I am Rune Sovndahl, co-founder and CEO of Fantastic Services https://www.fantasticservices.com/ — a franchise-based company operating within the on-demand services sector, on 3 continents. To take my mind off the corporate life, I like to (among other extreme activities) dive underwater caves or swim in shark ridden areas. AMA about my hobbies, company, starting from scratch, the industry in UK, Brexit, anything. http://imgur.com/AqaxAg3

Read more about my adventures here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewcave/2017/01/31/from-swimming-with-sharks-to-cave-diving-the-ceos-who-take-risks-outside-work/#4daa9aa6684d and here: http://www.director.co.uk/driven-by-jeep-how-adventure-made-rune-sovndahl-a-better-leader-19860-2/

Comments: 137 • Responses: 60  • Date: 

mattreyu163 karma

As a passionate shark, do you find being an aquatic creature a detriment or advantage when picking up women?

rune_sovndahl60 karma

As an advice you should be very careful with your teeth, not all women like it when you bite them :)

mattreyu21 karma

Thanks for entertaining my joke!

But seriously, what kind of difficulties did you face when setting up a company to connect these kind of on-demand services to such a broad area?

rune_sovndahl19 karma

Now that's a real question! Marketplaces are always about supply and demand, and the main problem we have faced was getting the right supply at the right level of quality. It's always going to be a balance, between having enough supply and demand. If you have too much demand, then you become a sorry company ("sorry - we didn't turn up", etc..), like some of our competitors, and if you have too much supply and no demand, you become just another thing the suppliers have signed up to and they stop being part of the platform. It's that constant balance between supply and demand that's both fascinating but also the biggest challenge in this industry.

hleggs34 karma

Do you ever think about what it would be like if your last name was "Scape"?

rune_sovndahl1 karma

Ha ha no, I was born before the game was made and named before..

My brother's name is Zune - also older than the Microsoft thing..

My father has an affinity for names.

System-Anomaly14 karma

What was your scariest dive experience?

rune_sovndahl38 karma

My scariest dive experience, was when I was doing my Cave diving certificate in Tulum Mexico, and we had to practise manual shutdowns of your manifold (the connector between 2 air tanks). I had done everything as the theory, but when I turned it back on there was still no air. As all of us were training and the instructors were busy watching is it took me a few more seconds than I would have liked to get the manifold opened again, and doing so I accidentally broke the handle and it started to free flow. In normal conditions this would have been very dangerous, and I was scared as it was my first time, so needless to say I was done with my diving training for the day.

AlexxxHolic7 karma

What was the moment you realised that your organization has become big?

rune_sovndahl15 karma

it was something I had always dreamt about since i was a little kid , walking down a street or hearing people I didn't know talk about something I had made or something I had set up. And I realised it when one day while going to a meeting in London I saw three of our vans on the same day on the same drive, and the Uber driver said oh is this your company, we used the gardening service last week.. that's when it finally hit me, we are starting to get known at least in London. but the absolute realisation hit me when taking a taxi to Sydney airport and seeing one of our vans there - that's was mind-blowing!

AlexxxHolic3 karma

OK, so I imagine a company must be doing a lot of things correctly to become this successful and widespread. But probably an organization of such scale has a lot of problems as well. What would you say are the 3 top challenges that you are currently facing?

rune_sovndahl7 karma

Top 3 challenges. Hmm right now we are facing an issue with rapid growth, we are growing fast and the summer is our busiest season so finding staff is a top 3 challenge. Our second biggest challenge is something of a spoilt for choice. We are debating which service to launch next and where, and the final challenge is company culture and maintaining some of the values we have had from the beginning as we grow.

cyrashan-10 karma

That's the answer equivalent of "I'm working too hard, that's my weakness". Sounds like bullshit.

What actual problems are you facing? If you don't say them here, fine, but I hope you haven't convinced yourself that you have no problems. That's the first step to failure.

BaronCapdeville5 karma

You know nothing about business if you think the issues he raised aren't problems. Explosive growth CRUSHES many relatively young companies.

