Glasshouse London
Pop Idols

"Local Heroes"

‘I’m Swedish, the company is European. Wherever we go, we are the local heroes.” With this statement, Spotify Co-Founder Daniel Ek cleared up any confusion about which European country can lay claim to have spawned the internet business of the hour.

Former BBC business journalist Virginia Eastman helped the Glasshouse audience at the Royal College of Physicians on Thursday night piece together a fuller picture of the incredibly poised 26 year old man sitting in front of them.

Inspired more by the drive to ‘build stuff’ than to be an entrepreneur, Daniel Ek started his first internet venture at the age of 14. Fast forward to 2009 and he admits to being a closet musician who counts the accordion and the guitar among the instruments that he plays.

“I want to build a company like SAP, run from Europe, a self sustaining company that can acquire others.” This statement characterised the candid conversation which went on for more than an hour, fuelled by a stream of great questions from the audience.

We learned a lot about the challenges and setbacks that Daniel and his team have overcome to get to where they are today: Europe at their feet, a US launch just around the corner and deals with most of the major record labels squared away.

But the road was trickier than anticipated. It took them two years longer than they had planned to get the content licenses from music labels they needed to launch. Daniel’s observation to fellow entrepreneurs in the audience was “The odds will always be against you, but if you thrive in those circumstances, start a company.”

On the subject of financing, he cautioned care about choosing angel investors to work with, citing the fact that a lot of people will tell you they can open doors, but few deliver. ‘Do as much due diligence on them as they do on you; they are going to be around you for a long time.”

But what came through loud and clear is that Spotify was developed as the answer to a simple need just to play music. This clarity of purpose is what keeps the user experience front and centre of everything the company does. Ek is passionate about listening to his users and cites Twitter as something he has only just discovered but now rates highly as a realtime feedback channel. His experience translates into a simple ethos: Get the product right and create a great user experience. Treat your users with respect and they will be your best ambassadors.

When asked for his three pieces of advice for the audience he summarised them as:

• Drive: Get your head down and do the work, if you believe in it, go for it
• Whatever you forecast, it will never work out. Be sensible about burn rates and keep costs low
• Get advice from people. Look at the stats to figure out what people are really doing versus what they tell you

With the heavy lifting out of the way, it seems that there is finally time to enjoy all of the effort. Ek is off to a Coldplay concert soon - only the 4th concert he has found time to go to since starting Spotify. “Just seeing how people write about music now, linking to Spotify, that’s what we set out to achieve, that’s our best fulfilment.’

For a flavour of the evening,
watch the clip below:

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Photos - a taste of the evening!

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Press and blogs review:

Bnet UK
Cnet UK

Companies on the guest list included:

14D Data Centres Ltd, AdJug, agenda21, Albion Ventures, AOL Europe, Ardent,, Atomico Ventures, Autonomy,, Babelgum, Baker Tilly, Bandstand, Bango, BBC, Bee.TV, Bellevue Partners, Bernard Howard Services Ltd, BNet UK,, Brown Rudnick, BSKYB, Burson-Marsteller, Busara, Carderoo, CardSmart Ltd, Cartagena Capital, Casefeed, CheckoutLater, Citrix, Clean Square, CNET UK, Consolidated PR, Creativity Software Ltd, Crowdstorm, CrowdView, Daoko, Deloitte Consulting, Desitouch, Diversity Technologies Ltd, Dot Net Solutions, Dynamic Work Limited,, Elexu, Emco Media, Enders, Entertainment International, Erlang Training &, ESPN, Eswapnow, favorit Ltd, Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP, Filmed Media, FinanceAcar, Fintricity, Firefly Tonics Ltd.,, FoodBoost, FootballUnited Ltd, Forsyth Group, Fraser Finance LLP,, Fresh Business Thinking, Fresh Holdings, Freuler,, Gekko, GigJunkie, GigLocator, Glasses Direct, Glasshouse Partnership, Gong Communications, Growing Business, Gymboo,, Haysmacintyre, Health-Smart Ltd,, I Like Music plc, Imperial Entrepreneurs, Index Ventures, Indigo Talent, InSkin Media Ltd, Interns Experience, Issuu,, Joost, Jorge Productions, JRBH, Kemp Little LLP, Kohive, Komodo PR,, LastMile Communications Ltd, Links of the Week Limited, London Business School, Management Today, Midpoint, Millward Brown, Mint Digital,, MLS, Modumobile, Morgan Stanley, Morrison & Foerster, Multilab Consulting, Muzo, mydeco, Net Communities Ltd, New Bamboo, Opean Energy, Oxigen, Parents & Carers Ltd, Piper Jaffray Ltd,, Podula Ltd, Quickstart Global, Quiet Riots, Renaissance, Reuters, RougeFrog, Routetrader, SamKnows, Scott & York, Seatwave, See The Difference, Skype, Smarta, SPARK Ventures plc, Spoonfed Media, SRC LDN, StarFish Films,, Stradbroke Advisors, SwapitShop, TechCrunch Europe, Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent, The Plan Is, The Times, toptable, Touchnote,, Ultraspeed, Umee, Vestra Wealth,, WapWax, we7, wearesocial, Webjam, WeeWorld, Wellington Partners, What Talent Ltd,, Wired, WORKSsitebuilder, Yaburu, YoYo Games, Zanngebzang


Many of you have contacted us asking to be introduced to others who attended the event. We always respect member confidentiality, and never hand out details of guests without their express permission, but we would be delighted to forward emails or introductions on your behalf. To that end, please let us know if you would like help in making contact with a fellow guest.

We hope that you enjoyed the evening and we look forward to seeing you at our next event.

the Glasshouse London team

About Glasshouse:

Glasshouse was founded in 1998 to provide support, encouragement and inspiration to entrepreneurs across all sectors.

We value diversity of thought, business and background, and believe there's a wealth of experience and contacts that can be shared across all industries. Most of all, we aim to encourage, stimulate and promote those with an entrepreneurial passion who want to shape their own future.

‘Glasshouse events bring style and wit to the entrepreneurial set, you can’t chuck a brick without hitting a mogul or a maven!’

Jim Buckmaster, CEO, Craigslist

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