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Oct 05, 2022
Co-Founder & CEO | Sondre


Hello my name is Sondre. I am the co-founder and CEO of SafetyWing. A day in the life of me in my role consists of a few different things, I spend about a quarter of my time hiring, interviewing new candidates for a range of different roles as our company is growing fast and we need to hire designers, developers, people in marketing, sales, finances, eccetera. So that’s one part of my time. I spend some time working with product and design and the next thing that we’re building and just coming up with creative solutions, giving feedback on what is being made, things like that. 


I spend another quarter of my time just talking to people in one on ones and learning about how their role is going, what their team is like, what I can help with, and which problems they have. And then there's also another quarter you know probably spent in some various forms of meetings. That could be meeting with investors, that could be team meetings, Town Halls, presentations, or talks like this. So I really like working where I am for a couple of reasons, so one is the people there at SafetyWing. They're very authentic, kind, smart people that I very much enjoy talking with and working with. It's optimistic, it’s an authentic culture where I feel like I'm interacting with real people and people are being real with me and I with them. That's probably my favorite thing and reason to most look forward to work when I get up in the morning is I'm just looking forward to the conversation I’m about to have with people that I enjoy working with. 


I think one thing that might surprise people about– maybe not as much as CEO, but as a founder is that you have to keep telling the story. So it's kind of like we keep telling the story about building a global social safety net in the country, like why it is important, why it is possible. And that has to be done over and over again in all different kinds of settings and a certain part about being a founder isn't just to kind of build the thing, to sort of make a product that is, you know, something people want and can use. But it's also about telling the story where that thing is useful and to the degree that you’re able to inspire and persuade that the story is believable, you become more likely to succeed. You could call that evangelization or storytelling but it's a good third of what I think makes a startup succeed in the long run.


From school I worked in the government of Norway as a policy advisor. So policy was a job where it was some promise and political programme which could be very light like reform education and the challenge was to fill this with meaning and we would kind of gather researchers, input from the public, post different sources and compiled that into these recommendations that was actual, specific implementations. So that was my first job out of college and I loved it in a way it was a fantastic job. However I also became a bit frustrated. You know, the government is a big organization, it’s slow, sometimes on purpose but also just because it's big. So I find myself longing back to startup as a way to solve the challenges of our time that I saw coming. So I had discovered this idea of freelancing and also the possibility of working on the internet and therefore becoming a digital Nomad. And so my first way out to quit my job was to try to get freelance income and then quit, which was on Upwork and then quit my job and then I could spend most of my week working on the startup. And as it happened, that startup went well, it got into our common nature and became eventually a venture-funded startup and of course that’s when I discovered the problem that freelancers don’t have benefits and went on to create SafetyWing to solve that problem.


I was freelancing, I was a digital nomad myself, so I had this problem personally but I also was running a freelancer platform so we looked into: can we do some kind of income stabilization or offer some kind of benefits for the freelancers on the platform? And discovered that that was almost impossible and at least very, very difficult and impractical. So that was the ah-ha moment, was just discovering that problem. And I also, at the same time, had a self-awareness of the fact that I was early. This was of course seven years ago so I was aware that working on the internet in the future, alot more people would do that. And of course today a lot more people work remotely then did that seven years ago.


Ever since I was barely a teenager and I had this dream about starting a startup, moving to the Bay area. I don't know exactly how I picked up on that but I found that alluring and I also kind of have a bit of an idealistic bend and wanting to work on things that has the potential to be very, very good if it succeeds. I would say that the goals I set, particularly early on in my life, has had a great impact in informing my choices along the way and therefore, where I ended up. My go-to line, which is also safe to invalue is from David Deutsch is that all problems are solvable. He has this book where he really makes the persuasive case that indeed all problems are solvable. And whatever problem you find yourself facing, near you now or in a society, and whatever problem I find myself facing, then reminding myself that all problems are solvable, shifts my state of mind from one of worry or despair into curiosity and creativity and problem-solving and rolling up sleeves and seeing what I can do to change my current situation. And indeed, whenever I do that, it is true the problems are solvable.

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