You can tell that This guy is very involved in his business knows his issues. sure, he may not have listed the grittiest issues, but they are very likely his biggest, in scale at least.

rune_sovndahl1 karma

The biggest is getting enough supply - partners - franchisees.. that's the number one problem.

rune_sovndahl1 karma

We have many problems, no secret there! As I replied below, the number one is getting enough supply / Pro's.

ChanHutch5 karma

What precautions do you take to avoid being attacked by a shark and what would you do if a shark was attacking you?

rune_sovndahl2 karma

Hi Chan, sharks are pretty peaceful for scuba divers, one of the things they don't like and this is really strange is bubbles, so to them scuba divers are so noisy and strange they just observe you. If you are attacked I have heard you have to try and hit it hard on the nose and see if you can claw at it's eyes.

Best_Tiny_Gnome4 karma

What other extreme hobbies do you have?

rune_sovndahl10 karma

Define extreme? I don't see cave diving or Shark diving as very extreme. Such would be Skydiving and paragliding, and the most extreme of all would be being an entrepreneur..

rune_sovndahl6 karma

what extreme hobbies do you have?

Best_Tiny_Gnome2 karma

What's so extreme about being an entrepreneur?

rune_sovndahl12 karma

In my humble opinion, just about everything - from having the courage to do it, getting it done and all the things in between. Selling, managing staff, hiring staff, marketing, managing operations, learning new things faster while growing and managing is extreme..

g10541 karma

What is your best advice to a would-be entrepreneur?

rune_sovndahl2 karma

Never ever give up.

The obstacle is the way never accept a no and keep trying !

Best advice I ever got was just try it...

tyuhd4 karma

What do you do when you're diving and you suddenly have to poop?

rune_sovndahl17 karma

There is a saying amongst divers, there are 2 types of scuba divers: those who pee in their wet suit / those who lie about it... I haven't had this poo problem. A seasoned diver would prepare for this, but if a man/diver has to go a man/diver has to go..

Oh-never-mind3 karma

Who is your greatest inspiration?

rune_sovndahl11 karma

I'm mostly impressed by people who are living their lives in happiness, results aren't as important. I'm eternally impressed by the Vikings who discovered America and many other places before Columbus, their adventure spirit and determination to travel everywhere and explore areas that weren't within sight. The vikings were the equivalent of astronauts and cave divers but without all the technology..

rune_sovndahl8 karma

who is your greatest inspiration?


Any tips for first time shark cage divers?

My girlfriend loves anything marine, mainly sharks and whales, and we plan on going to Shark Con next year in Florida and hopefully experience it! Wouldn't happen to have any suggestions on which service we should use in Tampa, Florida, would you?

rune_sovndahl4 karma

I don't dive with cages, but by all means if you want to do it, that's great. Sharks are incredible creatures and an amazing experience. I dove near Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, outside Sydney, Australia, and in Perth, Australia, all without cages. It's fun when you come up on the surface hear people on the beach, when you know what's down there so close to the beach. Whatever you do, enjoy it, and make sure the equipment, the staff and you are prepared..

rune_sovndahl5 karma

What level / type of diver is she and you? are you both qualified divers?


We've both never been before. The services we've look at provide a cage near surface level that's attached to the boat, where you use snorkals instead of a full SCUBA suit (maybe "diving" was the wrong word). To be honest, I don't think I could do it free-diving like that!

Do you have a favorite type of shark you enjoy diving with?

rune_sovndahl4 karma

Then I would recommend a cage!!!! or better a glass-wall, in an aquarium.

I like Bullsharks - impressive and scary and most dangerous, as they live close to the shore, but seeing hammerheads is incredible, and well worth it.

SpookySpawn2 karma

Can confirm, saw hammerheads from just a metre away last month in Egypt, so amazing seeing them up close.

Where is the best diving spot you've been and
what do you do to motivate yourself when you don't feel like working?

rune_sovndahl1 karma

My favourite dive spots are in the cenotes ( underwater caves) in Tulum mexico - I love those dives it's like being in space.

