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BusinessI am Rune Sovndahl, co-founder and CEO of an international service company, and а passionate shark and cave diver - Ask Me Anything.

Jul 10th 2017 by rune_sovndahl • 26 Questions • 732 Points

I am Rune Sovndahl, co-founder and CEO of Fantastic Services https://www.fantasticservices.com/ — a franchise-based company operating within the on-demand services sector, on 3 continents. To take my mind off the corporate life, I like to (among other extreme activities) dive underwater caves or swim in shark ridden areas. AMA about my hobbies, company, starting from scratch, the industry in UK, Brexit, anything. http://imgur.com/AqaxAg3

Read more about my adventures here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewcave/2017/01/31/from-swimming-with-sharks-to-cave-diving-the-ceos-who-take-risks-outside-work/#4daa9aa6684d and here: http://www.director.co.uk/driven-by-jeep-how-adventure-made-rune-sovndahl-a-better-leader-19860-2/

Q:

As a passionate shark, do you find being an aquatic creature a detriment or advantage when picking up women?

A:

As an advice you should be very careful with your teeth, not all women like it when you bite them :)


Q:

Thanks for entertaining my joke!

But seriously, what kind of difficulties did you face when setting up a company to connect these kind of on-demand services to such a broad area?

A:

Now that's a real question! Marketplaces are always about supply and demand, and the main problem we have faced was getting the right supply at the right level of quality. It's always going to be a balance, between having enough supply and demand. If you have too much demand, then you become a sorry company ("sorry - we didn't turn up", etc..), like some of our competitors, and if you have too much supply and no demand, you become just another thing the suppliers have signed up to and they stop being part of the platform. It's that constant balance between supply and demand that's both fascinating but also the biggest challenge in this industry.


Q:

What's so extreme about being an entrepreneur?

A:

In my humble opinion, just about everything - from having the courage to do it, getting it done and all the things in between. Selling, managing staff, hiring staff, marketing, managing operations, learning new things faster while growing and managing is extreme..


Q:

What is your best advice to a would-be entrepreneur?

A:

Never ever give up.

The obstacle is the way never accept a no and keep trying !

Best advice I ever got was just try it...


Q:

What precautions do you take to avoid being attacked by a shark and what would you do if a shark was attacking you?

A:

Hi Chan, sharks are pretty peaceful for scuba divers, one of the things they don't like and this is really strange is bubbles, so to them scuba divers are so noisy and strange they just observe you. If you are attacked I have heard you have to try and hit it hard on the nose and see if you can claw at it's eyes.


Q:

What do you do when you're diving and you suddenly have to poop?

A:

There is a saying amongst divers, there are 2 types of scuba divers: those who pee in their wet suit / those who lie about it... I haven't had this poo problem. A seasoned diver would prepare for this, but if a man/diver has to go a man/diver has to go..


Q:

What was the moment you realised that your organization has become big?

A:

it was something I had always dreamt about since i was a little kid , walking down a street or hearing people I didn't know talk about something I had made or something I had set up. And I realised it when one day while going to a meeting in London I saw three of our vans on the same day on the same drive, and the Uber driver said oh is this your company, we used the gardening service last week.. that's when it finally hit me, we are starting to get known at least in London. but the absolute realisation hit me when taking a taxi to Sydney airport and seeing one of our vans there - that's was mind-blowing!


Q:

OK, so I imagine a company must be doing a lot of things correctly to become this successful and widespread. But probably an organization of such scale has a lot of problems as well. What would you say are the 3 top challenges that you are currently facing?

A:

Top 3 challenges. Hmm right now we are facing an issue with rapid growth, we are growing fast and the summer is our busiest season so finding staff is a top 3 challenge. Our second biggest challenge is something of a spoilt for choice. We are debating which service to launch next and where, and the final challenge is company culture and maintaining some of the values we have had from the beginning as we grow.


Q:

That's the answer equivalent of "I'm working too hard, that's my weakness". Sounds like bullshit.

What actual problems are you facing? If you don't say them here, fine, but I hope you haven't convinced yourself that you have no problems. That's the first step to failure.

A:

We have many problems, no secret there! As I replied below, the number one is getting enough supply / Pro's.


Q:

Any tips for first time shark cage divers?

My girlfriend loves anything marine, mainly sharks and whales, and we plan on going to Shark Con next year in Florida and hopefully experience it! Wouldn't happen to have any suggestions on which service we should use in Tampa, Florida, would you?

