Founder in Five: Q&A with AltoVita CEO Vivi Cahyadi Himmel
Vivi Cahyadi Himmel is the co-founder and CEO of AltoVita, a proptech company that provides corporate housing relocation services across the world.
Cahyadi Himmel founded AltoVita with Karolina Saviova in 2018 after the pair became frustrated with the “complacency and lack of incentives for innovation” in the corporate housing sector.
AltoVita’s online platform aims to simplify corporate relocation and the female-led company’s services now span 1,238 cities across 165 countries.
In the latest Founder in Five Q&A, Cahyadi Himmel shares the benefits of an “agile” early tech partner, reveals the best and worst parts of her job at AltoVita and explains why she thinks Bitcoin is doomed to fail.
1. What was the most important early hire you made?
Vivi Cahyadi Himmel: AltoVita’s CPO, Igor Boky, who is my sparring partner in technology and product development, team culture and management. He is a brilliant and resourceful problem solver. I truly admire his ability to think outside the box, which has shaped AltoVita technology to be truly innovative.
Prior to CPO, he was previously our CTO so he also built AltoVita’s infrastructure to be robust and scalable.
In the early days, when looking for product-market fit, it’s important to have a tech partner who is agile and able to provide solutions that translate your vision into a technology that you can market-test and iterate efficiently.
2. Has sustainability changed any of your business processes?
VCH: AltoVita is a technology platform for the corporate housing sector and our system houses more than one million properties. As such, we have an asset-light model without a physical product or footprint.
Last year we hosted the first-ever Corporate Housing Innovation Summit, and heard overwhelmingly from our network that there needed to be a greater focus on ESG. Since then, we have extended our database capabilities to reflect the operator’s sustainable practices. This translates into new search filter tools on our platform to allow guests to easily search for and book accommodation, which is more eco-friendly and meets certain sustainability criteria.
3. What are the best and worst parts of your job?
VCH: The best part of the job for me is seeing our vision turned into a platform that our customers love. Equally, navigating the pandemic has been challenging but rewarding nonetheless. We’ve come out stronger and even demonstrated 541% year-on-year revenue growth as of June 2021.
The challenge of running AltoVita is that it has become an obsession for me. While it’s a necessary evil for any startup founder to get their hands dirty, it has been difficult, at times, to find the right work-life balance.
4. What’s a fact about yourself that people might find surprising?
VCH: Even today, a fact about myself that I find extremely surprising is how similar I am to my co-founder, Karolina. While many founder duos are completely different in how they work and think, Karolina and I are very much aligned when it comes to our mindset, values and work ethic.
The benefit of this is that we agree on most business decisions and our collaborative approach has built a strong foundation for our close-knit team.
5. Which hyped-up technology do you think is doomed to fail?
VCH: Cryptocurrency. The process of creating Bitcoin to spend or trade consumes around 91 terawatt-hours of electricity annually, more than is used by Finland, a nation of about 5.5 million people.
Equally, it’s a high-security risk due to no central governing authority. This could mean a lack of adoption from a wider audience. Like many other financial systems, blockchain-based systems are subject to all manner of hacks, frauds, scams, and vulnerabilities. They happen at the speed and anonymity of the internet.
While many have claimed cryptocurrency is used as an inflation hedge, it shows no correlation to inflation.
Founder in Five – a UKTN Q&A series with the entrepreneurs behind the UK’s innovative startups, scaleups, unicorns and tech companies – is published every Friday.