"it's like riding a rollercoaster", 8 questions for our CEO
Our CEO Julian Stylianou is a busy man. Not only does he already take care of an eight month old son. Now soon his Startup-baby Kevin (smart-home burglary prevention gadget) will also come into the world with a bang.
During the past 3 years he built up a strong team around him, consisting of 4 co-founders and 6 employees. After a super successful Kickstarter campaign in January 2018, reaching its goal of 50’000 CHF in under 19 hours, and then more than doubling it, Julian could continue showing his investors traction by selling multiple pre-orders every week since. Now the launch is imminent and mitipi AG has already sold just shy of 800 Kevins, even before hitting the shelves in the first quarter of 2019. Now considering the temporal proximity of the the much-awaited launch of mitipi’s sophisticated burglary prevention device, we wanted to ask him some questions to find out who he really is. Here we go:
Hi Julian, thanks for taking some time to answer a few questions.
The launch is coming up. What is it like to see Kevin finally come alive?
It’s incredible to see what can happen if you work with a committed team. I started with a blank sheet of paper and seeing the result is a super cool feeling. But we are all on the edge of our seats, cause the product has not been delivered yet and we look forward to first customer feedbacks. I think incredible is the fact that none of us have built a hardware device before. We overcame all the challenges by putting all energy we got into the project. The whole thing is a total team effort.
In the startup-scene failures are oftentimes celebrated as the most valuable learning experiences. What was your favorite mishap so far and why?
I can’t really remember one big failure, there were many, you just try to deal with it when it comes up. Of course along the way, there are many situations where you have doubts after something unexpected happened. But all you do is sleep over it, pull the energy together and get things fixed. This is a point where the team is extremely important. If one person is down, the other can pull him/ her up.
Nicely said. In only one sentence…how would you describe your current daily routine?
It’s like riding a roller coaster all day long; within one day your emotions can go from ups: “we are going to conquer the world”, down to: “this was the worst idea I ever came up with”.
Yes other entrepreneurs have openly said, that they even cry themselves to sleep at night. What have been your most intense emotional situations? Good and or bad.
Extremely positive were two occasions. When we successfully closed the spin-off from Helvetia and the second was reaching our Kickstarter Goal within 19 hours.
On the down side I can’t remember one occasion. Maybe a few times when I messed up an investor pitch. It’s sometimes hard to be rejected, it can get emotional inside yourself, but you need to deal with it. We also had many failures during the product development. You'd better ask my wife to get a reflection on the negative feelings. When I had a bad day, she already rolls her eyes and says, yeah yeah and tomorrow everything is fine again. :-)
How do you manage to balance family and startup?
I really don’t manage. I just try to get all my tasks done and prioritize. It’s a fluid process. I dedicate most of my time to the startup. My wife is aware of that. In some occasions she understands and sometimes she doesn’t. But in essence you are putting as much energy as possible into your startup.
From the momentary standpoint, what are the biggest challenges after Kevin has been launched in a Month?
Generate growth. Nothing else matters and at the same time you hope nothing is wrong with the hardware you delivered, because you know it could kill you, if you would have to recall products. Of course, we are doing everything we can to avoid that, but who knows...
Imagine you win millions in the lottery tomorrow. What would you do?
Invest it and continue work. Money, even if it’s a million, is not life changing. I really don’t think it would change a lot for me. It may give you a calmer sleep because you have a strong financial buffer, you’re a little less under pressure I believe. But who cares, I don’t play lottery anyway.
How about a classic then: food and water as a given, what three items would you want to have with you on a deserted island?
A smartphone, a solar charger and a satellite receiver. Basically the modern survival book. You’ll learn everything else from the internet. And if it gets bad you just call for help :-).
Not bad, so you like to come prepared rather than taking chances. Now already on to the last question: For other people who are thinking about starting their own business. What piece of advice would you give them?
Don’t worry too much. Nothing will be as you imagined before. Some things will be easier than you thought and some things will be more difficult. Just start.
Even if you are not successful you’ll have learnt so many things along the journey.
Cool, thank you for carving out the time to answer some questions.
So here were 8 answers from our CEO Julian Stylianou. We will be asking the other co-founders as well, so you can find out who is behind the young company, currently shaking up the home security sector.