First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID19 times?
Kamil Rejent : At first, it was difficult given that I have two young kids and the lockdown made our family logistics more challenging. After the initial shock, it turned out not that bad. This is because my wife and I are fortunate enough to be able to work from home, and we managed to reorganize our daily habits.
We shared responsibilities without affecting our work that much. Today things got pretty much back to normal, or at least ‘the new normal’. For me personally this means getting used to working from home because I liked our office environment. The office was sort of an escape from family life chaos where I could focus deeply on the business.
What I find especially useful is dividing my time into big chunks. First, I get up early in the morning to focus on high level, strategic stuff that requires focused concentration. Next, it’s the family breakfast and dropping my kids to the daycare. After that, I have further 6-8 hours when we tend not to interrupt each other with my wife. The afternoon and the evening are for the family and me to relax. Finally, just before going to bed, I plan the next day. Then rinse and repeat.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined Survicate
Kamil Rejent : I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, I just felt it in my gut. Before founding Survicate I worked for several years for large corporations like Samsung and Konica Minolta, in product and marketing roles.
That experience taught me a ton about how business works, how decisions are being made, how to think and plan ahead, and how important it is for business to run on processes. Those lessons definitely helped me build my own company.
I founded Survicate in 2013. Pretty much, I combined my interest in business software with my fascinations with B2B marketing. Also, I knew the real needs of customer feedback software from the time when I was working on digital projects. I was using customer feedback software and I knew first hand the problems that the software had. To sum up, I had a very clear idea about what I could build that would help businesses collect customer feedback better.
I started the company with my co-founder Lucas, who I was lucky to meet at the right time. Lucas was already into software development, and things started to escalate. It did not happen overnight and it took us 6 years to get where we are now. Through a lot of hard work and determination, today we are a team of 30 super-talented individuals and a thriving business that grew by over 100% in 2019.
How does Survicatey innovate?
Kamil Rejent : It all boils down to finding the right people and letting them innovate. Throughout the years we learned that the people who best fit in our team are curious, ambitious, passionate about developing themselves, and have inner-drive. We make sure to give them the freedom to innovate, to work on their ideas, and to tackle company challenges their way. And this has worked miracles for us.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Kamil Rejent : We offer B2B software and luckily we don’t have much exposure to the businesses that were impacted the most. We did notice a slight slow-down in Q2, but it seemed more due to unknown circumstances, a bit of panic maybe. Recent numbers show that our growth will be getting back on track in Q3.
From an organizational point of view, before COVID we were a ‘remote-friendly’ company anyways. We had people working from different cities and not everyone had to be in the office. Meanwhile, we decided to officially switch to ‘remote-first mode’, and not only for the time of the pandemic but for good.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Kamil Rejent : I think the most difficult choices are either around the people or projects you got really involved in.
I had to make a lot of difficult people decisions along the way, letting people go because they didn’t deliver what they committed (which is actually the easiest situation) or didn’t fit the team. The worst-case scenario was when someone did fit the team but the timing wasn’t right. I learned the importance of hiring for the team fit, and of making sure the company is actually ready for the new hire.
When it comes to COVID related difficult decisions, we pulled the plug recently on a project that we’ve been working on for months, with half of the company involved and massive resources invested. It was one of the most difficult decisions I had to make, but considering the high risk of the business environment changing, we needed to put our emotions aside and kill the initiative.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Survicate in the future?
Kamil Rejent : I am not that much into mindfulness yet but I am working on it. This being said, I think there are several things that help me keep going.
First of all, I tend to think in a positive way. I believe that things will go in the right direction if you work hard and long enough on them. You simply need to do stuff and not sit around and worry. You can always ask yourself ‘What is the worst thing that can happen if I do that’ – and usually, the answer is not that scary.
Next, I am very much into a healthy diet, although not everyone would call a ketogenic diet healthy. I also fast on a regular basis. Another thing that helps me is a good daily schedule and habits. If you know exactly what you should be doing then you won’t waste your time overthinking stuff which leads to anxiety. More, I am also fortunate to work with great people that give me the energy and vibes to fight stress. Emotions are contagious, so you really want positive thoughts to spread among teams.
Last but not least, our vision at Survicate is something that makes me wanna get out of bed in the morning. We are building the most recommended customer feedback brand and seeing this happening from the front row pumps me up.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Kamil Rejent : Survicate is a very versatile survey and customer feedback software. We offer a variety of customer feedback tools under one roof, which makes us operate across multiple software categories. This means we swim in a red ocean, we have hundreds of competitors.
We managed to find our niche tough: we are by far the best at integrating with other tools used by our customers, and this is what puts us ahead of the game. This is something I would recommend to all founders: find something you are really good at and focus on it. Don’t try to be good at everything because you will end up being mediocre. You can do anything, but not everything.
Your final thoughts
Kamil Rejent : My advice for every startup founder would be this: focus on customers, talk to them, listen to their feedback, act on it, and everything else will follow. Every time you assume something about your customers instead of simply asking them about it, you’re adding unnecessary risk that may lead to wasting resources. And when your resources are limited, you really don’t want to waste them.
We see our customers uncovering break-through insights by simply asking the right questions at the right time and putting feedback into practice. Listen to your customers, and your life will be way easier.