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Six leadership & management clues, from a startup founder

Author: Horia Damian, CEO and Founder Partner of the contact management app Canvy, startup entrepreneur and tech passionate

Leadership and management sometimes are one and the same, while in other instances one of them needs to take control, when getting your team through significant moments. Need to motivate and inspire? The leader takes the scene. Need to solve a situation efficiently? Perhaps it’s time for the manager to enter the spotlight.

It depends upon each of you to decide which to apply when. However, at the core of each entrepreneur there is a mix of courage, innovation, efficient habits and lifetime beliefs – out of which he provides for the team.

 

Empowering behaviors – checklist

Nevertheless, what makes the person behind the above-mentioned roles the right person for the job? Speaking from my own experience, you definitely have to believe in yourself. Of course, the abilities and personal experience are fundamental. Never forget that you have what it takes for leading a team. Never forget the importance of your activity – personally, I strongly believe that management has an important role in empowering team members to deliver results in a particular project.

Here are 4 basic empowering behaviors:

– Share the goals and the strategy with your team members & even involve them in defining or adjusting these key elements

– Maintain an open atmosphere that encourages personal contributions

– Allow individual freedom of decision whenever possible

– Openly and clearly approach the role each member plays in the team and define the area of allotted responsibility

 

Mentorship – the not-so-distant cousin of leadership

The two aspects of receiving valuable advice – being mentored and mentoring – are a welcome presence all along an entrepreneurial career. On purpose or even incidentally, there are always people who leave their mark upon our way to approach things in life and, of course, make our presence felt in a similar way to those who come after us.

For me, understanding that there is always something to learn represented an essential step in itself. Once you have this inner approach, you are the first to gain – by enriching your inner universe constantly; secondly, of course, this benefits to your organization.

Carrying the team over difficult moments – duty or option?

 

When it comes to the way we surpass difficult moments here at Canvy, I would not put the issue in terms of duty or fairness – though this is a way of approaching it too. It is only fair to appreciate the hard work even through difficult times, and give back support and continuity – and optimism.  But I would rather bring into question the right entrepreneurial attitude I think it is absolutely necessary to have towards the team. The rest comes from here.
I think it is important to see yourself as the central support element of all team members and thus to create, facilitate and maintain the frame within which the team is at its highest level. How do you know you are on the right track? When you see signs that you are truly making each individual feel more powerful, when you seem to add 1 + 1 and the result is more than just 2. The more the better for the project, and this should also be mirrored by each team member.

 

Find your own recharge method – and use it!

A technique that I’m trying to always employ when faced with difficult times is to leave it for a day or two. The fresher an event is, the more it risks to influence the rational decision that needs to be taken.

Personally, I try to avoid the effects brought on by a strong emotional load. This way, by distancing myself a bit, the perspective is restored and I may place that event/moment in its rightful place – the decision will be objectified and – I think – better.

 

Honesty and leadership/management – a match made in heaven?

Honesty is essential for me, and is directly related to the mutual trust you ideally work on building – bidirectional –on the one hand, within the team, and on the other hand, with all the stakeholders involved in a project.
There are further points of trust and honesty in managing a startup project – the customer will only use your product, if he or she feels that – at least – you are striving to make the world’s best product in a particular category. Ideally, you can involve the stakeholders in the project and thus find themselves in it. Generating meaningful bonds puts extra value in our work – and provides honesty, to ourselves and towards the others.

 

Entrepreneurship predetermination – the “type games”

Talking about types of people that are most suited to lead than others would be a stretch. I feel it is a rather limited take on what being an entrepreneur really means. Between predetermination and choice, I value the second one the most.

We are all children of our times in certain ways, as well as the result of our ancestors and family. Yet, by looking exclusively at these two factors, we ignore the power of will and of change held by each individual – which would be false. We constantly work on our own development and growth. What we get out our personal experiences can mold into a unique, personal style of leadership & entrepreneurship.

When we are fully there, there is this wonderful feeling of being at ease, which transmits to all those who interact with us and is perceived positively by all those who matter in various situations, from the clients and the team members to the shareholders.

 

 

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Canvy release

Hello!

We are proud to introduce new visuals for Canvy, as well as a couple of enhanced functionalities – check them out!

Meet the new, revamped Canvy, try the new features:

· New, improved user experience thanks to the overhaul of the entire app design
· New, tile-based view of aggregated contact details
· New action bar with search, navigation drawer and arrangement mode functionality
· In-app surveys

Install Canvy, configure it to your liking and relax – now all your contacts are comfortably reachable via our friendly UI, with cool functionalities!

