Banu Akgül- Co Founder of ConectoHub which is Agile OKR and Work Management Platform
What were you doing before starting your business? How did you come up with the idea of starting your own business?
In fact, until now, I have constantly changed my career plans. First of all, I wanted to be an academician in the field of Behavioral Economics and I did a master’s degree in Economics. While I was doing my master’s degree, I realized that the field of Economics was too abstract for me and being an academician did not excite me anymore;. Behavioral economics was the field I always wanted to work in, I wanted to use my experience in this field for marketing. I joined Vestel as a Management Trainee., In order to become a good marketeer I worked as an Account Manager first, then I worked as a Marketing Specialist and Marketing Manager and gained 7 years of work experience. I learned a lot in every job I did. Actually, I always wanted to start my own business. When I was a marketing manager, we were collaborating with startups and I was very excited about the work they did and the challenges they faced. While working with startups, I saw that the biggest difference between startups and enterprises is that startups are much more motivated, despite the fact that they earn less, they are constantly goal-oriented. In fact, I realized that much more creative and innovative work can be done with limited resources. Then, when we looked at the business productivity and goal-oriented work statistics in the world, the picture turned out to be much worse than we expected.
Research shows that 39% of workdays spent on actual work, and in the rest we deal with repetitive and time-consuming tasks such as collecting data, preparing reports, following up, spending time with endless meetings. On the other hand, when we look at the goal management and working towards goals, -the biggest source of motivation for employees-, in companies with more than 100 employees, a mere 7% of employees today fully understand their company’s business strategies and what’s expected of them in order to help achieve company goals. Therefore, low productivity, poor motivation in the workplace and high turnover are the biggest problems of companies. More importantly, that problems lead to produce low value-added output.
Based on the problems we experienced, we established ConectoHub which is Agile OKR and Work Management Platform. Our platform bridges the gap between strategy and execution.ConectoHub consists of two modules. With OKR System Integrated with Work Management System you can manage your work and connect business outcomes with your company goals from one platform. With automated features and instant reports reduce repetitive work. In fact, by putting the goals at the center of business life; we ensure that every organization can work with agile principles and goal-oriented like startups.
Did you find partners while setting up your business? How have these partners contributed to your company?
We established our company as two former corporate managers. I use my experiences in the field sales and marketing, my partner Emre is on the technical side. We share our responsibilities based on our experiences otherwise it is almost impossible for you to really catch up. My advice to entrepreneurs is to start with partners who have expertise in different fields so they can complement each other.
Did you have a business plan when you started your business? Did you act by this plan?
Before we established our company, we had a business plan and got funding according to our business plan. However, after COVID, productivity has become one of the priorities of companies, both employees want to work efficiently and focused, and companies want to access data from a single platform and produce high value-added output. In other words, the productivity market has more than doubled with the increase in demand.
We started to make a difference in this field as a platform that enables efficient business management and goal management with business data from a single platform. All of these factors have allowed us to accelerate and meet a demand far beyond our plans. Now we have enterprise, startup, scaleup and agency customers from Turkey and the world. We continue on our way faster than we planned and now it’s time to create a global brand.
How were the first days of your venture? What kind of troubles did you have?
We talked to more than 500 employees and companies, and then platform design and software processes started. In this process, I learned that “make a plan, but know that every plan goes astray”. I can say that the disruptions in software processes were the most painful process for us. Afterwards, we progressed faster than planned, but at the very beginning of the initiative, the first setback can reduce motivation, and in the long run you begin to understand that all these processes are very normal. In fact, all the setbacks will return as your strong muscles in the future.
How much capital did you start your business with? What was the source of your capital?
We established our company with 150.00 $ funding from Vestel Ventures.
Did you get outside support? What benefits has external support brought you?
We are working on both OKR and project management system with very valuable experts as our advisors. Apart from that, I received constant advice from experienced stratup CEOs and I have an Indian mentor with 25 years of work experience, and we work with her in fields such as company management and psychology management. Frankly, I can’t say word to thank each of them individually, I can say that we both learned from and accelerated with them.
What were the best and worst moments of your entrepreneurial life?
Our best moment was when we got our first customer. Second one is getting global customers from US, UK, Netherland, Germany and Qatar. We are a user*centric startup, so we are developing our platform by listening to our users. Now our users are like ConectoHub’s “product managers”. We have lots of product managers from all over the world; actually we are creating our community with our users. Creating community makes us more satisfied with our business.
The worst moments are the first rejections from customers and investors. It takes time but you are learning that these are the part of this journey.
How many hours a day do you work? Has this run time changed over the months?
I get up at 5 AM every morning to start my day with intense morning workout, this routine gives me both energy and motivation. I guess other than that, I work in general and I think it will gradually increase. If you want something to pan out, it is out of question that you should work very hard. I think success is intersection of hard work and good luck.
If you had the opportunity to re-establish your business, what would you do differently?
Since our beta version of our product, users are using our platform and we have developed our product by constantly listening to our users and their needs, monitoring them with heat maps and making continuous improvements. However, we waited for our better version to go global. We wish would have gone to the global market much sooner. I advise entrepreneurs to act without expecting perfection.
What are the most motivating factors for you as an entrepreneur?
I can say that there is nothing that motivates me more than seeing that we solve the problems of our users, make them more motivated and enable them to work more productive. Finally saving their time.
Are there any entrepreneurs that you take as role models if any? Who are they?
I In fact, I can say that I take different characteristics of each entrepreneur. To give a few examples, the simple life of Apple founder Steve Jobs, his simple way of thinking, and creating one of the best product in the world with this philosophy and focus. Udemy and Carbon Health founder Eren Bali his story started from the mountain village and he built billion dollar company. Canva founder Melanie Perkins, who did her first exit at the age of 14, realized at a very young age that design will be very different in the future, with her passion to create a collaborative, online and easy-to-learn platform now she is CEO of a tech startup valued over $1 billion. These are the couple of examples, there are many enterpreneurs that I always take as an example the original aspects of them.
Who do you think should be entrepreneurs, and who should stay away from entrepreneurship altogether?
As someone who has both experienced corporate life, and entrepreneurship, I can say that they are completely different. I wouldn’t recommend entrepreneurship if they want to know everything clearly – the work they do, the results of their efforts and the salary they get. The entrepreneur must know how to dance with uncertainty otherwise it will be very difficult. At the same time, you really have multiple responsibilities in a company and you have to work a lot, it doesn’t matter week-end or holiday. Money should not a motivation factor as an entrepreneur. Early stage entrepreneurs are generally earn much less money than corporate employees. If you are not struggle with uncertainty and get excited about your contribution to the world, I can say entrepreneurship is for you.
What is your advice to new entrepreneurs?
Actually, I am an early stage entrepreneur, but during this time entrepreneurship is a difficult, constantly teaching and incredibly satisfying path. What are the muscles that an entrepreneur must develop? Resilience, making peace with rejection, patience ,seeing big payoffs in the long run with constant small steps, working hard every day despite everything. All these bring success sooner or later. There are many successful entrepreneurs in the world, each of them has big or small failure stories. Listening to them shows that you are not alone in this path, and there is a common path every entrepreneur should follow in order to be successful. I would say listen to entrepreneurs, meet lots of entrepreneurs, get mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs if possible. Finally, yes, it is difficult, but when you see how much you have accomplished with few resources, you feel power, confidence and undefinable happiness. Finally I would say to all new entrepreneurs “enjoy the journey no matter what!”