Meet the MD: Mats Stigzelius of Takumi

Meet the MD: Mats Stigzelius of Takumi

As co-founder of Takumi, Mats Stigzelius faces the challenging task of building a company in a nascent sector which is experiencing rapid growth. BQ caught up with him to see how he is making it happen...

What does your role include?

As the CEO and co-founder of Takumi, I’m ultimately responsible for overseeing the whole company. On a daily basis, my main focus centres on fundraising, shareholder communications, sales growth, and sales team development. My co-founders focus on other aspects of scaling the company, including marketing, platform design and influencer community development.


What is it the company does?

Takumi is a platform that connects micro-influencers (with 1,000+ followers) on Instagram with brands that they love so they can collaborate on paid social media engagement campaigns. 

Takumi provides a quick and hassle-free solution to brands wanting to work with relevant and effective micro-influencers, who benefit from a higher level of engagement than traditional celebrities.

It allows easy creation and management of campaigns with multiple influencers including brief creation, influencer discovery and liaison, results monitoring, reporting, and payment processing.

The platform, which launched early November 2015, has already recruited over 5,000 UK influencers who have participated in over 70 campaigns for fashion, fitness, food and technology brands such as, Sony Music and Dominos.

Co-founders include serial entrepreneurs Mats Stigzelius and Gudmundur Eggertsson, Dominic Perks who previously launched laundry and dry cleaning app Laundrapp, and Jokull Solberg, previously Product Owner at Quizup which is one of the biggest trivia game apps ever.


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

After completing my Masters degree in Aerospace Engineering at Manchester University, I started my career in Strategy Consulting at McKinsey & Company, before moving into private equity. About six years ago I became an entrepreneur and opened up the London office for Rainmaking, where I am a Partner.

Rainmaking is a seed capital and early stage investment company that develops its own start-ups and helps to grow existing early stage businesses. As part of Rainmaking, I co-founded is Rainmaking Loft, a pan-European co-working space group with locations in London, Berlin and Copenhagen. Most recently, I co-founded Takumi in spring 2015.


What do you believe makes a great leader?

I think there are many different leadership styles that can either make you into a great or a terrible leader. I think it is very important to follow a leadership style that is true to who you are. For example, if you are a micro-manager by nature, it will not come naturally for you to set stretch goals for your team and let them run with it.

And likewise if you are consensus builder, dominating your team will not come naturally either. Once you understand your natural style of leadership, you need to ensure that the rest of the team can work effectively in the type of environment you’ve created. And whatever your style of leadership, you have to excel at communicating (which includes everything from culture and objective setting to external stakeholder communications).

There are of course a myriad of other skills that are critical to success, such as hiring and training, evaluating strategic options, etc, but I think that a great leader is a great communicator, first and foremost. And you can only be a great leader if you are true to yourself.


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

We are building a company in a nascent sector which is experiencing rapid growth so there are very few signposts that can help us navigate the changing landscape. In many ways, we are the ones shaping that change.

Considering this, one of the biggest challenges we face as a founder team (as a whole) is to be able to quickly assimilate new information, debate the impact and then action the resulting changes, while knowing that none of us have perfect information.

It’s a challenge to keep absorbing new learnings quickly and effectively while not reacting to every ‘false signal’ that crops up.



How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

I enjoy spending time with my family (we have three young kids so they are a good distraction to any work thoughts) and I think work life balance is very important. One of my Rainmaking partners (Martin Bjergegaard) wrote a great book about this called ‘Winning without Losing’ and I highly recommend it. I also really enjoy mountain biking, which I find a great stress reliever.


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Same as so many other kids – an Astronaut of course!


Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about then?

I can’t think of any pet hates as I am lucky enough to work with a great team, building a great product at a very exciting time for our industry, so mainly I’m just excited by that opportunity.


Where do you see the company in five years time?

Good question. I think we have a global opportunity to grow Takumi, so if we’ve been successful, we will have a global company with an equally energised and fun team.


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

It’s a cliché, but make sure you do what you love. Don’t pursue an idea just because you think it’s a big opportunity. You will be “married” to the start-up for many years so you have to love it through the ups and downs, otherwise you will not make it.

Likewise, choose the people you work with just as carefully as you’ll see them more than your family! Don’t ‘settle’ to work with people who are very talented but you don’t enjoy spending time with. If you look hard enough you can always find both the talent and personal fit.

Finally, choose your investors as carefully as they choose you. You have a long road ahead together and you will want their support during the tough times, and if you’ve chosen well, they are the ones who get you through those tough times.