Wim Sweldens: I Do Not Think of Myself as a Typical Entrepreneur but More as an Innovator

Wim Sweldens

Wim Sweldens of Kiswe .

Tell us about yourself?

I am the Co-Founder and Chief Architect of Kiswe Mobile, a pioneer in interactive streaming. Previously I was the head of the Alcatel-Lucent Mobile Division and Ventures Group

. I have a Phd in Applied Mathematics, am a fellow of the IEEE, and a member of the Belgian Royal Academy of Sciences. I co-founded Kiswe with Jeong Kim and Jimmy Lynn.

What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?

People think startup life is glamorous and founders revel in riches.

This is rarely the case. Reality is that startup life is truly hard life and not suited for most people.

For many days, weeks, months, or years you work crazy hours and you do not make any (real) money. But you have to be able to love every minute of it or you will not survive.

If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?

I personally do not believe in going back in time or reconsidering choices. Hindsights is simply too easy. I firmly believe that the “path not chosen” simply does NOT EXIST.

I find it more productive to pass on learning onto the next generation. Key points I would impress: -Be careful who you choose to work with -Hire slow and fire fast -Always raise 3x the amount of money you think you need -Do not worry about dilution, worry about growth.

What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?

I do not think of myself as a typical entrepreneur but more as an innovator.

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My personality is more introverted and analytical. I try to surround myself with people who compliment me and fill in some of my weaknesses.

I like to believe that the key to success is to build a team, align it, and make sure everyone feels good about the mission and vision. I sometimes give a lecture called “A startup is a feeling”.

What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?

Work hard, Work very hard. Do not work too hard. Take care of yourself, your health, and your family first. Always focus on the customer.

Winning business solves most problems. Spend but be frugal. Every $1 you spend is off your cash asset and better be replaced by another asset worth more than $1.

Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?

Kiswe was founded with a shared vision of a world in which the content and channels by which we communicate bring us closer to the experiences and people we love the most. In 2013, Jeong Kim, Jimmy Lynn, and I met to discuss the future of media and society.

We knew from years leading telcos, broadband and sports enterprises that the evolution of technology has not always fostered the most positive or personal interactions or outcomes.

In fact, much of the last generation of innovation was isolating with passive viewing experiences.

We envisioned something far more powerful and enriching — a solution that could power a world in which the experiences we tune into actually bring us closer together with the content, content creators and each other.

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With a rise in cord-cutting and mobile consumption among younger demographics, Kiswe was founded to pioneer the next generation of fan experiences. Kiswe (pronounced kiz-wee) combined the founders’ names and honored their shared vision of fan inclusivity, which democratizes access to great experiences by enabling live event producers, players and performers to provide their fans with deeply personal, interactive and social engagement regardless of their physical location — transforming fans into the collective superheroes of their own media experiences.

Where do you see your business in five years?

We aspire to be the world leader in the new and rapidly growing interactive streaming segment, while continuing to break world records.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?

We live in an uncertain world. Global social economical and political landscape can change rapidly and affect financial markets and economies. That is a challenge out of our control.

Our mission is to focus on our customers, serve their needs, and work as one team inside the company. If we do this, I believe we will succeed even in a turbulent world.

Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?

Our relationship with international K-Pop sensation BTS is probably one of our biggest success stories.

On two separate occasions BTS broke streaming world records. First in June 2020, BTS broke the record for “most viewers for a music concert livestream on a bespoke platform,” with 993,000 fans tuning in.

Then in June 2021, they broke the record again with more than 1.3M fans tuning into the two day live stream event.

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It is really exciting to see the reach these artists have and help them connect with those fans who may not be able to travel or afford to see them at an in-person concert.

How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?

Many ways. We started out looking for and chasing after customers, but as we get more successes in the market, our momentum grows, and our reputation has become established with the biggest names in sport and music.

So increasingly customers now find us, which is a great feeling. In a startup everyone in a way is a part of the sales team.

I think of myself as a salesperson for the company rather than myself. A big ego is not helpful in a startup.

What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?

As stated above: -Be careful who you choose to work with -Hire slow and fire fast -Always raise 3x the amount of money you think you need -Do not worry about dilution, worry about growth.

And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?

Kiswe hopes to grow and continue to be the leader in interactive streaming.

I like to think of interactive streaming as a new media art form and hope that over time more content owners will create content which is inherently interactive and can only be consumed on an interactive platform.

Seeing that become reality and growing a team who believes in it and makes it happen is the biggest satisfaction for me personally.

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