Ickleslimer3 karma

How disappointing was it when you found out "Runescape" was trademarked?

rune_sovndahl2 karma

Massively but not as much as when I tried to buy rune.com and the owner still doesn't want to sell

Ickleslimer1 karma

That... is the most useful website I have ever seen.

rune_sovndahl1 karma

Yes right... at least it has the word on it !

shel0ck03 karma

How to convince partner to go shark diving with me? He absolutely refused to do it:(

rune_sovndahl1 karma

Well it's a personal choice, I would watch a couple of videos of successful dives, and if the person is scared do not make the person dive / he she has to feel comfortable - diving is amazing but also dangerous if you aren't fully with it and being scared doesn't give you a good experience! I must admit that when a shark swims over you and you are on the sand on your back and you realise it's 2.5 times as big as you it is scary and you really get adrenaline pumping. That's why we do it I guess?

Ivorysaur3 karma

What was your greatest shark encounter and how can regular people help stop shark finning?

rune_sovndahl6 karma

sharkfinning is so cruel, along with a ton of other things people do to animals that makes me sick... in my humble opinion then to effectively stop anything then first of all do not Eat shark fin soup. Secondly then join projects like project aware, and like me spread the messages that sharks aren't as dangerous as wild dogs and guns for example. the most dangerous thing on this planet at the moment are humans, then cars.

Remember not to dive with dive shops that feed sharks to attract them near beaches this will cause problem later and one accident in a tourist spot could lead to more killings of sharks.

dogpoopandbees3 karma

Do you have a body guard?

rune_sovndahl10 karma

Nope, do I need one?

paulkeegs2 karma

What technology has been most critical to you in scalling your business?

rune_sovndahl1 karma

Hi Paul, good question but I'd say it was cloud systems, we started completely bootstrapped, so google Docs was our Crm system, and after a couple of weeks we saw an issue we grew so fast, that the computer ram Couldn't open the sheets, that's when we knew we had a product.. so cloud systems / the internet have been the most important technology.

Mattprime862 karma

You dive into caves. And sharks?

rune_sovndahl1 karma

The cave dives are more because they're unexplored, the shark dives are in open water, sharks aren't found in the fresh water caves I normally dive.

Ariel_Etaime2 karma

Shark diving is my dream! What lev of certification do you need? Also is there a special safety course you have to take if there's no cage? I wish there were shark dive meetups!

rune_sovndahl2 karma

There are shark dive meet ups. koox diving - shark diving tulum

That's the guys, I did it with the first time, disclaimer I liked it so much I invested in The company.

You only need the normal Open water, sharks live in deeper water, but are best seen around 20-25m depth.

It really depends the best dives I have had we have been 3 people and all of us rescue divers as minimum. But I have seen open water divers doing it on the first dive after they had the certificate.

Ariel_Etaime1 karma

Thanks for the info! I searched for one in my area a while ago but didn't find one but I'll look again. Have you ever been in danger of being eaten by one?

rune_sovndahl1 karma

No I don't think they eat divers they might snack on a surfer or a bather but it's rare scuba divers gets attacked

DragonsFan2 karma

Have you ever played Runescape?

rune_sovndahl1 karma

Nope. Should I try it? I played one game on ps2 which was called rune..

Hulemann2 karma

Any relation to Villy søvndal??

rune_sovndahl1 karma

Ha yes actually I found out via a connection that many many generations back it's the same family name - I haven't met him. Do you know him?

jimbonjambo2 karma

Two parter: As a fellow scuba diver who's going to intern in Fiji in a few months, how do you deal with the stress of swimming next such awe-inspiring yet dangerous creatures? Have you ever been in a situation with a creature where you needed to defend yourself? Pt. 2 - what certifications do you recommend past your basic master diver & instructor certifications?

rune_sovndahl2 karma

I'm only rescue and cave diver, I have seen open water divers with sharks, it really depends on their skill not the classification, but they have to be able to not cause a panic and to remain calm.

I haven't had to defend myself and the only thing I bring is an extra mask and a GoPro, - extra masks are a must for all dives, I think it's missed out on a lot of dive instructions.

