Kristian Kabashi transforms business processes with a strong philosophy where people are exclusively creative thinkers and strategists. Repetitive work is performed through advanced technologies. On this path, the future of work goes to bots. The future of innovation, however, is human, Kabashi says.
As co-founder of Swiss fintech startup Numarics, Kabashi is instrumental in developing competent and reliable business finance services from a source of integrated machine learning and artificial intelligence, transforming the entire accounting industry in Switzerland.
Where did the idea for Numarics come from?
Numarics is a decade-long overnight success, and it started with an argument with my ex at the coffee table around 10 years ago. She was an auditor for a top consulting company and I was looking over her shoulder, seeing the daily Excel work she performed, checking and matching numbers for a living and I once said to her, “you know that your job will pretty sure be automated in the near future”. I just remember how mad she got that I said that to her, but it was just obvious to me.
This idea of automating the business processes stuck with me for a long time but I just didn’t have enough finance experience to pull off that idea. That changed when I got to know my co-founder who is also an auditor and finance expert, and the rest is history.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I am a very creative and agile person which is another word for being unstructured and chaotic. Therefore, structure in my life is of the utmost importance to me which enables me to leverage all my creative and innovative power.
My day always starts at 6am with espresso and 1 hour of gym where I have the luxury to also listen to either an audio book or a podcast. I then take my notebook which recently became something called wipebook, which is basically a reusable scrap paper, and note my top 3 priorities that I want to have accomplished by the end of the day. Those priorities I select from a backlog list that I create every Monday morning where I list all things I want to achieve in the whole week. The rest of the page is to write down thoughts or inputs from various daily meetings.
Implementing this way of work enabled us at Numarics to speed up delivery while maintaining our quality.
For many years now I also practice intermittent fasting which means to eat only in a short daily eating window. In my case it means eating lunch at 12 and dinner at 6pm and that’s it. It helps me to simplify things and help myself to better focus during the day.
At 10pm there is finito and I go to bed and I really push to keep it.
Being able to have a couple of standard anchor points throughout the day helps me to better plan my day and stay on track.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I always start with the theory of first principles which helps to dissect every problem /idea into its most fundamental parts, from there I enable the possibility to extrapolate and test my hypotheses. For example when we started Numarics, where I had no clue about basic accounting works, just what I still remembered from university, I found that the first principle was actually the booking itself. The rules of booking and accounting have not changed for over 800 years and they adhere to a system that is very rigid and predictable. After I knew that booking is basically a more complex way of IFTTT ( If this then that) I was able to develop the idea and extrapolate it to what is now known as Numarics.
In the early stages of managing projects more than a decade ago, I was a true believer of the Waterfall methodology, even though it went against my own nature, but the clear defined structure of a project helped me at least to think everything through.
Nowadays though I only rely on agile methodologies such as Scrum where I dissect every project into user stories which explain each part of the tasks that need to be done. At the beginning of each idea execution I create a backlog of every single step that needs to be done to turn the idea into reality, then I assign time against these tasks and what resources I would need to make it happen. After this initial assessment I am able to predict the outcome if possible or not, but I rarely do the mistake anymore to start a project just to recognize in the middle of it that it’s not going to work.
Another very important step is daydreaming; a lot of daydreaming is connected with an interest in completely unrelated topics and subject matters which connect to a unique perspective of an idea.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I am a big believer of full transparency and true democracy, therefore Blockchain technology for me is a form of digitizing trust. As with many things in life that are just logical and obvious, I am certain that what the internet was in the 90s and mobile was the decades after, Blockchain will become the next logical step in our social evolution.
Associated with Blockchain is of course also cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, which in my opinion will over the next decade or 2 supersede gold as an finite investment opportunity.
Every disruptive technology seems crazy at first, until it isn’t.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Simplify to amplify. Before I start a task or a project, I always ask myself: If this were easy, what would it look like? By doing these brain exercises beforehand I am able to visualize the goal and the way to reach it. It is not an easy exercise but it gets easier with time and it is definitely worth it.
Sleep, one of the most underrated cheap and controllable capabilities not being leveraged enough. I have a strict rule of going to bed at 10pm and waking up at 6am. Most friends and even family think I am boring, especially on the weekends but if you want to work toplevel over an extended period of time, with good quality sleep it is just easier and more effective.
