Our guest at the last meetup was Jarek Owczarek, founder and the CPO of ContractBook.com that’s currently thriving in Scandinavia with their innovative software to create and sign contracts digitally.
Jarek told us about how to be a leader in a young and evolving startup and how to keep employees motivated in the fast-paced environment while having the team spread around the world and working remotely.
We have heard an amazing story about how a Polish student came to the Copenhagen with barely a few dollars in his pocket and just a few years later, he became a founder and a CPO of a thriving Startup – the story of Jarke Owczarek is really like an ameri… sorry, Scandinavian dream. Excited to hear about it? Great, let’s jump into that!
1. How it all started?
Jarek told us that it all started with the desire to become completely independent, that’s why he decided to study Multimedia Design and Communication and later Digital Business Development. There’s also where he met the co-founder of the ContractBook, Niels Martin Brochner.
Before ContractBook, Jarek had already set up few businesses and startups that didn’t work out, but gave him something even more valuable than money – experience about the business and leading the company, which resulted in building a software company that was later transformed into the Contractbook.
2. Origin of ContractBook
Contractbook originated when one of clients asked Jarek (at the time he was leading a software development company) “What are you using for contracts?” and he said “Paper and printer? What are you using?”. Then Jarek did research and found out about digital signatures that were still in their infancy, and got an idea to build a business that’s gonna change the way the contracts are signed.
3. Biggest challenge that startup has to face
Prioritization. Jarek says that it’s crucial to prioritize the right tasks. Ask yourself, where should you put the resources, where to invest time, what to say no to – and he mentions, that saying NO is much more important than saying YES.
4. Focus on the customers
Customer’s support is a crucial thing if you want to maintain and acquire clients. ContractBook puts a lot of effort into creating great support. It’s not only about helping in using the service but it also saves product when there are bugs and holes, because if something wrong happens it’s the customer support that keeps the client happy and with the feeling he is taken a good care of.
5. Hiring the right people
Understanding of what a ContractBook journey is and willingness to be a part of this journey is what creates the best employees. What matters the most to Jarek is the attitude that his employees have.
6. Having the team working remotely
Jarek believes that remote work can be even more efficient than on-site, it’s all up to the people. Today, having all the right tools for remote work like Slack, Jira, Trello and many many more, allows high-level communication and productivity needed for a fruitful remote work.
7. You can go fast alone but you only go far together
Leadership means showing a way but also believing in the abilities of others and giving them a free will. Someone is most productive at evenings and mornings? Let them work at that time. Other people work best if they go work out on break between working? No problem. If someone does their job great, it’s more important than being at the office 9-5.
8. How do you track performance of a distributed team?
ContractBook tracks performance of a team in general, without differentiating between distributed and on-site people. What matters the most is a total performance of a whole team.
9. Find a book you like reading or listening to and distress everyday.
Jarek says that’s in the ocean of self-improvements, project management, leadership books his favourite one is The Witcher and he recommends everyone to find a book they love and just distress. Don’t focus only on the literature that makes you better in what you do at work but find the perspectives in other literature that you find interesting.
10. Advice on creating traction for a startup
Start building your product and getting feedback from potential clients. If your product is really needed, they may buy it before it’s even released. Try to get to the Early Product Fit as quick as possible. Understand the problem – let’s take ContractBook. You want to sing contracts faster – why? You lose deals because it takes so much time, is it a mess in your inbox, you lose paper? Try to fully understand the user’s problems and give your solutions.