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Canvy – take time to save time, an app for enjoying connectivity

As a collector would, today’s digital asset owner could take time and caress the beloved possessions that are always by his or her side. Dust the edges of these precious impalpable “things”, re-order them on the shelves, take a long contended look and immerse into the fact that so many possibilities are at his/her fingertips.

The beauty of digital devices has always been here, never to be fully understood. Commercials remember to put the spotlight on it – and all the designers, perhaps, let out a sigh of gratitude.

How about the beauty of the applications? Their visuals – you might wonder. Yes, and besides this we also have the mathematical beauty of all the functionalities active beneath what we can see, the almost artistic beauty of configuring the settings, of adding the right sounds and images to “our” app.

 

Personalization

There is a reason we used the commas above. Any out-of-the-box app is not yet ours – it comes with a default set of settings, it looks and behaves just like any of its off-the-shelf instances found in the phones of millions of users. Yet it holds the potential of becoming ours, via finely tuned details – and here is where each person who employs an application becomes a secret artist of sorts.

It’s – in a way – an extremely sad and unrecognized form of modern art. We put our soul and personality, bits of it, into personalizing our apps. Yet there are no contests or prized that would appreciate this particular craftsmanship. If you like, it resembles daydreaming in that it is only known to us.

Some say that we shifted a whole part of our creative potential onto interacting with digital products – and they might be true. However, since fighting it seems impossible (see the concept of digital detox and its transience), at least we could manage to admit it, and power through it.

Do you enjoy setting up and configuring your OS, your software and your apps? Perhaps it is unclear, when asked like that. OK then – how much do you dislike it when some updates reset your configuration? Oh, well… this is probably the main cause of user annoyance whenever software owners perform changes. So, it is only logical that the answer is YES. We do like to personalize our digital tools – and make them “ours”.

 

From the corner of your eye to full-on spotlight

Once admitting we all spent a certain amount of time leaving our mark upon any digital tool we employ, we could go from reluctantly doing so to proudly doing so. No guilt about it, no “I could be doing something better right now”. Just take a reasonable amount of time and explore your tools, appreciate them, see if you haven’t missed any features, set up the way they look to be most enjoyable, and so on.

After all, this is personal time. And, to be honest, you aren’t going to use it to paint, sing or compose anything remarkable – or at least most of us won’t. Sad as it may sound, creativity did not skyrocket in the digital era, nevertheless, instead of poking it permanently, we may as well accept the phenomena and enjoy our everyday, not-so-creative actions. Such as personalizing our apps, visually and functionally.

Do we become the actions that take the most of our time – in a continuous manner? Not necessarily, but yes, it’s the simplest way things happen. In an effortless way, if we spend most of our day on the phone, at work, making small talk with others, or feeding ourselves with a mixed stream of information we become average people, in tune with the general trends, mildly aware of what’s going on in the world, mildly informed upon a variety of topics.

Why not use our digital tools as a convenient shield, fighting in a peaceful manner to regain our individuality? Personalizing them thoroughly- here’s the first step.

 

Apps to shield us from the shock of big data

Like infinite swarms of bees, data are roaming around in the digital space. And it’s not yet at its fullest – as its squared or cubed dimensions are yet to come. What can the mere human do in order to make sense of what he or she needs from this big data, whilst keeping at bay the things that act as disturbances?

Pick up the right types of software, apps included (or, if you’d like) primarily apps, to set them as guardians of his privacy, of his personal time, and in the end, allowing ourselves to exaggerate a bit – of his sanity.

Apps to tame other apps, apps to tame data – set them up and let them take care of various functionalities or social areas. Regain your life, breathe!

 

Canvy, the contact management app for you

Perhaps you already are at that point where you understand the importance of safeguarding your private moments. Be it for loading your batteries or just for allowing the relaxed vibe to make you feel better and see things in a new perspective, being able to create and protect your own time in a hectic environment is sometimes critical.

Canvy is a contact management app that – once configured – lets you organize your contacts, connect on various channels and also set a visually pleasing UI in accordance with your preferences. We did not take things in a hurry – beneath its smooth interface Canvy sums up a lot of work hours, complex app development, testing and meditating upon the best solutions.

We are also up for improving, (although we do love our product as it is), that is why we are happy to hear from those who use our app – inquiries, suggestions, feedback of any kind is welcome at marketing@gocanvy.com. Since the main functionality – of a friendly, centralized tool that takes the dissipated “connectivity” load from your phone and organizes it in accordance with a set of settings you configure – depends on the number of contacts you have, each instance of Canvy is unique.