Black shirt every day, when it comes to work. I have not changed this habit for several years now. A few weeks back all of my black shirts were in the laundry, and I had to wear a white one for work. When coworkers saw me, it was like their brains could not compute since they were only used to seeing me in black. The more unnecessary decisions you take out of your life, the more time and energy you can spend on important things.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t take yourself too seriously, the world is bigger than you think and problems which seem big at the moment will dissolve either days from now or months from now but they will dissolve just focus on your vision and trust the process.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That basically nothing really matters. We live on this earth in a finite time and are living on a dirtball that circles a bright fusion reactor in the middle of basically nothing.
A typical man produces roughly 500 billion sperm cells during his lifetime and 1 of them was you, imagine how many coincidences had to align that you who is currently reading this actually exist.
Therefore my opinion is that nothing really matters but you have a lifetime to make it matter to you.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Retrospectives! There are so many things going on every day and every week. It is crucial once or twice a week to either do a retrospective with yourself or even better with the team or people you are working on a given task.
A retrospective enables you to learn from mistakes that were made so they won’t repeat or identify good practices that enable better work going on forward. There is no change where it is in a global Enterprise such as Dentsu International where I am the Global Executive Director of Business Transformation or as a Co Founder at a startup such as Numarics, the benefits retrospectives create are transcendent.
Most entrepreneurs skip this part and end up making the same mistakes over and over again. What it also helps with is to have an objective mirror that helps to diffuse tension which can build up if taken too long to address.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One of the most effective strategies in the past for me was to create a great pilot project, even if it was done for free. This project always helps as a business case that you can use to market to other clients or even investors.
The other benefit it creates is that you can have a dry run of your business idea or product you are marketing. By working closely with the pilot receiver you are able to also narrow down your persona that you need to target going on forward while the pilot attendee also acts as the first spokesperson of your service that you can use very effectively.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
The worst thing that can happen is to build an amazing product with the most sophisticated technology that now one uses. This is exactly what happened a few years back where I was able to assemble an amazing team working on cutting edge technology in the AI space. The problem was that we were so focused on creating the product that we completely missed the market and tried to get a perfect product first which you basically can never achieve as each product is always outdated the next day.
The thing I changed going on forward was not to think that I know what the client seems to want, only the client knows what he wants and therefore needs to be included from the beginning of the process of creating a product, otherwise you have created again the best product in the world that no one uses.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Since I am very much into health I would have loved to create a company where you can use your genetic test together with a blood combination with a measurement device such as diabetics use which you can attach to your skin with a very tiny needle and check your vitals in real time such as glucose levels.
The app with its AR capabilities you can then use to scan your body measurements and identify your body composition and track it to measure changes based on your Diet and Activities which are based on the vital data you get from your Apple Watch, Oura Ring, and so on.
The pinnacle would then be to also have a monthly mail in blood test which would give you the big picture and recommend your supplementation strategy for maximum and vitality.
Using Blockchain technology all this data is shared between the participants to identify patterns which help to make the recommendation algorithms even better.
I hope someone can make this happen, I am your first customer.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
It was actually on Black Friday and I was able to buy the ouraring.com discount. It is to me one of the most sophisticated pieces of tech I have seen in a while. It helps you to basically completely track your vitals from sleep, temperature, oxygen, heartbeat and activity while being not intrusive in your daily routine.
It is a big help for me to optimize myself which helps me to be a better entrepreneur.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
The one service that I have been using since it was launched many years back, is loom.com, a software that lets you record your screen while having you included in a circle which you can move around. It helps me immensely to onboard or train people on various occasions and companies. It is so simple, yet so powerful in that it basically augments yourself. Being able to describe things to people outside of the typical email or screenshot in an engaging way is priceless. Try it, you will thank me later.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Never Split the Difference by Christian Voss.
One of the greatest problems in the life of an entrepreneur but even in life itself is mastering the art of negotiation. This book was given to me by a mentor who I admired in the way he was able to deal with people in a way that left everyone not feeling defeated but actually empowered. One time he said to me, there is no magic behind it and you can actually learn it and gave me that book. As the author states clearly in the book “It starts with a no”.
It is one of these books that gets you immediate results and it is also quite engaging to read.
What is your favorite quote?
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
- Hard times create hard people, hard people create soft times, soft times create soft people, soft people create hard time
- Simplify to Amplify
- When you feel the most comfortable, take a stone and put it in your shoe
- Work is for Bots, Life is for Humans
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.