Guest: Dustin Figge, CEO of Homelike GmbH

Dustin Figge is CEO of Homelike GmbH. Dustin talks with Chris Pyak about English jobs at Homelike GmbH, why he doesn’t read CV’s – and what expats should do instead to get a job at Homelike GmbH.

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Transcript of the podcast with Dustin Figge, CEO of Homelike GmbH

Chris Pyak: I’m glad that you’ve joined me here tonight. We will spend half an hour with one guest that I’m very fond of, because when I’d just started out with this podcast he was one of my first guests. He took a risk on our little show when no one else had done it before, Dustin Figge, welcome back to the show.

Dustin Figge: Thanks Chris.

Chris Pyak: Dustin, you are the CEO and managing director of Homelike. Tell us a little bit about what does your company do? What is your mission.

Dustin Figge: Homelike is an online marketplace for furnished apartments, so we have a digital platform which allows business travelers to book furnished apartments for a longer period of time. So our minimum renting times are one month, and when we actually did this podcast, this Immigrant Spirit like a year ago, I guess? We were a way smaller company, so now we employ about fifty five people. We do have forty thousand apartments in four countries and one hundred cities, roughly.

Chris Pyak: Yeah, I remember this was not an easy ride for you. You weathered quite some storms to get to this point. What do you think in terms of the company was the biggest benefit that you gained from this learning progress?

Dustin Figge: I mean building a company from scratch is always a very tough venture and very rough seas. I think the learnings we made are countless. I mean when we talked a year ago I think we were like fifteen or twenty people, so we’ve doubled in terms of team size. And actually one big learning we took is that when you grow as a company, you need to build very strong communication flows, especially in terms of sharing the vision of the company, where you are heading in the next quarter and the next year.

We are such an agile and dynamic company and things are changing so fast, right? So you decide basically on a monthly basis okay, we want to expand into the UK now, and the decision to expand the business to the UK is a very easy one, but when you think about how this affects the structure of the company, it really comes to managing all different people, what is the impact on different departments, and do people actually need to be re-organized within our organization, what does it mean for the people who are in the departments or on the force. So taking all the people when you’re growing as a company along the way where we want to head as a company was a huge learning for us, and I think it’s very fair to say that in the beginning we struggled a little bit with that.

It’s great and awesome to add employees to your company, but the problem is even when you’re a larger company, you need to take more care of the people who are joining because you have more processes in place, right? And this is what we learned, and we added eight months ago our head of HR joined our company, and she’s thirteen years in the business, really experienced, knows a lot about HR stuff, and that’s really helped us to scale our organization. So I think that this was one of the biggest learnings we made in the last year especially.

Chris Pyak: You know I’m listening to you right now here, and what goes through my head is “I love this guy”, because I ask you a real question and I get a real answer from you. Not some kind of promotional bullshit like so many others but you really give a real answer to our question. Do you think that it’s typical for how you communicate in the company?

Dustin Figge: I mean I’m very glad that you like honest answers, because in the startup environment there’s also a lot of bullshit talk. So especially when you’re fundraising it’s all about storytelling. People say “yeah, my company’s so great, the largest and the best”, I mean we are from Cologne, from North Rhine-Westphalia, I think we are really down to earth. I think when it comes to internal communication through our organization, I’m a very direct speaking person.

But this is not always the best way to communicate stuff, right? So I needed to learn that always direct communication is not always good, but from the bottom of my heart I’m a really direct guy, and I also want to have honest feedback from my employees, because I only think that once people really communicate on a very direct basis, you get the learning curves you need as a dynamic company as Homelike.

Chris Pyak: Absolutely, I completely agree. And speaking of a learning curve, you mentioned already that one of your goals now is to expand to the United Kingdom, can you tell us a little about what will be the next big step for you that you are trying to achieve?

Dustin Figge: I mean I would say that’s not one single big step we want to take. I mean we have been in the UK or especially in London for about a year now, right? But it’s not been such a big focus for our company so it’s just happened as it sometimes happens within a startup, you just realize okay, there’s some opportunity in this market that customers are already looking for apartments in London, why not taking on this opportunity and expanding to that market as well.