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For entrepreneurship the rule is: learning by doing. By making mistakes or tackling something differently the next time, a company can flourish. In the IO series Lessons Learned, entrepreneurs share how they have become wise through trial and error. This week: Andy Lürling – who has been in the business for more than 17 years – was once steered in the wrong direction with well-intentioned advice.

  • Entrepreneur: Andy Lürling
  • Companies founded: LUMO Labs, iOpener Media, Quantiq Xmedia
  • Lesson learned: ‘Always follow your own course’

Andy Lürling is the founder of investment fund LUMO Labs, a company that invests millions in start-up technology companies. Within LUMO, Lürling works closely together with start-up entrepreneurs and fulfils a consultative role during the supervisory phase. Although, according to Lürling, getting good advice can help a company to get off the ground, he is also very much in favor of relying on your own intuition: “People often call me stubborn.”

If you look back on your 17-year history as an entrepreneur, what is the most important lesson that you have learned?

“When I started out in 2003, I thought I could handle the world on my own. But of course I can’t, the lesson learned is: Make sure you follow your own course. In doing so, it is always important to follow your own intuition as well. If you do not do that, you’ll end up running around in circles. Advice from others is often contradictory.”

So, no running around in circles then. Can you name an occasion when you were steered in the wrong direction?

“At one point I came up with an app for social meet-ups based on location. I had just split up with the mother of my child during that period. Back then, I couldn’t keep my focus. That’s why I didn’t pay attention to my own lesson and started leaning too much on other people. Their advice was on the prudent side back then and so I decided not to go ahead with the app.”

“Six years later, a very similar company, named LOVOO, sold the app that they had developed for 70 million euros. I’m not saying that this would have happened to me. But looking back, I think I should have listened to myself more carefully after all.”

Are you still able to glean something from that personal lesson these days?

“Yes, definitely. A lot of people find me a bit stubborn and think that I don’t listen. I do listen and then I pick up things that I can do something with. Except I do make my own plans. We announced in March that we have set up a new investment fund: LUMO Fund II. When I look at our organization, I see that over the past two years we have gone through a clear transition, which involved me flying to several countries both within and outside of Europe to seek advice. But in the end I drew a very clear red line for myself. That really paid off. For example, we now have a much clearer investment focus whereby we target resilience and sustainability in particular.”

Do you still enjoy doing business?

“Absolutely. In the end, entrepreneurship is a big jigsaw puzzle. And it’s still a lot of fun finding the right pieces. For me, it’s mainly that challenge that counts.”

You can also read the first episode in this series: ““As a founder, becoming a director is not something I take for granted.”