Diego Gladig’s Journey From Student to Entrepreneur
Find out how Diego's master's in FinTech from Harbour.Space enabled him to launch his app Gossik, a productivity assistant for young and ambitious people.
A couple of years ago, just before graduating from his FinTech masters at Harbour.Space, Diego joined his now business partner Benno Staub and created a Swiss tech startup in the field of AI. Together they developed a digital productivity assistant called Gossik. Today, after closing their pre-seed round and securing around 300,000 francs, they are fully investing that money into product development and working on officially launching Gossik at the end of the year in both Android and App stores.
We talked to Diego so he could share his entrepreneur journey and how Harbour.Space helped him make Gossik a reality.
“Harbour.Space, an unconventional university with a unique style of Teaching.”
Q: Diego, tell us a little bit about your experience at Harbour.Space.
A: It really helped me grow as a person, as well as start my own business (and live off it!), and meet friends from all over the world. Plus, it was so easy to become familiar with so many different subjects that were new to me when I first arrived. I learned how to code python and C++, took design classes, programmed my own blockchain, and learned things about encryption. It was amazing!
Harbour.Space is a very unconventional university with a unique style of teaching which was the perfect set-up for me when I started. I would recommend studying a master's at Harbour.Space so you can explore all the various programmes that it has to offer.
Q: You studied Fin-tech at Harbour.Space; how much of what you learned here have you put into practice for Gossik and how did it help you during your developing and launching journey?
A: A lot actually! It wasn't what I learned in FinTech specifically, but more of what I learnt through my entire experience there. First of all, it was because of Harbour.Space that I eventually decided to follow my dream and start my own company. I probably wouldn't have done it otherwise.
Secondly, the overall focus on entrepreneurship in the classes helped a lot with becoming familiar with the startup world and taught me concepts about it from all different angles (financing, marketing, design, etc.).
Last, but certainly not least, I had a big self-development process during my year at HS in that I grew a lot personally. Both faculty and classmates helped me on a daily basis to stay focused, healthy, happy and taught me how to move our business forward.
“My mission in life is to help others achieve things they would have never believed they could accomplish, and Gossik is exactly doing that.”
Q: How did you and your business partner come up with Gossik?
A: It was actually Benno’s idea. I’ve been good friends with him since primary school, and he has always been really keen on being productive and making the most out of his day. He always tried to learn from people that had ‘made it’, but unfortunately, there was no specific advice or roadmap to follow.
After reading his favourite book Getting Things Done by David Allen, Benno realized that writing to-do lists are basically the same thing as writing down a step by step guide for achieving a goal.
With that in mind, he studied his masters in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, and he figured that an AI that would learn from how every person had achieved their goals and then make that knowledge accessible would be great. This was the starting point and also the reason behind the name Gossik ("Goal seeking" + "Gossip"), an app that would help you achieve your goals and talk about them so that others can profit from them too.
In the summer of 2019, while I was studying at HS, Benno came to visit me in Barcelona and he pitched me Gossik. I loved the idea because my mission in life is to help others achieve things they would never have believed they could accomplish, and Gossik is exactly doing that - it was a great match.
Our mission is to not only help the individual stay on top of all their tasks and make progress towards achieving their goals, but also learn how these certain goals are accomplished and then make this knowledge automatically accessible to everyone, yet still tailored to the individual's schedule.
Gossik, The Productivity Assistant for the Young & Ambitious
Q: How long did it take you from coming up with the idea for Gossik until almost launching it in App stores at the end of 2021?
A: We started right after finishing our master’s degrees in October 2019. Benno cancelled his PhD and I didn't look for a job. We moved back to our parents' house to keep the costs low and started working full-time on Gossik. Overall, it has been two years now.
Q: What have been your biggest challenges?
A: There has been a few. One of them was getting investors’ money. At first, we were terrible at selling Gossik to investors. We tried many stories and pitched a lot, but it has been a very long journey (a journey that ended up with a pre-seed round of 300,000 francs).
