A few days ago I was contacted by David Garzón for his excellent project comotrabajan.com that has tens of interviews of various start up CEO’s and execs where he asks them: “how they work”. I have decided to translate it to english since many of the people I work with don’t speak spanish and I realized that this was a pretty good guide to understanding… how I work and why.
You can find the original post here. I have made only minor corrections and adjustments to the original by David below.
I am Alexis Bonte CEO of eRepublik Labs and this is how I work.
“There are people who have to fight for their success. Alexis Bonte is one of these cases. Born in Paris he grew professionally in the UK, France and Italy and based himself as an entrepreneur in Madrid. He has quite a unique modus vivendi and is always looking for ways not to waste time so he can dedicate his free time to his family. Personally I am delighted to be able to read about how he works.” David Garzón
Co-Founder and CEO of eRepublik Labs (crafting game worlds), business angel (Zonga.fm, Trilulilu.ro, TjobsRecruit.com, etc…) and Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum (Davos). Before eRepublik Labs, I was 6 years in lastminute.com in various roles: Marketing, Business development and Managing Director of the Italian business. I am half French half Portuguese and little Russian Armenian (from everywhere really), married to a Spanish wife from Cadiz and have 3 kids.
Locations: Madrid and (about 4 days per month (Bucharest)
Mobile: Iphone 5s and Galaxy 4
Laptop: Mac Book Pro
“…success depends 99% on having the right people…”
What do you do on the first hour of a normal day at work?
When I am not travelling (about 10 days per month), sports at our office gym. We have a personal trainer that comes most mornings and is free for all the members of the team. I live in the same building where our spanish offices are, so I usually hit the gym around 8h00 or 8h30 every morning.
“… Sports in our office gym”
What are the apps or tools you can’t live without?
Gmail, Gcal, Google Drive (we have the full team on Google Apps) as well as Trello, that we use for all our projects. Google Maps as well because I hate not know ing where I’m going when driving. And finally our own internal tools to check the sales and KPI’s of our social strategy game world eRepublik.com live.
What is your favorite workspace?
The office. We strongly believe that the work space is very important, so we have invested in it with nice common areas like a bar, home cinema etc… We did something similar in our Bucharest studio with access to a terrace, games area, ping pong table etc..
What music do you listen to whilst you work?
I don’t listen to music whilst I work, I find it to distracting. It is a little ironic, considering I am the chairman of Zonga.fm, the musical streaming solution for Vodafone (for now, in Romania but extending to other countries)
What is your best trick to save time?
Living above one of my offices. At the beginning I was afraid it was crazy, but it is one of the few ways I have to compete with other entrepreneurs who only live to work. I am 37 years old and have a family, I am in period of my life where I need to have a life outside of work, so I need to save as much time as possible by avoiding things like transports. Very often I will leave my office around 20h, take the kids to bed and come back around 22h to finish what I have to do. I am 1 minute away door to door so its easy to do.
“…living above my office.. is one of the few ways I have to be able to compete with other entrepreneurs who only live for their work…”
How do you handle your task list?
In this I am very classic. I have a small moleskine for each month, with 1 page per day, where I write own all my tasks for the day and tick them as they get done. I have tried all the digital solutions but this is still what I prefer.
What is your worse trait when working?
“Multitasking”, right now I am answering this interview, checking emails and finishing the projection on our next game, Tactical Heroes
Apart form your mobile and computer, what other gadgets are essential to you?
An iPAd, I have two with me, a mini and a air.
What was the hardest in your first steps?
Having to do almost everything by myself and the fear to fail. When I arrived in Madrid, I came from Milan, where I had a team of 120 people in a consolidated start up (lastminute.com). In Madrid I did not know anyone, apart from my wife, Jimena. I started alone in an office in calle Almagro. It was a bit of a culture shock. Luckily I met fantastic people like Martin Varsavsky, that helped me meet other people and enter the ecosystem.
Once you start building a team, the hardest part is to find ways to make that team be the the best possible team. This is even harder when you are in three locations like us (we have 2 game production teams in our Bucharest studio, one in our Madrid studio and a finance & IP team in our Dublin HQ). This is very important and goes with the culture of the company, we invest in people but we need to also be firm with team members that don’t perform well. This is still our main challenge, working with the best team we can.
“…once you start building a team, the hardest is to make that team the best one possible…”
How would you describe your style of leadership?
One of my main values is fairness, I am approachable and friendly but not a “hearty dude” that just hangs out for a beer. I am demanding with myself and the ones I work with. We are not in this to just participate, we are in this to create the best company we can. In our case this means crafting the best games we can with a positive financial outcome and building the best possible team to have a “great company”. This is super difficult, and due to that I can be a little intense at times. I also try to delegate as much as possible in the areas where we have experienced people that perform, but I can really get into details in areas where we don’t have people with sufficient experience or where the results are below expectations. Basically, I adapt my leadership style to the needs of the moment.
“.. we are not in this just to participate, we are also in this to create the greatest company we can…”
What important lessons did you learn by creating and leading a company?
Success depends 99% on having the right people, at the right time, in the right place, jointly working on the right things for the company. Of course, you almost never have this situation of a perfect team, even less so at the beginning. So the most important thing I have learned is that you build this step by step, with lots of tenacity and with an eye on the bottom line so you don´t run out of money.
What advice would you give to a future entrepreneur?
Go for it or at least join a start up learn and grow for a few years with it and then go for it.
How do you deal with your mistakes?
I feel bad for a short moment, analyze it, then do the necessary correction as fast as possible and I move on to the next thing. I do a lot of mistakes, I believe it is better to make a mistake you can learn from than not taking decisions or risks. If you don’t do this you don’t progress.
What is your routine to disconnect from work?
My family, jogging in Casa de Campo and skiing on the week ends that allow it.
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I would love to see my friend and mentor Brent Hoberman answer these same questions
What is the best advice you have received?
“It’s time you go for it again and start another company” (My wife Jimena when I was starting to feel very comfortable in lastminute.com)
Is there something else that you would like to tell our readers?
We are all different, what works for one most likely won’t work for you. But if you are entrepreneurial or want to be, there are three rules that apply to everyone. You have togo for it, get the best possible team and be very tenacious.
And if you want to join a truly great adventure in the world of video-games, we are always looking for talent, so send us your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org or got to eRepublikLabs.com