Fellow Feature: Anton Hagerstrand

MESTadmin | Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

This week we sat down with MEST Incubator Fellow Anton Hagerstrand. Read on to learn how coming from Meltwater to MEST has changed his perspective.

Where are you from?

I’m from Stockholm, Sweden.

What were you doing before you came to MEST? What is your area of expertise?

I’m employed with Meltwater. I’ve been working for them as a software developer for five years. I started out in San Francisco and then moved back to Stockholm.

My area of expertise is software development, specifically at the backend. I spend most of my time doing search optimizations for Meltwater’s media monitoring product.

Why did you come to MEST?

Meltwater asked people in the engineering and political research departments if they wanted to go to MEST and help out there for three months. I thought why not? It sounded fun. I go to Ghana for three months. Worst case scenario I don’t have a good time, and best case scenario I’ll learn something and I’ll remember something for life. I got really excited and ended up here.

There’s a tendency for people to overthink technology. Most people try to focus on both their technology and their business when they should be focusing on their business first and using the most boring tech that they can find.

How do you think your experience at MEST will change you when you return to Meltwater?

With Meltwater, I’ve been working on the same thing for a long time, and I’ve become really good at that, but it’s a very niche technical thing. Now I see there are a lot of different business problems to solve and a lot of different areas. It’s kind of exciting to be a part of that. So I think I might try to expand my horizons when I get back to see if I can help with other things and use what I’ve learned here.

Anton outside the MEST Accra incubator

One of the things that I’ve learned here is more about the business side of things. I was good at tech, but now I’m learning to put my business hat on. It’s different.

How do you think coming from Meltwater has shaped your experience at MEST?
It’s fun to see that this is another side of Meltwater. In Ghana, MEST is Meltwater. When people here say Meltwater, they’re not talking about it in the sense of a global tech company – they’re talking about the incubator and the training program. It’s a completely different view from what Meltwater is compared to outside of Africa.

What is your favorite memory from your time at MEST so far?

The graduation ceremony was very exciting to be a part of. It happened right when I got here, and there were just a lot of things happening. The energy when it came to pitching, all the pride, and the sense of accomplishment from the EITs that graduated was really special.

Be boring, honestly. You have more problems to solve than the technical problems. You have business problems to solve, market validations to do. That’s much harder in this phase than the actual tech behind it, for most companies.

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give the EITs and companies at the Incubator?

There’s a tendency for people to overthink technology. Most people try to focus on both their technology and their business when they should be focusing on their business first and using the most boring tech that they can find.

Be boring, honestly. You have more problems to solve than the technical problems. You have business problems to solve, market validations to do. That’s much harder in this phase than the actual tech behind it, for most companies. Unless you’re really doing something new with technology, which most companies are not.

What is your favorite tech company? Why?

That’s a hard question. When you’re in programming, you enjoy companies where there’s a bunch of developers that hack something together and it worked out. If you look at it from that point of view, you have Google, Facebook, and Amazon. It’s cool when a small team has a big impact.

Who/what inspires you?

I think I’m a problem solver. I’m inspired when there’s a technical problem that people have a hard time solving and I manage to solve it. It can be a trivial one, too. I really just like hacking things together and making things work. Well, most of the time it works!