Another very big challenge was to find the optimal target group and value proposition to start with. It felt like we had a solution but not the problem. With Gossik you could help a totally disorganized person to get some structure, a productivity freak to go to the next level, or you could even replace a secretary for a CEO. And depending on what problem we solved and the person we targeted, the app would look completely different, it would have different features, and a different style of communication.
Therefore, getting to really pinpoint which group of people you are targeting and what the value Gossik should be to them was a very long journey. We have made many steps forward in this regard, it is clearer what to implement in the app and we are now pushing hard for the deadline to launch the app at the end of the year.
Q: You said one of your biggest challenges was getting investors’ money. How did you do it?
A: We basically had the same approach as for the product: iterations, iterations, iterations. We just wanted to try out a story, get feedback from the investor, see what questions they had and then use this information to make a better pitch the next time.
The good thing is that people were always happy to help us and we got to know some great individuals. After a while, we had one really important pitch in front of a couple of business angels and we must have done a good job because now we have three business angels from that circle of investors. After getting some investors, we were able to go back to the first people we pitched Gossik at the beginning and two of them invested with us this time around.
Benno Staub & Diego Gladig - AI Conference in St Gallen, Switzerland
“With Gossik, we have developed an active and learning assistant… it learns your working style, habits, schedule, and preferences… it reminds you of the right things at the right time, helps you to get productive immediately and shows you roadmaps to goals that it has learned from others.”
Q: What makes your productivity assistant different from others in the digital market?
A: Other tools are passive in the way that you have to input everything yourself, manage your own day, keep your deadlines on the radar, constantly update priorities, not forget anything and continuously adjust your schedule. This is a lot of work and requires a lot of self-discipline to keep up with over a long period of time.
With today's technology, there should be a solution for this. With Gossik, we have developed an active and learning assistant. This means that the app learns your personal working style, habits, schedule, and preferences and then guides you through the week. It helps you with planning your day, gives you suggestions on how to do some things better, gives you an overview of what needs your attention next, reminds you of the right things at the right time, helps you to get immediately productive and shows you roadmaps to goals that it has learned from others.
Essentially, Gossik should be your extended brain that organizes and helps you to keep everything in control, so that you can focus on getting things done with more energy and creativity, and less stress and a cluttered mind.
Q: What are your expectations after the launch at the end of the year?
A: Our main goal is that users fall in love with Gossik after downloading the app. They should feel in total control of all the various things that go on in their lives which will hopefully release them from feeling stressed and pressured. If we achieve that, I will be really happy. If not, we have to focus on getting there.
“One of the things I am really proud of is that two years ago we started with nothing but an idea and a laptop. And today, I can actually live off it.”
Q: So far, what are you most proud of?
A: One of the things I am really proud of is that two years ago we started with nothing but an idea and a laptop. And today, I can actually live off it. I think that's beautiful. I am also very proud that even though Benno and I have been great friends before starting Gossik, we are still great friends two years later. I am very proud that both of us managed to work together so well. It’s special.
“Just try it out and don't spend money in the beginning; you can validate a lot of hypotheses with no money and even while working at a full-time job.”
Q: What would be your advice for young ambitious people that are beginning their own start-up journey?
- Choose a co-founder with whom you can spend every day from morning till late night.
- Just try it out and don't spend money in the beginning; you can validate a lot of hypotheses with no money, even while working at a full-time job. Just go out, talk to people or sketch some screens on a piece of paper and find out if your idea would actually help anyone.
- Talk to a lot of people and spend a lot of time finding out the very specific problem. This helps enormously when you then design the solution for it.
Q: What’s your next project?
A: Right now, I am fully committed to Gossik, so there’s no plan B.
So, if you want to be more productive, wait for Gossik to be launched at the end of the year. Meanwhile, follow Gossik on LinkedIn and Instagram and check out their website in case you want to try the beta prototype.
If Diego’s story inspired you to follow your dreams and start your own business, check out our High-tech Entrepreneurship, FinTech, Interaction Design or Computer Science programmes or just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or our social media accounts.
Remember that, as Diego said, “Habour.Space is an unconventional university with a unique style of teaching”, so come join us and experience it yourself!