(Pictured Above, 500 Nordics founder and guitarist Dan Hesketh)
We recently completed our first Nordic accelerator program and we noticed a small trend. The first Nordic batch included 12 companies and 33% of these founders present were musicians. This made for a more vibrant cohort and naturally a more entertaining one as well.
Most interesting I noticed a few parallels between the life of a musician and the life of an entrepreneur. They really aren’t very different as it turns out. So I was wondering if being both a musician and a founder at the same time gave one an unfair advantage. A sort of double edged sword for the great battle that is launching a startup.
Going against the grain
You get told what to do from your first breath. How to eat, how to speak, how to walk. How to dress, how to write and how to solve conflicts. Make the proper and expected choices. It takes a certain level of boldness to carve your own path, follow your passions and take that lead to pursue your passions.
I have always found people that do something different from others extremely intriguing. The ones who think, talk and walk differently. The ones who establish their own style and hack life in their own beautiful way. This is the life of an artist, and more so this is the life of an entrepreneur.
Comparing The Artists
From my experience I found that artists and founders share many of the same traits. As a lover of music, and all that makes everyday life a little more colorful, and as a newly engaged startup geek I´ve been able to draw some interesting parallels.
Everyone has passion for something, and those who manage to manifest their passion into making something are my kind of heroes. The ones breaking down their personal walls for others to see, and creating for others to experience. Musicians spend all night trying to get that one guitar solo perfect, similar to founders using endless energy on how to fix that one specific bug in their system. This effort would never exist without insane amounts of passion for their respective crafts.
Yes, creativity is something we all have somewhere inside us, but not all of us are creative by nature. Artists are the definition of creativity, it is literally their job. This is key in entrepreneurship as well, because if you can´t think outside the box – really – you don’t have much chance for success.
Whether you are a newly formed band or a recently launched startup, you have to get the word out. You have to be able to communicate why you have something unique, and why you’re worth paying attention to. In this regard artists and founders share another common trait; they are usually not so good at marketing themselves.
Yes, I went there. Look at the greatest artists of time; Van Gogh, Edvard Munch (go Norway!), Mozart, Pushwagner, Kurt Cobain, Ozzy Osbourne and Lady Gaga. All either certified crazy, or border line mental. You have to be a little crazy to leave a big mark on this world.
One of our musician founders shared a great quote with us. “A musician is someone that puts $5000 worth of gear into a $500 car to drive 100 miles to play a gig for $50.” They do what it takes to get the job done. Similarly it takes a certain level of hustle for founders to launch their products, get users and raise funding.
This is what I admire in both founders and musicians. No matter how many people are telling them to get a real job, or take a path more accepted by society they keep pushing forward. This is why I am inspired to work with both of these kind people at 500 Nordics.
So with that, we have a request. In addition to working with great founders, we especially want to work the musician founders out there. So if you know how to play guitar *and* code you might just be ready for a startup.