Meet Mark S. Rasmussen, now CEO at iPaper, the software as a service company specialized in product discovery innovation. He helped to build the foundations of TrustPilot and worked for NoZebra, other two well-known technology companies in Denmark, before diving in full time into his project.
Watch the interview or read the transcript below 🙂
Estefanía Zárate Angarita: Mark, you sound like a very knowledgeable guy regarding technology, regarding web development, and I wonder how has your journey been with iPaper. We have now heard what the journey of the company has been, what has been your personal journey with it?
Mark S. Rasmussen: My personal journey starts in about 2003 when I finished high school. I became a consultant for a couple of years and I did freelance work for this web agency called No Zebra, and that is where the foundation of iPaper was based, that’s where these catalog solutions were made by hand and I started automating them and slowly it became into iPaper.
Back then in 2007, I helped found another company called TrustPilot, I wasn’t actually a founder but I was the second person there, I did all the code at the beginning for the first one year and a half, and at that point, I was working full-time, I freelanced for Trust Pilot and I freelanced for iPaper at the same time; I was also studying computer science on the side so I was quite busy back then. But at some point I had to make a choice, do I want to go on full-time with TrustPilot and commit myself there or do I want to do it with iPaper? And I ended up choosing iPaper and got technically hired in 2008, even though I had worked in the company for three years.
So that’s kind of how I got into iPaper back then.
E: And what makes a web developer become the CEO of a very big company in Denmark?
M: That’s a good question! I think some of it is luck, some of it is chance. Obviously I was pretty good at doing development and back then I was kind of the typical developer, I had a hat on, just looked at my task, nothing else, and I just focused on the tech task. I wouldn’t say that I didn’t care about the business but it wasn’t a passion of mine, somebody else took care of the business, I just made the product.
Over time I thought that thinking about the business made more and more sense because a lot of it, especially in software as a service, ties into the product. Making the right product will support the business in a different way so more, and more often, rather than just going straight to the solution I had to understand more of the business to come up with the right solution.
And over time I just focused more on the business side of things, I became the CGO, I had other people helping me doing the development so I could focus more on the business. And slowly business just took over, more and more time, I started challenging the ones who were in charge of the business… They did a great job but all of the sudden I started challenging, I had good questions, we had good discussions, and all of it culminated in 2014 when our then CEO chose to do something else and the chance arose for me to step up and become the CEO.
E: So, do you still code sometimes?
M: I do. And I think it is a big advantage in a tech company to have a CEO than can, not necessarily code, but who understands tech at a deep level. To stay sufficient, to stay knowledgeable, I do some code.
E: And, are you happy with your choice of having become the CEO of iPaper?
M: I have, because back then even though I was a developer, I really liked the business side of things and this allows me to focus more on the business but still keep in touch with my roots of doing development.
E: And speaking of roots… different types of roots, where are you from here in Denmark, Mark?
M: I was born in Brabrand, a city just outside of Aarhus, and today I live in Skæring, another city just outside of Aarhus. So I am definitely based in Aarhus, and I love the area.
E: So you are pretty much a local here in the city.
M: I am, definitely. Yeah.