Let us know what you think of it! And remember, take your time to properly set up Canvy and explore it, to save precious time from that moment on, by allowing it to become a loyal friend which helps you stay in touch with your contacts in exactly the amount you want to.

CAnvy, leadership, startup, startup management, lessons, steps

Going for the win – five steps into the inner world of an entrepreneur

Author: Horia Damian, CEO and Founder Partner of the contact management app Canvy, startup entrepreneur and tech passionate

Why startups?

The startup environment characterizes the current tech business landscape, in a way that fits all company sizes. Small projects found a vessel to carry them towards materialization, midsize businesses adopted this entrepreneurship model in order to expand their reach, and large companies found in startups a thriving environment that they just could not miss. There is an angle for anyone when it comes to startups, but, as with any new tools (or any new game, if you like) one just has to understand and take in the basic rules.

Of course, we always go for the win. Startups are dynamic, fresh and wrapped up in extreme attractiveness, but they are an extremely complex game – they combine, innovation and initiative with strategy and perseverance. My experience as a startup entrepreneur went from the initial plans through (sometimes rough) reality checks and hard readjustments. We are not there yet, not in the full sense, but we get our energy from both from our set goals, as well from the activities itself.

  1. Going from idea to action

What got us started in the first place? There were two things that mattered to us: the confidence that we could run this project (developing a productivity app and making it better than previously existing similar apps) as a whole, and also that our idea had what it takes to succeed, aka the novelty, the value and the right timing – the market was ready for it. Always find the objective way of measuring your plans against the market when launching your startup!

  1. Be your first, but not your foremost customer

The proof is in the pudding – once materialized, we employed our own software product, and we scrutinized it as a third-party would! For example, I use the app we developed daily, not just because it is our product, (out of business reasons), but also because I find it useful for myself. I think that the element of personal involvement is very important, just as much as staying open to the opinions of others is. So I would say: build your product firstly for yourself, make it as close to perfection in terms of what you appreciate, but equally adapt it to integrate the needs and ideas of others into the end result. This way, you aim to deliver a better product than you even dreamed of. You go for plus-perfection.

  1. Prepare for pressure

Do not be afraid of it – pressure comes from all directions. The intensity and the way it impacts your activity are different, depending on the team you are working with. The more you can “delegate” this pressure, the easier it is to take an entrepreneurial initiative, because carrying too much pressure on one person’s shoulders can prove counter-creative.
However, any entrepreneur must be able to take in the pressure generated by the need to achieve the established business goals set for a clear and relatively short time.

  1. Appreciate all your allies

They used to say “is all about the product”.  I deeply believe it’s like that. But I also think “it’s all about the team”. If you can count on a team with the right skills, energy and vision, then the product will be the one you aimed for. Whereas for the product – presentation duo, I would not say there is a first and second place, as I rather see a shared first place. Just think of it. You have a good product, but you need to bring it in front of the clients. Yes, there were times when the dictum “If you build it, they will come” worked. Not anymore. Merely creating a good product does not guarantee customer presence. The battle for the relevant audience’s attention and loyalty is essential nowadays. Take this reality in – and prepare to deliver both an excellent product, as well as a great presentation.

 

  1. Grow with your startup, grow with your team

I understand – now even more than before – that the road to success passes through the valley of humility. As an entrepreneur, your willingness to give up some of your opinions and to adopt the ones that are best for the product is also important. Of course, this ability to accept that the truth is not always your truth is rarely innate. In most of the cases, you acquire it via experience, and it is an educated skill. This process also involves a great openness towards others: colleagues, users, advisors and investors.

Only when giving humility its toll, you stand a chance for success. By avoiding any changes, and by refusing to adapt, the chances are slim. However, when your ambitions and vision morph into a shared vision and a mature understanding of what you can deliver, the success is at the horizon.

canvy 4YFN barcelona

Takeaways from the Canvy startup experience at 4YFN 2017

Canvy is the contact management application that invites its users to discover the continuously updated, intuitive way to connect with their contacts.

Designed as a startup, the Canvy concept provides a centralized interface that aggregates all the communication channels present on the user’s mobile device for each separate account. Taking into consideration the user’s preferred way of connecting with various contacts, this efficient app can act as a personal assistant by predicting which third-party platform is the best when reaching a specific person. The settings allow for a classical contact manager approach, as well as for a gradual immersion into what user behavior-based digital organizing means.

