Born 1 June 1973 in Lund, Sweden / blue-green eyes / 173 cm / 67 kg / Favorite Atari game: “Never played computer games really. I stuck to Lego and then moved right on to Dungeons & Dragons.”
Olle Per Morin is one of those people you hear about who has lived everywhere and done a little bit of everything. Born in the south of Sweden, he has made his home on three continents – in Buenos Aires, Munich and Massachusetts – as well as in the Swedish cities of Linköping, Gothenburg and Stockholm.
In high school, Olle dedicated himself to studying in preparation for architecture school, though once he got accepted, he wasn’t so sure that’s what he wanted to do.
A similar situation arose when he quit journalism school after half a year, “realizing that I liked writing, but not quite so much the part of being nosy and stubborn in order to find news.”
Olle’s journeys have taken him through courses and careers as varied as engineering, media and communications, technical science, economics, German, Spanish, pharmaceutical logistics and I.T. Through much of that, he missed the creativity that comes from building something new and unique.
To fix that, at the beginning of 2011, he moved to his present home in Malmö, Sweden, to set up a new company with some friends. Their current project, a dating website called Mazily (pronounced Maze-a-lee) has quickly taken over their lives and has become an adventure beyond what any of them – especially Olle – ever expected.
DO YOU LIKE IT WHEN PEOPLE PLAY MUSIC IN SUBWAYS TRAINS OR IN THE STATIONS?
Eh, no. I prefer quiet. I prefer silence. I usually don’t pay them.
HAVE YOU BEFORE?
I think once I did. It was a really cool guy. It was actually in Argentina.
WAS HE PRETTY GOOD?
No, he was playing a quite interesting tune. I was on my way home to Sweden so I had some spare coins.
OH, TRYING TO GET RID OF YOUR LOCAL CURRENCY?
DO YOU HAVE ANY NICKNAMES?
I think “Olle” is pretty short [laughter] so there’s no need for a nickname.
THEY DON’T CALL YOU “OL”? [laughs]
No, not really. No nicknames at all.
YOU SAID YOU KIND OF HAVE A HEADACHE TODAY. WHAT DID YOU DO LAST NIGHT THAT WAS SO AWESOME?
No, it wasn’t that awesome. It was a 39th birthday party in Bromma [a suburb of Stockholm]. It was fifteen people… Fifteen guys. [laughter]
THAT SOUNDS LIKE TROUBLE.
Eating dinner and drinking whiskey. It was okay, though. There were a lot of people from university I hadn’t seen for about ten years or so.
YOU SEEM TO HAVE BOUNCED AROUND FROM LOTS OF DIFFERENT IDEAS ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT TO DO WITH YOUR LIFE. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?
Indecisiveness, I guess. I always want to keep possibilities open, so I tend to make decisions too late. I guess that reflects on how my life has turned out as well.
I’ve been thinking about changing this a little bit, since it has… If you heel too much open until the last minute, it turns out that, many times, nothing happens at all. Because nowadays people are not that flexible. You have to make plans a week ahead to make things happen. But I am super-flexible so nothing happens. [laughter]
IF YOU KEEP WAITING FOR SOMETHING BETTER FOR SO LONG, YOU’LL LOOK AROUND AND EVERYTHING IS GONE-
YEAH. It’s better, maybe, to stick with something and make the best out of it, rather than looking around. But it’s really hard. I’m not very good at it yet. But hopefully.
ARE YOU JEALOUS OF PEOPLE WHO KNOW THEY WANT TO BE A TEACHER OR A LAWYER WHEN THEY’RE 12 YEARS OLD AND THEN THAT’S WHAT THEY DO?
[hesitant] I wouldn’t say “jealous” but I guess it would be comfortable. But still, I find that a bit… a little bit sad. Maybe not sad, but…
KIND OF BORING?
Kind of boring. If they don’t realize their true potential, or whatever. Unless they’re really happy with teaching, then I guess that’s good.
SO…. TECHNICAL SCIENCE… MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS… GERMAN… JOURNALISM… ARCHITECTURE… SPANISH… PHARMACEUTICAL LOGISTICS…
WHAT DO ALL THESE THINGS HAVE IN COMMON? IS THERE A COMMON THREAD THAT INTERESTS YOU ABOUT THESE THINGS?
