We speak to software giant Paymo, on its entrepreneurial adventure
To get the lowdown on Paymo’s innovative approach, we spoke to CEO, Jan Lukacs –
who, interestingly, thinks success is overrated and has some top tips for other ‘can’t live without’
software for businesses.
When did you set up Paymo, and what inspired you to start your own business?
Jan: A couple of friends and I already ran a digital marketing agency, but we had a thirst for
innovation. So, like every successful entrepreneur should do, we focussed on what we needed as a
business; the biggest problem we needed solving internally to make us – and hopefully many others
– more efficient and streamline. Above all, there was a gap in the market for an online time tracking
tool. Paymo was then launched in 2008, and the rest is history. One day I’d like to create some sort
of decentralised social network, that would make people drop FaceBook as their go-to internet app.
But this will have to wait!
If you could time travel back to 2008 and the beginning of Paymo, what would you have done
Jan: It’s quite simple really. I would spend more aggressively on marketing. I would hire more people
– and quicker. And I would have just focused on one single business at one time. Spreading yourself
too thinly is stressful personally. What’s more, you do need to put all your eggs into one basket to
make that business as viable as possible.
How would you describe paymo to a child?
Jan: It’s a thing on the computer that makes you work easier
What surprising lessons have you learnt along the way and what is still your greatest challenge?
Jan: I think many business owners will agree with me here: managing people is the trickiest part of
having your own enterprise. And yet, paradoxically, it’s a key – if not the key – ingredient for success.
And then there’s growth. This is our biggest daily challenge: we need to stay one step ahead of
ourselves and work on growing faster, rather than getting stuck in our ways, and carrying on as we
always have done.
What’s your proudest achievement to date and are there any exciting innovations in the pipeline?
Jan: Against all odds we were able to build a great, strong team, that loves building our product. We
are all on the same page. Happy staff means happy customers. And that’s why we can boast that we
still have loyal customers from 2008. Looking forward, we’re excited about our automatic time
tracking features. We are currently channeling lots of our energy into that.
What are the biggest stumbling blocks your clients face, and how does Paymo get its customers
over those hurdles, and beyond?
Jan: Without a doubt, most people who come to us have problems with time management. This is
having an adverse effect on the way they’re planning and executing their work. Clunky, inefficient
workflows and processes can really take their toll on the potential for success of a business. Paymo’s
software platform helps solves these issues in one fell swoop.
Having your own business must be overwhelming, at times. How do you make sure there are
always enough hours in the day?
Jan: I try to divide my day in half. I get admin out of the way in the morning, as it’s my least favourite
task. If only Paymo could do all my chores! Then, after lunch I focus on more creative tasks. And, of
course, I do have to work in the evenings from home from time-to-time. In this more relaxed mode, I
can brainstorm and think ahead about our future strategy.
On that note, how do you balance home and work life?
Jan: With two kids, it can be a tricky balancing act – I’m not going to lie. But I was very fortunate that
my wife was able to stay at home and raise our kids in those critical early years. This helped
tremendously. Technology, of course, makes things easier too. With ubiquitous internet access you
can work from home when needed. Just being in the same place as your children is mentally and
emotionally better than being stuck in the office all hours.
Who do you admire the most?
Jan: I really admire American business magnate, Warren Buffet; he’s a humble man, who managed
to create one of the most successful businesses of all time. Despite this, he’s down-to-earth, and has
always managed to ignore the hype. But, I do think success if overrated. It should not be the aim of
any leader. It such be a side effect of your actions. I try to do my best work every day, and see what
What idea do you wish you’d thought of?
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Jan: I repeat this obsessively, every time someone looks to me for advice:
Focus, focus, focus – especially if you’re young and full of energy and dreams. It’s harder than it
sounds! All entrepreneurs do need these ingredients for success though: a vision and a mission, a
heady dose of ‘craziness’, commitment, stamina and good communication skills. This will make them
stand out from the crowd and go the distance.
And finally, as a software platform provider yourself, what tools do you find indispensable for
running your business?
Jan: here are the tools I couldn’t live without professionally.
Of course, we use Paymo ourselves! So, the most crucial efficiency weapon in our armoury is
Paymo’s online management of tasks, workflows, planning and tracking time spent on each job.
We also rely on Slack as our office IM tool. This makes collaboration easier.
An underrated, but great tool in my opinion, is Mac Calendar synced with Google Calendar.
And a desktop email client called Unibox – as I love working with email, I like its ability to group
messages by sender.