The young Swede who wants to transform e-commerce

Carl Waldekranz

While most of Carl Waldekranz's classmates went travelling when they graduated from their high school in Stockholm, he decided to set up an advertising agency instead.

Just 19 years old at the time, and with no experience in the advertising world, the Swede found a cheap office and launched his agency.

The young entrepreneur says it was more fun than partying on a beach in Thailand.

"It was like forming a really cool band," says Mr Waldekranz. "It felt like an amazing hobby."

Start Quote

Rather than quit the day jobs, we decided to meet up every Friday night in my kitchen, and we'd work until Sunday night... it was so intense but fun”

End Quote Carl Waldekranz

With his equally inexperienced childhood friend Kaj Drobin also coming on board, they immediately realised what they would have to do to succeed.

Mr Waldekranz says: "We had a very simple business model - work twice as much for half the price as our competitors and it will equal success.

"We'd take any job we could, we had no pretensions, we'd help set up lighting [at shoots], carry seats, do whatever manual labour needed doing."

Such an approach proved successful, helped in turn by their self-taught skills as website designers at a time when clients wanted more online advertisements.

And so the agency - Super Strikes - grew quickly until Mr Waldekranz eventually sold up to a much larger rival in 2009, when he was 23.

Now 27, and the chief executive and co-founder of Tictail - an online platform which allows small retailers around the world to set up their own websites - Mr Waldekranz says his approach to business remains the same - just give things a go and work hard.

Big plans

Although still in its infancy, Tictail has ambitions to be as big as the likes of eBay and Rakuten.

Tictail's website Tictail says it makes it easy for small firms to set up a web presence

Founded in 2011 by Mr Waldekranz and three friends, it claims to be so easy to use that small firms can build their own web page and start trading in just 10 minutes.

Start Quote

We'd take fake vacations - we'd say we are going away on holiday, but ultimately we'd go to my apartment and work on Tictail”

End Quote Carl Waldekranz

More than 35,000 businesses now use Tictail to trade online, and for the basic service they don't pay a penny.

Instead TicTail only starts charging retailers when they want to buy more advanced features, or apps, such as alerting customers when products are back in stock, or sending out discount vouchers.

Mr Waldekranz and Mr Drobin first started tinkering with the idea for Tictail when they were still ad men. After Super Strikes was bought out, they continued to work for the new parent company while thinking about what they could do as their next start-up venture.

With another friend coming on board with the computer programming expertise to complement Mr Waldekranz and Mr Drobin's website design skills, the three would work on the idea for Tictail every weekend.

Mr Waldekranz says: "Rather than quit the day jobs, we decided to meet up every Friday night in my kitchen, and we'd work until Sunday night.

Tictail's co founders Mr Waldekranz (second left) founded Tictail with three friends

"We did that every weekend for six months until we had built the first version of Tictail. It was so intense but fun.

"We'd all put half our salaries away to invest in Tictail, and we'd take fake vacations - we'd say we are going away on holiday, but ultimately we'd go to my apartment and work on Tictail."

"Then eventually we decided to quit our jobs and work on Tictail full time."

Buddy system

With Stockholm-based Tictail opening for business in 2011, with a fourth co-founder on board, its first customer was Mr Waldekranz's mother, a designer of porcelain.

Mr Waldekranz says that as it was easy enough for his mum to use, he knew it would be popular with other traders who weren't used to using technology.

Tictail's office in Stockholm Tictail has decided to grow its workforce very slowly

High profile investors have also been quick to recognise Tictail's potential, with money coming into the business from senior figures at Swedish music streaming service Spotify, and German venture capitalist Klaus Hommels, who was an early investor in Facebook.

Start Quote

The key is to focus on just one problem at a time. That way it never feels impossible”

End Quote Carl Waldekranz

But still with just 14 members of staff, Mr Waldekranz says that while customer numbers are growing quickly, Tictail itself is only expanding very carefully.

"We have a buddy system, which means that if we take on a new member of staff, he or she has to have a buddy for six months. And that buddy must have worked for Tictail for at least the same amount of time.

"This approach prevents us from growing too quickly and losing our culture."

On a daily basis, Mr Waldekranz says his job as chief executive is about focusing on one task or hurdle at a time.

He says: "At the beginning it was my job to find an office, then to get our first staff, then the first round of investment, and so on.

