Video: Pandora Founder Tim Westergren, Unplugged

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“Being part of a band was a great preparation for being a start-up founder.” –Tim Westergren

There are few people in this world whom I admire as much as I admire Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora. It is not because he has the most successful company, or the largest or he is the richest. But mostly for his never say die attitude.

I have known Westergren for nearly ten years and for most of those years he has been fighting the odds. The past 12 months have been a dream for his company but the decade has been a walking nightmare for him. He has faced adversity and adulation with charm, poise and same easy smile.

“Every day I pinch myself; there is this nagging thought that this is not real,” Westergren said during our conversation. Of course, in past year or so he has been invited to top conferences, investment banks are wooing him, and Facebook and Apple both put him and his CTO Tom Conrad onstage at their big events. “I have a sense of unreality about it.”

I don’t blame him. Westergren has had a struggle to get to the top. If not battling the RIAA or pitching venture capitalists that would eventually turn him down, what kept him going was his belief in his idea of personalizing music. He shares his thoughts about building great teams, and inspiring faith and courage amongst his team members.

In this 30-minute, two-part interview, Tim shares the ups-and-downs of his journey. He shares lessons learned and where he found inspiration. And if you are a start-up founder, they don’t teach you what Tim has been through in some startup school. After you are done watching these videos, you would also want his company to succeed.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Set-up your life professionally, personally and physically for a long time. You have to make it sustainable and not drive into a wall.
  2. Don’t be self conscious about being an entrepreneur.
  3. Entrepreneurs in their core team need a sales person. Someone who can tell the story and inspire people and get pulses racing because of your idea.

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10 Comments

Eric Jensen

Thank you for this excellent interview. Tim’s focus, vision and perseverance are inspirational and he has great actionable advice for anyone charting their own path.

Ramon B. Nuez Jr.

Om, this is a great post. I really enjoyed the video’s. Tim has an amazing attitude. I think I would have caved at the 4th or 5th VC rejection.

I guess that is what separates the good from the best entrepreneurs.

Vidya Balakrishnan

Wow, extremely insightful conversation with someone who built an amazing product with years of blood, sweat, and tears. I love that with humility and patience he was able to persevere through so many trials. Very inspiring guy.

Ash

Om, what a great interview. I am a big fan of Tim & Tom. Largely because of them, I never hesitate to pay for the service. Pandora and its founders are truly an inspiration.

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