[five seconds] Not really, I guess. It’s just, again, reflecting my indecisiveness, I guess… [laughter] …through my life path. But I realize that I’m really interested in media and communications and science and technology in general.
I get this paper sent to me every Wednesday, it’s called Ny Teknik (“New Technology”). It’s kind of like a boring tech magazine. Then I also have Svenskan coming (moderate-leaning Swedish daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet). [laughs] When I get Ny Teknik, I always end up reading that first, for some reason. [laughs] …at least the I.T. part of it, maybe not the chemical news.
I’m interested in products and technical products, media, science and communications, and so on.
I like to get an overview. It happens, but I rarely go into depth with something, which is both good and bad, of course. I never really stayed in one subject for a really long time. I was always moving around a bit, backing up, going a different way.
But I think the pharma years… It was a good job but it was not what I was really interested in. I was interested in logistics, at least the structural part of it, the I.T. angle and how to streamline the process. That was really interesting. But I wasn’t really interested in the pharmaceutical product itself. It could have been anything else.
I think it’s better, of course, if you work on something you actually care about as well. So I was happy to go back to I.T. when I switched in 2007 – I think it was – to web project management.
AND YOU’VE BEEN HAPPIER SINCE THEN?
Yeah, I’ve been more content with what I’ve actually been doing. There are still a lot of things happening in web design and web development and so on. There are a lot of things to read about and to keep up with and a lot of ideas still.
I THINK THE INTERNET IS STILL REALLY NEW.
Yeah, most likely.
LIKE IF TODAY YOU LOOK AT A WEBSITE FROM THE NINETIES, IT LOOKS SO HILARIOUS. IT WILL BE THE SAME RESPONSE IN TEN YEARS IF PEOPLE LOOK AT OUR SITES TODAY.
That’s true. It’s the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. These are the first years.
WE’RE STILL BUILDING THE TOOLS.
HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR EGGS COOKED?
[laughs while taking a drink of coffee…] Uh… Um, medium.
[laughter] A LITTLE BIT RUNNY?
Not too much. I have this interesting product that I got from my sister. It’s like a plastic thing that looks like an egg. You put it next to the egg so you can actually tell when it is perfectly done.
[laughter] I THINK I NEED THAT.
It doesn’t matter when you put the eggs on the stove, so whatever heat and whatever amount of time.
AH, BRILLIANT! [laughter]
I can get you one! [laughter]
THAT WOULD BE GREAT! … DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY GIRLS HAVE YOU KISSED IN YOUR LIFE?
Uh… [laughs] That’s a good question. [laughter] No. I could probably try to count but, I mean, it’s not that many. Do you want a number? [laughs]
NO, I’M NOT LOOKING FOR A NUMBER. I’M JUST MORE CURIOUS IF YOU KNOW.
No, it could be quite a few, but I…
MORE THAN A THOUSAND?
No, no, no! [laughter] Less than a hundred. That’s for sure.
HAS THAT NUMBER INCREASED DRAMATICALLY SINCE YOU STARTED A DATING WEBSITE?
No, that’s probably… I think it’s gone the other direction. [laughter]
WELL, YOU’VE TOLD ME THAT YOU DON’T USE THE SITE YOURSELF…
I’ve been trying other sites, partly just to check them out. The only one I’ve actually been using is Happy Pancake. It’s not a great user experience, like you’ve said, but it’s not that much worse than the other ones that actually cost a lot. So I’ve been using that one a little bit.
But I think Malmö is almost too small for dating. There’s not that much happening there. The same goes, maybe, for Mazily as well.
I think Stockholm is more dynamic and you don’t risk running into someone. [laughs] I mean, it could happen, but it’s not that likely that you would go on a date and then run into the girl all the time. In Malmö, that happens. If you go on a date, you are guaranteed to see her a few times. [laughs]
RIGHT, AND IF PEOPLE HAVE THE SAME INTERESTS, THEY’RE PROBABLY IN THE SAME PLACES.
I think that is also a little bit of a problem for Mazily. In small, small, little cities like Malmö, the people in this niche have already seen each other or slept… or whatever! [laughter] …a few times. [laughs]
Mazily in Malmö is a bit of an experiment. What we want to do is connect it with Copenhagen. Then it could be a hub for both of the cities and that could be interesting.
