What is your passion at Yodel?
I am the Co-Founder & CEO at Yodel. This position requires just knowing about everything about the businesses we make and includes not only product-related things but also reporting monitoring and compliance. Another big part of my work is that I take care of our company culture. Establishing a culture is key when you are such a young company as we are and in addition be distributed all over the globe. Furthermore, I take on everything that has to do with investors and co-operations with other businesses. I also do a lot of networking. I am building up a network between partners, startups, customers, investors, and so forth, so we all benefit from making these connections. My passion though lies in being part of the product development. I love that we made it happen that voice is integrated into business processes since it has been text-dominated until now.
Let’s talk about Yodel. What do you love about the Yodel bot?
It is an elegant way to integrate voice into daily office work. I was looking for such a tool for over 20 years. There was nothing on the market until we built it ourselves. I always had an issue with taking phone calls and not knowing what the person on the other line wants from me. I wanted to be prepared beforehand and therefore it was annoying and disturbing. Yodel is a game-changer for the whole team. Yodel acts like that nice coworker of yours that picks up the phone and asks you: “Hey you wanna take the call or should I handle it?”. It is also easier to collaborate on calls with your team. I am happy that nobody on our team has the burden to answer every incoming call, just because of the sole purpose that nobody else would do it.
What do you like best about being part of the Yodel family?
The second part of the question has already given you the answer. We are a family! Either we have been working together for a really long time — like David, Mario, and I — or some of our team members know each other from their childhood/teenage years, as our development team. There is always a fun backstory to how we are connected and got together. It feels like you are working with friends. We all know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We adapt our processes the way, that everyone can live up to their strengths to the fullest. I hope that as our team grows, this kind of team spirit will last!
Back to you Mike. What is your background? What have you done before you joined the Yodel Team?
I attended the TGM in Vienna, which is a higher technical school. My major was biomedical engineering. That’s where I learned how to code and gained a technical understanding. Around the time of my graduation, the internet started to become more and more relevant in Austria. In the mid-90’s I designed my first websites. The TGM was one of the first schools in Austria, that had internet access - anyone remembering Gopher? ;-) This gave me the opportunity to start my career in web design/digital media at an early age. I actually happened to design the very first commercial websites for big companies in Austria.
While in school, I spent my summer break working as an intern at my father’s advertising agency. After graduating, I joined the family business full time. Next to work, I studied Media Informatics in Lübeck, Germany. Some years after receiving my Bachelor’s degree there, I studied Applied Knowledge Management in the Master’s program at the University of Applied Sciences in Eisenstadt, Austria. My education was always tailored to my career at the time. All my prior experiences help me tremendously at YodelTalk.
How did you figure out that, this is the kind of profession you want to work in?
I always knew that I am an independent person. With my father and my older brother both being self-employed, I had the urge to go this way as well. I wanted to stir my successes into the direction of my choice. I partnered up with my brother David in 1995 and since then we are working together successfully. Being self-employed also means that your workday is never a dull one. I love the challenges that come along with it and I always have been good at tackling them.
If someone who reads this wants to become a CEO/entrepreneur, what advice would you give that person?
I am known for encouraging people to open up their own businesses. I actually happen to succeed with doing so and their companies are thriving. If you like being able to coordinate your own work schedule and gain more freedom in doing so, go for it! In case you are trying to build something (versus doing a consultant business), I would suggest partnering up with people that complement you. You will face many challenges and you will be happy to get a second and third opinion before making a decision.
In case you have a family, talk to them beforehand. Your partner has to be okay with having a different kind of living than you would have had as an employee. It is also great to have their support. This means a lot to me. If you ask me, the best time for going into entrepreneurship is right after you finished your education. Built a network. Networking is so important. Right after school, I didn’t believe it when people told me about the importance of networking but I found out quickly how much value you gain out of a good network that you are part of.
Can you recommend any websites or tools, that you wouldn’t want to miss?
Yodel :-). As we are a distributed team, we need Slack. Our company lives in it. If I can’t communicate through Slack I use iMessage. Another great tool is 1Password. It makes working cooperatively so much easier within the company. I am also a Kickstarter addict. I love seeing what people come up with. I also am navigating through international and Austrian news websites, like DerStandard.at and ORF.at, to stay on top of what is going on in the world outside my home office.
Last but not least: What is the most random fact about you?
Most people might not know that I am actually a professional photographer. I have my own photo studio in my house and love analog photography.
Got another minute? Read up on our other team members:
The People Behind Yodel
Meet Mario, Co-Founder, and CTO at Yodel
Name: Mario Uher
Current City of Operation: Linz, Austria
Hobbies: longboarding and being a foodie
Meet Andre, Developer at Yodel
Name: Andre Savic
Current City of Operation:Trausdorf an der Wulka, Austria
Hobbies: Event DJ, Filmmaking
Meet Nina, CCO at Yodel
Name: Nina Hödlmayr
Current City of Operation: San Francisco, CA, USA
Hobbies: exercising, playing the piano, traveling
Meet Silke, Marketing & Sales Manager at Yodel
Name: Silke English
Current City of Operation: Villach, Austria
Hobbies: traveling, music, and spending time with my loved ones
Meet David, Co-Founder and COO/CFO of Yodel
Name: David Heininger
Current City of Operation: Vienna, Austria
Hobbies: hiking, cooking, theme parties
Meet Sebastian, Head of Development at Yodel
Name: Sebastian Plagemann
Current City of Operation: Vienna, Austria
Hobbies: running, watching TV shows, mountain biking