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Image by Dave Breckon, Creative Lead at Capdesk

An interview with Capdesk CEO, Christian Gabriel

Startup CEOs are like warriors. They’re trying to change the world! Heading into battle with few resources and big ambitions.

Most startups strive to become that mythical, magical animal — the creature that represents the statistical rarity of such successful ventures — the unicorn.

As you read this, there are more than 900 unicorn startups globally and as tempting as it is to say we’re on a unicorn ride, right now Capdesk isn’t a unicorn. We’re agile and strive for robust, sustainable growth. With that in mind, we’ve decided to represent ourselves with another majestic creature. Capdesk is a camel.

If you’re not wondering why Capdesk chose a famously hideous desert mammal rather than a fairytale-like unicorn then you probably don’t know too much about camels. Camels, my future colleague, are built to last. They can withstand extreme changes and adapt to conditions that would kill other animals.

At Capdesk, we embrace the resilience and adaptability that comes with slow growth and on the surface that may not seem too exciting, but we’re on the ride of our lives.

“Our special power: The first of a thousand liquidity camels. At Capdesk, we don’t just manage your equity. We build a digital ecosystem that allows for the safe, secure and fair transaction of equity.”

Christian Gabriel, CEO & Co-Founder of Capdesk

Capdesk has a very down-to-earth origin story. Upon first meeting Co-Founder and CEO Christian Gabriel, he drilled down into the small details of how his vision became a reality, the wins and challenges and the feelings he had throughout his journey; Christian gave an introduction to Capdesk that that would make anyone feel like they’ve been employed by the most human, ambitious and vigorous startup.

Sitting down with Christian he shared an insider view of the company culture, what success means to Capdesk and a sneak preview into what the future could look like.

Can you define Capdesk’s culture?

The culture at Capdesk is a united front. The camel approach shines through in everything we do: stay strong, resilient and don’t panic. Once you’ve mastered the way of the camel, you’ll find humour, you’ll find less egos and more productivity. We’re all very approachable and quirky.

How do you develop talent at Capdesk?

We think big and small. We have an overarching strategic vision but we operate in quarters, with clear tangible OKRs. You may see development after a year in some companies, while at Capdesk you’ll start seeing results within a quarter.

What does team collaboration look like to you at Capdesk?

We are team-first. We try to have rituals, communication and a documentation style that means you can communicate with anyone no matter where they are in the world. We have a very approachable and flat hierarchy at Capdesk.

What is current growth like?

We double every year and we’ve done that for a long time. We always tell ourselves that as long as we double everything that we’re doing at a minimum, then we’ll be alright. Double the amount of employees we have, double the amount of customers, double the amount of code we shift. That’s what we’re doing now.

What’s the biggest risk to Capdesk?

Other tech companies don’t want to give equity to their employees, but that’s the trend we’re riding on. Are we too early? Are we too late? Who knows? We’re capitalising on the fact that private companies are staying private for longer and now want to share their equity or wealth with their employees.

What are future funding plans?

If we meet the right investors, we’re happy to work on accelerating the growth even further and preparing a series B. If not, we will figure out another way forward.

How do you envision an exit strategy for Capdesk?

Yes, we do. We’re building a product to facilitate secondaries. So my hope for Capdesk is that we can continue to stay private and not sell publicly, but through transactions on our platform. You’d be able to take your options and sell the part of Capdesk you own to a potential new investor. In some ways, it solves more problems than one. Early investors or even early-stage employees can cash out and move onto the next big thing while new investors or hires can take that share in the business.

What’s the hardest decision you’ve had to make so far?

The hardest was moving to London from Denmark to expand the business. Another would be saying no to great opportunities like exit events. It’s a little bit like playing Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, when do I want to cash out? At which level? We keep going for now!

What’s the biggest surprise so far in your journey at Capdesk?

How much tech companies are about the people: people dealing with people, dealing with more people, who have opinions and feelings. You don’t lie awake at night obsessing about that tech bug, you think about the people who have to deal with and resolve it. It’s tough making decisions that could affect so many people.

What does success mean to Capdesk?

Whenever tangible wealth is being shared in another form other than cash from a company to an employee, that’s a win for Capdesk. Not just for our business but also for society. The Capdesk mission is to help democratise wealth and get more cash out to the right people, to accelerate the startup environment in Europe.

What are you most passionate about at Capdesk?

There are so many different things to do and build. Once you start thinking in equity and finance terms, you realise there are so many things to change within the industry. Getting over that initial hurdle, it’s so cool and I am so proud and so passionate about being one of the leading platforms in the world to give employees equity.

If you want to join Christian and the Capdeskers on this revolutionary ride, head over to our careers page to see our current open roles.

To hear more Christian talk: head on over to this Spotify podcast playlist — you won’t be disappointed.



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