This month, we conducted an interview with Haslle’s founder and CEO Povilas Zinys. We asked him questions regarding business, Haslle and how he survived the challenges of the pandemic when he launched Haslle. If you enjoy the entrepreneurial spirit, stay tuned to learn more about what it takes to launch a startup.
When Haslle CEO was asked to summarize his experience of launching a startup; “Spanning from the corporate world to a startup, the foundation is rapidly changing. There’s much more chaos at first, since tasks are typically much more critical then in the corporate world. However, setting up a startup is also much more rewarding. Not only will you reap the benefits, experience and know-how, but you will also have full responsibility. In the end, I think it’s a much more exciting and inspiring experience. A crucial point is that timing is everything.”
Questions On the Business Side
->What was the inspiration behind establishing the startup Haslle?
“Basically, it was my own work as a Head of Product at Lux Trust in Luxembourg. As the Head of p=Product, my responsibility was to handle several teams for different products. As the only one having a purchase card, it was my responsibility to pay for everything.
An example was, someone had to purchase a research paper, and the purchase request sat on their managers desk for weeks. By the time the approval came in, the report was overdue its deadline. This made it obvious to me that there has to be a more efficient way.
We conducted some research on how other firms are doing their finances, specially their level of collaboration among team. The data proved that there is usually no collaboration among finance and non-finance teams. Therefore, employees suffer from the approval process of payment/purchase requests especially when it’s urgent. Consequently, the finance teams on the other hand, suffer from document collection & processing problem. This is not on their daily task list due to low priority. This causes a huge delay in flow of financial data. Ultimately, making companies unaware of their actual current financial situation in real time.
This is how we came up with Haslle.
We did a sample market study by going through some companies which we were in contact with, showing them marks of the product design and how it would work. After receiving good feedback, the decision to implement it only seemed natural. It took pretty much all of 2020 to implement it, to integrate a vendor for cards or bank transfers and get our first clients.”
->What is the motivation behind running a startup?
“I always wanted to choose the most talented people I work with for my project. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s not possible to do it in the corporate environment, because there I was also a lot of talent but choosing people is much more difficult. The difference is also the peace of having freedom to achieve the set goals in a startup. Therefore, I’d say the biggest motivators are the achievements, the people and, obviously the dream of doing something of your own.”
->Was there any strategy that worked well early in the business that isn’t so useful now?
“Utilizing your own personal network to get new clients and connections for financing – this was working really well in the beginning. But obviously it’s not a sustainable method. Same goes for hiring or finding investors within your own network. Once that’s done, there are other methods of reaching new investors, clients and teammates.”
->How has Covid19 affected your business and how do you cope with that?
“Unfortunately, as travel is a category for spending, spend management solutions were widely affected. Same goes for events. Haslle was launched in May 2020. Therefore, the pandemic had already hit. However, Haslle experienced a negative impact for investors’ search. Many investors stopped investing for some time or decided to postpone their decision for the foreseeable future. Therefore, the time that is the biggest asset as a startup, was prolonged. Eventually everything is taking longer – longer for the clients to reach a decision, and for investors to consider.”
->What would be the top 3 tips you would give to other startups?
“Be persistent, brave and patient- because everything takes time. Also, don’t forget the mental health of your team members who are giving it their best.”
Questions On the Product Side
->What problem does Haslle solve and how would you say it relieves “pain” from your customers?
“There’s a big problem of productivity and efficiency in the client’s operations. Most of the tasks of operations is just put into transacting, controlling and monitoring all of the financial operations. Financing should be focusing more on planning, advising and strategizing or helping the CEO. Instead, the time goes to processing the same things, the same invoices, documents and receipts all the time.
The second problem is the data. Everything is so clunky and delayed, getting the data at the right time can be challenging. Therefore a full overview of company cahsflow is not available.”
->Who is your platform the most useful?
“Our aim is to enable CFOs and finance managers. Mainly, ones who manage remote teams or teams that are distributed in some way. Haslle is suitable for those who manage freelancers, sales/marketing or product teams that travel, use different tools or often need purchasing power. Most of the firms using our spend management software are professional services like consulting, advertising, content creators, but also technology and SaaS firm’s.”
->What are the key values that drive Haslle’s startup strategy?
“The key values that drive our strategy is creating and increasing value for our clients. We want to help the CFOs and their teams to do things in a more efficient way.
Our main focus is the employee. We want employees to be able to grow in the company and achieve things and see the results as far as possible.
The third value is exploration – There are many things to be discovered, and we want to be there to enable that.”
->For businesses that acquire Haslle SaaS, how easy is the setup and integration?
“New clients just need to provide data to verify the business and verify its accounts. Next, clients receive guided support emails where the knowledgebase is shared. Also, clients book calls on demand with our support team for easier setups. Additionally, a slack channel is opened for clients for easy communication with the support. There, the clients may ask any questions or raise some problems they might have at any time.
The onboarding is quite fast. However, it depends on the set up of the company and how fast they are able to give the budgets for their employees and teams.
Mainly the finance team on-board within the first month around five users. And then the second and third months we have more other departments joining either marketing or product or sales or operational and then the whole team.”