A:

I don't dive with cages, but by all means if you want to do it, that's great. Sharks are incredible creatures and an amazing experience. I dove near Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, outside Sydney, Australia, and in Perth, Australia, all without cages. It's fun when you come up on the surface hear people on the beach, when you know what's down there so close to the beach. Whatever you do, enjoy it, and make sure the equipment, the staff and you are prepared..


Q:

We've both never been before. The services we've look at provide a cage near surface level that's attached to the boat, where you use snorkals instead of a full SCUBA suit (maybe "diving" was the wrong word). To be honest, I don't think I could do it free-diving like that!

Do you have a favorite type of shark you enjoy diving with?

A:

Then I would recommend a cage!!!! or better a glass-wall, in an aquarium.

I like Bullsharks - impressive and scary and most dangerous, as they live close to the shore, but seeing hammerheads is incredible, and well worth it.


Q:

No, he is a passionate shark who also cave dives.

A:

The cave dives are more because they're unexplored, the shark dives are in open water, sharks aren't found in the fresh water caves I normally dive.


Q:

That's a great logical answer but it wasn't funny!

Cheers :D

A:

who is your greatest inspiration?


Q:

I hate to ask since the answer is usually "no", but is FantasticServices available in Canada or are you planning to expand here? What's involved in setting up a company in another country and what are the challenges?

A:

There is a Fantastic Services in Canada but this is not ours, we are looking for country partners to open in other countries.

What's required? Drive Passion Understanding Services Being business minded and wanting to grow immensely as it goes fast..


Q:

Which has been your "closest call"?

A:

During A freedive in Thailand, I was very young I think it was 1996 and I didn't quite know my limits, and pushed too hard and got very deep. But I passed out just before reaching the surface, everything went black and I remember feeling weightless. It was less than 1m from The surface so luckily I woke up the moment the sun hit my face and I reached the surface... it was so scary and I haven't done free diving since, not to any depths or distances. This was a very scary experience, forget about sharks, running out of air is scary. That's why you always dive in groups and best is groups do three.


Q:

Your top 5 favorite movies about sharks?

A:

Blackfish.

I don't think sharks and tonadoes and jaws are shark Movies... but if any of you have recommendations let me know? I'd love to watch as long as it's not a movie where sharks are made into monsters.


Q:

Did you do a technical course before starting cave diving?

A:

Yes! It's a must!

You can with advanced open water be taken on tours of caverns until 15m and you must always be able to see the exit. When you become a cavern diver you are allowed to enter a cave with training and a certified cave diver.

To be qualified you need to go on technical diving courses like IDREO. I'm a certified IDREO cave diver. [IDREO](www.idreo.org)


Q:

Aren't sharks somewhat lacking in exploration potential? How did you get into them (literally)?

A:

it was more of a dare the first time, I had to do one open sea dive on my rescue diver exam, and a friend suggested to go see some bullsharks, and once I saw them it was love at first sight.. they are incredible to observe..


Q:

Favourite dive gear?

A:

Whitearrow by far! Incredible design and functions


Q:

I'm a bit biased because I work very close to AP Diving and know most of the guys there :)

A:

Ap?


Q:

Ambient Pressure. They make Inspirations and provided the breathing system for the Mariana'a Trench expedition. All made in-house. Very impressive for such a tiny little town in the English countryside.

A:

Intersting love it where are they distributed. ? I know the designer of white arrow and it's incredible stuff, haven't tried AP but if they are based in the UK then it's worth a visit for sure!


Q:

What is the likelihood that potatoes will come alive and form a militia to kill all of the humans that have eaten any form of potatoes?

A:

42


Q:

Y'all hiring??

A:

Yup franchise


Q:

So how did you started this company? What would be one advice for you to give for upcoming entrepreneurs?

A:

I have 10 tips for bootstrapping

Find a Niche Use Your Unfair Advantage Co Founder - Synergy Train Staff Sell, Sell & Sell More Control Cash Double up Do It Yourself Barter Have fun!


Q:

May I ask what do you mean by double up?

A:

Yes it refers to redundancy in team's and in systems and then to double up on everything you can sell if something makes a return double t the next year


Q:

Is turning yourself into a passionate shark what you do with all the money you dont pay the people working for you?

A:

I don't really think that's a fair question..