‘There’s no such thing as failing, only feedback’

In our ongoing feature series, The Local looks into a successful entrepreneur's life - the story behind his successes, major challenges and how being an entrepreneur changed him forever. This week, we speak to Jonas Bruun Nielsen, founder of Screenmailer.

'There's no such thing as failing, only feedback'
Jonas Bruun Nielsen launched Screenmailer in January 2014. Photo: Submitted
With Screenmailer, you can share ideas with your peers, co-workers or friends by recording your screen, uploading the screencasts to a safe server and sharing it with anyone.
The Local sat down with the programme’s founder, Jonas Bruun Nielsen, a former Nordic Startup Awards Developer Hero.
How did you come up with this business idea?
Screenmailer was built out of my own need. I worked with long-distance clients and colleagues for years and consistently used screen recordings as a more clear and personal way of giving feedback, instructions and demos. Why? Well, most people use email to send letters and Skype for live meetings and screen sharing. What I needed was a combination. Something that was fast and asynchronous like email but with the same clear and personal communication that screen sharing offers.
Today, Screenmailer offers exactly that. Just click to start a recording of your voice and screen. When you're done recording, Screenmailer immediately provides a link that you can use to share your video. And here's the magic: Because the app processes and uploads your video while you're recording, even a 40-minute video is ready for your recipient to stream online in just a few seconds.
What were the initial challenges? How did you overcome them?
Screenmailer's main challenges, initially, were to solve the technological challenge of being able to record a high-quality video and share it immediately online. We wanted the app to support better communication with full screen video recording but in a way that also offered the speed of email. That meant recording a five-minute video and waiting another five minutes for the video to process and upload before you could share. It wasn't good enough. 
After months of development, I managed to solve the puzzle. In our latest benchmark, Screenmailer was 8,000 percent faster than our biggest competitor. Screenmailer does not waste a single heart beat.
How has the journey been so far?
After releasing Screenmailer in January 2014, the feedback from the market was very positive. We got backed by Start-Up Chile, the biggest startup accelerator in the world, in the spring of 2014. Since then we've worked hard on improving the service and are happy to soon be able to release a major upgrade of Screenmailer as well as a Windows version.
Like other services that offer something new, there's a big challenge in getting the word out. But we are growing every month and enjoy the positive feedback we keep getting. 
How has becoming an entrepreneur changed you, personally?
I've always been an independent person who enjoyed responsibility and challenges. But my experiences in the past few years have taught me a lot of valuable lessons. One of the biggest challenges people face when they set out to build a company is an overwhelming sense of uncertainty. Most of the time, it's unclear whether your company is winning or failing.
Personally, the consequence can be that you go through stressful periods where you don't know whether you can pay salaries. Maybe you will have to fire people. Perhaps your landlord will kick you out. And what if you get a lawsuit? I have had many experiences I couldn't predict: Selling every item I owned to move to Chile, a country where I couldn't speak the language, sleeping under the desk, losing major deals, driving sports cars and celebrating victories. The sum of those experiences have given me a calm strength that can take a lot.
It's gratifying to know that you can handle uncertainty and adapt in ways that most people can't. 
Any other personal reflections and/ or message to budding entrepreneurs?
Go for it. Be methodical and execute every day. A prototype is worth a thousand meetings. Focus on sales. Money is the lifeblood of a business and the only true metric for success is profits.
Entrepreneurs tend to praise themselves when things are going well and blame everyone and everything else when the company is failing. The truth is, there's a major element of luck involved. So tell yourself that there's no such thing as failing, only feedback. Maybe you will win and maybe you won't. But if you learn every step of the way and keep trying, the world will reward you in ways you couldn't even predict.
Sparsh SharmaSparsh Sharma holds a Master's in business administration and a Bachelor's in electrical engineering. After having worked in top Indian media companies, he came to Denmark in the fall of 2012 to study at Aarhus University and later worked at Lego. A Danish green card holder, he is currently looking for marketing or consulting opportunities globally, while working as a freelance journalist for The Local Denmark and blogging about his experiences in Denmark. You can follow him on Twitter at @sparsh_s.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Danes show entrepreneurs how to ‘startup everywhere’

Looking to launch a startup in Copenhagen or Aarhus? It can seem tricky to navigate the startup scene, especially if you are new to the city or country.

Danes show entrepreneurs how to 'startup everywhere'
(L-R) Thomas Nymark Horsted, Sissel Hansen and Sofi Sitha Natarajah of Startup Everywhere.
This was the issue that Sissel Hansen, a 24-year-old Dane, faced when she moved to Berlin in 2014. So she decided to create a guide to the city’s startup scene. 
“When I moved to Berlin I relied on my Lonely Planet guide for where to sleep, eat, drink coffee and which activities not to miss, and I could see that a similar style of guide for startups would be invaluable to people moving to a new city and wanting to start a business,” she told The Local. 
She said it shouldn’t be “so damn hard to find relevant and in-depth information about your local city and the process of starting a business in it”.
Although she said many people questioned the wisdom in putting out a physical book in today’s digital world, Hansen’s guide to Berlin proved successful enough that she moved on to a second guide focusing on Aarhus’s start-up scene. 
Copenhagen was next and now Hansen and her team at Startup Everywhere have put out guides for nine European cities and sold around 14,000 copies. 
They have also just released an online and mobile app, Startup Guide Maps, as a navigational companion to the print guide featuring spaces, incubators, accelerators and cafes with wifi in cities including Copenhagen and Aarhus.
Thomas Nymark Horsted, who joined the company as COO six months after the release of the first book, said the global startup scene is changing rapidly. 
“Twenty years ago there were only a handful of cities where most of the world’s innovation happened in, such as Silicon Valley, Boston, New York and Tel Aviv. Now it’s a global phenomenon but in spite of this, the challenges that entrepreneurs face are local rather then global. That’s why the platforms that Startup Everywhere create makes perfect sense and it is great that people find value in this,” says Thomas Nymark Horsted, COO of the company. 
Startup Everywhere plans to release guides for 25 new cities in 2017 and over 50 more in 2018.