The founder and CEO of Hippo Enabler, Marko Seppä, has worked passionately in business creation and among startups for over 30 years. He has looked at startups from a variety of perspectives and positions. We asked him a few key questions about owning a startup, a topic he has brought up as the greatest enabler of scale up success.

Marko, you talk about parenthood when startups are in question, and ownership is one of the seven elements of the HippoMeter. What do you mean by the concept of parenthood?

Ownership refers to those who call the shots, who is in control, and who is responsible for the success. Building a company is a bit like raising a child; it requires good parenthood. The well-known African proverb says, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Talking about company babies, it takes a global village to raise a great one.

Why is ownership so important with startups?

Ownership is crucially important as it brings life and spirit to the company and to something that is otherwise “lifeless material.” Companies are, literally speaking, “legal persons,” persons on paper.

Ownership translates to entrepreneurship and further to creation and creators. It is imperative that these are at par with the problem being solved, the solution being constructed, and, finally, the execution required by market-entry and scaleup. Unlike human babies, venture babies are not limited to two biological parents but could enjoy a growing and evolving base of parents.

Who are the best owners for startups?

Professional entrepreneurs would be the best owners for startups, but there are no professional entrepreneurs. Serial entrepreneurs come the closest. Innovators are forced to emerge as entrepreneurs and often learn everything the hard way. The smartest founders search for and find co-entrepreneurs who complement their capacities to fit the challenges and opportunities more optimally at hand.

What is the biggest possible mistake for a startup founder in terms of ownership?

The biggest mistake is getting diluted towards non-entrepreneurial shareholders extensively and early on. The second biggest mistake is not making sure there are proven business creators in the owner-manager team, committed to responsible parenthood, before fund-raising.

How can these things be planned?

It is important to know what you know and diagnose your readiness and needs. As we have now learned, ownership is one of the key elements of building a potential Hippo company.

Do you want to learn more? Take a spin on our website and contact the chief himself via email