The three Atlas co-founders reflect back on 2017 and what starting Atlas has meant to them. Although you’re hearing from the three of them, a big part of 2017, was growing the team. Thank you to Seo, Ravali, Pavel & Stephanie for joining the team and shaping Atlas to what it is today.
We hope you enjoy the trio’s answers!
Looking back, is the Atlas app what you expected?
Olivier Kaeser: “For me, it definitely is and seeing so many engaging and positive posts on the app is a real motivation for me to work on Atlas. I’m also excited for 2018 knowing how many cool ideas we have in the pipeline!”
Thomas Querton: “Some parts are as I expected. Some are less. It’s exciting to see the product pivot. It’s a never ending journey. I don’t think we will ever sit back and say: “Ok it’s perfect now”. That’s what I love. There is always something that can be better and can increase the value we bring to our customers.”
Magali Mathieu: “It’s ever changing! I think I stopped having expectations because we’ve experienced so much change since Day 1. We try to really adapt our product according to the needs of our partners and the first 6 months were such a big learning curve for us!”
If you could describe the last year in three words, what comes up?
Thomas: “Never stop running”
Magali: “Run, Sleep, Repeat”
Olivier: “Run Forrest, run”
How has your relationship to running changed since starting Atlas?
Magali: “I’ve always been a runner, but with Atlas, there’s so many more reasons to get out there and run. Especially, it’s changed the way I race. It’s not just about me and my PR anymore, there’s people and real stories behind those miles.”
Olivier: “As described in my blog, I’m still a couch potato but I’m definitely more fond of running then I was before. Also, the environment in San Francisco with Ocean Beach directly in front of my doorstep is too good of an opportunity to pass on running. It definitely is a great feeling for body and soul coming home after an early morning run.”
What’s your favorite part about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest?
Thomas: “My favorite part about being an entrepreneur is the freedom of operations. This is very empowering. Every extra hour you put in is for your baby, your vision, your product. Every sweat you put in the product is put into something you believe in and want to see grow. Everyday. Being your own boss can be hard. You need to think about everything all the time. There is no going home. Even on Christmas day you are thinking about some aspect of the business.”
Olivier: “Definitely that we are able to shape the company in a way we like it without any of the politics you would experience in a corporate environment. I would say it sometimes is hard to focus on what’s important as there is no “job description” telling you what to do, so you always have to ask yourself if the stuff you are working on really is worth the time and effort for Atlas.”
Magali: “The best part to me is creating your every day. There is not one day that looks like the next and it’s a constant push with myself, to be the best version of me. The hardest part I would say is the unknown. There are no safety nets here. It’s tough. People warn you but you can’t really grasp how tough it is until you’re in it. Then again, it’s the best push I could ever have asked for.”
What’s the biggest surprise that happened since launching Atlas?
Magali: “Zero bugs on the first weekend we launched the app. Everything worked so smoothly, I was amazed! Thanks Seo ;)”
Thomas: “How difficult it is to get a download!! Nobody downloads apps anymore. It took my mom 5 Months to finally get it on her phone.”
Olivier: “The biggest positive surprise was finding Seo (our CTO) to cover our tech needs and launch both versions of Atlas in a very short amount of time!”
If you could do one thing differently, what would it be?
Magali: “Test with users earlier on, they’re the voice of reason, at least the reason we exist!”
Olivier: “Being far from home isn’t always easy, if the flight home would take only 2 hours would be great.” 🙂
How have the three of you grown as a team, from being friends in your Masters program to who you are today?
Olivier: “We became very close and are able to discuss hard issues very openly. It’s my favorite story of Atlas looking back how we maintained an open, positive relationship with each other and the whole team.
Tommy: “We were friends that shared values and wanted to build something positive together. We knew each other enough to know that. Then we went through the struggle of actually building something and that process is not always pretty. Seeing all sides of each other. There is nothing we can hide from each other anymore and that puts a lot of the bullshit on the side and let’s us focus on what’s right and not who is right.”
Magali: “I think like any relationship, we work really hard at it. We have regular feedback sessions that help us be really open and talk about what’s going well and areas where we need to work together to get better. The cool thing is, being friends, we were able to create a company culture that really fits with who we are, as people.”
What’s your favorite Atlas User story?
Olivier: “Seeing my family and friends in Switzerland use our app is amazing!
Magali: “Scrolling on the app, not recognizing faces to me is amazing. People that have no idea who we are as individuals get on and use it. They write inspiring messages too of how this is helping them in their journey, it’s what keeps me going. Of course, I love seeing my friends and family on the app too! My all time favorite story is seeing Kathy, a benefactor from the Range of Motion Project (ROMP) use Atlas. After losing her leg, she was able to get a prosthetic thanks to ROMP and became an inspiring runner.”
Thomas: “Seeing friends use the app is an awesome feeling. Seeing beneficiaries of the different non-profits we work with post sweaty selfies is unbelievable. I never thought it would be so natural to see such positive vibes on the app.”
What’s one piece of advice you would give to anyone wanting to launch a business?
Thomas: “Test your product in the cheapest way before actually building it.”
Magali: “It takes a village. Have people around you that you can count on in times of doubt, to nudge you back in the right direction.”
Olivier: “I don’t know if we already are in the position to give advice but so far I’d say just do it. It’s important to have a rational relationship with your personal “alarm bells” but don’t let risk and fear be the main guiding force in life.”
What are the top three things we can get excited about Atlas in 2018?
Magali: “We have so many ideas but my top three favorite things coming: Individual donations, UK Launch, more stories of our beneficiaries through videos & blog posts.”
Olivier: “More great stories how Atlas helps impactful local nonprofits to raise money, awareness and engagement around social issues!”
Thomas: “Personal donations / Atlas Merchandise / API integrations”
What do you want to see in 2018 for Atlas?
We wish you all the best in this new beautiful year!
Magali, Olivier & Thomas.
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