The innovation coach of Telia Company, Lauris Muzikants offers mentoring and coaching!

04/26/2017 | By Klara Stumpf

This post originally appeared on

Lauris is just starting an innovation consultancy, and was until recently working with the global part of Telia Company. A place where they build products and services for the future of telecommunications. He helped project teams and management teams that innovate and evolve their ways of creating and delivering value for their customers and capturing value for the business by coaching and training.

Lauris helps his mentees to zoom out from just the product and help them innovate and create around more of a value proposition and more of the parts that needs to be in place for their stuff to work.

Is it fun to be a mentor?

Oh yes! I have been to a couple of startup weekends and hackathons before and there is lots of fun! Initially we used the Hackathon at Telia and Ericsson to build a platform for autonomy, which is proven to create motivation for people. I enjoy the traveltech area very much as we have to solve problems that everyone has. So I am really looking forward to mentor at Startup Weekend. As a mentor one might think you are alone, but I feel you are more surrounded by people who get very excited when they come to this temporary job to create something fantastic. You have only 54 hours and whatever you are up to, you always make fantastic progress. It is good to see where people can get to. Besides creating new things, I see them learn and create new connections. It’s like they build their own personal business models, where product development is only one part.

When helping teams, I like to think of the wall as the new desktop. We can create common space there for people to cooperate on problems, get a common visual language. I then give them the means - if they don’t have it already that is - to find the right things to do and what to do first. It’s like getting better at finding the right path to reach their destinations. Doing that in a visual way, brings them together on a common platform. It’s like you cannot divide work up and split into silos. The environment shapes that path.

In San Francisco the Startup Weekend event was organized together with the yearly Lean Startup Conference arranged by Eric Ries’ team. It was in October and November last year. A particular focus in this event was the extra weight on customer discovery. The rooms were small and it was like the teams felt relieved to get out of the building to interview and test with customer.

In Stockholm it looks like it’s going to be a thrilling diversity at the Startup Weekend, among the organizers and the participants, as well as us mentors. I like that.

Who have been your mentees?

One example from a large corporation is an IoT team that was aiming to make train transportation better by detecting damage very early. The whole ecosystem that needed to be in that cooperation was there - the consultants, the software company and even the innovator himself, besides the IoT team of course. One of the things that we were working on was the business model and how to set up the cooperation between all these people who can be seen as entrepreneurs in already huge companies.

A second example from the startup scene is a mobile app company that aims to help companies reach customers nearby. We have met a couple of times and it’s thrilling to see their endless source of energy as real early entrepreneurs in the search for a plan that will work and make them great.

And a third type of mentees are social entrepreneurs on a startup scene in Berlin. What’s interesting here is that even though they are non-profits they still need to have great value propositions embedded in great business models. They are - how unlikely as it sound at first - in a market full of competition: they are all compteting for the money from the donors. Because the donors want their money to turn into as much value as possible. So the Social entrepreneurs are also often happy mentees of business model coaching.

Last but not least, there are these cool startup teams in San Francisco, Tallinn, Stockholm, Stavanger, Berlin and more. These participants come as individuals and leave as teams. They come full of energy and leave fuelled with learnings and growth. Some of them even change their course of life. One team from Tallinn grew out of their market and moved to England within months.

Do you have a favourite traveltech area?

That’s a tough one. Starting somewhere, the sharing economy is getting bigger and bigger now. Look at Uber and AirBNB and the like. They are disruptors of older business models. But I’m sure that someone will disrupt these businesses as well. And that will happen faster than expected. So there must be something after that. So what would that be? Maybe some kind of traveltech?

Another perspective to this question is the vehicles. Railways are very interesting – there are trains where you have panoramic windows and you can see the landscape passing by and they has a chef in the car and own departments for the guests “upstairs”. Train related vacation sounds like an area that is under evolution, and maybe innovation.

Is there a bad question?

No. Feel free to ask me anything.

Do you have favourite travel destinations?

My travel destinations are different depending on the context.

In winter and there needs to be a place nearby, I pack my skis and go for cross-country skiing preferably in the northern of Sweden. There is where I clear my head and make my body work instead of my brain.

My favourite place going far away is New York – that’s a retreat for me. Just be there. Feel the pulse of that huge city where there is still warm and welcoming people. When I travel, I enjoy the terminal buildings too. I love to walk and explore, sit and drink a cappuccino and watch people running by – it makes me get refuelled and it is a sort of recreation for me, for example after day-long workshop. That goes for a lot of the stuff I do. I enjoy the journey as much as the destination. As an entrepreneur I enjoy the search as much as the outcome.

Do you have a favourite vehicle?

The airplane. Definitely. It does not matter how bad the weather is, the sun always shines above the clouds.

Which superhero or film character do you have similarities with?

This is a really tough one. I would like to go for Batman. He has the resources and skills to make good for the society. He is generous, and he creates a vast amount of tech stuff. Especially his vehicles of different sorts and imaginary equipped. He is sort of an inventor super hero. And his words are comforting for innovators: “Why do we fall? So that you can learn to pick ourselves up”.