Slush 2015: Five Ways to Success: Mårten Mickos

For entrepreneurs and startups embarking on the long road to success, a helping hand from someone who has been there, done it and got the t-shirt is always welcome. Mårten Mickos, CEO of HackerOne, previously senior vice president and general manager of the Cloud business for Hewlett-Packard and also a member of the board of directors for Nokia, runs through his top five ways to success.

Hire for strength

The people you take on will make or break your company, make sure you choose the right people for the job. Choose people who have the knowledge you don't, who are smarter than you, and most importantly, who are the best in their field. Your team IS your business, never forget that!

We, not I

It can't be stressed enough how important it is to work together with your team. In any kind of business, whether it be a small startup or multinational, no one can be a lone ranger: it will destroy the company. There is strength in numbers, and benefits that go way beyond what one can achieve alone. Why hire brilliant people if you work against them, not with them? It wouldn't make sense; work all as one and reap the rewards.

Listen, learn, change

No one is too experienced, too successful or too intelligent to learn, adapt and change the way they do things. Some of the most successful companies and people over time have displayed this very trait: it's essential. Again, going back to the first point, don't waste these brilliant recruits, listen to them and work with them. Go into this like with everything: have a mildly cautious, open mind, and be willing to extract the value from the great people around you.

Ask: What needs to be done?

Don't expect as an entrepreneur or cofounder of a startup, that you will know what there is to be done. You need to ask the people around you, they will be able to help and should also be asking the same questions. Nothing moves forward without being questioned, and being open to direction from your colleagues will foster a healthy working environment that is focused on success.


It's almost a cliche now, but it's so because it's true. Without focus, there will be no or little progress. There may be progress individually, for a short time, but will inevitably slow down and grind to a halt when it becomes clear there is no direction. For all of the above to work, the team needs focus; and for focus you definitely need all of the above!