Continuing with our series of Member Spotlights, we welcome Chris Priebe from Zelt, a piece of new generation HR software helping companies manage their workforce efficiently across HR and IT. Chris wants to empower employees by letting them be in control of things while at the same time allowing admins to manage all their people processes in one centralised hub.
Tell us about yourself and your company. When were you founded?
I was a software investor in private equity and venture capital for six years. In private equity I focused on relatively stable, profitable companies. While in venture capital the focus was on early stage, fast growing companies. During these years I had exposure to successful and driven people which is ultimately what pushed me to become a founder and start Zelt in 2020.
Where did you get the idea for Zelt? Describe your lightbulb moment at which point you knew your venture might actually become a success.
As a software investor you get the chance to look at multiple tech industries and you start seeing things that could be improved. The idea of Zelt came after observing that the “business admin software” market was not centred around employees but rather around decision makers and managers. Zelt’s goal is to allow employees to self-serve across multiple processes whether managing their bank details, apps, requesting a laptop… This benefits not only employees but also employers. More business admin software tools should speak to each other but cannot do so since they were not initially intended to. By allowing employees to be in control of things, companies can eliminate most frictions across different business processes like running payroll, paying employees, renting a laptop and so on.
What are you most passionate about in business? How do you continue to challenge yourself?
When you build a business, no day is the same. There are so many problems that need a solution, and you always keep juggling between product, customers and sales. I find this very stimulating and it is what gets me up in the morning. The main challenge about this is not getting lost in the operational side of things and losing focus on what you actually want to achieve.
The main way I keep challenging myself is by learning continuously and being open to change. Coming from a physics background, I used to go from theory to practice and vice-versa. In business, there is little room for theory. This means that the models you believe in do not always work out as expected and you need to be ready to change your action plan. It is easier said than done as it can be very painful. No one likes to see their effort not being rewarded but if you want to achieve your goals you need to quickly eliminate the things that do not work.
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
It changes all the time as the challenges when growing a company constantly change. At the moment the most valuable advice I am trying to incorporate in our go to market strategy is about positioning and depositioning. Your customers will usually only remember one single thing about your company or product, so you need to figure out what that is and whether you need to change that, for example by changing the way you describe yourself on your website, on your blog, Linkedin and when you talk to people. If that one thing is not specific enough or does not point out a specific strength of your product versus your competitors – you did not do a good enough job in positioning yourself. If people perceive you as being just like that incumbent but newer/cheaper – then you did not do a good enough job at depositioning.
Who do you most admire and why?
Steve Jobs, because of his ability to express his vision and thoughts in a way so that it captures the listener.