A founder’s story - or - What the startup life has given and taken away from me with Lukáš Balík
“Real estate owners have never focused on innovation. Cooperation with startups brings them something that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to create themselves.”
Founder & CEO Spaceflow
#1: What is most important thing – about life in general or about work – that the startup world has taught you?
It’s really taught me a lot in general. Everything about it is extremely intense. A startup evolves quickly by nature, and you have to be able to react to it as a person. Every day is a new lesson. Above all however, it’s shown me that the world is full of opportunities. And that it’s mainly about the people who you share the journey with, and the story you tell.
#2: What does your average work day look like?
Building a global startup means that every day is completely different, different opportunities and obstacles are always arising. I spend a lot of time traveling, and that’s what I like – the variety I have every day. Thanks to Slack and other technologies I’m able to stay connected with my team whenever and wherever. Even so, there’s no substitute for face-to-face meetings.
#3: How do you choose the people you cooperate with?
Above all, based on their level of enthusiasm for Spaceflow, combined with their prior experience. The important thing is that there is chemistry between us, not just with me, but with the whole team. As a result I never choose people myself, always together with my colleagues.
#4: In what ways are startups different than corporations?
They’re more dynamic, they have freer company culture. On the other hand they’re definitely more vulnerable and require much more energy from people.
#5: What can corporations learn from startups and vice versa?
I’ll give you an example from our market. Real estate owners have traditionally never focused on technology and innovation. Cooperation with startups brings them something that they would not otherwise have been able to create themselves. For them, we are also a partner who is able to advise them as to which technologies to use and how to integrate them.
On the other hand, in corporations the internal systems are set up better, while in the startup world there can be more chaos in the beginning. Although, I’d venture to say that at the stage we’re at, we’ve got a lot of processes set up well, which is crucial for rapid scaling.
#6: What was the biggest obstacle or challenge that Spaceflow has had to overcome so far?
It’s not an obstacle that we’ve overcome, it’s something we are constantly overcoming. It’s the adaptation of the market to new technologies. Our market is slower, so it’s harder to enter. On the other hand it’s a huge opportunity, because the real estate market is globally the largest economy, and if we manage to move it in some direction - and I think, that we are on the way to doing so - it will be a great success.
#7: Is there anything that founding and leading a startup has “taken” from your life?
I can’t think of anything, other than my free time.
#8: How do you think that the Czech startup scene is doing in comparison with the rest of the world?
There is a lack of founders who have already found success and would be able to pass on their experience, which is quite common in America, for example. The market here is just being born. But I believe that we’ll soon have our first unicorn in the Czech Republic, so it could even happen here.
#9: Is there anything that works better here than in the rest of the world?
Prague is a good market for launching startups thanks to its technical talent pool. But if you want to aim for the global market, your sales must be directed abroad.
#10: Is diversity important in your team? If yes, why?
Yes, it is. Generally, it gives us more perspective on things. At Spaceflow the structure is broken down into individual teams - a developer will always be different than a salesman. But they need an environment and culture in which they will cooperate and where they will be able to help each other. And the important thing is that despite diversity, the company has the same goal, which must be constantly communicated and reiterated.
#11: Do you remember what the main impulse for starting Spaceflow was?
When we started in 2016, proptech was still in its infancy. We wanted to digitalize the building environment on one platform, and open up new possibilities to the owners of buildings, so that renting space was not the only component of their revenue.
#12: What activity / work related to leading a startup has brought you the most joy?
Definitely working with a team of passionate people who enjoy moving the project forwards. And also constantly working in an international environment. I enjoy being a part of the global proptech community, which wants to change the market, not just regionally, but across the globe. And of course I also like working on improving myself, I always have to keep pushing myself further.
#13: On the other hand, is there anything from the startup lifestyle that you could do without?
The startup life is full of networking, events, and sometimes it can seem like it’s impossible to manage everything. It’s important to learn to filter things out and to concentrate on what will have a real impact on your project.
#14: What kind of personality traits do you think a person should have in order to become a successful founder?
Firstly, they must have immense enthusiasm and willpower. And then obviously a lot of energy and the ability to recover quickly.
#15: Do you have any kind of vision / wishes as to where Spaceflow will be in five years?
Our greatest wish is for our company’s digital platform to become the standard for every commercial and residential building.
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