The Canvy startup experience at 4YFN 2017

Part of its fast-growing startup trajectory, we took Canvy to this year’s 4YFN Barcelona Conference, held between 27th February – 1st March. We are extremely proud of the way the event met our expectations, especially that Canvy was the only Romanian startup at the 4YFN 2017. With the soft launch phase recently completed, our application was ready for the “big world” of startups.

While showcasing our innovative Canvy (a 100 percent LASTING product), we also felt the pulse of the Mobile World Capital Barcelona (MWC) startup business platform. This startup-dedicated event is part of the GSMA Mobile World Congress, and this year it celebrated its 4th edition, dubbed “the most international edition” so far.

The three intense days of startup pitches and the dynamic atmosphere of connecting with startups, investors and corporations made the 4YFN a memorable event for us, as well as for Canvy.

The Canvy team that successfully made our presence felt at 4YFN 2017 comprised Ms. Monica Gâza – Marketing Manager, Mr. Horia Damian – Canvy CEO and Mr. Marius Marcu – Canvy CTO. The team enjoyed the dedicated business events and brought back important takeaways to be employed in further growing all that Canvy represents.

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Main takeaways from 4YFN 2017

In the words of Ms. Monica Gâza, this year, the dominant 4YFN topic consisted of “the gap between the tech environment and the social, political and cultural responsibility”. This is mirrored in the way global IT trends fail to connect to the live needs and ideals shared by the masses.

The remedy for this pressing issue will manifest itself via tech-related products that discover new means of connecting us again, and of bringing back responsibility and empathy into people’s lives. Learning how to integrate technology as a society, while putting it to the service of the greater good seems to be the next step. Technology-enabled interactions that would restore meaning to our lives is key, and dedicated products are expected to be extremely successful.

In this light, Canvy displays all the necessary premises for growth. Providing effortless, smooth communication, our application prompts the most successful channel of contacting a given user at a given time, all in a colorful, interactive and convenient interface.

Our smart, next-generation contacts book delivers a much needed breath of fresh air in a product slot where default contact managers failed to innovate. While the work environment swiftly changes with the increasing presence of younger professionals, Canvy provides the opportunity for better, fast paced connectivity via an increasing number of channels. Available on Google Play, our smart AI-driven app comes in a free version and is ready to conquer the world.

 

Canvy goes to Slush!

On 30 November and 1 December 2016, the (European) start-up community decamped to frozen Finland (no pun intended) to attend Slush, one of Europe’s most spectacular start-up events. Slush, which went from small-scale gathering to massive extravaganza in just five years, completely took over Messukeskus (the biggest convention space in Finland), where it brought together an eclectic, diverse audience made up of entrepreneurs, investors, journalists, students and scientists – not to mention a huge army of volunteers.

One key take-away from Slush2016 is that the future belongs to products that support and facilitate authentic human communication. Just like Canvy! The Canvy team that attended Slush (made up of Horia, Marius and myself) experienced the event in many different ways and at a number of different levels – which in itself says a lot about Slush’s versatility and value for attendees. We all agree on the fact that Slush2016 was an overall impressive event, both in terms of concept and contents-wise. It blended Finland’s penchant for dark rock glamour and theatrical performances with a rather pragmatic approach to connecting its main categories of attendees and facilitating the transfer of knowledge and vision from its speakers to its (very diverse) audience.

The organizers did an impressive job of covering many of today’s hottest subject matters, no matter how diverse they may seem at first glance. The talks ranged from no-nonsense heart-to-hearts (dubbed fireside chats) with leading industry players such as investor extraordinaire Chris Sacca (of Twitter, Uber and Instagram fame) to talks on creating abundant mind-sets (Moonshot Thinking with Steve Jurvetson and Naveen Jain) or else on block chain and the decentralized future of the world’s financial ecosystem (the presentation was delivered by Thomas Conté, Jutta Steiner, Paul Puey and Elizabeth Stark).

What impressed us the most?
Horia: If you get people talking, everything else will come. That’s about the long and the short of it. My main take-away comes from this idea (not sure it can be called a trend because it’s not exactly a new thing) that technology must serve a higher purpose and it must do its part to help people connect in a genuine way, at a genuine level. Technology for technology’s sake is a dangerous concept – it should be understood and made to work FOR people, in order to bring them together and help solve real needs.

Monica: What can I say – Slush2016 had big-name speakers, a cool pitching competition, massive attendance and an energetic, impressive opening ceremony energy that set the tone for the rest of the event. I enjoyed the ease of interaction with the rest of the participants and the sheer volume of new ideas to which I was exposed.

Slush 2016

Slush 2016