Mentoring at Design Terminal – Interview with Zoltán Császár

Zoltán Császár -, whom we were pleased to ask for an interview – was our mentor in Design Terminal. After the first question, the word flows out of him and it seems that he is doing his job with heart and soul. The always busy product manager is also a good at mentoring, as he boldly says no. Let’s see how he spoke about us, the Design Terminal and his own experiences.

How did you get into Design Terminal mentoring program?

It was the consequence of coincidences. Basically, for 12 years I was in various positions at various large companies, but I worked as a product manager for the last 7 years. I was responsible for software projects and products. I have had enough of the corporate structure and its difficulties around mid-last year, and I thought I try the startup scene. This happened last fall. The startup scene led practically straight to DT. Firstly, I was with my own little startup at Design Terminal. Then it turned out, that they would need me and after a few conversations I was asked to pass on my knowledge to others. Why couldn’t I use my profession to help others?

This resulted in a closer cooperation between me and Design Terminal. I have discovered very exciting companies and very exciting products. I am a product manager from the bottom of my heart and every product is interesting. For me, these conversations are inspiring. I also learn from others and I hope I teach others.

mentoring at Design Terminal, Powercamp with Zoltán Császár

What does a good product look like?

The coexistence of two things is critical. One of them is the product itself. I strongly believe that the product needs to solve a real problem. There are plenty of useless products in the market anyway. If there is a real problem that comes up in the lives of people or companies and the product gives them a response, then that product alone will interest me. “There was no such thing, no such answer yet, let’s see!” – it is interesting in itself. This is one part: the product should give real value.

The other part is to have a skilled, willing team behind it. The two are very rarely present together. So you have a very good idea and problem recognition, but you lack the ability to implement it; or there are some very smart people who are in the technology. The joint presence of the two is what makes me very excited and this is what I am searching for. I’m looking for this at Design Terminal mentoring program as well. KingAER (aka Motivive) is basically such a product. With mild challenges, but basically the answer you give is important and the team has a lot of ability to succeed. Here, this coexistence is very much given. On which side you didn’t, I hope I could give you suitable answers.

What is the biggest challenge of our product in your eyes?

Sustainability and scalability. To make this product not only marketable, but also to generate stable and continuously returning customers. These are basic startup problems: sustainability, transparency, scalability and the size and composition of the product to estimate the cost of maintaining and adding new features.

So basically there is a need for real, serious productive phase. That’s why we chose each other because I just got what KingAER now needs.

What are your abilities that you rely on when mentoring?

I know what I’m doing and that’s a very important thing. What you can help in mentoring to recognize one’s own skills. I say it is very important to know what I’m not dealing with. It is a very valid answer in a lot of situations to say no. It is important to recognize that if we are not good at something, then do not do that, because things are just getting worse. This is also something that is a huge problem in many startups. It is so sympathetic in the Design Terminal mentoring program for me, because it can help me startup in this sense a lot. I meet many startups who can say very unexpected things and then I immediately say no, because you are not at that maturity level.

People are reading a lot about how to do business and try to apply these textbooks or blog articles right away without really knowing what they are doing.

Another thing to note is that the biggest asset of a startup is its human resources. I’m trying to help make resource management the most effective. The very few people at a startup should not work on things that are not critical, because we simply cannot waste working hours. I usually say 24 hours is 24 hours even if I plan 40. It is very important that where we put the existing resources and that can easily go in the wrong direction for a small company. It is a lot of energy and time.

I used to say that here I am, believe me I tried, it didn’t work. There are few proven methods, but there are many that we know are not good. If you look at the product and what it is, you will soon find out which methods can be used and what you shouldn’t do.

How much do you believe in the methodology of gamification?

Absolutely, very much. This is another reason that has attracted me to Motivive, because I would love to see gamification in many parts of life. Since I have 2 little children, I see a great need for gamification in education. There are other areas of life where it would be absolutly useful. I know this is just one element of gamification, but basically a human being is a gathering creature. Moreover, everyone wants to feel that they are moving forward. Both are basic psychological demands. You can get both in relatively few places, and if there are areas where we can easily give it, then why not.mentoring workshop with the team at Design Terminal

There are a lot of areas where gamification could make a breakthrough, it just has a bad first impression because the expression contains the word game. You’re going to a big company with a gamification tool and they say we don’t play, we work. There is a badly fixed picture of the methodology, which causes a complete misunderstanding. Good products are needed to break this barrier. They need very good products to break this mental barrier in people, especially decision makers, so that we don’t play, we work. Motivive has the ability to overcome these barriers as it is a good product.

What do you think about the rebranding of our product?  Does it contribute to overcome the mentioned barriers?

I think the new name (Motivive) is great, I like it, it is professional. A rebranding can often be self-serving. In most of the cases, I would say that you should care about something else, as you should focus your resources carefully. However, in the case of KingAER (Motivive), it is an absolutely good idea. There is a need for a more conscious product development anyway, which can be combined with a rebranding. As there is a rethinking about the whole product, the whole feature list and the product structure, it emerges a new way. So, the two – rebranding and product developement – complement each other.

If you’re interested in learning more about our product, Motivive, contact us here.

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