"There is always one hurdle after another. The key is to focus on just one problem at a time. That way it never feels impossible."

For any would-be entrepreneurs thinking of setting up their own companies, Mr Waldekranz, the ad man turned internet boss, has three pieces of advice - do it with friends, make sure it is something you enjoy, and don't put it off because it is never the right time to start a business.

"The worst thing that can happen is that you eventually have to apply for another job after a cool experience."

More Business stories


BBC Business Live


    There's been a surge in house price inflation in the Republic of Ireland. Irish house prices outside Dublin grew at their fastest rate in seven years. Rises were typically 5% in the year to July, up from 3% previously. In Dublin, though, wow. Prices were up 23% in the year to July, a slight fall from the 24% rises recorded in the year to June. Despite that rock 'n' roll growth, prices in Ireland remain more than 40% below the pre-crash peak.

    LAGARDE PROBE 11:25:
    Christine Lagarde (27 August 2014)

    The IMF head, Christine Lagarde, is under official investigation for negligence. The French corruption probe dates back to her time as France's finance minister. She faces questions about her role in a 400 million-euro (£320m) payment to former Adidas owner Bernard Tapie. Ms Lagarde says she will appeal against the decision to put her under formal investigation.

    The Boat House, where Dylan Thomas and his wife Caitlin lived between 1949 and 1953

    Finally with those CML stats: Wales. The number of first-time buyers rose by nearly a third in the second quarter of this year. Their typical mortgage was £99,000, and their typical household incomes were £30,400.


    Russia continues to get tough on Western businesses operating in the country. A Russian court has ordered a McDonald's restaurant branch under the Kremlin walls to close for 90 days for not meeting sanitary standards. Russia has closed down other McDonald's outlets this week the same reason.


    And what about Northern Ireland? The CML says things have been busy there too. As a result, the typical mortgage size for first-time buyers was £78,000 in the second quarter of the year, compared to £72,000 in the previous quarter. The typical first-time buyer household had a gross income of £26,300.

    LAGARDE PROBE? 10:16:

    The Reuters news agency is reporting that the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, has been put under formal investigation for "negligence" in a French political fraud investigation case. The agency cites a source "close to Ms Lagarde".


    More CML stats, this time about Scotland. Mortgage lending to home buyers jumped by 32% between the first and second quarters of the year. The typical loan for first-time buyers was £95,000, up from just under £90,000 in the first quarter. And the typical gross income of a first-time buyer household was £32,300.


    Figures on regional mortgage lending have been published by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) They look at London, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the second quarter of the year. A few tasty facts about greater London. The typical gross income of a first-time buyer household was £55,000. 63% of first-time buyers bought properties costing more than £250,000. And first time buyers typically put down 25% deposits, more than elsewhere.

    RBS FINE 09:32: BBC Radio 4

    RBS is very sorry for the poor mortgage advice it gave to 30,000 mortgage customers in recent years. Lloyd Cochrane, head of mortgages at RBS and its subsidiary NatWest told the Today programme that it reckons about 4% of those may have been disadvantaged financially. That's about 1,200 people. "We did not do a good enough job [but] very few customers lost out as a result of this," he said.

    Via Twitter Adam Parsons Business Correspondent

    tweets: "RBS's Lloyd Cochrane tells me the bank spent many months retraining staff; management "takes responsibility" for selling mistakes."

    FOXTONS 08:56:
    Foxtons share price graph

    Shareholders don't seem happy about Foxtons' special dividend or higher profits. The shares are down almost 6%. Why? Perhaps some profit takers are among them. Or perhaps it's the warning that asking prices in London are dropping and it expects to see a slow down in transactions in the second half.

    No campaign stuff

    Business hasn't been shouting about the matter. Views have been dripped out. Bigger names who have spoken up include Douglas Flint, head of HSBC, against, and Standard Life, also against to the extent the business said it would consider leaving the country if it chose independence.


    Shares in London have begun higher. The FTSE 100 is up 48 at 6,822.76. In Frankfurt, the Dax is up 29.83 at 7106.70 and in Paris the Cac 40 is up 51.30 at 4393.41.

