Features

24 Hours With… Erik Ingvoldstad of Acoustic

In this 24 Hours With, the Singapore-based digital media veteran discusses his early-morning cycle, the challenges of building a start-up and his love of Swedish death metal

5.30am: Crap. It’s still the middle of the night. Stupid alarm. Got to get into my Mamil outfit, and get on the bike. Every second morning, I ride 30 kilometres(70-80km on the weekends), and I have to get out by 6am, because of traffic and the heat. I’m not a natural fitness freak, so getting up and out is a real pain for me. That’s why I have to do it on a fixed schedule. Can’t allow myself any excuses. But when I’m on the bike, I feel free and I love pushing myself. My “Strava Live Segments” enabled Garmin lets me race against myself, which adds an element of motivation for someone like me.

7am: Completely drenched in sweat, I cool down, shower and have some breakfast. Usually avocado on toast, despite the fact that I’m definitely no hipster. Most importantly, I have my tea. Dilmah English Breakfast if I’m at home, teh-o kosong if I’m at a kopitiam. I believe in the healing power of tea – not physically, but mentally. I get more peaceful when drinking tea, and I let all the frustrations of being almost killed in Singapore’s before-school-traffic go away. In fact, I think there would be more peace in the world if more people switched from coffee to tea. While having breakfast, I read up on news, check Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, humblebrag about my Strava achievements, and message a friend about nothing and everything.

8.30am: I am heading to the office. As I walk out to take the MRT, I put on my Audio Technica headphones. They only come off when I have meetings or I am talking to someone. I listen to a lot of relaxing music, such as death metal, sludge metal, thrash metal, black metal, doom metal, industrial metal and other, mostly extreme sub-genres of heavy metal. I listen to a lot of Swedish melodic death metal – At the Gates, In Flames, Amon Amarth and in particular Opeth (progressive death metal). I’m Norwegian, so admitting my love for Swedish music is a bit hard, but the heart wants what it wants. I’m trying to teach Siri to be more proactive on my music taste, but she’s not quite house broken yet.

9am I work in an amazing co-working space called Collision 8 on North Bridge Road. It has everything I need; ample space, nice meeting rooms, funky, but not too funky atmosphere, a lot of interesting tenants, and most importantly, a staff that goes over and beyond what you’d expect from an office space. When you work alone, having these great people around you who are not just service staff, but more like friends, becomes indispensable. I catch up on emails and start the day’s work. A few invoices and some admin to do, but then focus as much as possible on client projects.

10am: I have my first meeting in the office. In my work, which I hate to call consulting, but can’t think of a better word, I focus on doing three things; identify problems, find a solution to them, and implement the solution. I am not the typical report-producing consultant, and I don’t have a hidden agenda of trying to sell software products.

Since I work in the digital transformation, innovation and customer experience space, I spend a lot of my time dispelling the myths about the former. People seem to focus a lot on the ‘digital’ part, but it is the ‘transformation’ that really counts. All the buzzword technologies, like block chains, AI, IoT,  are great, but if they don’t solve a problem, then there’s really no point.  Create products and services that makes a difference in people’s lives, and customers and money will follow.

12pm: Lunch. I love food, and I am a sucker for Chap Chye Peng (mixed rice), so I’ll head over to the nearest food court or hawker to pick up a cheap, easy, quick and tasty meal. I try to take the moment during lunch to breathe and think of life outside of work, before I head back to the office.

1pm: Back in the office, I write a new entry to my blog. I spend way too much time writing about how the advertising industry is dying, and how traditional marketing has no role in today’s society, but today, I’ll focus on how innovation is not just for R&D departments, innovation hubs and accelerator programmes in a corporation – but has to be deep seeded in the culture of the company. The truth is, new ideas are best when they come from the people closest to the customers, be it customer service, retail staff, sales departments etc.

2.30pm: I meet for tea with one of my external partners who’s in Singapore for a few days. We discuss collaboration projects, and how we can take learnings from Asia to Europe and vice versa. Thanks to the velocity of change in 2018, we have to not only learn from our own successes and failures, but from others’ as well. Having said that, I’m not a huge fan of the “take a disruptive idea from one market and implement it locally”. I guess one thing that remains with me from my advertising days; an idea is only great if it’s original.  No disrespect to local startups, but it’s a fact that many of them come from taking  American ideas and implementing them here.

4pm: I spend the afternoon doing a business plan for one of my start-up projects. I like to keep a repository of ideas that I develop over time. My DNA is set to identify problems, and I tend to spend my days outside of work trying to think of how to solve those problems, often using technology. To convert those ideas into real businesses, products or services, is my driver in life, both as a consultant and as a concept developer.

6pm: I pick up my four-year-old, and take him out for dinner. We usually eat at food courts, where he can get vegetarian food, and I can load up on meat. I know it’s not very original to say I love Singapore for its food, but I find the abundance of amazing local food to be a main reason to never leave Singapore.

8pm: I get home, and start cooking (yes, I am aware that I’ve already eaten). But I often prepare for next day’s dinner. I am a passionate hobby chef, and I will make 24-hour sous vide pork or something, churn some home-made ice cream or sorbet, and make sure I have all the ingredients I need. I like to do five-to-eight course dinners, which I insanely try to eat together with my dinner guests. Needless to say, I eat faster than the Tasmanian Devil in Looney Tunes. While my food is cooking, I play my saxophone for 30-60 minutes, and then just slide into my Eames lounge chair and to the latest episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale and Silicon Valley, and perhaps SKAM Austin. I chat with a friend simultaneously. After all, I can multitask.

10pm: I do my weekly call with a fintech start-up I’m involved with in Europe. Since the team is spread between San Francisco, London, Oslo, Chiang Mai and me in Singapore, it becomes a night-time call. My favourite thing in the world is to solve actual problems that real people or businesses have. And this start-up is not one of those “dime a dozen” peer-to-peer or retail payment solutions. We don’t need more of those. This concept solves a huge hassle for businesses across the world. I can’t really say anything else, you’ll just have to wait and see.

I’ll head to bed at midnight. Not riding in the morning, so I can rest until 7.30 tomorrow.

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