E12: How to Create Innovation Labs and Understand Your Entrepreneurial Type With Ola Ahlvarsson

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About Ola Ahlvarsson:

  • Founded more than 20 businesses, worked with many of the world’s biggest brands that you know of (like McDonalds, Google, Microsoft, Merck, Procter & Gamble, Twitter, IBM…. etc).
  • Avid martial artist, with a Black Belt in Karate, and he’s become the European champion in Goju Ryu Karate, the Swedish champion in Kung Fu and in Taekwondo, and the world champion in WAKO kickboxing.
  • Two notable businesses that Ola runs are Star Stable, the world’s largest online Horse game – with more than 6 million users, and Epicenter, which is Sweden’s biggest scale-up incubator.

Episode Summary:

Listen to the full episode on iTunes (and please leave a rating to help the podcast reach more people): E12: How to Create Innovation Labs and Understand Your Entrepreneurial Type


There are 6 types of entrepreneurs:

(1) All or Nothing Entrepreneur: Keeps building something regardless of what others think or what the risk is.

Example: Tetra Pak were losing money for 14 years until they became one of the most profitable companies in Europe.

Every time they went bankrupt the CEO bought the other peoples’ shares to keep the company alive.

For every all or nothing entrepreneur who succeeds there are 1000s who don’t therefore it’s very hard to back these guys. But they’re the most successful entrepreneurs.

(2) Serial Entrepreneur: This is the most common entrepreneurial type.

Example: Richard Branson who founded the Virgin Group which controls more than 400 companies.

When you’re working with a serial entrepreneur make sure to pin them to the idea that can become successful so they don’t go away.

(3) Virtuoso: The starting point of the virtuoso is a specific skill and passion for that skill. Business is secondary.

They’re super good at what they do so keep things out of their way so they can focus.

Example: The British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver

(4) Better Safe Than Sorry Entrepreneur: These are the best entrepreneurs for investing your money.

They’re rarely on the covers but they make solid businesses.

Example: IKEA: They buy land in an area they plan to launch a new IKEA. Then when they announce the IKEA, the price of that land goes up and they sell the land.

(5) Intrapreneur: The most important entrepreneurs by factor 100.

They rarely get any reward but they should be applauded.

They’re the change makers within large companies.

Ola tries to accelerate scale ups and intrapreneurs with epicenter because doing so can impact billions.

How to identify intrapreneurs: let employees pursue their ideas regardless of what their position in the company is.

(6) Herr Doctor Sleevesdown:

Herr because it’s always a guy.

Doctor because they think titles are important.

Sleevesdown because they’re so far away from the business.

They want to be the title but they don’t want to do the work.

They are the ones at the banks who say you can’t get a loan because you didn’t finish school or say your idea is bad because it’s different.

They’re false entrepreneurs who use their position to slow you down.

Be sure to navigate around them.

Most entrepreneurs have a mix of these entrepreneurial types.

Teams: It’s important that you create teams with complimentary skills around these entrepreneurial types.

Examples of good pairings:

All or nothing entrepreneur + CFO who knows about risk.

Serial entrepreneur + Someone who can make them commit to the project that is most likely to succeed.

Virtuoso + Business minded person.

Intrapreneur + Boss that can let him play around with ideas.

Innovation labs

7/10 of innovation labs fail.

Here are the most important traits an innovation lab must have to succeed:

  • Mindset development.
  • Technology development.
  • Business model.

In addition, it’s important to challenge and reinvent the standard business models.

– Oskar Faarkrog


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