Here at Work in Startups, we’re on a mission to help talented jobseekers find the startup job of their dreams. To support this, we’re running a blog series shining a light on people’s early startup careers, in the hope that it will inspire jobseekers (like you!) and help talent make more informed decisions about their future. Follow us as we interview startup employees across the country and find out more about their backgrounds, motivations, current roles and future aspirations!
This week we’re interviewing Luke Kock, Business Development Manager at CleanCloud, the leading Point of Sales software, apps and online ordering service used by dry cleaners and laundry services worldwide. As one of the fastest growing SaaS companies in the world, they were named 2019 SaaS Awards winner and look set for big things! We can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for this exciting startup!
Hi Luke! Can you tell me a bit about your background?
I was born and raised in London and went to Warwick University to read PPE in 2015. When I graduated, I was definitely the odd one out from my cohort in the sense that I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Most people had a graduate job lined up, but I didn’t as I wanted to try a few different things. Post-graduation I took an intensive coding course and tutored to earn money. Learning to code was my first segway into the techy, startup world and really got me thinking. I then went travelling for a few months and did a remote internship for a Dutch startup in Bali. This exposed me to the whole world of startup jobs and I could really see the value of my work. I was making a difference even though I was an intern and only just beginning my tech career. After that, I knew I wanted to work in a startup – just not remotely, so I applied for jobs via startup job boards (including on Work In Startups of course!) and CleanCloud approached me for a Business Development role! The rest is history!
Wow, thank you for sharing! What led you to join a startup in the first instance?
Definitely seeing the value of my work. Because CleanCloud is still pretty small, everything I do has a direct impact on how well we do, which is exciting! The second reason I joined a startup is that I wanted to learn how to run a business. I want to found my own company in the future, so where better to learn than at a startup? I’m seeing how a new business works: the ups and downs and the struggles, and this is invaluable experience. At a big company, it’s difficult to know what’s actually going on and have a holistic overview of how the company is doing. You don’t have this problem at a startup!
What led you to join CleanCloud in particular?
I wanted to work in something in technology, and CleanCloud seemed like the perfect fit. I’m enthusiastic about tech making people’s lives easier and CleanCloud does just that. Dry cleaning is an industry that hasn’t been disrupted by technology yet, so that’s what we’re on a mission to do and we’re making dry cleaners’ lives easier in the process. Not all startups have super-cool, crazy ideas, but the ones that are successful are the ones that identify a clear pain-point in an industry and provide a solution for it.
And there are a lot of signs that we’re going to be successful! Firstly, we are funded by Angel investors, seed funding and earlier this year a large US payment processing company acquired a minority stake in the business. Secondly, we’re a hard-working, dedicated bunch! We’re committed to our mission and want CleanCloud to succeed.
I also joined CleanCloud because I was really impressed by one of the Co-Founders and CEO, John Buni. CleanCloud is his second business! Before this, he founded a company called Tailor Made London that was the first tailoring business to implement body-scan technology. He has a knack for seeing how traditional industries can be disrupted with technology and I was inspired by his entrepreneurialism.
Do you think you’ll always work in startups?
Hmmm, difficult to say. I definitely think I’ll end up in a startup in the long run, and I’ll spend most of my career working in startups. However, I could potentially see myself working at a bigger company at some point. Big companies provide a lot of technical training, which could prove super useful – especially given that I want to found my own company one day. However, they don’t necessarily win on pay (unless in law or finance, of course) or experience. I think my heart will always be in startups at the end of the day.
My end goal is definitely to found my own startup, and I know that the senior people here would mentor me and help me out – that’s what’s so great about CleanCloud. They have invested in me so far and I truly feel supported.
What makes the CleanCloud a great place to work?
Two things. Firstly, the atmosphere is just so great! We have a lovely, lovely office and a collegial working environment. We all get on really well, which makes CleanCloud a fun, lively place to work. Secondly, you really see the value of your work and CleanCloud operates on a flat hierarchy. You can have a direct relationship with everyone in the office and be open about your concerns and successes. Additionally, if you have a cool idea there’s not a lot of bureaucracy. You’re encouraged to be entrepreneurial and push boundaries.
Do you have any advice for young, startup obsessed jobseekers when they’re just leaving school? What about people leaving University?
I would say don’t stress about it and feel pressured into going into something that you’re not interested in. Think about what you want to be and where you want to get to and find a startup that will take you to that point! If you decide to join a big, established company – pick one that will invest in you and take the time to teach you everything you need to know. I would say prioritise that above all else. I would also say prioritise a company where you feel valued.
And it’s ok not to know what you want to do! Try things out and see what interests you and what doesn’t. It was only after working for a startup that I realised I wanted to work at one and found my own one day. The startup road isn’t easy… but it’s incredibly rewarding.
Inspired by Luke and/or want to share your story? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out via Twitter – we’d love to hear from you!