TSW #15: Kei Karlson

02 March 2014


What would you say about yourself in 5 sentences?
I love people and I love innovation that makes difference in their lives. My background is in Human Resources. I have always considered myself good at soft areas (and no, this does not mean software in any way :) ). Tech and me…it has always been a complicated relationship.

What are your current projects related to technology?
I am a Co-Founder of GoWorkaBit. We change the way work gets done, by matching companies’ just-in-time workforce needs with people’s lifestyles. GoWorkaBit gives people the freedom to choose when, where and how they work. And we do it using the technology. Our web app is built from scratch by our awesome development team. This is the first time for me to be so closely involved in software development and it is exciting to learn and see how it´s done. I am more of a creative, “go with the flow” kind of person than an analytical planner, so it´s quite useful for me to see how important it is to describe and analyze all the tasks in backlog and sprint to get things done in a right way. I have realized that if developers get creative with the badly described tasks, results can be surprising.

How did you discover and first become engaged in technology? 
I think that first engagement was in my grandfather’s garage. I loved to play around him with all the hard tech tools. Yep, I mean the old-fashioned angle polishers and belt sanders. Not sure they are called tech nowadays though. I don´t know much about technology, but I have always had ideas about what kind of technology solutions I would need or use.
About 2 years ago I participated in Garage48 for the first time. I had a crazy idea that evolved from my interest in augmented reality. I thought that it would be supercool to make something that used audio instead of visuals. Imagine strolling through the streets and hear the City. I found other crazy people and made a proto during 48 hours. My team was even the runner up and I pitched the idea to the music industry gurus during Tallinn Music Week. They thought that this was too crazy at this time. Maybe it was :).

What or who inspires you?
I have mostly been inspired by people and the fact that human willpower is so great and anything is possible when you really put your mind to it. Take extreme sports or science for example. People push the limits on a daily basis and make unbelievable things happen.
I have been very lucky, because I have worked with great people who have inspired me and created an environment that allows to be creative. I worked for 7 years in Manpower, the best HR company in Estonia. Yes, I know I am biased, but that´s true anyway ;) I had the chance to meet with hundreds of people from different areas, including tech. And people who do what they love with passion are always inspiring.
But when I feel short of inspiration or fresh ideas, I always read news form totally different field. This works, try it at home: when you need new idea about marketing, read some astrophysics blog. Or when you are having trouble with PHP, browse The Cool Hunter. It works for me, at least with marketing and physics. For PHP and me…nothing really works :D

Start-ups, apps, projects you recommend to follow or are especially fond of?
When GoWorkaBit was accepted to Seedcamp family and we started to spend a lot of time in London, apps that give directions and information how to get from A to B, entered my favorites’ list. There was a tube strike during the first week we were in London and CityMapper was a life-saver. The fact that it also shows you how many calories you will burn on the way is supercool.
Of course I would recommend to follow and use GoWorkaBit! It will be the new power in how people work and how companies can adjust their work to just-in-time model.

What was the most important thing that you’ve learned in the past year and how did you learn it? 
Last year has been all about learnings. GoWorkaBit started in Garage48 XX edition last year. In traditional way, idea authors (companies) recruit members to the team. In Garage48 it is other way around. It has been always interesting for me how it works out at all. But it does.
The most important thing that I have known before, but confirmed to myself during last months is that everything is possible and it’s damn exciting to change the world :)

What would be your message to newby female techmakers to give them a heads up or encouragement?
First of all, you don´t have to be high-level tech savvy yourself to create cool tech solutions, you just have to find those people who are. Spread your passion and people will follow! The team is most important for making things happen, it´s damn hard to create innovation alone. Hell, it´s impossible, I think. So team up, show your passion, work hard, ask advice, make mistakes fast and learn from them. And most importantly, have fun doing all that!

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