    • RBS and NatWest fined £15m for bad advice
    • Businesses doubt Scottish independence
    • Foxtons earnings jump after strong house sales
    BANANA MERGER 07:52:

    An update on Fyffes and Chiquita's attempt to merge and complete their corporate fruit salad. They say they hope to save $60m a year in overheads. Their official name for this plan is "the Combination". The capital C is vital, of course.

    RBS FINE 07:38:

    All this was happening four years after the government bailed out RBS, years after it had started eating humble pie for mis-selling payment protection insurance, and after it had been discovered committing other misdemeanours. The FCA said: "Only 2 of the 164 sales reviewed were considered to meet the standard required overall in a sales process."

    CARS TO RUSSIA 07:37: BBC Radio 4

    Sanctions have not dampened the enthusiasm of car firms to sell their vehicles in Russia - the world's seventh biggest car market. The Moscow Motor Show is getting underway and fully bullet-proof cars are on offer. Paul Willcox, chairman of Nissan Europe, told the Today programme he was taking the long view with nine new models being launched. "Our plan is in the next three years to grab 10% of the market," he said.

    RBS FINE 07:23:
    RBS pillar sign

    And there's more: "In the firms' own mystery shopping there were examples of advisers giving personal views on the future movement of interest rates," says the FCA. "This was highly inappropriate and may have resulted in the borrower being sold the wrong type of mortgage for them."

    RBS FINE 07:21:

    What did RBS do wrong? "Affordability assessments failing to consider the full extent of a customer's budget when making a recommendation, failing to advise customers who were looking to consolidate debt properly and not advising customers what mortgage term was appropriate for them," says the FCA.

    FOXTONS 07:16:

    Foxtons, the London estate agency that put the F in flashy, has benefitted from the past year's surge in home sales. Its half-year earnings are up 16% to £73m, and its half-year profits jumped 57% to £23m. That's a huge profit margin. So much so that shareholders are getting a special half year dividend on top of the normal one - £13m in all.

    RBS FINE 07:14:

    The FCA's statement on RBS's failings on mortgage advice include some gems: "The firms [RBS and NatWest] failed to ensure that advice given to customers was suitable. Two reviews of sales from 2012 found that in over half the cases the suitability of the advice was not clear from the file or call recording." This was happening two years ago.


    The Financial Conduct Authority confirms it has fined RBS and NatWest £15m for failures in their mortgage advice process.

    Ryanair poster

    Ryanair is pitching for business travellers. It says it will offer them free flight changes in future, as well as a 20kg checked-in bag allowance. But to get this they will need to pay almost £60 to join the Ryanair Business Plus club, via You need to put in all your details before it will tell you any more about it.

    Fish on plate

    News from Norway. Marine Harvest, the world's largest salmon farmer, is warning that Russian sanctions will present it with some short-term challenges. Meantime, the company reports operational earnings of 1.22bn crowns (£120m), nearly double last year's figure.

    RBS FINE 06:30: BBC Radio 4

    Richard Jeffrey of Cazenove Capital Management tells listeners to the Today programme that the impending fine for RBS over poorly sold mortgages is "disappointing". But he says we shouldn't beat up the banks too much as it is essential that confidence in the banking system is maintained.


    The Scotsman letter says business is worried about - yes, the pound - and the EU and tax and pensions. There are of course some industries that are warmer towards independence - the airlines for one. Remember Willie Walsh of BA said independence could be positive for the country and Ryanair backed the SNP's plans to cut air passenger duty.

    CPP 06:13: Radio 5 live

    Sarah Pennells of has been on Wake up to Money, telling us that this Saturday is the deadline for millions of people to claim compensation for being mis-sold unnecessary credit card insurance, or identity protection policies, by the company CPP. Around seven million people are thought to have been mis-sold this "insurance" over the years. But so far only 1.7 million have lodged a claim.

    Oil rig

    More than 130 businesses have signed a letter saying the business case for Scottish independence "has not been made". The signatories come from a variety of businesses including banking, mining, engineering, food, whisky, and technology. The letter is published in today's Scotsman newspaper.

    06:01: Ian Pollock Business reporter, BBC News

    We are expecting the formal announcement that RBS is being fined £15 million for giving poor mortgage advice.

    06:00: Rebecca Marston Business reporter, BBC News

    Morning. Looks like we're in for a busier day than yesterday - let's hope so. Stay with us here on Business Live 'til 13:00 for the pick of the news.



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.