Michael Altendorf, who was born into a family of rural bankers, says he was inspired to enter the Internet business after reading Bill Gates’s 1995 book The Road Ahead.
He started his entrepreneurial journey in 2007 by creating a digital advertising business that rode on Facebook’s coattails. But as is almost always the case for entrepreneurs, the trajectory was not smooth.
When Andrew Fisher joined music discovery service Shazam as CEO in 2005 two of its investors had bailed and it was struggling to find the right business model. The company was so starved for cash that it had to sell its intellectual property.
Fast forward 10 years and Shazam — which bought back its IP — is credited with helping Europe become a category leader in audio over the Internet.
When Nicolas Brusson graduated from one of France’s prestigious grandes écoles with degrees in engineering and physics at the height of the tech boom in 2000 he did not even know what venture capital was.
“I knew nothing about start-ups, I was a pure technical guy with no business training,” says Brusson. Then, “I moved to the U.S. to get a PhD and I arrived in this crazy environment of Berkeley and San Francisco.”
When SimilarWeb, which specializes in web measurement and competitive intelligence, launched in 2007 it was a case of David taking on Goliath.
Alexa, the clear market leader for Internet rankings, had been taken over by Internet gorilla Amazon. So who would have thought a then-24-year-old Israeli whose previous experience was running his parents’ jewelry business could end up beating the U.S. rival?
Al Lukies, who was appointed a Commander of the British Empire in June and a Business Ambassador for the fintech sector by the UK government earlier this year, has spent the last 11 years building one of — if not the — most successful fintech companies out of London to date.
His experience as a hooker for the London Irish rugby team was crucial in building Monitise into a $2 billion public company.