My Productivity Secret: Think Like a Hacker

Lisa Revel

Guest Blogger Lisa Falzone is founder & CEO of Revel Systems, the “cash register for the 21st century” that offers a fully functional Point of Sale system through mobile technology. Lisa was recently featured as one of the 30 Under 30 Technology Pioneers in Forbes. You can follow her on Twitter at @LisaFalzone

When you are starting a new tech company, particularly one with the lofty goal of upending and overturning an entrenched industry like the Point of Sale market, the number of people telling you “This won’t work, or “There are too many hurdles,” is truly staggering. And, looking back now, a lot of what they said ended up being true, at least partially: there are often a lot of seemingly insurmountable hurdles, and sometimes what we did didn’t actually work. But, here’s the kicker: We’re still here aren’t we?

I’m sure this is the part where everyone expects me to say that Revel persevered by sheer determination and hard work, that we simply had the smartest team and the most elegant solutions to problems. While all of that is true (and it is!), the real secret to Revel’s productivity (and believe me, we have some crazy-productive months both behind and ahead of us) is that we’re a company of hackers. I’m not saying we steal bank accounts, or that Julian Assange is on our board or anything (travel visas didn’t really work out unfortunately), but we definitely tackle problems with a similar point of view and gusto. I guess the more correct phrase would be, “We think like hackers.” [pullshow]

When we started Revel, my co-founder and I knew exactly what we wanted to do. We wanted to overturn the decades old, slow moving industry of Point of Sale systems. We saw the end point, but it was hard to see how we would get there. “There’s no way to connect a card reader to an iPad.” We built one. “You can’t run an entire grocery store from an iPad!” We made it work. We try to look at issues and problems and find out how to break through all of the red tape of how the industry has heretofore been defined, and build our own means to that goal.

We have a lot of ways in which we set up the company to maintain this hackers’ mentality. [pullthis]We keep a very open office space, with everyone sharing common desks, ensuring the highest level of cooperation amongst teams. We promote creativity and sharing of ideas, no matter how ridiculous. Some of our biggest ideas have come from people whose job descriptions deal little to nothing with product at all![/pullthis] We set aggressive goals and objectives across teams with strict deadlines and incentives, motivating our team to figure out all the murky stuff and simply get the job done. We openly recognize what we can and cannot do, and work to improve the former and eliminate the latter through unconventional means. Even the fact that we order and eat food together, contributing to our strong sense of camaraderie and cohesiveness, could be seen as a hack on traditional business (outside of the startup world at least…). In short, we get sh*t done.

Much like a hacker might team up with another respected code monkey, often somewhere worlds away, thinking like a hacker often requires us to build and utilize strong relationships with companies we respect. LevelUp is an awesome company that gives all our clients the ability to accept mobile payments at 0% interchange. Zuppler is a fast growing company in the online ordering sector. Outside of product related things, we use stocking services to deliver all our snacks and drinks for our break room. TaskRabbit often fills a lot of the voids in between, from getting all of the bar necessities for Friday Happy Hour, to delivering gifts to partners and clients during the holidays. At Revel Systems, productivity, that hacker mentality, whatever you want to call it, means using what you have and what you know to accomplish what you never thought you could. And its been an awesome ride!

jamiev2014

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