One of the great things about launching your own business is that you start with a blank sheet of paper. Everything is developed from scratch; from the products and services on offer, to the way in which you do business.
When Sascha, Florian and Ermin started Own, they had some strong ideas about the sort of company they wanted to create. Coming from a corporate environment they rejected the politics and red tape that constrains creativity within large organisations – but didn’t want to turn into a start-up cliché. With this in mind, our unique DNA was born.
To understand more about the ethos behind Own, we sat down for a chat with our founding members. Here’s what they had to say….
Making a difference
“Florian, Ermin and I all worked in the same corporate world where you’re basically hamsters on a wheel, creating technology functions that don’t always impact your clients,” CEO Sascha explains. “The companies are too big for you to tell whether you are making a difference”.
The trio grew tired of making every decision on the basis of operating costs, which allowed average people to achieve average results and not be taken to task – so long as they met minimum expectations.
For CTO, Ermin, this vision was aligned to his technical ambitions. “I wanted to build an open company culture, where people would have the freedom to innovate,” he comments. “I want everyone to learn something new and be proud of the work we are doing. To feel like an Apple or a Google.”
Attracting the best raw talent
Recruiting the right staff was a top priority for Own, as there’s no hiding behind others in a growing business. “We wanted to employ the best people – people who could make a difference, but who also had the right personalities. We wanted to enjoy working with them; we’d lost that camaraderie in the corporate world,” Sascha divulges.
This meant looking outside the traditional office set-up and building a workforce of talented professionals spanning Europe. Today, Own has teams in Germany, Liechtenstein, Bosnia and the UK, who mostly communicate via instant messenger and video calling – a truly multicultural, globalised set-up.
Start-up sentiments without the silly gimmicks
Discussions at Own are informal and friendly, and everyone’s opinion is valued; there is no hierarchical structure when it comes to giving input. And Sascha believes this interactive way of working has enabled Own’s rapid business development.
“We wanted to create a start-up culture, but without all the gimmicks that people think of when they imagine an emerging tech company. It’s all a bit fake. We’re not wearing shorts and playing ping pong!”
“I always wanted a working culture with as little administrative burden as possible, so people can concentrate on what they are good at,” concurs COO, Florian. “Finding the right balance of freedom versus process has been our biggest challenge.”
A lack of rigid structure permeates other areas of company culture. At Own, team members can choose their own working hours, for example, and management keeps a loose track on holiday entitlement. The founders lead by example; just a few days before our chat, Sascha took an impromptu day off to hit the slopes while snowboarding conditions were perfect.
This flexibility should not be mistaken for apathy, however.
“Everyone at Own cares about our company and what we do. That’s how we deliver on projects successfully,” Sascha explains. “I want productivity; not people sitting at their desk until late because they’re worried about leaving before their boss.”
Proving new concepts quickly
Delivering results does not just apply to individual performance, either. Own is building new products at lightning speed, and this is driven by its rapid development cycle.
While many tech companies work in four-week sprints, Own’s developers work to two-week sprints, in order to prove concepts quickly or fail and move on. “A lot can happen in a start-up, and we cannot afford to spend four weeks working on one thing,” Sascha observes.
“Software development is opportunity driven,” adds Ermin. “The freedom you have to innovate creates very high personal expectations and you strive to deliver more each time.”
This learn fast approach is only possible because of the vast industry experience that Own’s senior team possesses. What sets the company apart from other, younger businesses is the maturity of management personnel. Sascha doesn’t even really view Own as a FinTech in the traditional sense.
We’re not 20-year-olds shooting for a goal and missing,” he notes, “we have a lot of experience in the field we’re operating.”
“Our experience has enabled us to develop a really engaged community of advocates,” concludes Florian. “Add to this a geographically dispersed team with different cultural backgrounds, and the amount of fun we’re having, and Own really is a special organisation to be a part of.”
The combination of experience, opportunity and flexibility makes Own a unique company to do business with, and an exciting place to work. If you’d like to become part of the inner circle, visit our recruitment page to view the latest career opportunities.