Rickard Hansson – Founder of Incentive

I make my decisions split second and don’t dwell on anything. Good or bad, I just take risks and go with my gut, with what I thinks is good for the company. If it turns out to be wrong, I refocus and make changes. If it’s the right decision, it’s extremely rewarding.

Rickard Hansson is founder and CEO of Incentive.

Hansson has more than 15 years of experience in working with collaboration within organizations through the Internet, and has founded several ventures in which he has built, marketed and sold IT-systems for social collaboration and consulting services around it.

Rickard Hansson is very pragmatic when it comes to business, and a visionary when it comes to how people use technology to communicate within and between organizations.

Where did the idea for Incentive come from?

Way back in 2006, I stumbled upon some screenshots from engineers working at IBM. The screenshots were of blogs for internal use – and back in 2006 blogs were more for external purposes. I realized then that the social media revolution was going to permeate every business – not just blogs, but wikis, streams, etc., – so I wanted to create a complete platform. That year we started creating the first generation of Incentive – but it was way too early, the market was (and in some ways still) very immature.

What does your typical day look like?

I do a lot of work. Lately, it consists of a lot of traveling, and the last couple months have been focused on fundraising. I want to focus on line of business items again, be more involved in the day-to-day. Today is very chaotic – pivoting, new resources, two offices, a split workforce. It’s a lot of work to keep everyone on the same page, so my days tend to be pretty busy.

How do you bring ideas to life?

If I stumble upon something I think is cool, I spin it to how I think it should be.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

How the food industry is changing is really interesting to me. People are more aware of food they’re eating. Today’s food industry is part of the reason why people get sick – it’s exciting to see a shift towards organic, better quality food.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I make my decisions split second and don’t dwell on anything. Good or bad, I just take risks and go with my gut, with what I thinks is good for the company. If it turns out to be wrong, I refocus and make changes. If it’s the right decision, it’s extremely rewarding.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I haven’t had a really bad experience. When I was younger I never wanted to work summer jobs, so I didn’t have terrible experience some people might have during school. I’m a positive person overall so even if a situation isn’t great, I usually try to find the silver lining.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I’ve started several companies so I have definitely learned from my mistakes by starting over again. One thing I learned was to never work with co-founders in operations – and this is quite the opposite what everyone else says, so maybe it’s just me. Co-founders are good, don’t get me wrong – but I prefer them as silent and strategic partners.

Another thing is – make sure you have one majority shareholder, not split everything equally. In my experience, most co-founders end up in disagreements – especially in rough times and then it’s important that one person has the ability to make tough decisions. Silent or strategic partners work better.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I always hire people based on their way of being instead of knowledge. In the past I’ve hired people with great experience but a negative attitude. If you hire good, positive people and train them, they will be better employees and fit your company’s culture much better. Additionally, I make sure they have ability and know how to make decisions for themselves. It’s better to try and fail so you can learn from the experience. It’s more fun to help other people grow and let them make their own decisions and forge their own experiences. At Incentive we have this manifesto that we always make sure people are aligned with: “Make the decision you think is the right decision, start something that needs to be started, ask for help whenever you want it, and help others whenever you can.”

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Sales. Prioritizing sales is the best and MOST important strategy. We have realized we have to go out there and do it – you have to do the work. The “if you build it, they will come” stories are usually a fluke. Real businesses grow from sales – old-school, straightforward sales.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Maybe I’m naive but there is not much I would consider being a failure – I bet others would disagree though. But let’s say even if a company went belly up, I don’t consider it a failure in that sense – lesson learned, move on. I don’t dwell on mistakes, rather consider them the next step in my path.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Create a game. Casual gaming like Candy Crush is becoming the next big thing. You don’t need a big production team, you can do most of the things on your own and the rest you can crowdsource. Next leap I think is gaming in the browser thanks to WebGL – cool, powerful games without downloading a single file.

Tell us something about you that very few people know.

I am a huge movie buff. Also, I get super competitive at team trivia – even if I lack in contributing any knowledge, but I can get rest of the team fired up!

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

I love the Runtastic app for following training progression. A lot of people use Runkeeper, but this has really good stats and analytics.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I’d recommend reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy because it’s fun. I read a lot of biographies. One of my favorites is Richard Branson’s because it’s pretty inspiring. Right now I’m reading Brick by Brick, which tells the story of how Lego went from being nearly bankrupt a couple years ago to one of the most profitable toy company in the world today with only one product.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

I’m very inspired by Bill Gates for his philanthropy: . Additionally, Alex, my senior fellow, has been with me for 12 years and is a HUGE inspiration. He is the sole reason I have a business – he helped me set it up and make it happen. Unfortunately, he’s not on Twitter.


Rickard Hansson on Twitter: @rickardhansson
Incentive on Twitter: @incentivecorp
Incentive on LinedIn: