Janteloven for entrepreneurs

Sean Percival,  serial entrepreneur and investor, has been in Norway for his project 500 Startups.  Through a $15 million Nordic fund, growth marketing programs, and an accelerator, 500 plans to bring Silicon Valley’s best practices to the Nordic region.

Like it’s Nordic neighbors, Norway is famous for Janteloven.  Janteloven, or the Law of Jante, describes a set of social norms that place individuals subordinate to society.  By extension, it is bad manners to brag, stick out too much, or be jealous of others.

The term can be traced back to Aksel Sandemose, a Scandinavian writer, whose fictional works included references to a set of laws governing the small Danish town of Jante (inspired by the real-life town of Nykøbing Mors).

Janteloven has been blamed for discouraging success, as it favors social stability and harmony over competition and ambition.  It also reflects the tendency towards risk-aversion that is observed across the Nordic region.

Sean Percival has therefore re-written the law to fit entrepreneurship.  Here is his Janteloven, redefined:


You’re not to think you are anything special.

You are special and probably a little bit crazy.

You’re not to think you are as good as we are.

You should think that you are just as good.

You’re not to think you are smarter than we are.

You should get us to believe that you are smarter than we are.

You’re not to convince yourself that you are better than we are.

You should convince yourself that you are improving every day.

You’re not to think you are more important than we are.

You should not think you’re more important than we are (unless you’ve had an incredibly successful exit earlier).

You may not be good enough at something, but you’ll figure it out.

You’re not to think you are good at anything.

You’re not to laugh at us.

You should laugh at yourself and others, often

You’re not to think anyone cares about you.

You should not worry about what others think of you.

You’re not to think you can teach us anything.

You’re going to teach your fellow founders.


The 500 Startups pre-accelerator program began January 18th, 2016.  Follow the progress of the companies on 500 startups.

Image courtesy of 500.co.

This article was originally posted on Innomag.


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