I can already see my Swedish readers going “IS GARY V SWEDISH TOO?”

Haha, no, friends, this article does not proclaim his Swedish origins. But Gary V and all these founders of world-known companies do have something in common.

This article is meant to put some things into perspective and I hope it will do just that, while we look through the stories of the hard-working people that stand behind these brands.

Spotify was no first-born baby

The Co-Founder and CEO of Spotify, Daniel Ek, is an entrepreneur with no ordinary story. He started running his own businesses when he was a kid. Daniel Ek used to bribe his classmates to work for him or do his homework, so he could run his companies.

Daniel grew up in a simple working-class Swedish environment, however by the time he was 14, he knew multiple programming languages and was trying to figure out how to run a business and make money for himself.

Some sources online say that at some point while being a teenager, he was making $50 000 a month and was employing 25-30 people. Unfortunately, his entrepreneurial success got a hit from the Swedish Tax Authority when it reminded him he needed to pay couple hundred thousands worth of taxes.

Luckily, he did not have to go bankrupt, but managed to sell some of his businesses to Ebay after they acquired Skype and opened up for deals in the European Market.

His determination to build businesses was visible when he was building Spotify as well. It took him 2,5 years to get the financing that he needed to launch Spotify and he did everything he had to do to make his product launch, even if it meant sleeping outside of an office for a month to get the meeting he wanted.

Even though he had some darker periods in his life, Daniel Ek seems to always have been a person who does not take no for an answer, built his career by hard work and has always been hustling and having his brain focused on building the things he was passionate about.

Skype did not feel comfortable

One of the founders of Skype, Niklas
Zennström had no ordinary journey to becoming a billionaire either.

Niklas Zennström was a grade A student that had always wanted to become rich but didn’t come from “the right” family . At the age of 12 he delivered leaflets, so he could buy sweets, earning enough money to buy himself a 10-speed bicycle.

Niklas was always, as he said in one of his interviews, “naively optimistic” as he built Kazaa – a peer-to-peer sharing service, trying to take down a huge music and film industry.

His first business went broke after it received tons of lawsuits and left Niklas broke. However, he did not give into the regular life and while being financially supported by his wife, created Skype together with people him and his co-founder found by chance.

Skype was another project that was way too big and complicated as it was taking over ⅓ of telecommunication business of the world. It was released in August 2003 and was sold to Ebay for $3.5 billion in September 2005, leaving the people that created it with a gigantic sum of money to divide between them.

Niklas Zennström proved everyone that you don’t give up after being criticized or called insane, even if it requires you to build something while being broke.


The founder of IKEA Ingvar Kamprad was raised on a farm near a village of Agunnaryd in Sweden. Ingvar was an entrepreneur from the beginning and had always wanted to build a business.

He started by selling matches to neighbours, which later turned into selling fish, Christmas tree decorations, seeds, ball-point pens and pencils. He was constantly looking for new things he could sell, while taking his bike as his best tool of transportation.

Ingvar started his first official business – IKEA and originally sold things like pens, wallets, picture frames, table runners, watches, jewelry and nylon stockings when he was 17.

At some point he couldn’t make all the individual sales calls anymore, therefore he started advertising in local newspapers and operated a mail order catalogue which was a novelty at the time.

Eventually, Ingvar decided to include furniture that was made by local manufacturers from his village into the catalogue and slowly but surely IKEA was built into a gigantic business.

After his close to home suppliers boycotted IKEA because of the pressure from the competition, he decided to sell furniture that was produced by IKEA itself. From that time on he introduced tons of ground breaking decisions to the industry and challenged himself constantly.

Ingvar did things no one had done before, sold whatever he thought he could sell and learned all of his lessons by trying. This was a LONG time ago, but his business is thriving to this day.

What do founders of Spotify, Skype and IKEA have in common with Gary Vaynerchuk?

Well, the pattern is pretty clear.

Every one of these hugely successful Swedish businesses (okay, Skype is half Swedish) were/are run by people that have been hustling since the day they started walking, just like Gary V did.

No one got their business delivered to them, no one were just given the millions or billions they later came to. They all worked for it in any way they knew how.

They also did not stop working when things were not working out or didn’t bring immediate money. Gary V stored boxes, sold lemonade, made YouTube videos that nobody watched for a while, but never stopped doing what he either thought had to be done or what he was insanely passionate about.

Old, recent or new – the strategy is the same

People who are described here in this article are the ones some look at and think “THEY ARE SO LUCKY, I WISH THAT WAS MY LIFE”, while those are simple people that wanted to make it work and worked their asses off to make it happen.

Whether it’s a 100 year-old business like IKEA, something now old school like Skype or something as fresh and on top of their game like Spotify and Gary V – they all worked HARD to get where they are, didn’t get scared by failures and are providing services that people need.

This article is just a reminder of how we imagine that some things just came to people and they made them rich which is not true. What we need to focus ourselves on is working hard, studying what works for others and using these stories for some inspiration.

How did Gary V get involved into this article

Well, first of all – I am not going to lie – I want to admit that he’s someone that is being crazy powerful right now and I would love to interview him for my upcoming book (hence to mentioning) ☺.

Second of all – his name is something that makes tons of people to stop and think.

I believe that it is important for us to remember that the “success” doesn’t come overnight, and we have to work for it if we want the life that these people have. And if Gary V’s name is going to make you stop and think about it after you see it together with some other amazing entrepreneurs – good for us.

Finally – he’s the man that we know the most about and he proves that WORKING HARD PAYS OFF.

If Ingvar has passed away, Niklas is silently focused on other ventures and Daniel keeps his life on pretty low radar, Gary is still easy to relate to and follow now (and you should!)

I am happy to be working with the inspiration that comes from different sources daily and I take these people as an example to follow now.

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