Daniel Hastik of Futurelytics: “Be Free to Make Mistakes”

Daniel Hastika StartupYard mentor who will be working with our Spring 2014 teams, is a serial entrepreneur and globetrotter. When he’s not tending to one of the first Czech based hosting companies from his home in Melbourne Australia, he’s founding new companies with the help of Seedcamp and Credo Ventures. And he manages it all remotely. Quite a feat, so we caught up with Daniel last week to ask him how he manages it all.

Read more about Futureleytics on their blog, and a bit more about Daniel at hrkavarna.cz (article in Czech). 
Daniel, you launched Futurelytics in 2012 through Seedcamp. Can you share a bit of your founding story with us?
The co-founders know each other from university times; we have crossed in our professional lives multiple times in various IT companies across Europe. We’ve worked together in a consultancy for retail in Czech and also as advanced analytics consultants for a Nordic company. I’ve also been managing my own company over time as one of the first web hosting businesses in The Czech Republic, and had trouble recognizing patterns in my client base (thousands of clients) and Mirek helped me to find my most promising ones and get a rid of those that just consumed support hours. We thought that might be a good product and Jan, our colleague, has helped us to foster the models and we started to realize that we could really build something out of it. We applied to Seedcamp with this idea and were chosen from among approx. 800 other companies. From that time on our lives changed.
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You’re currently based in Melbourne, but your team is in Ostrava (Czech Republic), how do you manage that kind of responsibility remotely? 
We are building Futurelytics as a global company from day one. I’ve been on the move for the last 18 years and have travelled across the world multiple times. We believe that we have the right passionate people, self-motivated and responsible in what they do. We do not over-control, and everyone is taking their own responsibility in their actions. Freedom of choice is very important for us. Some people want to work on Sundays, some during the mornings .. there’s creativity in what we do and that doesn’t come with control. This way, we can have a distributed team. I’m responsible for business, and Mirek is product centric. We are really complementary in our day-to-day tasks and we move fast. Of course we are making heavy use of various online tools like Gmail, Hangouts, Trello, Harvest …
You’ve attracted some great investors, including our own partner Credo Ventures with Ondrej Bartos. What’s been your strategy for attracting investors, and what advice would newly-minted founders most profit from, when it comes to talking to VCs and Angels for the first time? 
Any startup that wants to impress great VC investors needs to be proven and/or backed by a previous Angel-type investor, an incubator or another trustable entity (apart from a great product and scalable markets). We are proud to be a part of the Seedcamp family in that sense.
The very first investors value the founders’ attitude, the team & their vision. By default we are different. At the very beginning we didn’t even know anything about startup buzz. Investors should see that you possibly have what it takes to be a great entrepreneur. Not being afraid to fall, working on your skills, networking and being open-minded are the prerequisites of an entrepreneur. That way you can execute any idea you could have.
Futurelytics helps companies to work better with their existing customers. What are some of the ways you do that? What are some of the biggest mistakes most companies are making when it comes to working with their customer base and managing their customer data? 
We let them discover new revenue potentials from various customer segments. So called “second-best” customers seem to be the most appealing information for marketers. Driving marketing campaigns by real behavior of customers inevitably brings their increased efficiency. Starting by lowering CPC, monetizing loyal customers and not ending by customer-churn mitigation we improve the customer lifetime value from several perspectives. Putting all these contributions together brings each engaged business a significant improvement.
What do you think are the biggest areas of near-term growth for “big data” and analytics applications? What areas of the market are really interesting to you right now? 
There are technologies in place like Hadoop or Google BigQuery that handle tremendous data volumes in real-time. The real challenge seems to be to get some new information out of patterns and consequences in the data and put them in line with business specifics. We go beyond that thinking and bring-up specific recommendations for marketing campaigns on customer segments recognized. This is called “prescriptive-analytics”. We are eager to be pioneering in this area and closely cooperate on that e.g. with Gartner or Google.
You’ve had a varied career, from studies in Portugal to work in Africa, New Zealand, Australia, the US, as well as back home in the Czech Republic. You’ve founded 3 companies, and you keep on coming up with new ideas. What specific things have you learned through these experiences that you plan to share with our latest crop of startups at StartupYard?
I wouldn’t call it a career. There’s no certain strict lined path in front of me. I follow my passion “to create” and that comes from the freedom to make mistakes. And I’m not afraid to do so again and again. If you are not afraid to learn something new, not to be constrained by the past, to admit that you “don’t know” and ask for help, then the world is yours. You can train your instincts and quickly spot opportunities where other people see only issues and problems. You stay ahead the crowd and lead the way.