THE TRAILBLAZER: CLAES LOBERG

Written on the 26 November 2010

THE TRAILBLAZER: CLAES LOBERG

CLAES Loberg is on the brink of something very special with Guvera – the music download channel with global prospects.

Not many Gold Coast entrepreneurs get compared to Apple boss Steve Jobs.

But that’s exactly what happened when Guvera and Cocojambo CEO Claes Loberg appeared on the Fox Business channel in the US last month after Guvera was named in Billboard’s Top 10 start-ups.

“The world is so big, there are so many opportunities,” says Loberg, giddy on the cusp of his legal download music channel breaking into global markets.

While Loberg helms the publicly unlisted tech company that is giving iTunes a shake-up, there’s a big difference – downloads are free.

A capital raising of $50 million is underway in the US by venture capitalists GLP, the same equity company that has valued Guvera at $200 million.

With the help of some famous rock ‘n’ roll friends, including Alice Cooper, Staind lead singer Aaron Lewis and hip hop star Tech N9ne, more than 130,000 members now access their favourite music via Guvera’s branded entertainment channels.

Investors are backing it to become a billion dollar company within two years following an ambitious foray into China, where the copyright issue, IP and brand protection will be flipped on its head.

While in its infancy, the advertising model has received massive international exposure with labels such as EMI and Universal signed up and accounts including McDonald’s, Mastercard, AMEX, Johnson & Johnson and IKEA.

For Loberg, the rollercoaster ride is still running at top speed and the learning curve is equally as enthralling with prospective film and television deals also in the pipeline.

“Raising capital with the biggest investment banks in the world exposes you to business and evaluations,” says Loberg.

“That experience funnels straight out of New York boardrooms into Cocojambo. All that knowledge comes back. I love the fact that the Gold Coast is home to Guvera and Cocojambo. I love sitting in boardrooms and saying that we’re from Robina – all you need is an airport and the internet.”

Cocojambo is the creative agency Loberg set up in 2002 and its designers are responsible for crafting the slick Guvera artwork and slogans, including the now internationally famous ‘F*CK Pirates’.

“Cocojambo is the love part and Guvera is an idea, a concept,” says Loberg.

“In every part of the process, there’s a romance part at the beginning. At the beginning you have no idea what you’re doing and you scribble things down on paper and by the afternoon you look at it all and say, ‘that wasn’t there this morning’.

“You need to completely trust the team that you have and you have to let go to certain parts of the business. I’m involved in getting the story and there are people that manage the operations.

“Sean (P Diddy) Combs commented that ‘everything feeds everything’ and that’s what Guvera does. Guvera creates a profile and exposes Cocojambo to new clients. Everything grows from it.”

When Loberg appeared on the Fox Business channel, the host quipped how unlike Steve Jobs he was. With long hair, tattoos and digit bling on display, Loberg is the antithesis of Apple’s billionaire.

“Everything that you do should give all the people associated with it a benefit,” says Loberg.

“Cocojambo is not a stiff creative agency. One of my first business partners in the 90s told me I had to wear a suit, so I went with that. I used my business partner as a mentor and the last 10 years and the creation of Cocojambo in London I continued with that advice. But slowly throughout the process, I realised that I needed to be myself.

“If I’m walking around covered in tattoos and then I’m in a boardroom with some of the biggest investment bankers in the world, well that’s how I’m going to be. If there’s one thing that I have learned, it’s that you need to be yourself and not worry about playing the game.

“When you don’t have that front, the people you meet become friends. I had a meeting with a Taiwanese company and Sony in Japan and you’re expected to behave a certain way and play tit for tat when signing the deal. I just laid all my cards on the table and asked what we could do for one another. The other Australian business people in the room commented that they had never seen the Taiwanese so calm and relaxed during a negotiation.”

And if running a global tech company, a creative agency, and co-owning tattoo parlours is not enough to fill the 24 hours in a day, Loberg has also set up Lowrider Films. Teaming up with the founder of Raindance Film and the British Independent Film Awards, Elliot Grove, the production company works with tourism boards around the world to create stories that key demographics identify with – in effect, marketing destinations and pitching the story that resonates with visitors to each destination.

“The super important thing is not choosing a product, but the people behind it,” concludes Loberg.


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