We talk to Peter Mühlmann, Founder & CEO Trustpilot, about his inspirations in business, and find out what advice he would give to someone just starting out.
What do you currently do?
I’m founder and CEO of Trustpilot. We’re building the world’s biggest review community where consumers share how they feel about their experiences with companies and companies listen, learn and improve based on that invaluable feedback.
Word-of-mouth has always been the most important way companies grow their reputation and brand. By creating an infinitely shareable online platform where anyone can tell their story openly, and where companies can not only listen but engage in the conversation too, we’ve reinvented word of mouth for the digital age.
Today, there are more than 170,000 businesses worldwide with Trustpilot reviews. People see these two billion times every month both on the web and offline too.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
Actually, my mother was my inspiration. When I founded Trustpilot in 2007 in Aarhus, Denmark, buying things online just wasn’t common. Many people like her simply weren’t sure who to trust and so wouldn’t engage. I was already a budding internet entrepreneur but on a small scale. I remember talking to mum about this gap in trust online and realising ‘there is a huge and universal need here.’
Of course that spark was just that – a spark. The advice I give to other young entrepreneurs is your original inspiration is just the first step in a journey. Success comes from always evolving and reinventing yourself and your ideas in response new inspirations and the fast changing world all around you.
What defines your way of doing business?
Trust. It is in our DNA and embodies everything we do at Trustpilot.
In today’s age of distrust, where the general public has never been so skeptical of business, let alone marketing and advertising, establishing trust is one of the greatest challenges and greatest opportunities for every business.
While consumer trust in business (and just about every other institution in society) continues to fall to unprecedented lows, trust in the unfiltered views of other real people remains extremely high. In other words, when we share how we feel in an open and transparent way, people listen.
That’s why we’d never allow companies to pre-moderate what’s written about them and filter out some of the more ‘constructive’ stuff. That destroys trust. It’s counterproductive.
Who do you admire?
Elon Musk is a hugely inspiring business leader. His ambition is second to none and since his success with PayPal he’s focused on some of humanity’s biggest challenges such as tackling climate change and interplanetary travel. How can you not be inspired by a man that wants to build a colony on Mars to avoid the risk of human extinction?
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
Actually, I’d do many things differently. In particular, I would focus more on who I hired than I did in the early days of the company. We have phenomenal people at Trustpilot, many who’ve been with us from the outset. But I’ve also made mistakes. Many businesses spend two percent of their time hiring and 98 percent of their time fixing the resulting issues. I’ve learned that every new hire represents an opportunity to grow faster and succeed more. So I now put huge focus on trying to get this right every time.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Obsess about who you bring to your team. The people you want in the early stage must welcome the challenge of “crossing a continent” together with you. You should look for people that would like to join the trip not only professionally but also socially. Remember to be nice even when under pressure but equally, don’t hold back honest feedback.