Launching a business is hard. Managing a new project is equally difficult. Many people have challenges keeping organised when collaborating on projects. And it can be stressful to find the right tool to start your project.
The team at Zenkit has launched a productivity tool that helps you follow your data through its entire lifecycle, from fluid brainstorming and research through to a structured system for collaborative use.
In an interview with Martin Welker, CEO & Founder at Zenkit, he revealed why his team built Zenkit, their biggest success factors and challenges they faced before and after launch.
At Zenkit, we imagine a future where information technology isn’t something we have to worry about and manage, but something intuitive, beautiful, and friendly. Something as helpful, pervasive, and unobtrusive as, say, electricity.
We started Zenkit as a project management platform, a task manager, an organization tool. But even now, at the beginning, Zenkit is more than just that.
It is a platform where you can bring together very different areas of your company and your life, to build on the enormous potential synergies between them.
Customers, Documents, Invoices, Bugs, Features, Leads, Resources, Tasks, Events, Tickets. They’re all connected, and we have much to gain from making those connections stronger.
Why and how was Zenkit started
We actually started Zenkit as an application builder platform. I saw that there was a market for a tool that could fulfil any need the user had of it, so the original idea was that people would create their own customized apps without advanced programming knowledge.
But then, one day, I realized something was missing. The app builder was simple, well designed, and it was powerful. It was even fun to play with, but it didn’t make an impact on my daily life.
From that day on, making Zenkit a part of everyday life was the most important principle.
What are your biggest success factors?
Our constant focus on reading the market and trying to understand what people want out of the tools they use to manage their businesses really helps us ensure Zenkit fulfils its promise to be “the flexible workspace you can use to organize anything.”
In that way, feedback from our first users has been instrumental to our success. We really enjoy getting feedback, and early adopters are especially important to listen to, since they’re on the cutting edge when it comes to testing new products in your field. They often have a great understanding of the industry, and can offer valuable insight into how other products compare.
The key is not to let the feedback overwhelm the vision. You need to stay focused on your core mission and let that drive you forward.
Another aspect of our success has been building a network of users, writers and experienced professionals. One of our first users ‘hunted’ us on Product Hunt, which was a great first press success. Since then we’ve really focused on building relationships with various publications – we can’t hope to help people become more productive versions of themselves if nobody knows we exist, right?
What are the biggest challenges you have faced launching and running Zenkit?
Well, the pivot from an app builder to a project management/database platform obviously was a bit of a setback in the short term. We were almost ready to release before we changed direction. In the long term it was definitely the right choice though.
Another challenge is that our team are all based in Europe, and while it’s great that we’re all concentrated in a core team, it makes communicating with customers and press in the States or Australia quite complicated. It means a few late nights for some of our team!
A related challenge is that we’re entirely self-funded. One day we’ll be able to hire a team overseas to handle those communications, but for now we need to keep our team small and lean so we can funnel our resources into improving Zenkit itself.
Which do you think is most important: the right market, the right product, or the right team?
We’re definitely product first – however without the market and the team behind it, a great product couldn’t succeed. Zenkit is a product of all three.
As I mentioned before, our attention on the industry has allowed us to build a product that hits all the right notes and that fits the market perfectly, or even anticipates its needs.
The team we’ve built to create Zenkit are an integral part of our success. Zenkit just wouldn’t be what it is without the people behind it, giving it all they’ve got for the last few years.
Your final words for those chasing the startup dream
In the words of our lead developer: “The key is being passionate about your idea. Developing is especially fun and effective if you have a goal that is worth leaving everything else aside for.”
Find your passion, allow it to guide you, but make sure you’re creating something that’ll help or delight others in the process!