Without action, productivity doesn’t exist, and I believe the best entrepreneurs are action driven people, constantly driving and pushing things forward.
Xavier is the COO and Co-Founder of ZapHub, a new and investor-funded marketing technology startup working to help small businesses grow.
Xavier leads operations and sales at ZapHub, ensuring that ZapHub gets the best possible clients and that the ZapHub service runs effectively and smoothly.
Xavier is a serial entrepreneur, working primarily in the marketing space and started his first company at 15. Xavier has led a number of startups, one of which was sold while he was still at Southampton University. Xavier is also currently reading for a masters in entrepreneurship from the University of Cambridge. Xavier was president of an entrepreneurship non-profit and was awarded NACUE’s National Entrepreneur of the year award for 2016.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
Running a small business is hard. It’s, and there isn’t much help available.
The ZapHub founders have all worked with small businesses, we’ve built small business and startups into big business, our families run small businesses, and we know how challenging it can be. Before we started ZapHub, we ran the successful marketing platform Recommendable, which worked to help small companies online but we realised we were not helping enough.
This is where ZapHub came from, a technology-driven marketing company specifically for small businesses.
Technology is core to everything we do at ZapHub, but our clients never see this, all they see is incredible customer service from our marketing and service teams. It’s easy, it’s affordable, and it works.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
As a founder, there is no such thing as a typical day. Every day is different because as a founder you do so many different jobs (sales, marketing, product development, finance, HR etc.) but that is why it’s so awesome.
If there were a typical day, it would have existing client care and calls in the morning, then new clients and sales call in the afternoon and after the close of play all of the preparation, admin, finance and looking at our data. After the close of play is also where new ideas, tests and experiments are built. It’s when trying new marketing techniques, learning about new business practices or implementing ideas.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Just do it. As a founder, you will have hundreds if not thousands of ideas every single day. The ones you try to make happen, are going to be the best ones and the ones that aren’t weren’t worth doing. This is how you focus on what is important to you and your business, picking what naturally makes sense and doing it.
Ideas without action are useless. Pick a few and enact them, see if they work and then make them valuable. It’s as simple as that.
What’s one trend that excites you?
To our customers, we’re a marketing company, a marketing company which delivers incredible service at a small business and early-stage startup friendly price.
Our technology is exciting, but we realised the best way to make it work is have an incredible team using it daily, getting the best out of the end to end system and then providing that uniquely human service on top.
We want AI to be a tool used by everyone and not just in overrated voice chatbots. Right now that’s just not easy; it’s too complicated and completely impractical.
I believe that in 10 years, AI will be in every business of every size, from a one-day-old startup to a global tech giant and it’s a trend I’m excited to be part of – it’s very powerful.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Action. Without action, productivity doesn’t exist, and I believe the best entrepreneurs are action driven people, constantly driving and pushing things forward.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Read more and read a more diverse range of books. There is so much to learn and not enough time to do so.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Self-help books usually only help the author.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Find a few keep books, books which have so much depth and insight in, learnings that really matter and really help. Then read them multiple times a year.
My go-to books are Ben Horowitz’s ‘The Hard Thing about Hard Things’, William N. Thorndike’s ‘The Outsiders’ and Hermann Hesse’s Siddharta (doesn’t seem like a business book but read it a couple of times and the realisations will jump out).
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Build a fantastic team and let them get on with what they are good at. While founders and entrepreneurs have to do a lot of different roles, you cannot do everything and you certainly cannot do everything well.
You need great people who are experts at what they do, then get out of their way. If they’re in your team then they should know what they’re doing, don’t micromanage and don’t get in the way. It’s the fastest way to kill your business.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Picking the wrong people for a team. You do need people, and you do need good people, people who are engaged and people who will add massive value.
I brought the wrong person into a team, a person to ate up a lot of the companies resources and delivered absolutely no value.
It took a long time for the penny to drop, but once it did, we got rid of this person. However, they caused a lot of damage before they went.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Create a data hub, for all platforms. Currently, there is only one way to do this, and that is through a spreadsheet connected to Zapier (or similar), and this can work, but it takes time and effort to set up. It often breaks and still all the data isn’t centralised. We currently use this solution but it’s not great, and it doesn’t scale well.
It would be incredible to have our payment system, accounts tool, CRM, Email tool, calendar tool, messaging tools, social media analytics and advert analytics (and everything else) all in one easy to view place. That had an AI-driven insights tool to help make real decisions.
If you build that, make it easy to use and get the integration right – it’s a billion dollar product.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Zapier. As I mentioned before, we use Zapier a hell of a lot, and while it’s time-consuming to set up, it saves about 10-20 hours a week for my team and me. Automation is awesome and as a non-technologist, I can set up 10 zaps in 30 minutes that each saves an hour a month. It’s awesome.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
On top of Zapier, Calendly. This product (also connected to Zapier) helps me and my team schedule all the many calls or meetings we have with clients and partners every week. It’s so easy for everyone involved the use that is has improved productivity 100fold.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I mentioned before, but anyone building a startup needs to read the ‘Hard Thing About Hard Things’ by Ben Horowitz. It has zero sugar coating of the reality of ‘the struggle’ faced by every startup founder and then real-world advice about how to deal with a ton of real-world problems.
I would also recommend, Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators. It’s a real insight into how every single significant innovation in the computer industry happened over the last 300 years. How collaboration works to generate new ideas and how businesses thrive through innovation.
What is your favorite quote?
Opportunities Multiply as they are Seized – Sun Tzu.
Why, because they do.
- Every Founder has failures; the key is how to learn from them.
- There are so many incredible books to help you and expert advice is always just an amazon order away.
- Ideas without action are useless. You have to have action to create value.
- Automation is awesome. If you do something more than once, automate it.
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.