YEAH. WHEN I TELL PEOPLE ABOUT YOUR SITE – THAT IT’S A DATING SITE FOR CREATIVE PEOPLE AND THOSE INTERESTED IN DESIGN, FILM, FASHION, BOOKS, ET CETERA – PEOPLE ALWAYS THINK IT’S A GREAT IDEA. WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO START IT AND WHERE DID THE CONCEPT COME FROM?
I was on dating sites in 2003 or 2004, something like that. I tried a few, but I basically only used one. I ended up meeting a girlfriend on the site and we hung out for a while.
When we broke up, I wasn’t really keen on trying it again. So I was like, “Let’s go with natural sources.”
I realized after a while that most of my friends were in relationships and had started getting kids. It was very convenient to hang out with them, so I never really bumped into very many new people. I figured I might as well try (dating sites) again.
I did a little “market research” and tried out one or two sites. Firstly, I realized most of them look the same. The functionality was the same.
Yes, years later they were all still the same, like five years maybe. And also at this point I was getting more critical, or at least had higher expectations, since I worked with web development and so. And people were starting to use sites like Facebook, Twitter, whatever, those sites had come up. So I was a bit shocked or disappointed that they were still so bad. [laughter] And also the language. It’s not just about the functionality, it’s also about how you approach the theme. I just said, “I must be able to do this better.”
So I started to speak with an interaction designer who worked with me at Creuna [digital media agency], my former place of employment. We started to think about this and he was also really interested in the project, even though he had a girlfriend, he had never tried Internet dating.
As we started building ideas, we realized we needed a niche concept in order to reach out, since the competition is quite tough out there. It costs a lot to acquire new members, so the niche has helped us.
But also, we kind of “dug where we stood.” That was the site niche we always wanted to see. It’s natural if you’re you’re interested in culture or pop culture, in some sense, then you want to meet people who basically have the same interests.
A lot of people complain that it’s very one-sided that you’d have people who are all alike on one site, but if you think about it, that’s how it works if you go out to a bar. It’s also very niched. You go to a place where people listen to the sort of music you like, because you think, “Oh, these are nice people,” you know?
“These people are kind of like me.” [laughter] That happens all over the place.
But it is a little wider. Within this niche, some people maybe like theatre and some people go to metal concerts or whatever. All these people have something in common. They like their cultural interests and that defines them in some sense. If you can find someone who likes…
YOU TOLD ME THAT WHEN YOU WORKED AT AD AGENCY, “WHEN PEOPLE CHEERED FOR A NEW CUSTOMER AT THE AGENCY I ALWAYS FELT AMBIGUOUS?” [laughter] HOW ARE THINGS DIFFERENT NOW THAT YOU’RE RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS THAT NEEDS A CONSTANT FLOW OF NEW MEMBERS TO REALLY THRIVE?
It’s different. [laughs] I find that it would be pretty hard to go back to “normal” – to being a normal employee. It’s actually so much different. I mean, Idon’t make any money. That’s the only problem. [laughter]
It hasn’t been that easy. We had quite a lot of problems and we’re still not making any money. If you put three or four people together in a room – five guys in this case – together all the time, you’ll have your conflicts and so on. You have pressure from both the outside and the inside. So it has not been a walk in the park in that sense. But it’s really thrilling to see your own initiatives actually coming to reality.
YOUR BABY IS GROWING.
Yeah, something like that.
ARE YOU OBSESSIVE ABOUT MEMBERSHIP NUMBERS? DO YOU CHECK THEM A LOT?
We have this… [three seconds] database tool that you can use to visualize important stats. It’s called QlikView. It is updated every hour. S6o every new hour, if I’m online [laughter] I always click this and see how many new members I have today. [laughter] So it’s getting…
DOES IT AFFECT YOUR MOOD?
[laughter] Naaaw, not really. But sometimes if we spend a lot of money on Facebook ads, sometimes people just run wild and sometimes they don’t work at all. They just drop dead. But some days they go really well.