I also dive with doubles and a wing with a backplate as I don't like the uncomfortable bcd, that never fits fully and can make you spin around underwater.

chandy10001 karma

So how did you started this company? What would be one advice for you to give for upcoming entrepreneurs?

rune_sovndahl2 karma

I have 10 tips for bootstrapping

Find a Niche Use Your Unfair Advantage Co Founder - Synergy Train Staff Sell, Sell & Sell More Control Cash Double up Do It Yourself Barter Have fun!

chandy10001 karma

May I ask what do you mean by double up?

rune_sovndahl2 karma

Yes it refers to redundancy in team's and in systems and then to double up on everything you can sell if something makes a return double t the next year

neinerr1 karma

I absolutely love sharks and it's a dream of mine to get to swim with them. Where should I go for my first time to ease myself into it? And what type of shark is best?

rune_sovndahl4 karma

Hi neinerr, well the best is to find some people you trust and who you can dive with and have a good underwater communication, reef sharks are the easiest to dive with. But my first dive was with Koox Diving in Tulum, Mexico, it was on my birthday I did the first dive and have been a fan ever since..

Burnout071 karma

Have you met any celebrities in your field?

rune_sovndahl1 karma

yes a few, we also clean for a few celebrities in London but it's best not to kiss and tell.

One_N_Dun1 karma

Aren't sharks somewhat lacking in exploration potential? How did you get into them (literally)?

rune_sovndahl1 karma

it was more of a dare the first time, I had to do one open sea dive on my rescue diver exam, and a friend suggested to go see some bullsharks, and once I saw them it was love at first sight.. they are incredible to observe..

FenrisFrost1 karma

Is turning yourself into a passionate shark what you do with all the money you dont pay the people working for you?

rune_sovndahl1 karma

I don't really think that's a fair question..

FenrisFrost0 karma

I am just trying to understand why CEOs need to make many multiple times more than what their employees make and this seemed like a rare opportunity; a CEO with a couple of expensive hobbies listed, asking us to ask him anything -- What luck!

So what is it, do you have to buy your own sharks?

Or do you have the caves bored out for you to explore?

rune_sovndahl1 karma

ha ha, ask a difficult CEO, no I don't have my own sharks and no the caves are naturally formed, and I would comment on the multiple times there is staff in my company getting paid more than me.

kckircher1 karma

When were you certified? With who? Are you a warm water diver only?

rune_sovndahl1 karma

I'm a rescue diver, I'm yet to finish the dive master, and dive instructor, I am ceo of a service company in my work time.

I was certified at koox Tulum

PaintsWithSmegma1 karma

Fellow diver here, I've done several caverns in tullum and they're awesome. When you tech dive do you prefer side mount or doubles on the back? Have you done trimix? Do you like deep dives or caves as far as tech goes? Where is your favorite dive destination?

rune_sovndahl2 karma

Hi!! So cool yes these are the most amazing caves and caverns to dive - I have done Trimix and lately experimenting with the white arrow rebreathers, the moment you realise you can dive without making bubbles you will find it difficult to go back to normal Open flow systems. I dive with back mounts mainly but some Dives require side mounts. I'm getting more involved with projects and exploration, my friends just found a new number of skeletons in an undiscovered cave! I would recommend trying rebreathers and enjoy the silence, plus with a good system you can have 5 hours of air! Which is useful for navigating caves.

PantlessBatman1 karma

What's the weirdest most out of place item you've ever seen in a cave?

rune_sovndahl2 karma

Ha ha well it's in the middle of the jungle, you drive down a gravel road for an hour and then there is this tiny hole amongst the trees, and you climb down a rope with all your dive gear and you can dive all the way to the ocean.

FoxClass1 karma

I hate to ask since the answer is usually "no", but is FantasticServices available in Canada or are you planning to expand here? What's involved in setting up a company in another country and what are the challenges?

rune_sovndahl2 karma

There is a Fantastic Services in Canada but this is not ours, we are looking for country partners to open in other countries.

