Jan Hauser is the co-founder and CEO of Applifting, a software and product development studio.
Applifting was founded in 2014 by Hauser with Filip Kirschner and Vratislav Kalenda. It validates, designs and builds apps for companies, with clients including UK fintech startup Braid.
Its main headquarters is in Level 39, a co-working space in Canary Wharf, London. In addition to this, it has an office in Prague, Czech Republic.
The company says it has grown to almost 200 people from 50 in 2018, and its revenue has increased from £2.8m in 2019 to “around £5m in recent years”.
In this week’s Founder in Five Q&A, the Applifting boss explains why it’s important to nurture company culture early on, why you should never underestimate customer feedback, and shares his approach to avoiding burnout.
1. What one thing do you wish you’d done differently when launching your company?
Jan Hauser: One of the main challenges that we have faced over the years is making sure that we get the right people in place who fit in with our company culture.
We are a teal organisation with a flat structure and strong emphasis on transparency—which is not for everyone, as we found out.
The faster we grew, the more challenging it was to nurture our culture. In hindsight, we would have given this more attention in the past.
2. What advice would you give to a first-time founder?
JH: Never underestimate the power of validation and feedback loop from customers. There is a lot you can do with pen and paper, simple prototypes, or just by talking to people.
Digital products are never-ending stories of evolution and shaping. You stop, you die. Keep the pace and stay resilient.
3. How do you motivate your team?
JH: I think transparency is very important in any organisation and one of my core values as an entrepreneur.
I believe that having all important information out in the open for everyone at the company and being open to discussion creates a much more relaxed and pleasant working environment.
It’s been beneficial in building mutual trust and establishing fair and just baselines for all roles and levels.
4. How do you prevent burnout?
JH: I believe in practising what I call work-life flow. You’re not dividing your time between two things—you’re alternating. You’re busy, you push through, and you get work done.
But then you have to let go and breathe. You have to be able to be in tune with things as they come and go.
5. Excluding your own, what’s a sector that’s ripe for disruption?
JH: The landscape is changing rapidly with recent breakthroughs in artificial intelligence. It will allow businesses to be much more efficient and reduce costs by a significant margin—regardless of a specific sector.
This is the natural next step or at least something to be reckoned with. While AI is an exciting innovation, it’s not all-solving, though. You need a strategy and knowledge to implement it in your company.
Founder in Five – a UKTN Q&A series with the entrepreneurs behind the UK’s innovative tech startups, scaleups and unicorns – is published every Friday.