Founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Meltwater and the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), Jorn Lyseggen, launched the software company and incubator having fallen in love with the internet, knowing he had to be involved in the evolution of online business.
The Meltwater Group offers a media intelligence platform which helps businesses aggregate and analyse online engagement surrounding their brand; while MEST is a digital skills and entrepreneurship school and incubator for Africa’s most talented.
Originally starting his career as a research scientist, Lyseggen said the rise of the internet prompted him to quit his job and become a software entrepreneur, as he wanted to be involved in the online boom.
“I never aspired to be an entrepreneur. I never aspired to start a business. I never had a plan. I just gravitate towards things I feel passionate about,” said Lyseggen, giving a talk on MEST’s work at Nairobi Garage.
“The thing that changes my life trajectory is that I fell in love with the internet.”
Lyseggen became an internet consultant, and founded and exited a string of businesses over the coming years.
In 2001, he launched Meltwater in Norway, with total funds of US$15,000.
Having one bad experience of recruiting a very experienced manager, who Lyseggen says turned out to be too “rigid”, Lyseggen decided on a new strategy for recruiting for Meltwater – he focused on young, fresh graduates, with “raw talent”.
“Meltwater has since 2001 opened more than 50 offices worldwide based on solely recruiting raw talent,” he said.
In 2008, Lyseggen launched MEST, combining Meltwater’s two key tenets of creating excellent software, and nurturing talent.
“The one thing I promised myself when I started MEST was that it would be a place where you’re allowed to dream big,” Lyseggen said, adding that he decided to launch MEST in Africa to help nurture talent on a continent with a huge population.
“All I was thinking about is that there’s a continent with one billion people who could maybe do with a little bit of support,” he said.
Disrupt Africa reported in May MEST announced its expansion into Kenya, and called for applications in Kenya for its new one year course. Kenyan students are currently being interviewed and selected, with the programme to begin in August.
“I’m a huge believer in software. I’m a huge believer in the potential power of software to create change in Africa,” Lyseggen said.
“I think the population of Africa is going to have a huge impact on how the world works.”