Written by Claudia May 29, 2024

Interview Kertos – Part 2 | About being a Founder

We want to know more about how to start a business, how to build a company and what milestones and hurdles you face on your way to entrepreneurship. So we spoke to Johannes Hussak from Kertos, who gave us some insights. In part 1 of the interview, we learned a lot about his company and how the entrepreneurial journey began. Today, we want to go deeper and look at the personal side of starting a business.

Since you started your business, what has changed for you personally?

When I started my first company, a software consultancy, there were a lot of things that changed, like how I organised my day or how I delved into different topics like finance, HR, marketing and so on. But it was a different kind of step when we started Kertos – it triggered a lot of other changes. This was mainly due to the fact that we now have external VC money. It really increased the pressure, but it also increased the speed and opened a lot of doors and a lot of opportunities.

Based on your experience as a founder over the past few years, what advice do you have for founders?

This may sound like very general and basic advice. But just start, just do it. What do I mean by that? I see a lot of potential, smart founders chasing the next unicorn and the next moonshot idea, and while they are thinking about that, they completely forget about actually starting things. Whenever you have a small idea, a small pain point, a small solution – do it. And all the lessons you learn along the way will help you when that big idea or even that unicorn moonshot comes knocking on the door.

Looking back, is there anything you wish you had done differently?

I realised that everything around alignment is super crucial for a start-up. Not just alignment on values, but alignment on the vision, on the mission, on the product itself. And I think we went through a period where not everybody was 100% on the same page about where we were going, what the product vision was, what the overall vision was. So I wish we had recognised that a little bit earlier and really made sure at every point in time that we were aligned on all of those issues.

And were there any mistakes that you made that helped you move forward?

When we started Kertos, it was all about getting things done. There was a lot of operational pressure and a lot of operational issues. And at some point we didn’t have time to zoom out and have a more strategic discussion. And I think that is particularly important for the founding team to take themselves out of the operational stress and have time for strategic discussions and decisions and really make sure that the company has a good strategy and that everyone is aligned.

Speaking of alignment and communication. What is most important to you in working together in the founder’s team?

The most important thing for me is radical openness. There’s no point in trying to hide things or put them in nice words. We have to really get down to business, we have to speak openly, we have to argue on the basis of facts and results. Only when we have that attitude will we be able to work efficiently and take the company forward.

For people planning to start their own business: What questions should they ask themselves before starting a business?

It’s funny to hear myself saying that, but if you use the Team Canvas* there are actually a lot of very important fields. So make sure what your rules are, what your vision is, what your values are. Don’t just use it as a fun event or to put up some random sticky notes, but really take it out on a regular basis, go through it and see if you’re aligned and if you still have the same set of rules, vision and purpose.

What are you most proud of when it comes to Kertos?

I am most proud of the team itself. I think we found a way to put together a team, that is on one hand very complementary when it comes to skills – so bringing together people with a legal background, a tech background, from product, from HR, from marketing, from everywhere. But having a team that is very much aligned when it comes to values. And I think a situation where you can see it best is our daily lunch meeting which is like really enjoyable, filled with a lot of laughter and always the highlight of my day.

To sum up, what has been your highlight as a founder so far?

I think I have daily highlights with our lunch breaks. But if I need to nail it down to one specific event, then it was the feedback of one of our investors when they did the due diligence process: they were talking to our customers and they came back to us and said “Hey guys, are you aware that you are not actually having customers, but you are having fans”. It was really a moment that made me very proud of what we have achieved and the way we work with our customers.

* A team canvas is a common technique for visualising and helping team members focus on what is most important to them. Each square of the canvas represents a focus area: Goals, Roles & Skills, Values, and Rules & Activities.

About Kertos

Kertos automates Data Privacy Operations. Data privacy is an operative nightmare. Many companies don’t know which kind of tools they are using, what kind of data they have, who is responsible. And very simple topics like “Can you please delete my data” causes a huge issue. That’s why Kertos automates this whole privacy operations and their main target groups are B2C heavy scale-ups, so the more data the better and the newer the tech infrastructure the easier for Kertos to integrate.
Learn more about Kertos in our Blog-Post, Part 1 of the interview and on their website.