The language of entrepreneurship

“I’m inspired by businesses working right at the edge of what’s possible. It makes you feel like a digital explorer.”

Lars Fjeldsoe Nielsen

General Partner, Balderton Capital; Governor at London Business
Programme: MBA2007

From Silicon Valley star to venture capitalist

“I’m a start-up guy at heart.”

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“In Silicon Valley, being different is a good thing. And having an MBA from LBS made me different. It shows that you’re willing to go that extra mile. It gives you a certain aura and attitude."

“I studied engineering at King’s College London and my postgraduate degree was in mechanical engineering and information systems at Oxford. When I finished, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do but the fashion at the time was either to go into investment banking or management consultancy. I wanted a hands-on role, so I went into consultancy.

“Straight away I knew it wasn’t for me. It was very corporate and I’m a start-up guy at heart, so in 1999 I moved on and set up my own company with a friend. It was what we’d now call a marketplace for small businesses and professional services.

“After that I went on to join a series of start-ups, including Tegic, a small company that was developing T9 predictive text technology just as mobile was kicking off. It was acquired by AOL and, effectively, we became AOL mobile. I also worked at 3Jam and as Vice President of
Market Development at VoiceSignal, which was at the forefront of the next big thing: voice recognition."

“I’m inspired by working with businesses that are working right at the edge of what’s possible. You feel like a digital explorer, going to new continents and creating new trading links with different countries and regions. That’s what I do in the realm of technology.”

Catalyst for change

“Everyone had a different viewpoint and a different way of solving problems.”

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“I came to London Business School for my MBA because I wanted to be part of this community that had this real energy and a collective desire to change and progress."

“I went there with a couple of ‘headline’ objectives. The first was to be open to change and the second was to activate the change. I didn’t know where it would lead but I knew that I wanted LBS to be a catalyst for change in a forward-thinking way."

“Being at LBS upped my game. I firmly believe that you are an average of the kind of people you surround yourself with. The MBA lifts the community from a careers point of view - and you lift each other."

“My classmates were a diverse community with different cultural backgrounds and from different industries. I’d been operating for almost a decade in technology and early-stage companies and suddenly I was in the same group as people from big pharma companies, steel companies and investment banks. Everyone had a different viewpoint and a different way of solving problems."

“After my Masters I went to Silicon Valley, where many of my classmates already were. That’s where I met the Dropbox founders and challenged them to think beyond computers and laptops, because the world was going mobile. I went on to join the company - my team and I added 100 million users to the bottom line via mobile."

“Whatsapp and Uber came to me asking me to replicate for them what I’d done at Dropbox and so I started advising both companies. Whatsapp was eventually acquired by Facebook and I joined Uber in 2014.”

Building momentum

“The venture capitalist of the future is an ex-entrepreneur.”

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“As partner at Balderton Capital, I seek to fuel innovative companies and businesses that are on the cusp of technological advancement. So from building and operating companies I’ve gone on to fuelling companies – with both capital and knowledge."

“Venture capitalism is a sought-after job, and I often get asked by LBS students how to get into it. I tell them that the venture capitalist of the future is an ex-entrepreneur. Go and join a company that already has momentum, build up your experience and network there, and then go and become a venture capitalist afterwards.

“I’d also advise students at LBS to be committed and engaged, on the pitch and off the pitch. Look at what’s happening in the classroom and in the community and build relationships at the school, but also engage with the community outside the school. One of the biggest takeaways from LBS is the importance of relationships, and you’ll build those relationships both on and off the course."

“Serving on the Board of Governors is a way for me to give back to a school and community that I care a lot about. I want the school to stay relevant in the future and, in the same way that the school was a catalyst for me changing, I want to be a catalyst for the school changing."

“The world is changing, the format of education, the requirements of employers, the whole financial system - everything is changing, and I want to help put entrepreneurship high on the agenda for the school. Entrepreneurship is my language, so this is where I can add the most value and contribute the most.”

“In Silicon Valley, being different is a good thing. And having an MBA from LBS made me different.”

“Being at LBS upped my game...LBS lifts the community from a careers point of view, and you lift each other.“