You can spend a lot of money on the ad and no one signs up. What we’ve realized lately was that we originally thought the Facebook ads were really great. They were our main source. But now that we’ve done some more precise measurements, we’ve found that the Facebook traffic is only about 30% of the incoming visitors. [laughs] We were thinking that it was like 100% but it’s really only 30%.
Last week we had all the ads turned off and we gained a little fewer members than normally, but it’s only about 20% or 30% less that we actually have in a normal week. So maybe we have spent a lot of money… uh… [laughter]
YEAH! I HATE IT. I USED A LOT OF FACEBOOK ADS FOR K COMPOSITE. IT SEEMED LIKE IT WAS GOOD. IT WAS BRINGING A LOT OF TRAFFIC TO THE WEBSITE AND TO THE FACEBOOK PAGE – PEOPLE WERE “LIKING” IT – BUT IT WASN’T TRANSLATING INTO PEOPLE DOWNLOADING THE APP AND ACTUALLY READING THE MAGAZINE.
Okay. So you’ve also had this experience?
YEAH. IT GETS A LOT OF TRAFFIC AND AWARENESS, MAYBE.
That’s good, though, if it’s somewhere. Some people, when I say I work for Mazily, they say, “Oh, yes! I see them all the time!” Some people seem to be really pinpointed by the ads, but other people, they haven’t even heard about it. But I guess some kind of awareness is good, but if it doesn’t lead to any actual signups…
WELL, FOR SOMETHING LIKE MAZILY IT IS GOOD TO HAVE AWARENESS BECAUSE PEOPLE DON’T NEED IT ALL THE TIME. IF THEY SUDDENLY NEED THE SERVICE – THEY SUDDENLY FIND THEMSELVES ALONE IN A HORRIBLE WORLD AND THEY NEED TO MEET SOMEBODY – THEN THEY ALREADY KNOW ABOUT IT.
I guess it has sparked some interest, but maybe we have focused a little bit too much on that.
HAVE YOU EVER HAD TO DEAL WITH LOUD NEIGHBORS?
Um… [six seconds] No?
ARE YOU THE LOUD NEIGHBOR?
[laughter] I’ve been the loud neighbor once or twice. [laughter] But actually, I had one guy living above me once, for a while, and he was really loud when he… [short pause] had sex with his girlfriend. [laughter] They were really loud. And long-lasting as well! [laughter]
In the summer they always had their window open as well, which opened to the center courtyard in the middle of the building, so… [laughter] I was actually not complaining, but other people who lived in the building screamed into the courtyard, “Stop it!” [laughter] “Aren’t you done?” [laughter]
WHAT DID YOU HAVE FOR DINNER LAST TUESDAY?
[four seconds] That’s a good question.
[looking at his phone]
ARE YOU CHECKING YOUR CALENDAR?
Tuesday? Tuesday… I was… [five seconds] I was… [three seconds] Oh, I had French! My French course. [laughter]
A FRENCH COOKING CLASS?
No, it’s French language. I’m trying to learn some French… for some reason. [laughter] But it’s really hard to pronounce.
YES. I DON’T THINK IT’S A REAL LANGUAGE.
It’s really hard. It’s beautiful, but it’s really hard. So I went home from the class and I remember this because I ate the same thing on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday! I baked a lot of vegetables in olive oil, beet roots and sweet potatoes and onions and things, then I had a pork thing to go with it, and goat cheese. It was quite good, actually. It lasted for three days as well! [laughter]
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR LEGO BUILDING SKILLS. I MEAN, YOU WERE MORE INTO LEGOS THAN VIDEO GAMES.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Actually I did have a lot of space Legos. I think there is still a huge box somewhere at my parents’ house with all my Legos, saved for me.
I’VE GOT THE SAME THING.
[laughs] Okay. So I had mostly space Legos, I think, and a lot of regular Lego.
HAVE YOU BEEN TO LEGOLAND?
No. I haven’t.
IT’S SO CLOSE TO SWEDEN, I SHOULD GO NOW THAT I LIVE HERE.
WELL, THERE’S ONE IN CALIFORNIA BUT I NEVER WENT TO THAT ONE WHEN I LIVED THERE.
Really? There’s one there as well? Yeah, now that I live in Malmö, I could easily go. But I guess it would be better to go with my sister’s kids or something, than on my own. [laughter]