Interview with Hendrik Hemken (Chief Product Officer at OWNLY)

Our fintech channel ShareSpot.Blog has a new video with Hendrik Hemken, the CPO of a German based startup OWNLY (Hamburg). They develop an application to monitor, manage and assess risks of personal and family assets (e.g. real estate, expensive watches, bitcoins, etc.). 

In this video we will about the next topics:

  • Hendrik’s journey to OWNLY
  • The product wich Hendrik is building currently 
  • APIs to collect the data on assets 
  • How to manage remote team?
  • When should you implement OKR?
  • How to plan meetings for remote teams?
  • Benefits of remote work 
  • Which instruments to use?
  • OWNLY’s plans regarding foreign markets
  • How COVID has changed customer development?
  • How to find new interviews without attending offline events? 
  • How OWNLY has been started?
  • How often to make cusdev interviews with customers?
  • Models of monetization 
  • How to proceed development if the app doesn’t generate the revenue?
  • Competition area 
  • Henrik’s advice for all who build products 

Key dialogue insights:

  • Teams that know how to work remotely were least affected by the lockdown. It also helps to reduce your costs if you are in Europe, for example, or in the United States. Besides it speeds up the hiring process. 
  • In order for the team to work more closely together it is worth holding regular monthly offline meetings. Of course, it’s not working out very well now, but when it’s over, you should take it into consideration. Therefore it is better to choose a team from the nearest region (German startups often choose Poland, Romania and Ukraine). In general, the choice depends on the availability of transport connections.
  • People in charge of development and marketing can meet regularly in the central office. This can help accelerate the company’s growth processes.
  • If you are not able to work inside the Scrum model, for example, if you can’t release some tasks at the end of the sprint (when development is delayed), sometimes you need to release in the middle – switch to the Kanban model. Choose what’s best for you.
  • OKR is only well suited for big companies. In small teams, where decisions are made by a couple of people, synchronization of company and employee goals is too time consuming. In the beginning you need to work more on the product to make it better.
  • When people work remotely, no one is distracted by anyone, constantly coming up with different questions.  Calls are scheduled as often as possible and are necessary, but in any case this allows you to concentrate more on your work. By the way, I came to the same opinion and visit the office no more than 2-3 hours a day, the rest of the time I work from home.
  • It is unnecessary to plan regular group calls, as they can distract other people. It is better to call and solve current urgent questions with whom it is necessary, instead of thousands of calls, which prevent everyone from thinking about the product. For example, it is preferable to discuss current issues with a UX designer rather than with the whole team trying to work out a solution.
  • If a general meeting needs to be arranged, it is better to hold it as quickly as possible. CEO should not communicate directly with developers about tasks if there is a CTO and CPO in a company. 
  • In times of lockdown you still need to communicate with users to make a CusDev. Figma can help with that, as this tool allows you to provide remote access to your prototypes. Calls can be organized via Zoom or Skype. 
  • Since offline events are not available to expand the network of potential customers who can be interviewed, new contacts can be found in a specific groups where topics of interest for your target audience are discussed. 
  • OWNLY was founded by people from the banking industry. I have seen a lot of such stories and this example only confirms that expertise is extremely important.  For example, just knowing the trends, where something is heading, will not give you anything unless you have a deep understanding of a certain area. 
  • CusDev interviews should be done as often as possible, but it is important to plan them correctly, because such events require significant resources from the CPO.  Try to make tests already at the prototyping stage, but of course take into consideration that not everything can be checked in this way.
  • If your startup is not monetized at the moment, a good idea will be to provide consulting and other personal services in your area of expertise.  This will give a cashflow to support development, as well as will make the product better, because new knowledge will be acquired.   
  • The most important metric is whether the new functionality helps to earn more money or not. If the application does not generate income yet, you need to track the daily activity of users, marketing KPIs, in the case of OWNLY – they track how many assets are stored in the app.
  • There are many applications in Europe that help B2B clients with assets management, but there is a lack of B2C solutions, especially in an interesting and not boring (maybe gaming) format.
  • Traditional advices from our guest at the end of an interview: 
    • If you create something new, you will make a lot of mistakes every day (something could have been better described, someone misunderstood something, etc.), it is important to understand and accept this.
    • Also, if you, as the person responsible for the product, have a project vision that is different from management’s, try to protect your point of view more, because you are at the forefront of development and research. 

Recommended Articles