By Lucie Sáblíková | 1.10.2020

Jan Hauser on the expansion to the United Kingdom: I have been given the responsibility I asked for

Design – 7 min read

Starting as a developer and then a member of the Council of Elders, he eventually became the head of our new branch in the United Kingdom. Meet Jan Hauser. We talked to him about whether he looks forward to his new life, what awaits him and what his goals are.

Can you introduce yourself a little?
I’m Jan and I started working for Applifting about 6 years ago. I met Filip (one of the founders) at university. He approached me once, saying that guys from Applifting were looking for someone who knows Android and asking me if I wanted to try it. I thought I would give it a shot and I went for an interview.

It worked out and we started working together on the first projects. I led both larger and smaller projects and focused mainly on communication with corporate clients. Christmas party 2019 was a turning point, though. Vráta (the other founder) started talking about expanding to London, and
I proposed that I be the one to do it.

You gained the CEO position of the UK branch thanks to your proactivity, then?
Exactly. It worked the same way as everything else in Applifting. Everyone here can get as much responsibility as they want, but they have to ask for it and have others agree that they are able to handle it.

Jan loves travelling. He even spent half a year in Japan.

Do you have any similar work experience from abroad, or is it your premiere?
I don’t but I like to travel a lot.
I spent quite a long time, about half a year, in Japan. I’ve been to London a few times already.
I studied in Glasgow for a year, so I have some experience living abroad. It’s hard to compare, the Scottish nature is different, but it’s still the United Kingdom. So I’m looking forward to it. I’m not afraid, I know I can take care of myself.

Why London?
The main reason for entering
a foreign market was the search for ways to improve the wellbeing of Applifters and to increase salaries. Sure, you can scale a business to increase profits, but that doesn’t affect everyone. Expansion abroad where hourly rates are higher, on the other hand, will allow you to increase salaries in the Czech Republic. And we chose this option. In the beginning, New York was also in the game. In the end, however, London won, mainly due to time lag and easier availability. Even though the hourly rate there is lower than in the USA, we are still 2–3 times higher than in the Czech Republic. When it comes out,
it will have a positive impact on everyone in Applifting.

Are you looking forward to your new life and work chapters?
I am nervous, more so than I am looking forward to it at the moment. I want for it to work out because it’s actually the first tribe to be formed. It is a huge responsibility to make everything work and to be a good example for our future tribes.

I am experiencing a classic evolution of a person getting excited about something at first and making a quick decision. Then, as it’s getting closer, you think it might not have been such a good idea. And then, when it really comes and is there, it’s great.

In London with our Czech CEO with our Czech CEO Vráˇta Kalenda searching for our new office space.

Is there anything you’re specifically not looking forward to?
This is new, so I’m looking forward to it. Sometimes it happens that you wake up in the morning and you are not really in the mood to talk to people, which is not ideal in this position. But I have my methods of fighting that feeling. I can’t really say there is something I’m not looking forward to.

What awaits you after you move?
I will have to go through the necessary paperwork at the beginning. We must first establish a company. To do so, we need to have an address. Unfortunately, the address of the coworking centre our office will be located at cannot be used. We therefore need to find an accounting and law firm to set up our branch and provide us with an address. Only after the company has been established is it possible to open a bank account. For large banks, it is a very demanding and lengthy process, so we will probably choose Revolut. Once this is all done, we can join the coworking centre and get started.

What are your goals for the first 6 months?
An optimistic prognosis says it might take half a year to get the two to three contracts we need to cover the business costs. Worst case scenario, this situation will have occurred within a year. According to some local people in the industry, a year is a good time to validate the success of the operation.

Jan is probably thinking about his future in the UK.

What do you see as the biggest challenge in this position?
The hardest part will be finding the first clients and projects. We are starting from scratch; we don’t have any contacts or
a network, which is something we have already started working on. But the biggest challenge is sales. We’ve never done sales in Applifting, so we have to learn that. Plus this is a market we do not know. So far our business has been recommendation- and word-of-mouth based, but in London we must be proactive. And we must not be discouraged by initial setbacks.

The current COVID situation doesn’t help at all either. Some people don’t want to meet in person, only online. This could be a potential threat to our development. But I hope it gets better. Personal contact is very important and it would be a pity to lose it.

Where will the office be located and how do you like the place?
We chose a place in the Level 39 coworking centre, which is the largest incubator for fintech startups. It is located in the modern office district of Canary Wharf. Fortunately, we know that “normal” people work there, too, not just white collars :-). During our visit at the beginning of August, Vráťa and I visited our future office and we really liked it there.

What are you personally looking forward to in London?
I like meeting new people and being in a new environment. I’m looking forward to walking through the city. I will also go see a game of football and
I will continue practising karate, which is something I have done for a long time. Thanks to attending some international seminars I know those people, so that will be nice. I will also be closer to Scotland. There is great nature and whisky, which is something I like :-).

While travelling, I have gotten to know different cities. Compared to others, Prague is in fact tiny; Tokyo, on the other hand, is gigantic, as is London. I’m not depressed by the size, though; I’m looking forward to discovering a new place.

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