Thought Leaders May 27, 2020

Ignite Podcast – Episode 02 – Geir Windsvoll – Founder Santora Nakama – Darth Vader vs The Jedis

Episode Summary

Quote: “It’s all about investing into people.” 

In this episode, Michael Waitze is joined by Geir Windsvoll, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of startup studio Santora Nakama. The two talked about startup models, working with new startups, and the emotional toll that comes with it. 

Darth Vader vs The Jedis – Contrasting startup models

Michael kicked off the podcast by asking Geir what his preferred startup model was, pointing out two models that are analogous to Darth Vader vs The Jedis. 

On the one hand, there’s an extremely structured model that focuses on the business side of things. Rocket Internet is a good example of this model. This model is aimed at putting a vetted talent pool together and have them work as a startup in a structured way. 

Meanwhile, the other model focuses on doing the complete opposite. Also known as a ‘speed dating’ model, it puts a large pool of talent together, allowing them to match, partner, and come up with a business idea under a limited amount of time. Antler is a good example of the ‘speed dating model’.

The result of this galactic battle? The Jedis won. Geir said he prefers the latter ‘speed dating’ model as it tends to be more user-centric, founder-focused, and innovation-driven. 

Putting pressure in a safe environment

“To generate ideas fast, you bring people together, make them feel safe and supported, but the pressure is also important,” Geir contemplated. The key to startup success is a good team that works well together and not a business idea, he continued. 

By introducing some pressure into a startup environment, you get a glimpse of how well a particular startup team works together in times of crisis. It allows you to look more at the team, how they adapt, and solve problems together, he said. 

Furthermore, pressure forces teams to develop their ideas fast without over-analysing them. It also helps remove the influence of personal connections when it comes to funding. This is because the time limit forces venture capitalists to make faster decisions based on data points instead of personal relationships. 

Getting to know Santora Nakama

Santora Nakama is a startup studio that acts as a Co-founder with startups to help lower their failure rates. The goal is to create a platform where people without financial security can still pursue their startup vision. 

“In other words, we’ll create a space for you and take some risks for you,” Geir summarised. 

At Santora Nakama, the Managing Partner stated, we place a lot of importance on figuring out team dynamics upfront. That’s because most startups fail because of co-founder fallouts. For this reason, Santora Nakama has made it their priority to make sure that the skills and personalities within startup teams complement each other. 

The biggest challenge – Knowing when to pull the plug

Finally, the two discussed the biggest challenge to managing a startup studio and the emotional toll that comes with it. 

Once you become emotionally invested in the team and the product, the mental pressure on dealing with how you treat startups can become very difficult, Geir admitted. 

To find out more about Santora Nakama and how they overcome this challenge, be sure to listen to this episode of the Ignite podcast!


Michael has been podcasting with some of the best investors and business builders globally and discussing all things startup with them from an Asian perspective.

Michael I. Waitze worked in Global Finance for more than 20 years, employed by firms like Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, primarily in Tokyo.

Michael always maintained a particular focus on how technology could be used successfully to make businesses more efficient and to drive P/L growth.

After more than 20 years in Tokyo, Michael moved to Southeast Asia to get more involved in the Private Equity and Venture Capital business and invest his own capital.

Michael is quite skilled at connecting people and capital to innovative ideas and is a trusted advisor to both investors and founders. Michael has raised capital and advised some of the most famous startups in the region.

Michael is a leader in the digital media space, having pioneered the concept of a podcast network in Asia, while building the biggest and fastest growing listener base in the region. His flagship website,, has listeners in over 100 countries and is available on virtually every podcast player that supports RSS feeds.


Geir started out as a computer geek in the late 80s, joining the world of BBS (bulletin board system), swapping floppy discs through snail mail, and taking part in the early days of the Amiga demo scene. He has been founding, advising and angel investing in startups since 2002, including the first social network in Norway. Geir is a founding Partner at Santora Nakama - a founder-focused venture builder out of Singapore and Bangkok, that built some of the fastest growing startups in the region over the last couple of years. Geir is focused on the future of interactive media and how to build successful innovation labs.

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