet. The name was so sexy and also made a lasting impression on me that I am an “International” Business school student, thus it drove me to visit other countries and become open minded and think global from day one.
"I remember feeling special being part of the very entrepreneurial first graduation class."
I was always very proud every time I paid off my CSN loan since I knew that my education at JIBS put me on the path to where I am today, and I knew my family would not have had the means to put me through a university as in other countries. I was always very grateful for that.
What did you bring with you into professional life from JIBS?
The first thing is the ability to network and nderstanding the power of a network within a university to work in unison. Team play, sharing notes, emotional support and of course extracurricular activities such as AIESEC were great for networking.
"The emotional part in the brand does contribute to establishing a self-confidence needed for things to come."
Then you also learn to think critically which is the key asset to reach success. You also get a strong foundation and base of key knowledge and the ability to source information and structure it. The emotional part in the brand does contribute to establishing a self-confidence needed for things to come.
Tell us what happened after you have left JIBS. How did you get to where you are today?
Lots of diverse and international experiences and failures brought me to where I am today. I went to high school my senior year in Wisconsin, US, went to HPU in Hawaii during my 3rd year at JIBS, went to North of Norway in Tromsö to work as a fisherman during summer holidays, went to live in San Sebastian after university to learn Spanish, backpacked through Asia for 6 months and later I would work in Copenhagen, Berlin, London and Stockholm.
"The two most important factors for growth after studying all these growth companies were recruitment and accounting/financials."
The key was to learn from each mistake, improve and then fight even harder next time around. I believe I got very lucky since I have a very creative personality and tried out many different projects in various environments. I started my career as a “Tillväxtpilot” - Pilot of Rapid Growth and worked for IT consultancy company SYSteam in Husqvarna and was lucky to participate in both their internal trainee programme and the external trainee programme "Tillväxtpiloterna" during which we went on inspiration trips to meet founders like Jerry Yang, Yahoo, and Erick Wickström, Icon Media Lab, etc. There I learned that the two most important factors for growth after studying all these growth companies were recruitment and accounting/financials. From that moment on I decided I would leverage my personality and become the best recruiter out there, and find a business partner who was very strong in the controlling/financial part. I did then exit SYSteam to commercialize this trainee programme for which we got venture capital from venture capitalist firm Momentor in Stockholm. We ran some interesting projects but did not manage to secure enough funding and the Internet bubble burst also significantly played a role in moving on and closing down this chapter.
"I analyzed the macro factors and decided to move to Berlin that held a lot of potential."
I then took some odd jobs, went to Spain to learn Spanish, and after being the finalist at company NEFAB from 100 applicants, they said it came down to me and another candidate and that they picked have him because it was too risky to choose me as I had started my own company. I then decided it was time for me to leave the region and think bigger. I analyzed the macro factors and decided to move to Berlin that held a lot of potential. I applied at a company called Jamba that was led by the Samver brothers that were unknown at that time. I worked directly under Oliver Samver and did a good job. I was referred to Zanox who was just about to internationalize. With Zanox I quickly learned German and was eventually added to the executive management team as the only international member. I also went over to London as a turnkey manager and was acting MD for Zanox Ltd. Working in both Germany and UK has offered some tremendous learnings that I would later capitalize on.
"Working in both Germany and UK has offered some tremendous learnings that I would later capitalize on."
After Zanox exited for 215M Euros in 2007 I decided to start up glispa GmbH in Berlin with my friend Gary Lin who has been running a smaller version of this in the USA. We decided to set up global operations in August 2008 in Berlin and I brought my first German hire to Zanox UK back to Berlin to become glispa hire #1 as well. We spent two weeks doing a business plan for glispa and we set the bar for 50M revenue and 50 people and creating glispa Labs and glispa Global Group. 7 years later we sold part of the company to Market Tech and Teddy Sagy Group (Founder of Playtech), and created glispa Global Group. The investment power of the group accelerated our technology development into a fully-fledged mobile ad tech power house and we are now launching two new brands and potential unicorns - Voltu (still not public) and Ampiri (public) and making several acquisitions. My main contribution was in the initial stages where I recruited the first 30 people, and also developed global operations. After that I have remained in the MD role but have been primarily acting as an entrepreneur and leading pivots, creative projects, M&A activity.
The way I see it, the financial freedom has given me the opportunity to think bigger (not money driven) and of course improved my general knowledge about investments. I have created my own real estate and investment company Urban Viking GmbH, mainly acquiring real estate and buildings in high growth cities. Currently at glispa I am driving the launch of Voltu, the first global performance influencer network. I have plans for several new projects but taking things one step at a time. In particular one project is really big but aimed at making society better and offering more fun for children. This is a passion project I hope I can pull off in some shape or form at some point in the future.
"At the end of the day I have been handed a ticket to the big league and I have to up my game to stay relevant and keep growing."
I have never worked so hard and long hours as post-transaction – and there are a lot of learnings from this process as well. At the end of the day I have been handed a ticket to the big league and I have to up my game to stay relevant and keep growing.