Tell us a little about yourself
My name is Kaspar, I’m 25 years old. I started my career as a civil engineer while also studying it in Tallinn University of Technology. My first three years were intense and interesting but over the years I started getting more into IT. Learning it on my own while also moving away from constructional engineering into more IT related jobs I quickly realized that I also have to change my studies. It all culminated in switching my major to Informatics. Today I help to run an IT and Innovation Management company called Rubik’s Solutions as a Software Architect.
How has your AIESEC experience contributed to your current career?
Before I joined AIESEC my goal was to finish college and start working as an engineer. During my AIESEC career I understood what it means to be entrepreneurial and also taught me how to be a better team player. Being entrepreneurial doesn’t specifically mean to start a company. For me it means to work on something that creates value for other people instead of just doing your job. This value can be converted into business or used to create social benefits. For me AIESEC also helped to form a large network of people and meet my future business partners and clients.
So what is Rubik’s Solutions all about?
Rubik’s Solutions is a Digital Innovation Agency creating value from emerging technologies. It was founded in 2013 as an app development company which in 2015 did a pivot to focus on project and innovation management.
In Rubik’s we are focused on helping companies facilitate innovation by running internal projects or spin-offs. This can culminate in a more innovative product, a new business model or both. My main responsibility in Rubik’s is to run technical teams and work on software and cloud architecture solutions. We have been involved in multiple different industries. We focus on projects that we can help to create the most value out of.
When it comes to hiring, what are start-ups in general, and more specifically, your start up looking for in prospective employees?
With start-ups it really depends on the nature of the company, the position and at what stage the person is joining. Founding partners or the very first employees are expected to help run the company as a whole and not focus only on the job description. This of course is the most unstable time to join a company and thus your belief in the future of the endeavor plays an important role. Nobody wants to invest in a new person only to see him leave after half a year.
AIESEC is a great example where you see different types of people. Those who join and leave as soon as it gets difficult or those who are willing to go the extra mile to bring results. Results take time and if you have the patience, belief, and willpower to support the journey of any company, I don’t see a reason why you wouldn’t be the next founder or an integral part of a successful start-up team.
With Rubik’s and the spin-offs we build, we look at the character of a person, self-motivation, and a team player. I guess people who have been in AIESEC for more than a year or two prove to have these qualities. From the technical side education is important but you cannot beat the willingness and ability to learn.
In your opinion, what are Estonian start-ups lacking today ?
Moving fast. Compared to the pace of the scene abroad we are somehow still stuck in a fear of discovering that we are wrong. Trying to prove yourself wrong should be the first thing you do with an idea. Your focus should be to understand whether your ingenious new idea will work as a business or not. I feel that a lot of people get attached to their ideas, even if it is obvious that there is no real business value behind it. Start-ups are companies like any other and when starting up you will not survive long without investments. Financing will only come if you are able to prove that your business idea has the potential to convert investment into future revenue. Moving fast means to feedback your product or service on the market quickly. That is the place you get the real feedback, don’t expect it from your friends.
I feel that in the Estonian start-up scene the mutual support between founders of different companies is relatively low. It’s a very Estonian thing where people seem to see each other as competitors rather than collaborators. Building a start-up is hard and the only support you get is from your team, if you are lucky enough to have it. Fortunately, I see that changing especially in the new collaborative working spaces like Spring Hub where the community is selected to form supportive environment. I hope to see these environments to grow even further and through that have a bigger impact on all stakeholders involved.
Why should a young person take interest in start-ups?
If you are looking for a sexy work culture, becoming rich fast (or at all), you shouldn’t not take interest in start-ups. If you are an engineer focused on learning from the best and becoming a talented specialist you are better off joining a company that has proven its business model and survived. For me “taking interest in start-ups” means to start something from ground zero.
Start-up is about not following someone else’s footsteps. There is nothing more unfulfilling than following instructions of someone else and never really discover what it is to realize your dreams yourself.