Always Be Solution-Focused, In Ideas and Company Ops, says SaaS Startup Founder
This blog is based on an episode of our podcast, The PathCast. The PathCast is an interview series with tech and business experts, discussing the good, the bad and the ugly of business and provides actionable steps for you to implement from the ground up. You can listen to this episode here.
From a playful exchange in French ahead of The PathCast interview to his own out-of-the-box interview processes, Gavriel Merkado’s positive disposition but clear business focus is something that’s sure to transfer through his SaaS company REalyse, a data insights tool for the real estate sector.
The data platform allows users to access UK-wide datasets, going back 20 years, much quicker, cheaply and efficiently – something not previously seen in real estate.
When asked, prior to the interview, what he felt was the most challenging thing within the tech industry, Merkado said: “How fast things move - this is great for us, of course, but keeping up with data, innovation and on top of the tech is definitely something.”
But REalyse is undoubtedly managing to keep up, with the three-year-old company successfully securing investment in as many rounds of funding.
Tips? Really work on your business culture
As a start-up, every new employee is a risk. They could make or break your company and its culture if they don’t quite gel with existing members of the team. It’s no secret that the right people are instrumental in a company’s success, but those people also define your company’s culture.
“We have a very strong culture of inclusivity and support cross REalyse, and do what we can to drive this,” Merkado said.
For example, after a rigorous interview process, the last stage is to go out for drinks with the whole REalyse team. While this may feel like a quirky approach, and in fact not inclusive at all – what happens if you don’t drink? – it’s actually a really effective way to get to know a person behind their CV and interview nerves.
“There was one girl who came out with us, had a few laughs and gelled really well. It wasn’t until the end of the night we realized she’d been drinking tea the whole time. She walked into that bar and ordered tea with such confidence that no one even realized. Needless to say, she got the job,” he explained.
With such an out-of-the-box approach to traditional processes and forward-thinking, there’s no question as to why REalyse is thriving. This delicate mix of business and pleasure is often hard to find, but perhaps also just comes down to leaders ‘being themselves’ while ensuring business is still being done.
Merkado – or ‘Supreme Leader’ as one employee calls him – seems to have certainly injected a bit of himself within REalyse’s culture.
Create solutions to problems, not products
For Merkado, being himself truly does mean to be a game-changer. But before becoming an entrepreneur, he only ever tried to solve problems. This led him to create REalyse after spotting a gap in the market for a data-driven real estate platform.
“I was always just coming from the perspective of how something could be better,” he said via email.
Some people are not natural innovators, so how do you generate ideas destined for greatness? You don’t. Just figure out what problem you’re trying to solve and how it would work, and then see if it sticks.
But big changes don’t just happen; they are made of little steps. Each self-inflicted project a tinkerer put upon themselves nurtures creative thinking. As with any creator, be prepared to “annoy quite a few people on the way”, and sometimes be seen as “solving a problem that doesn’t actually exist.''
Before REalyse, Merkado was a serial tinkerer. “[I’ve played around with] little things like extending the legs of the football table in college so that people didn’t have to strain their backs to play, though people got annoyed that I had voided the warranty on the table,” he said.
“Then there are bigger things like noticing that the fund I was working in wasn’t generating enough revenue from their core business and so coming up with a new strategy which actually worked. Again, people got annoyed I wasn’t focused on the core business.”
“...All along to pointless things like trying to invent digital art displays so you could select Van Gogh on your wall one day and Pollock the next day – my mum has the one and only prototype of that at her place.”
The art of problem-solving is not only true with new innovations, but with every aspect of business. How can you make your culture better, your business more cost-efficient or your sales process more effective?
For answers to these questions and many, many more, listen to The PathCast now.
PS. Want to stay in the loop?
If you’d like to stay up to date with Merkado and REalyse, catch them on all of the regular social channels.