Martin Thorborg is one of those unusual success stories because he's one of those businessmen who broke most of the rules and became a success. Martin is Danish and is a serial entrepreneur who's now living in Delray Beach.
His first venture was the Danish Internet Portal Jubii, which started in 1995. It began with no money and bootstrapped itself. For the five years that Martin and his friends ran the site, it was profitable. Apparently that is not a good sign for large companies interested in buying such things, as they would end deals to purchase when they found out the site had no "burn rate" (money loss).
In the world of startups, making money is considered taboo for the first few years of operation. The accepted "wisdom" is to lose money (burn it) because it's expected that you're going to spend more than you make in marketing, acquisitions, etc.
In 2000, the company sold to Lycos Europe and Martin stayed on as the CEO for three months and then working with the company for several more years. When Jubii sold, it had 86 percent of the Danish Internet population visiting it and its brand (in a Gallup survey) was second only to Coca-Cola amongst Danes.
Martin left Lycos in 2003 to become independent. He continued to contract with them, doing viral marketing, and started SPAMfighter and then SUPPORTfighter. He also worked with Lego Serious Play (Europe ) and Amino, a Danish entrepreneurial portal.
Martin has been featured in magazines like Komputer, Computer Bild, and many others. He has two books, which have both sold thousands of copies. E-Pusher, and Iværksætter Til Jeg Dør (which means Entrepreneur Until I Die).
New Times: Hello, Martin. Thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Martin Thorborg: Well Craig, thank you very much for giving me this opportunity, I appreciate it a lot.
NT: What would you say, out of all of the things you've been involved with in your career, has been the most fun and exciting for you?
MT: The first company I founded, was a computer shop in Copenhagen. It was a fantastic time. We made all the mistakes anyone could possibly make, and finally succeeded in becoming the best computer gaming shop in Denmark. At least according to revenues in the sector. Building Jubii was a blast. I mean we sold it to Lycos Europe for 100 million euros (150 million dollars), after only 5 years of building it, so how could it not be a fun time. My latest endeavor SpamFighter is now doing business in 200 countries. As you can see, it is quite hard for me to narrow it down to one fun and exciting moment.
NT: Why did you come to Florida?
MT: Well to be honest, it was for the weather and the nice people. I had been living in Denmark for 38 years and it is just plain cold. I just wanted to see new faces, and take on new challenges, with some new scenery. Being in a nicer climate is fantastic and my family and I absolutely love it here.
NT: There are those who will read your Wikipedia page and wonder how much money you have made from these sales. Could you share that with us?
MT: We sold Jubii to Lycos Europe for 100 million euros, it is no secret. The deal was all in stock, and we were lucky enough to have the stock appreciate 25 percent after our deal. And then the dot com crash came and took it down to the floor, and there was almost no value left. My partners and I manged to sell some on the way down and make a nice profit. Unfortunately, it was nowhere near the 100 million euros we could have made.
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NT: What advice could you give to someone who has a job, but also has aspirations of pursuing their dreams?
MT: I would start out with a small venture, and keep the daytime job that pays the bills. Start a small project, using the skills and values you have in your life. Then start something with those skills in your spare time during the evenings or the weekends. Then when you have a profit of 50 percent of what you need to pay your bills, it is safer to quit your daytime job and put all your efforts into the new venture. If you have all day to follow your dreams and work with your start up, you should easily be able to double your revenues on day one of working on it full time.
NT: What makes Slow-PCfighter so valuable to people?
MT: Slow-PCfighter has sold almost 400,000 copies during its first 5 months and has been a tremendous success for us so far. The good thing is, if you have an older PC, and in this economy it is extremely hard for many peoples to buy a new PC, they can install Slow-PCfighter which will clean up a lot of the mess that has been going on. On average a PC will boot 30-40 percent faster. At the same time, you will see starting new applications and general performance will happen much quicker. This all is depending on how infested your computer is. For $20, It is a no brainer to buy.