SaaStock Local Talks are interviews we at Brainy Bees carry out with people who live and breathe SaaS.
Over these virtual coffees, we’ll discuss everything SaaS related.
The fourth interview features Rafal Muszynski, CEO of Harmonizely.
You are Rafal Muszynski and you are…
the founder at Harmonizely. I’m a software engineer with 10+ years of experience working on open-source software. I love F1, biking, and running. Harmonizely is a comprehensive appointment scheduling tool that relies on open standards like CalDAV.
How did your journey in Harmonizely begin? How did you get to where you are today?
The project idea came to my mind from my personal need. I needed to integrate my self-hosted, CalDAV compatible calendar with the scheduling tool. There was no tool available with CalDAV support at that time, so the idea was born to create a tool that would allow me to schedule appointments on a calendar that I have control over, not someone else. It was also an excellent motivator to learn some new great stuff down the road. I always wanted to build something where individuals and companies worldwide would use it to simplify their workflows and collect feedback.
What is Harmonizely? What makes it stand out from the crowd?
Harmonizely is an appointment scheduling app that helps schedule meetings between two parties by eliminating the back and forth emails to find the right time.
Thanks to the support of the open standard, CalDAV, Harmonizely can integrate with the self-hosted calendars. It is crucial to someone who cares about security and doesn’t want to use the calendar apps which use their data for different purposes. From the very beginning, Harmonizely was a safety oriented tool to offer the best possible level of security without sharing any customers data.
What are Harmonizely plans for 2021?
The plan is to simplify and improve the onboarding so that newly signed up users can quickly start booking their meetings with potential clients. It will also require improving some parts of the UI/UX. Other than that, we will be adding the mobile application and more integrations with 3rd party applications. There are also innovative solutions involving AI on the table, but it’s a long term plan.
Go bootstrapping or go to investors?
I think that both ways are good. It just depends on what you want to accomplish. I never worked with any investors, so it’s hard to say what might be the pros or cons. I decided to keep Harmonizely self-funded and bootstrapped. I have a lot of flexibility, and no one tells me what I have to do. That’s the best freedom you can get. I can focus on what matters the most to my customers so that their lives are easier. On the other hand, it makes you very responsible for making important decisions and sometimes those decisions can be wrong and hurt your business.
How has the pandemic affected your growth? Did you have to cope with churn, or did you deal with more clients?
Since our application helps simplify the scheduling of the meetings and since almost everything moved to the online world (meetings, events etc.) because of coronavirus, it’s been great for us. There was an insane number of new clients coming in during the COVID-19 times, which continues.
When you’re not feeling motivated, how do you motivate yourself?
I think about the positive things I managed to do and where it got me. At the back of my head, I have all the time the goal I want to accomplish. Sometimes a few days off help to look at things differently and give you a significant motivational boost. Interviews with other founders are motivational too.
What do you feel is the biggest strength of our company right now?
The team. With a great team, you can do everything literally! If you trust them instead of spending time on employee monitoring, that’s nothing but your success.
To show that you’re fully ready to embark a SaaS work, you need to do more than just writing a cover letter – and that’s what they do.
What is something you wish someone had told you during your career journey?
That creating a project where you are a technical founder isn’t only about coding. I wish I knew this earlier so I would outsource some of the things faster.
What is the best and the worst part of being a CEO?
The worst part is that you are not 100% sure if you are moving the company in the right direction so as not to disappoint people. Being alone with the hard decisions can sometimes be frustrating. I recommend finding the mastermind group.
What is your greatest professional challenge? How did you overcome it and what have you learned from it?
I think faith in what you do is fundamental. Especially in the very beginning if you are not sure that the project will fly and people will start paying for it. Don’t let people tell you you can’t do it because you can. Sooner or later, if you put lots of love and passion into what you do, it will pay off.
What would others call your communication style? Are you close to your employees or do you prefer to maintain a healthy distance, and why?
I try to talk with everyone about everything. When I see someone has a problem, I’m trying to help. I like to hear what others are doing in their free time. Life is not only a job. Everyone has feelings, and sometimes someone wants to talk about some life things, not work-related. It helps to get to know each other better, and this is what I’m trying to do to keep the family atmosphere.
If you had to give one business lesson to people who think about launching their SaaS, what would it be?
Find a great team of founders you know where everyone specializes in a different field (software development, marketing, sales etc.). It’s a killer combo and but hard to find.
What other CEOs do you look up to? (and I should interview)
David Heinemeier Hansson – Founder & CTO at Basecamp & HEY