Randu Riiberg: “Everything comes down to self-belief.”

Randu is a partner at Law Office Glimstedt and has 20 years of experience as a legal advisor and management consultant. He also has extensive experience as an entrepreneur and investor. We are also really glad that Randu, together with Ivo Remmelg, is the lead investor of the syndicate for sTARTUp Pitching Powered by EstBAN.
The interview was conducted by Jaanika Niinepuu, a member of the sTARTUp Day Marketing & PR team.

How did you become an investor?

I became an investor before I graduated from law school. My father was active in the scrap metal business. Looking for opportunities to grow capital felt right from the very beginning. For the first profit I made as an entrepreneur, I acquired a shareholding in OÜ Miterassa in 1999. The company was just an idea at the time. Today it is one of the leading consumer and business electronics sellers and consultants in Estonia. Probably it also has been one of the riskiest investments I have made.

After that, I have been focusing mainly on advising others and occasionally made additional investments. In 2017, I did a successful exit from a demolition company I owned (got involved due to family ties and later on acquired majority). I try to invest in businesses where I can also contribute my own experience. My latest direct investment was Paragon Sleep.

You have 20 years of experience as a legal advisor and management consultant. The road to success is usually with ups and downs. During your road to success, were there moments where you thought that you were going to fail and this whole thing will not take off?

Yes, absolutely! Such moments tend to occur rather often when you surround yourself with people who don't want you to succeed. In hindsight, I realize it all comes down to people surrounding you – this is what really helps you move forward quickly and leave failures behind. Or sometimes give different assessments to difficult situations: whether you see it as the end of the world or you take it as a challenge. It may sound like a cliché. You have to ignore and keep on pushing, as there is always a way out. There have been some failures both early in the career and in the recent past. Things happen when you do a lot.

What are the personality traits that help a person to become successful?

Leaving failures behind, learning from them, and focusing on what is to come. It is extremely important to take time to step aside on a daily basis to understand what you are doing and where to put your energy. I'm still working on it.

You can keep going with something continuously only because you started it one day. And if quitting is not built-in for you, it's difficult to stop. Criticism and action analysis will definitely contribute. There is no point in forcing things – you have to recognize what and who is worth keeping.

What do you think about mentors?

I think of them well. The more experienced I get, the more I feel that it is good to have people with whom you can exchange ideas. There are many situations in life that you are exposed to, and it is possible to go through them yourself or alternatively talk with people who have experienced the very same thing. The latter greatly facilitates the successful resolution of situations.

Do you have any mentors?

At what point can you say that someone is a mentor? I appreciate the people surrounding me I can rely on. I do not have any single mentor, but a wide network of people on whom I can rely. I'm very grateful to them for that.

What are the questions to ask yourself to find out whether you would invest in a company?

  1. What is the risk level involved and possible reward? The purpose of the investment is to increase capital. I always ask myself if a projected capital growth meets my expectations. The risk and contribution expected of me are also decisive.
  2. From there, I come to the question: Is my input needed, and if so, what is the time I should invest? If I believe that the success of a project requires my active involvement, there are other considerations on the table as well.
  3. Can I be sure that the team will solve the issues they will face when things get difficult? As an investor, the team is the key issue. It is extremely good to have a sense of security that someone is taking care of things.

What are your biggest fears as an investor? How do you cope with them?

Fear is a strong word. I avoid using it. For example, when it comes to startups: if you invest what you are willing to lose, then there is nothing to fear. You have to be rather pragmatic – do the homework and assess the risks before making any investment. It is not possible to guarantee everything on paper. There is always the question of your belief in other people's vision that things are going to go as they have planned.

Tell me something you are learning right now.

(sighs and thinks) Law practice and continuous work with people, including supervisory board and investor roles, make you learn something new every day. Otherwise – time management, investing in cars, saying no.

One of the things I'm learning again is being a father to a young child. My older kids are aged 16, and the younger child is under a year old. I would say the main learning is how to improve in my role as a father. I have high demands for myself. Sometimes it is difficult to live up to those demands.

In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

Setting goals. Keeping in mind why I'm doing things the way I do them. Understanding that going with the herd takes you where the herd is going. Not all of whom share your blood type. The notion that, after all, everything comes down to self-belief – there is no point in blaming others.

If you had one superpower as an attorney or an investor, what would it be and why?

Pragmatic optimism mixed with reasonable due diligence – special focus on getting people right the first time. I consider myself to have a very strong ability to solve difficult situations between people, finding solutions. Willingness and ability to discuss difficult issues. Sometimes using too many words for that.

What makes you excited about the future?

Family, the projects in process and opportunities ahead.

Hero of the Week is a column focused on inspirational entrepreneurial people around us – their journeys, success stories and lessons learned from failures, goals, inspiration and everything in between. Get inspired and be the Hero of your own life!
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