We talked to Arkadiusz Hajduk on how Transparent Data plays hide and seek with COVID and this is what he had to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Arkadiusz Hajduk: I found myself in times of personal changes: new baby, new house. But it turned out that my Transparent Data family did not expect me to be all the time in the office, and they did a great job of both shift and remote work. Of course, some of them had some concerns, but all team members approached the new situation with responsibility and calmness. No one has lost his motivation to work, and luckily, his sense of humor.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Transparent Data.
Arkadiusz Hajduk: Since I graduated from the Danish University of Technology in Copenhagen, I was mainly involved in boosting the startup environment in Poland – I worked as a manager in an investment fund, and after hours I was presenting at conferences, and even ran my own “askVC” YouTube channel. The evaluation and verification of startups from Poland made me come up with the idea of establishing a company that would provide economic information in a modern, technological way. They have already done this abroad, and the Middle Ages flourished in my home country.
In 2013, I met a great programmer, Łukasz Gajos, who easily downloaded the entire National Court Register database in one day. I realized that the open data APIs market has enormous yet undiscovered opportunities. This is how we established the company.
How does Transparent Data innovate?
Arkadiusz Hajduk: It quickly turned out that the Transparent Data team has a combination of unique competencies on the market – excellent knowledge of information sources, experience in working with data, and high technological skills. Thanks to this, we managed to create a new niche – we are not just an ordinary company data provider, but a data software house to which you can apply with your legacy system or an idea to build an interface that somehow uses data. It all started with meetings with large institutions that said, ‘It’s nice that you have the data, but listen, we have this business problem and we don’t know what to do with it.’ It just turned out that we know exactly what to do with it.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Arkadiusz Hajduk: It may sound shocking, but we feel like we’re playing hide and seek with COVID. Maybe because due to our company name (Transparent Data), we remain invisible (laugh). Instead of the expected business decline, we have more and more requests for data software services, resulting in interesting discussions and contracts.
It happened mainly for one reason: in a period when most companies do not have enough employees, because some of them are sick or, due to the general reduction of costs, employee cuts are falling on the table, the automation of business processes has become much more important. Investment in technology and automation of manual processes is no longer the domain of the so-called “innovative market leaders.” It has become a necessity.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Arkadiusz Hajduk: The organization of teamwork has become the most difficult task so as to minimize any possible risk of contagion to each other. In the beginning, we tested the system of exchanging in the office (one week of work in the office, one working remotely) so that even if someone from one of the teams became ill, the company could still operate thanks to the other teams who had no contact with him.
Some employees accepted this solution, and for others, it was problematic. Some of them were simply afraid to leave their homes and only wanted to work remotely. It was a real challenge to convince them to make everyone feel fair. In the end, however, due to the avalanche spread of the virus in Poland in the fall, we completely switched to remote work. It initially required a lot of effort from us in developing such communication processes to continue to function effectively.
What are the lessons learned? Write to be understood, speak to be heard, inform others about what you have done. I believe better communication is a skill that can be learned.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Arkadiusz Hajduk: I regularly exercise – run or bike –
and take my dog for two walks per day in the woods. I believe that a little fresh air and exercise is the best remedy for any stress or anger.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Arkadiusz Hajduk: Our competitors are company data providers, business intelligence agencies, credit information bureaus, and software houses. For years, we have been an expert in providing information about companies from Poland. We have recently decided to go abroad – we have set up 10 APIs with data from business registers from other EU countries, and we plan another dozen. This way, we will expand our offer. We are also working hard to refine our data software offer and increase the team’s ML competencies.
Your final thoughts?
Arkadiusz Hajduk: The whole world can turn upside down in just a few weeks. Therefore, you have to be flexible and not force your own decisions. There is nothing wrong in saying I’m sure of what I’m doing until I change my mind.