HelloMasters Podcast Episode 006: Willemijn Schneyder – CEO & Founder of SwipeGuide
By Ralph | May 16, 2019
SwipeGuide’s Willemijn Schneyder about her career path, dealing with change and creating the right team culture.
“I think I’ve always been an entrepreneur, I’ve always acted as one, but I just needed to acquire enough guts and experience to fly out on my own.” – Willemijn Schneyder
Our 6th episode already! For this episode, Louise Doorn speaks to Willemijn Schneyder, CEO & Founder of SwipeGuide. Willemijn has been a guest in our show before (episode 3), but has returned to talk about her journey in more detail. Her professional career, life as a female founder & CEO and creating a team culture are just a few of the topics that are discussed.
Willemijn’s decision to start her own company was not one that came completely out of nowhere. Even though she worked for advertising agencies and at a marketing consultancy firm in the beginning of her career, she soon found a strong passion for emerging technologies and customer experience. Looking back, these years were fundamental in the process towards founding a company. She elaborates: “Founding a company is not something that just happens. You really need a great insight and a real need to solve and a great team around you.”
Talking about combining her personal life with the role as CEO, Willemijn explains: “You need a big personal support system, just to keep you in check. Building your startup company, you can be so much focused on the next milestone that you forget to take care of everything that keeps you in check.”
She emphasizes, however, that this support system is not only important in her personal life. “It takes a village to raise a startup, so you have to surround yourself with a great team.”
The importance of a stimulating working environment is pivotal in this. Something that even resonates in the company’s hiring process: “Our values are: go positive, leave your ego at the door and embrace failure/celebrate success. When you stick to these values, you find yourself attracting and working with people who share the same values.”
This includes working with potential partners or even VC’s. “When they ask me about my commitment because I have two children, I immediately check out. Then it’s just not a fit.”
Finally, the crucial role experimenting and iterative working played in the company is mentioned. SwipeGuide has done a lot of A/B-testing to come to grounded conclusions, for instance in creating an ideal customer profile. “If you’re impatient and you scale before you’re ready, there is just too much inefficiency going on”.
[00:00:00] Intro [00:00:28] Louise intro [00:00:45] Intro Willemijn [00:01:22] Willemijn on the course of her career
“I think I’ve always been an entrepreneur, I’ve always acted as one, but I just needed to acquire enough guts and experience to fly out on my own.”
“Founding a company is not something that just happens. You really need a great insight and a real need to solve and a great team around you.”
[00:03:13] Is being a start-up CEO/founder borderline insanity? Willemijn about keeping insanity, wearing different hats and fun.
“I don’t know if I am the right person to ask if I keep my sanity”
“Building a startup is much like running a marathon. You have to have enormous drive, train and practice and also take your rest. Training towards a marathon, you dont get there by running more kilometers a week; sometimes you have to sprint, sometimes you have to have an interval training, sometimes you need recovery time. That’s how you should review your work and role” “It takes a village to raise a startup, so you have to surround yourself with a great team. Not just in work, also in your personal life. People who tell you when you are going horribly wrong.”
[00:04:38] Support system on a personal level
“You need a big personal support system, just to keep you in check. Building your startup company you can be so much focussed on the next milestone, that you forget to take care of everything that keeps you in check.”
[00:06:15] Startup CEO as a female
“We are a company that creates instruction software for industrial processes… Simply because of the fact that you are a woman, people get disregarded for the conversation.”
“Our values are: go positive, leave your ego at the door and embrace failure/celebrate success. When you stick to these values, you find yourself attracting and working with people who share the same values.”
“When they ask me about my commitment because I have two children, I immediately check out. Then it’s just not a fit.”
[00:09:38] About SwipeGuide, their product & their journey
“If companies are willing to pay 100k a year for software solutions that help solve a question, there must be a market for software that helps prevent the question.”
[00:12:20] Sticking where you are today & Pivots
“We have never once pivoted from the core of the product vision. We have always been true to the product vision. To make it as easy as possible for anyone, to create a very interactactive, compelling instruction that you can use on a mobile device.”
[00:13:55] How do you accommodate changes?
“We have customers that can help us learn change the stories so they fit a specific industrial market.”
[00:15:15] Diversity in hiring strategy
“Up to now it already came naturally. We look at content, and not the bucket the content comes in. Do they have a fit with our company cultural values?”
“Cultural fit is in many little things. We look at the skill set, followed by an interview. A part of this process is a peer review with someone random in the company. They will ask related questions and help enable a setting where it has to come out. It’s also something that I cannot define tangibly. It’s the way people make eye contact, the way a conversation picks up yes or no.”
“When the skills match, but the cultural fit isn’t there, am I going for a sustainable hire or go for someone who might not really fit. Once or twice I thought it would be okay, but then it wasn’t. We have learned from it.”
[00:18:17] Fundraising & keeping sanity
“It was a huge struggle to get to the first level. But once you meet people that align with your values, they are just fully aligned with what we believe.”
“The one thing I would have done differently, is get legal guidance. Even if you think you don’t need it.”
[00:23:00] Marketing and SwipeGuide’s team
“Some people have a role in one, two or three teams, depending on their ambitions.”
[00:24:35] KPI’s and targets
“Constructively building towards the common goal. It has to be ambitious but also feasible.”
[00:26:25] Teams and their autonomy [00:28:05] Leverage opportunities in marketing
“We opened ourselves up to experiment. We narrowed those experiments down to an ideal customer profile.”
[00:31:00] Alternative ways of working [00:32:35] Things Willemijn would have done differently
“I would focus more on building a balanced core team quicker.”
[00:34:38] Predictions of this year
“We envision our product to have a predictive value.” “If you’re impatient and you scale before you’re ready, there is just too much inefficiency going on”.
Work like these startup founders and build your network around people in the same position. Ask for expert feedback and grow smarter. Find your strategic sparring partner at HelloMaaS. Go to www.hellomaas.com and learn more.