Why did you start your first startup?

"The biggest challenge was to convince my parents"

How do normal founders start in a normal oneEveryday startup work? How do young entrepreneurs switch off after work and what would the aspiring company leaders have known before they founded their startup? We asked exactly these things. Reply today Johannes Laub and Jamal El Mallouki, the founders of CrowdDesk. With the start-up's software solution, customers can raise and broker money and process transactions securely.

How do you start a normal startup work day?
Laub: I used to start the day rather unstructured. I now manage to take half an hour every morning to plan the day. So I have a better overview and know what to expect during the day, but also what I have achieved in the evening. What I have firmly planned for 2020: to finally do sports again in the morning.

El Mallouki: The first glance is always on the cell phone so that I have an overview of my appointments. Depending on how long it was the previous evening, there is the first coffee in the office between half past seven and ten o'clock - and then it’s off.

How do you switch off after work?
El Mallouki: Switching off properly is difficult, but I don't have to. I do the job because I really enjoy it. Even when I'm out with friends, CrowdDesk is always with me.

Laub: It helps me to consciously spend my time with people outside the company, i.e. with family and friends. Talking to them about other things is a good and important balance for me.

What would you like to have known about being a founder before you founded the company?
How important it is to select the employees you work with on a daily basis and want to build a company together. Not hiring the right candidates not only means disappointment, but also additional work. Here Jamal and I should have listened more to our gut feeling from the start.

El Mallouki: That employees are the most important thing - nothing works without a well-composed team. And that you should focus more on the implementation and not think so much theoretically about things. We should have launched our software on the market faster, especially at the beginning, in order to obtain feedback and develop it further. We missed that at the beginning and therefore cost a lot of time.

What were the biggest hurdles you had to overcome on the way to starting your business?
Laub: The biggest challenge was to convince my parents to start their own company. When we started with LeihDeinerStadtGeld.de, Jamal and I were still in the middle of our studies. In the meantime, however, we have convinced them of our business idea. And what was difficult for me when I was founded: dividing competencies and supporting the decision of others accordingly.

El Mallouki: Finding the right team and questioning yourself every day and motivating you to rethink. Those were and are definitely the greatest challenges.

What have been the biggest mistakes you've made so far - and what have you learned from them?
El Mallouki: At the beginning we often made compromises with the staff. It is always the wrong decision if it feels like a compromise. I should have listened to my gut feeling much more often. That's why Johannes and I always get to know the candidates personally before they get an offer from us.

Leaves:At the time, we thought that the platform had to be perfect, we thought it through well in theory, but we didn't get feedback from customers until quite late. What I have learned from it: how important the ongoing exchange with the market is. And that honest opinions can be decisive - positive as well as negative.

How do you find the right employees for your startup?
Laub: The network of our employees is important. When they are satisfied, they are the best ambassadors. I think that we did very well at CrowdDesk. In addition, in every interview that I conduct, I now ask myself the question: can I imagine spending longer time with them?

El Mallouki: Through hard work! You have to actively address people and mobilize all possible sources, such as your own employees, service providers and also your friends and family. We start discussions with the candidates with a clear expectation management and set of values. It is particularly important to us that our employees fit into our existing team.

What tip do you have for other founders?
Laub: Exchange ideas with other founders - no matter from which area. Be curious and ask questions.

El Mallouki: Always take care of your personal environment and do not neglect friends, spouses and family members! And: don't keep anything to yourself, talk to people about your start-up, the ideas you have. You can learn a lot from the conversations and opinions of others.

Without which external tool would your startup practically no longer exist?
Hubspot is extremely important to us. It holds our growth together and makes it controllable.

El Mallouki: Nintendo Wii MarioKart! We are passionate about racing in tournament mode. There is even a championship once a year!

How do you keep your team in a good mood?
El Mallouki: For me, mutual respect is a very important value for a good mood. It is always good to give people freedom, but also to take them with you on the journey, to absorb their fears and worries and to celebrate successes together. I enjoy spending time with my employees, not just within traditional working hours. We also organize something on the weekend or after work, do sports together or play MarioKart.

Leaves:For me, choosing the right employees is a crucial point. Another important point for a good mood is good results. That brings the team forward together and motivates everyone.

What was your wildest startup experience so far?
leavesWhen our first platform LeihDeinerStadtGeld started. That after months of work our product was finally live - and that the first investors actually invested money in the projects. So someone trusted us whom we never saw or spoke to. That was incredible!

El Mallouki: Every Crowdesk Christmas party is the wildest, every year. In the last few years we always thought: This cannot be topped! And then it happens again and again. So not only do I have the wildest experience, I have it every year!

tip: How does one seeEveryday startup work? There are even more interviews in our main topicEveryday life as a founder.

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Photo (above): CrowdDesk