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Kristian Rönn - Normative

Kristian Rönn - Normative


Until 2012 I was pursuing a B.Sc. in Mathematics and a BA in Philosophy. Although very theoretical subjects, I try to balance theory and practice. I believe a theory without practical application lacks value, while a practice without an underlying theory lacks justification. Normative is a way for me to combine my fascination for mathematics with my profound interest in ethics by building a concrete product that could help millions of people worldwide. 

Since 2005 I have worked part-time for the NGO Emmaus Fredriksdal and conducted several aid projects for them. The most memorable was when we drove eight ambulances from Sweden to Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria. It was broadcast as a documentary by SVT.

Last year I worked as an project manager for the University of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute. My job was to manage the creation of CSER, an University of Cambridge research institute. 

I will spend these three months with;

  • fundraising by writing grant applications and preparing a crowdfunding campaign.
  • building a prototype of Normative.
  • make improvements to our website. 

We participated in the MIT Climate CoLab competition. Out of over 600 applicants we made it to the finals. I hope we will win our category! But in order to do so we need your support! Please vote for us here: http://goo.gl/tyH0E1.

I also expect us to receive at least 100 000 in funding to prepare us for 2015.

Kristian Rönn - Normative # 2


Firstly, we have recruited an additional person to our team, which is extremely important to us since we are striving to have an working proof of concept prototype out by January. Something that will take a lot of hard work and a big time commitment.

Secondly, we have made a lot of progress on the prototype of Normative. We now have an interactive mockup of the app. We have also created a method of measuring how sustainable a user's lifestyle is, in terms of respecting our planetary boundaries, by asking them a series of questions about their current habits.

Yes. Everything has actually gone according to the plans, but our progress has been a bit slower than we first expected. Which is not entirely unexpected if you take the planning fallacy to account. We are however trying to increase the accuracy of our task-completion predictions by following the protocols suggested by Koole. and van't Spijker (2000).

Reinforcement from new team members will help even more!

We will focus on the original plan. At this stage we will have a stronger emphasis on not only designing the GUI but also designing the right algorithms and building the data structures. 

We will also investigate the possibility of improving various design elements in our current GUI design by arranging design contests on websites such as 99designs.  

Kristian Rönn - Normative # 3


My goals for my three Leapfrog months was to:
1. fundraise
2. build a prototype
3. hire programmers
4. make improvements to the website

So far we have been successful with all of the endeavours above (except for the fact that our website has not been updated for a while). We have managed to raise enough money from Vinnova, and various NGOs, to hire two programmers. We have built an interactive mockup of Normative and we are in the process of programming the actual app. 

The hardest part is to stay focused and prioritise all of the things going on in your life. Doing a startup is hard work, and time becomes an extremely scarce commodity. This means you sometimes need to de-prioritise other important parts in your life like friends, family, good food and sleep. 

The most enjoyable part has been the creative aspects of doing a startup. Things like visual design, GUI design, programming, problem solving etc. But the overall experience has also been amazing. The feeling of purpose you get from working on something you are passionate about can not be overstated.

Everything has actually gone according to the plans, but our progress has been a bit slower than we first expected (as I said in the previous interview). But right now the future looks extremely bright. We will soon move into a bigger office and continue our work from there. We also plan to hire more programmers, so if you are a skilled coder interested in making the world a better place, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email (kristian [at] getnormative [dot] com).

Most important lesson learned during the project:

  • Write down everything important in your notepad, task management system and calendar. Otherwise you might miss an important meeting or forget that groundbreaking idea.
  • Things will move slower than you expect because of the planning fallacy.
  • Focus is a depletable resource and if you work for more than 10 hours a day you will experience diminishing marginal utility.
  • Pivoting is sometimes necessary so don’t be afraid to take your startup in a new direction.
  • Building the right network is worth a lot!
  • It is important to be aware of your limitations and cognitive biases.

Tips for new entrepreneurs:

Don’t spend more than 10% of your time on planning. Planning starts with the assumption that you can forecast the future with a high level of certainty, which is usually not the case. So instead of spending all of your time on planning for hypothetical future scenarios (that might not even happen), I recommend adopting a more agile and rapid approach where you 1) just start and 2) see what happens, 3) react on that information (pivot if necessary) and 4) iterate.