Q&A with Nick Holzherr – CEO of Whisk.com and Joinair.com (Together Helium.vc)

Last Updated: January 1, 2019

I’ve learnt that working smartly is much more important than working long hours – I try and do the 20% of work that achieves 80% of the outcome first.

    by Agent Staff
IMAGE SOURCE: NICK HOLZHERR
Nick Holzherr is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO of HR software company Air (joinair.com) and food tech company Whisk.com. He raised over $2m in funding from technology investors and pitched Whisk.com to Lord Sugar after getting to the final of the BBC Apprentice 2012, where he achieved the series’ best task-win record.

11 Questions for CEO of Whisk.com & Joinair.com, Nick Holzherr

Nick has taken time out of his schedule to talk to AGENT about what first got him into business, his goals and how he maintains a work-life balance.

1. Briefly tell us how you first got into business, and describe your business goals.

I worked for a lot of different businesses before I started my first business in University. At 15 I was working as a Fish & Chip shop assistant, in an outdoor adventure shop as an retail assistant and freelance web designer. During University I worked as a telesales person – people were very rude to me when my auto-dialer hit their number. My first real job was working for Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt in their International Investment Banking devision during a year out of University. My objective was money.

2. What age were you when you realised you wanted to run your own business?

Although I started experimenting with mini ventures when I was 15 through a website design company – I first took running my own business as a career seriously while I was working at Deutsche Bank. I applied for a local business plan competition because I was bored, won it, and the mentors and advisors who were part of the competition gave me the belief that I could actually go out and do this.

3. Who are your business icons and inspirations?

I find Elon Musk and Steve Jobs inspirational for different reasons. Elon Musk is working on such huge world problems that seem so unimaginably difficult to make a success of – and he seems to be making a success of all of them. I really admire is ambition, drive and execution. Steve Jobs tackled less globally important problems but had incredible vision to predict products and services that people would want. He was also razor focused on delivering his vision.

4. What has been your biggest challenge in business, and how did you surmount it?

I didn’t experience the immediate sky-rocketing success that people like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs did with Paypal and Apple, so my biggest challenge has been surviving long enough to iterate to a successful business. Without the large amounts of money available to some of the most famous business icons, it’s not possible to hire amazing team members or spend millions on marketing. Instead, surmounting challenges have involved real perseverance and grit – working hard for each pay check and a focus on revenue.

5. Work-Life balance: is it possible? How do you achieve it?

It’s absolutely possible. Firstly, while I work long hours, I really enjoy my work so it usually doesn’t feel like a slog. Secondly, I’ve learnt that working smartly is much more important than working long hours – I try and do the 20% of work that achieves 80% of the outcome first. I also try to do everything in the most efficient way possible – often hiring freelancers to complete tasks I’m not suited to or that take a long time. I think time away from work is really important to get some perspective strategy.

6. What is the first thing you do every day?

After a healthy breakfast and coffee, I plan what I’ll do that day and prioritise my list. I break tasks down into 25 minute chunks and estimate what I think can be done that day and make sure I cover all the tasks that will have the biggest impact first.

7. What screen saver picture is currently on your phone?

A picture of my beautiful fiancee

 

8. What is the most important app on your mobile phone, and why?

Gmail. I manage everything in Gmail’s native iOS interface and answer a lot of emails on my phone while I’m walking / travelling – I like to keep my inbox near empty.

9. What is the last thing you googled?

Key SaaS metric ratios and what they should be. I’m currently optimising metrics for our new HR Software startup – Air.

 

10. What item do you never leave the house without, and why?

I rarely leave the house without my packed lunch. It’s healthy and quick to eat – my fiancee and I cook every evening and always cook enough for the next day. A hot, healthy and delicious lunch is important to me.

 

11. What advice would you give to your younger self starting out in business?

Don’t focus on inventing something entirely new. Focus on building something that someone’s willing to pay for – and look really hard for evidence that someone will pay for it. Read more books about tech startups – especially Lean Startup.

 

 



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