Rytis Jakubauskas is the General Manager at Latana, a Berlin-based tech firm. A tech entrepreneur at heart, he is now taking on brand and market research.
Where did the idea for Latana come from?
I started working at Dalia Research, the parent company of Latana and it was here that we got a deep insight into how consumer firms operate. We became really intrigued by the type of insights they seek out, with the brand being the most important.
We already know that companies are spending vast amounts of money on marketing and advertising to build their brand; consumer brands are spending close to one trillion dollars a year! So, when we began to go out and speak with marketers, it was no surprise to learn that they were investing heavily in brand. However, it was a shock to learn that, despite this investment, they are still unsure of the impact their campaigns are having on their brand. That’s when the lightbulb moment came.
We decided to start Latana as a spin-off within Dalia, with the ultimate vision to demystify the brand and provide marketers with the tool they need to make data-driven brand decisions.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’m a true believer in the early bird catching the worm so I like to be seated at the office already by 8 am. The exciting thing about working for a startup is that every day offers something new but I do like to have some sort of structure to my time, as I feel that is how I can make my day most productive.
One other trick I have for being productive is to block a couple of hours in my calendar each morning for focus time. During this period, I catch up on my emails, check the stats of the various departments, and prep myself for any meetings I have that day.
My day is usually filled with a lot of meetings as I oversee all areas of Latana. However, the changing nature of these meetings makes the rest of my day less than typical. They can range from anything from one-to-one meetings with the team, sprint planning, and sales calls to meetings with our CEO and investors and interviews with potential colleagues.
I like to unwind at the end of the day with some exercise and clear my mind for what tomorrow has to offer.
How do you bring ideas to life?
This could be a very long answer but I’m going to try to keep it short.
First, I will confirm if there is a problem worth solving – and if it was something we could actually solve. For example, at Latana we went out and spoke to marketing managers so we could confirm that they were having problems grasping how their brand was being impacted by campaigns.
Next is differentiating the idea from similar products already on the market. This is an area I like to spend a good chunk of time on because it will not only help us bring in customers in the long run, but also decide what features the product should have, who the customers actually are, and the best channels to reach them.
The final part for me is spending time on determining cost and revenue and key metrics. Then I work with the team to build an MVP and put that idea out there!
What’s one trend that excites you?
This is probably a biased choice considering the nature of how Latana works but I’m excited to see how brand marketing will soar in 2020. Up until 2019, companies shifted their focus more towards performance marketing. We saw this especially with direct-to-consumer brands, who can attribute a lot of their growth to performance marketing. However, many brands have come to the realization that not only is this method of growth is expensive, it is also not sustainable. But now we have big brands like Adidas and Gap incorporating brand marketing a lot more. I can’t wait to see what this new strategy will bring them!
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I think one thing that I do that unfortunately many don’t, maybe because they don’t find it beneficial, is to exercise. Good habits outside the workplace can lead to good things within. I like to play squash and go bouldering and I mostly cycle to and from work. I really believe that the health and destressing benefits of exercise helps me to stay sharp.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Never stop trying. I feel like my career to this point has been a rollercoaster ride. I’ve worked in the corporate world and decided it wasn’t for me, two start-ups that never flourished, and I’ve opened and subsequently shut down my own business. Even at Latana we have had our bumps. Soon after the first iteration of the product we realized why there were no good tools for quantifying brand; it is very hard and difficult to do so. It’s still far from plain sailing, as we’re pushing the boundaries of what’s technologically possible, but at least now we have plenty of confirmation from the market and happy clients. That never would have happened if I, or any of the Latana team, had given up.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
99% of all effort is wasted. Most of what we spent our working days with doesn’t move the needle at all, but we do it anyway and fall into actionism and execution, because everyone else does, too. I think we should allocate more time considering our efforts to begin with and optimizing for the ones with the highest likelihood to succeed – the world is governed by power laws.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Zoom out. It’s easy to get lost fighting day-to-day battles in the trenches, but it’s key to not forget the picture and consider where the ultimate journey is going, and also to not get too stressed out by smaller, less relevant challenges.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
We’ve been successful with activating our network client-base to get referrals, who then ended up being some of our best clients. I think this is an underused channel that can be very effective, though more difficult to scale in the long-term.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
As I mentioned earlier, I had my own company. It was back in 2017 when the crypto space was very hot. But we shut that down after realizing that what we were trying to build was technologically not possible, at least not yet. How did I overcome it? By jumping back on the horse and investing my time into building Latana.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Build good 1-stop-shop product management software. Everyone I know uses a combination of tools mostly built for other purposes.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
It was 150$, but I really love the backpack that I got from Aer. It packs everything I need, for a short trip, sports, work trip, etc. It’s rainproof, looks good, and is by far the best backpack by far I’ve ever had.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Trello is great for helping me stay productive and we use it widely across the team. I use it to plan and keep track of projects, and be able to see how different elements of Latana are working together toward the same goal: growth. I like to be able to clearly see when deadlines are approaching and the fact that Trello sends notifications means that things aren’t forgotten about.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Since everyone is trying to self-improve, maybe Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Timeless (2000 years) stoic wisdom, and it’s short.
What is your favorite quote?
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
- Never give up
- It is possible to make a difference in the world – at least in the brand world
- The world of marketing is changing, gearing itself more toward brand marketing