Michal Klodner is a founder & CTO of innovation path, a meaningful way to provide robotic business process automation solutions. Under his leadership, innovation path help clients such as Veolia or PepsiCo with automation and digitization processes. To date, the team at its headquarter in Prague has grown to 12 members and recently innovation path expanded its presence with offices in Belgium. Previously, Klodner was a consultant for Big Four.
Where did the idea for Innovation Path come from?
We have worked in the field for several years. After seeing how things are done in large corporations, we decided to focus on automations that allow people to spend less time doing boring and repetitive tasks.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Every day is a little bit different. I’m heading to the office to supervise what teams are doing right now. Then I worked on business development projects involving RPA and intelligent document processing. After lunch most of the time I have client meetings to present our progress in automating tedious work in their company. What keeps me productive is to split the day into managerial and deep work sessions. After work I like to spend time with my family, in particular playing with building bricks with my son,son, which keeps my head calm and clear and I also enjoy moments seeing how a new mind creates really out-of-the-box ideas.
How do you bring ideas to life?
In order to find the right solution for our clients, we listen carefully to their needs. That is the consultation part of our services. In the automation & innovation domain there are many ways to work more effectively. The key is to find the right workflow and that is what we are doing every day on the innovation path. In this way, work is always creative and exciting.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Recently, we worked with a client on a project where we used camera images from underground wastewater networks to monitor various events there. We collected and analysed data to create a so-called ‘Event detector’. AI can detect dangerous events such as toxic waste disposal to the network, restricted access violations, robbery, etc. Before, the client lacked human capacity. After deploying our solution, the client has already discovered and fined several rule-breakers.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Prioritise and rest in short. For example, having one main goal per day. It used to be that I had a long to-do list, but if you accomplish at least one task per day according to your plan, you can be sure you’re making progress. Sometimes we do lots of small tasks that are not so important to our planning.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Keep focus on ideas that interest you so that you will never feel like working and will be excited to come to the office.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That automation will bring you more profit. Automating a company is typically seen as a major investment. Our clients like Veolia and Mattoni had a goal of reaching a 25% ROI and within one year they managed to reach a 40% ROI (after deducting licence costs).
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Talking about what we do with people. You never know who will become a customer.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
We have never used performance marketing. Our most effective strategy to get clients is to explain what we can do together with our references in hand.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest concern, as almost every entrepreneur, was being able to always provide jobs to my team members and pay their salaries. Fortunately, automation is a rapidly growing field, and we know what we are doing is going to keep on growing. Currently looking for talented RPA developers.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
In automation there is still plenty of improvement we can work on. For example, inclusivity is a big topic of inclusivity. How to make the workplace more inclusive thanks to technology? I think it is a topic to think about today.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Lego set for my son. We both enjoy it so much.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Selfishly I must say I am grateful that we invented our own document processing application. This application can be used for invoices, purchase orders and delivery notes, but other document types are also possible. In principle, a user extracts the document and then sets up general controls over the extracted data and then also specific controls and data transformations in accordance with specific washing, export to corporate applications and systems). All functions in one place, including communication with the supplier via email. We process hundreds of thousands of documents a year through this app.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
If you are starting with a digital transformation or you just want some guidance, I would recommend a book by Harvard Business Review Press called Leading Digital Transformation: How to Become a digital-first organisation—and avoid disruption. In this book, you will learn the leading-edge thinking needed to achieve a competitive advantage by developing a transformative mindset to formulate the right business model.
What is your favorite quote?
I would say one quote from Stewart Butterfield, CEO of Slack: “There’s a lot of automation that can happen that isn’t a replacement for humans, but of mind-numbing behaviour.”
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.