You can’t beat a nerd

I recently heard that Google made a large investigation into what the common denominators of successful Googlers are. They supposedly looked at classical factors such as education, age and so on. The one factor that was most clearly correlated with success was if the employee had built computers from components in their youth. The combination of deep computer interest and the drive to actually get to it predicts success.

I think this theme is equally true for successful entrepreneurs; they are often passionate nerds in the areas they are involved in.

Blue bottle, a coffee rostery and coffee chain that makes the best coffee I’ve ever tasted is another example. The founder, James Freeman, is passionately interested in making the best coffee possible and they are true to their mission even if that means making some customers unhappy. Blue bottle only sells their coffee in whole beans, because unless you grind it just before you brew your coffee you will not get a great cup. It frustrates some customers short term, but is most likely a winning strategy long-term, proven by the ridiculously long lines at their coffee shops…

Another example is Patagonia that has been hugely successful in building an iconic brand by being true to its clearly communicated values. The founder Yvon Chouinards is a true outdoor nerd who understands the needs of the core customers Patagonia is selling to. In the book, “Let my people go surfing” he describes their history and philosophy. It is a great read and a very powerful marketing and brand building tool…

The power of the passionately interested nerd together with the growing trend of online courses for free is also starting to democratize the labor market. . You can find material from leading professors on almost any subject today, if you want to learn you can. Motivation is more important than ever and passion has always been the best motivator.

At least tech companies have realized that a self-taught programmer in any shape, form and origin many times beats the Ivy league educated counterpart and innovative methods are used to find the person with the best skills, not the one with the best resume…

Looking through the excellent interview series, it is definitely a common denominator that the founders are passionately interested in the area they are pursuing. They have spent their 10.000 hours thinking and working on the issue.

I am betting on the nerds regardless if I am evaluating a company, where to buy coffee, a new potential colleague or new outdoor clothes…

Are you passionately solving the challenges of sustainable transport solutions?
Then we would like to hear from you!

/Jonas Landström

P.S After finishing the book about Patagonia I went to the closest outdoor store and kitted up, powerful marketing for sure… D.S

P.S 2 To read more about Google’s data driven people operations check out D.S 2



About Jonas Landström

After 5 years as an entrepreneur in a biotech start-up, I joined the dark side at Volvo Group Venture Capital. As a VC I am fortunate to look into many companies and get heavily involved in a few. I am genuinely interested in the mechanisms of efficient entrepreneurship including the engagement by VCs. I am hooked on the ideas presented by Steven Blank and Eric Ries around Customer development and lean principles.
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