We talked to Gabriele Ottino, CEO of CodeCheck, about health and sustainability, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Gabriele Ottino: Thanks a lot for asking! Luckily, my family and I are doing fine and are not suffering too much from this extraordinary situation. However, we’re also more relaxed than we used to be because we did have the virus at the start of the year. After a rough week of being in bed, we were lucky enough to emerge from it without any aftereffects.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined CodeCheck.
Gabriele Ottino: I joined CodeCheck in November 2020 after I was CEO of Doodle.
How does CodeCheck innovate?
Gabriele Ottino: Innovation is really only possible if you have a close relationship with your users and customers. For example, we get feedback regarding the CodeCheck app through different channels: people are contacting us with feature requests or inputs for improvements. Over social media, we are in constant contact with a very active community of health- and sustainability-conscious users. This helps us keep in touch with trends and what’s important to our community. Obviously, we also proactively reach out to our users. For instance, we’re in the middle of redesigning key screens in the CodeCheck app. We thoroughly test those changes with users from the very early stages of design. That way, we make sure we identify their needs. Ideally, we address them in a way they wouldn’t have thought about but feels obvious in hindsight. Lastly, but also very importantly, we look at a wide variety of data: how do users interact with the app, what features are used or not used, do users get stuck? But also: what do the consumers tell us about the food & cosmetics products they interact with via our app, and what innovative ways can we find to help companies create products that are better for our help and our plant?
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Gabriele Ottino: Given that an important use case of our app is scanning products when out and about in the shops, the Corona stay at home orders have had quite an impact on the app usage and the number of new app downloads. One way we have started using this to our advantage is that we are focusing much more on user retention now. This is a great investment of our time as it will have an even more significant impact on the app usage when everybody returns to the shops as we slowly move out of the pandemic.
On a personal level, it’s been quite challenging to join the company as its CEO while being in the home office for the entire time. As I’m based in Zurich, and a large part of the team is Berlin-based, I haven’t physically met any of my teammates in Berlin. I’m trying to compensate by checking in more often via video-call, but I can’t wait to board a plane and visit my team!
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Gabriele Ottino: I think the toolset we’re using is very typical of all the companies in our situation: we organise our work with video-call software like Google Meet, real-time chat like Slack and collaboration tools like Google Docs, Jira and Notion. Luckily, I have experience with remote working tools as already my last company was set up in a very distributed way – with the difference that from time to time, we could all meet in person…
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Gabriele Ottino: CodeCheck has been around for over ten years, and we are the largest database in the German-speaking area. Our information is scientifically based and independent – this is what sets us apart from similar offers. Our focus is also on health AND sustainability, which is why we have developed many features that are unique so far. We will continue to develop features that are important to conscious consumers and help companies develop healthier and more sustainable products.
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