kevin. is a fast-growing mobile payments fin-tech from Lithuania, founded in 2018 by CEO Tadas Tamošiūnas, a serial entrepreneur with over ten years of experience in the banking sector, and COO Pavel Sokolovas, whose background is in business development and consulting.
kevin.’s product, which enables merchants to accept payments directly from bank accounts via an API for services like parking, deliveries, and insurance, is the first time PSD2 has been used to compete with card networks for this type of payment. Currently operating in the Baltics, Poland, the Netherlands and Portugal, the company closed a €1.5 million seed round at the end of 2020 to scale into 15 new European markets this year, bringing its total funding raised to €3.4 million.
Developing an alternative payments network to credit cards offers unique challenges but also a chance to work in a versatile environment with lots of freedom to organise your time. Agnė Meškaitė, Chief People Officer at kevin., offered us a glimpse into their working culture.
Some people might be unfamiliar with kevin., as you focus on B2B customers. Please tell us service does kevin. provide exactly? Who are your customers?
kevin. is a payments fintech that provides a secure and developer-friendly payments infrastructure accessible via an API. In layman’s terms, we enable businesses to accept payments directly from banks, cutting out the card networks and making the payments process cheaper, faster, smoother and more convenient.
We are a team of 42 (and growing) passionate people driven by our expertise, ambition, trust and a sense of ownership. Last year, kevin. was named the best fintech in the Baltics at the prestigious Mastercard Lighthouse program, and one of the most promising startups of 2021 by EU-Startups.com.
2020 was a challenging and transformative year for any business. What did you learn as a company during the year?
For us, it happened to be the first year of growth and scaling as we have hired nearly 40 employees since March 2020. Remarkably, nearly all hiring processes were conducted online. The first challenge we faced was onboarding and integrating our newcomers. We developed a detailed onboarding plan, which included people who were responsible for clarifying our business goals, setting values and mindset for our new employees.
At the end of last year, we also welcomed a Community Manager to kevin., who takes care of our internal and external employer branding and communication. This step was crucial because many of our colleagues had never met each other in person during their time in kevin., so the roles and team structure had become unclear. Remote work challenges all HR professionals to be creative and support line managers in engaging their teams and sharing a sense of purpose and value.
kevin. has a somewhat unique working culture with minimal rules concerning working time. Could you tell us about your approach?
Our founders have been very clear from the start that the company’s focus should be on the results, not on hours spent working. We believe that if you hire promising talented people, give them the freedom to think and operate, they deliver the best results on time and find smart ways to overcome the obstacles along the way.
The key to this new way of managing working time is a state called “flow”. We believe that tasks that require a high level of intelligence and creative thinking can only be achieved if the employees are rested, engaged and focused. This is why we do not track hours or have set-in-stone rules regarding working hours. Everyone is free to complete their tasks on their own schedule, as long as deadlines are respected.
Our company is home to creative and bold achievers who want to build a sustainable payments infrastructure. To do so, they need to feel trusted by the founders, but even more importantly, by their peers as well.
“The company’s focus should be on the results, not on hours spent working.”
What reasons led you to make the shift? Was there scientific research behind it?
This mindset mainly came from the previous experience of our C-level team. With support from the founders, we develop company culture based on trust, efficiency and result-orientedness.
The team is everything for our company, so we do our best to help our people do great and feel proud of their work. In an industry like ours, strict working hours do more damage than create value. Thus, we communicate clear expectations and give freedom for everyone to find their own work-life balance.
From the employee’s standpoint, more free time certainly sounds nice. However, there might be concerns: removing organizational norms requires excellent time-management skills from employees, people working at different hours might make the team-work more difficult, etc. How did employees react to the change?
I would not describe this approach as giving more free time to employees, but rather as a benefit of managing your day according to your flow and individual peak productivity hours.
We analyze and evaluate every new hire, position and additional team resources. Based on a robust forecast, we create a plan to efficiently accomplish our goals and meet business targets. We also set clear expectations for each employee and measure their key performance indicators regularly.
Since we are an IT company, scrum and sprints guide us through the process. For example, our meetings focus on solving issues instead of updating and chatting. This is why the enrollment process is critical and boosts different teams to cooperate and contribute to each other’s success. In short, we empower employees to use our work environment to get the most for their professional growth and satisfaction at work.
Although it might be too early for definitive results, could you tell us how the change has worked out so far? Are the employees indeed happier?
Last summer, we asked our employees what they appreciated the most about working at kevin. The answers obviously varied, but the most common notion was a flexible work schedule and the freedom to create and express their opinion. The sense of ownership and the colleagues’ trust boost our employees to execute the boldest ideas and therefore exceed the expectations set by our clients and investors.
More and more companies experiment with remote work, flexible work hours, unlimited vacation time, etc. What would you recommend to companies which are looking to replicate kevin.’s approach?
I would recommend carefully assessing the value of a free working schedule for the company. Everything we do for our people and business aims to increase efficiency, simplify processes, and improve employee engagement. Not all companies, and certainly not all teams can work under such flexible conditions. And there are always certain activities that should be scheduled in advance.
With a mindset toward the ownership of individual tasks should come a certain level of maturity from the team members. Finally, a free working schedule requires explicit internal rules and interpersonal cooperation setup. So, before initiating and implementing this approach, I would think of the purpose and probabilities to make things work better.
On a different subject: what channels/methods does kevin. use to find candidates to hire?
Our best friend is MeetFrank, by all means :). We also use LinkedIn, various local and international job portals and… headhunting.
As kevin. operates in the finance and payment processing industry, you are often competing with established international corporations for employees. What are your secrets for attracting talent from corporates?
The market is oversaturated with great employers and competitive job packages. To the best of my belief, there is no secret ingredient that would work every time.
The common mistake I notice is employers trying to mimic ideas from other successful employers, hoping to get the same results. At kevin., we are very consistent in revealing our unique selling points and thus do not try to fill someone’s shoes. This helps us select the best people that fit our culture and mindset. So it doesn’t necessarily have to be a battle between big old corporations and small restless startups for the same candidates. We know what we can offer our talents, and if it is a match, no unnecessary promises have to be made to attract smart people.
“There is no secret ingredient that would work every time.”
What kind of mindset are you looking for when recruiting new people to kevin.?
That’s a great question! I prefer the right mindset over skills and years of experience. In short, everyone, who prioritizes logical reasoning, possesses grit and excels in their area of expertise, has a great chance to thrive at kevin.
kevin.’s open positions:
- Senior Software Engineer (Vilnius/Remote)
- Mid Front End Developer (Vilnius/Remote)
- Growth/Digital Marketing Manager (Vilnius/Remote)
- Content Writer (Vilnius/Remote)
- Head of Legal Compliance (Vilnius/Remote)
- QA Engineer (Vilnius/Remote)
What advice would you give to people looking to get hired in a fast-growing tech company like kevin.?
I would recommend assessing your level of resilience for uncertainty and willingness to work in an agile environment. Also, if you seek to work in a tech company, it is crucial that you are genuinely interested in the product or service the company is developing.