What's required? Drive Passion Understanding Services Being business minded and wanting to grow immensely as it goes fast..

machaiquen1 karma

Which has been your "closest call"?

rune_sovndahl1 karma

During A freedive in Thailand, I was very young I think it was 1996 and I didn't quite know my limits, and pushed too hard and got very deep. But I passed out just before reaching the surface, everything went black and I remember feeling weightless. It was less than 1m from The surface so luckily I woke up the moment the sun hit my face and I reached the surface... it was so scary and I haven't done free diving since, not to any depths or distances. This was a very scary experience, forget about sharks, running out of air is scary. That's why you always dive in groups and best is groups do three.

pulltriger1 karma

Your top 5 favorite movies about sharks?

rune_sovndahl1 karma


I don't think sharks and tonadoes and jaws are shark Movies... but if any of you have recommendations let me know? I'd love to watch as long as it's not a movie where sharks are made into monsters.

SurDin1 karma

Did you do a technical course before starting cave diving?

rune_sovndahl1 karma

Yes! It's a must!

You can with advanced open water be taken on tours of caverns until 15m and you must always be able to see the exit. When you become a cavern diver you are allowed to enter a cave with training and a certified cave diver.

To be qualified you need to go on technical diving courses like IDREO. I'm a certified IDREO cave diver. [IDREO](www.idreo.org)

db2141 karma

Favourite dive gear?

rune_sovndahl2 karma

Whitearrow by far! Incredible design and functions

db2141 karma

I'm a bit biased because I work very close to AP Diving and know most of the guys there :)

rune_sovndahl1 karma


db2141 karma

Ambient Pressure. They make Inspirations and provided the breathing system for the Mariana'a Trench expedition. All made in-house. Very impressive for such a tiny little town in the English countryside.

rune_sovndahl1 karma

Intersting love it where are they distributed. ? I know the designer of white arrow and it's incredible stuff, haven't tried AP but if they are based in the UK then it's worth a visit for sure!

candescent1 karma

Do you dive in cages? What are your thoughts on chumming as part of the shark diving industry?

rune_sovndahl2 karma

I said I don't like them feeding the sharks, and that's like teasing a tiger to attack and look violent which isn't the natural experience

RedTheRoseBloom1 karma

What is the likelihood that potatoes will come alive and form a militia to kill all of the humans that have eaten any form of potatoes?

rune_sovndahl2 karma


IamFaizi1 karma

Y'all hiring??

rune_sovndahl2 karma

rune_sovndahl1 karma

Yeah the shop in tulum koox diving is one of the few that carries white arrow - white arrow was designed for the military and is used all over the world by police and navy, it's not that big a brand yet but who knows.

pointseeker1 karma

CCR or open circuit?

rune_sovndahl2 karma

CCR white arrow sweet deco

pointseeker1 karma

Crazy. I'm a new rec diver (AOW), and those CCR's look terrifying to me.

rune_sovndahl1 karma

They are the first time, but white arrow are so simple to use.. and work on redundancy in every single thing hence they are super safe.

V_Neck1 karma

You hiring? I'm currently a corporate level employee for a company that I won't name (rhymes with Schmapple) and I absolutely despise my job. :-D

rune_sovndahl1 karma

Sure find me on fb and send a cv :)

BennyBye0 karma

What is the biggest problem your company has faced in regards to logistics, and how did you overcome said problem?

rune_sovndahl1 karma

Turning up on time have been the biggest logistical problem especially In a city like London

SandD0llar0 karma

Why isn't your website more gender neutral? I mean...the one woman on the front page, you stuck her in the cleaning category.

Why not break stereotypes and tropes?

rune_sovndahl0 karma

I have had that comment before, and everyone of the people on our website are actual Pro's who work with us. We have no gender bias at all! And we have a very equal management team, but we don't have as many female Plumbers handymen and gardeners.

I'm Very sorry if it's seen that way as it's by no means intentional.

SandD0llar1 karma

You could easily get different models.

rune_sovndahl0 karma

Yes but these are actual people who would come and do the jobs and they are lovely people ? Why should we chose models? We strongly believe in transparency

mbr860 karma

Hvad er du mest stolt af ved at være dansker?

rune_sovndahl2 karma

Ha! Fantastisk spørgsmål..

( what I'm most proud about being Danish)

I would say the luck that I was born in a country where freedom is everywhere. It's so rare to see freedom. And experiencing freedom as a child is rare.