Launchee met with Jonathan in the midst of juggling between his startup Kab’inn, and his new ‘baby’, Vsichko. He has been a regular guest here during his tenor as a Marketing manager in Technofy and was partly engaged in advising Launchee’s communication strategy, but I have actually known him ever since he came to Bulgaria 10 years ago when he joined the Marketing department of Societe Generale’s subsidiary locally. From leading roles in the market research and brand management, to project management and later, having transitioned to the IT ‘world’, Jonathan’s multi-functional role has always amazed me, effortlessly maneuvering between the corporate realm and the many additional projects he was doing in parallel – without being distracted in the slightest. We want you to meet him in person, so that he tells us what superpowers he uses to keep him going.
Pick up the five words that describe you best?
The hardest question to start with…let’s try though. Realistic dreamer (that’s one word), over-thinking, over-talking, open-minded, and let’s be honest: funny!
Banking, technology, book writing and lifestyle entrepreneurship. How did this happen?
Honestly, I don’t know! I’d say that it is all a matter of opportunities. Life is made of daily opportunities, the point is to be able to see them and to take the risk to grasp them, while most of the time we have no idea where they will lead us. That’s how all this happened, even book writing. I’m over-talking as I said and each of those opportunities could actually be subject a separate conversation. So let’s just say that one led to another, each started with fear and excitement being completely unknown, but all became if not a passion, at least a real good learning experience. It is also strongly a matter of what people you meet along the way: all of my professional choices and decisions have been influenced by collaborators and partners I’ve been inspired by and willing to build something together with. This is the case with one of the books, as well as my past jobs in banking and IT, the kick-off of Kab’inn project, and recently, ‘Vsichko’ - a mobile application for services to individuals which we will launch on the Bulgarian market shortly.
How did you come up with the Kab’inn idea? What did you want to change?
Kab’inn has also been kind of an opportunity as the context was favorable to it, but contrary to my other projects, this one is a result of years of reflections and looking back at what I’ve been doing in the past years.
To be more specific, let me start from the fact that my objectives, both personal and professional, have changed. The meaning, challenge and motivation I found in banking or technology have slowly decreased. I have always been business-driven but I reached a point where those paths lacked human and social purpose – which I started valuing more with time. So, when I realized I was getting off road, getting lost on the way in my banking and technology careers that were not reflecting who I was any longer, I decided to take a break and reflect on what’s next. And there was only one way to get my smile and motivation back every day: find something to do, on my own this time, which would be a reflection of who I actually wanted to become, and not who I was becoming by just «following». This is what Kab’inn stands for: a personal need to disconnect from a career in which we don’t find meaning anymore, to take the time to step back, to ask oneself the right questions, to have a brain and body rest, and to enjoy simple things in life. This became an actual professional project because I found out that there were many others like me, of all ages, who have been facing the same hard search for meaning in their careers, some even on the verge of a burnout, and Kab’inn somehow aims at helping them to get back on track. Kab’inn’s purpose is also helping people to become more minimalist in general, but I’m still personally working on that particular detail.
How did your marketing experience help you with Kab’inn?
It did make most of it, together with instinct. Kab’inn is not a «construction company», building houses. Kab’inn is an experience, an identity and values before anything else. The house itself is just the visible part of the iceberg, the means to reach what I want to convey - so marketing is the key to achieve this. Honestly I had to adapt, to put myself as an actual marketing tool embodying Kab’inn’s identity, and to learn new ways of doing marketing online. But I am comfortable with doing it, as I am more a marketer than a house builder (though, to be sincere, I won’t mind doing the ‘dirty work’ sometimes to give my brain a break sometimes ☺)…
What are the mistakes you wished you could have avoided?
I hurried and wanted to do hundreds of things at the same time when I started being an entrepreneur, because I believed that was the only way to become successful with at least one of them. It did not work however, as one single detail requires your full attention, nurturing and perseverance to be accomplished. But all mistakes, as much as it sounds like a cliché, are lessons learned, and I believe I had to go through them. I have also followed my own path – of course I’m getting inspired by other successful entrepreneurs, but I am still myself and do not try to copy and learn from others’ mistakes as I know I need to learn from mine. Will see later if this is the right choice!
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
I have started writing a diary since the very first day I became independent and I believe I have written the word «patience» a few times a week! It is neither a matter of courage nor risk so much, but rather a matter of patience and of being able to wait – both from a psychological and financial standpoint. In addition, there is the need to develop perseverance and faith. There will be doubts for sure, every single day. Your patience, perseverance and conviction would remind you why you are here, where you are going, and that both have been thoroughly considered, not to be questioned every day. And, as I just mentioned: be yourself, do not follow. That’s how you will not lose track on what you are doing, and this is also the best way to come out with something unique.
What piece of advice would you give to a young professional starting in the IT industry?
No matter the side you’re taking – be it a business function or delivery/development one, always try to put yourself in the shoes of the opposite side. That’s how you would stand out and succeed. Too often we find experts who lack curiosity or understanding for the other, and it usually ends up with difficult situations to handle.
…and the one in banking?
I would share here a more personal perspective. Banking is a sensitive topic, it is needed, but practices can easily go off limits when not driven by the right goal. Yes, it is business as any other and in order to survive, you need to make profits. So work on these objectives, but always do it with integrity: what I mean is not taking advantage of the fact that the client often lacks any understanding on the topic, but rather the opposite, making sure you give the right advice and explanation, so that your client does better thanks to you.
What formats or guests would you like to see Launchee offering?
I think Launchee is bringing fresh and innovative content and formats, on a very regular basis – something that was missing until recently. Personally, I love to hear not about concepts but about real stories of professionals or ‘amateurs’, who share their stories and inspire others. I don’t only mean having people with 30 years’ of experience, but also representatives of the younger generation, who also have a lot to share, but we don’t let them speak enough.