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From Frustration to Innovation: How Tomek Plata is Transforming Digital Signatures?

Tomasz Plata, VP and co-founder of Autenti, joined us for a conversation about the challenges and triumphs of creating an innovative digital signature platform. A quality that many founders fail to consider is the level of maturity necessary to develop an organization from the ground up. Tomek offered his thoughts on the matter. In the face of obstacles in developing a solution that is both legally recognized and commercially accepted in a young business, his extensive knowledge, high levels of competence, and refined cultural approach have proven key.

Tomasz Plata


VP & Co-Founder

Tomek Plata is a visionary leader and co-founder of Autenti, bringing a unique blend of marketing expertise and strategic insight to the digital signature platform. With a background in corporate roles and a keen understanding of market needs, Tomek has been instrumental in driving Autenti’s growth and innovation.

Could you share the story behind the inception of Autenti? What was the ‘eureka’ moment that led to its founding?

The inception of Autenti was born out of frustration with handling physical documents in our past, corporate roles. In 2013, my colleague, Grzegorz Wójcik, called me shortly after I decided to leave TVN. He had an idea that had been percolating for some time about creating a digital signature platform. We quickly assembled a team of four co-founders, each bringing complementary skills. Grzegorz was focused on the idea and organization, Łukasz was in charge of technology, I handled marketing and sales, and our fourth partner, Bartosz was a lawyer, crucial for navigating the legal landscape. Our journey officially began in 2013, although we registered the company in 2012 under a different name. Our collective experiences in large projects at companies like Allegro, RMF FM, Onet and TVN, and the daily frustrations with traditional document handling, motivated us to create a solution that was both innovative and necessary for the market.

What have been the biggest challenges you faced while innovating in the digital signature space, and how did you overcome them?

One of the major challenges was operating ahead of existing regulations. When we launched our platform in 2014, there was no clear legal framework in Poland for electronic signatures, which made convincing clients of the security and validity of our solution difficult. We had to educate the market and prove that digital signatures were secure and efficient. Winning the international startup competition in 2017 and securing our first investors were pivotal moments that helped validate our efforts and scale our operations. Additionally, the introduction of European regulations in 2016, which formally recognized electronic signatures, was a significant milestone that provided the legal backing we needed.

As a leader, how do you foster a culture of innovation and creativity within your team?

Fostering a culture of innovation at Autenti starts with recruiting individuals who believe in our mission. Employees understand that they are part of a significant change in how businesses handle documentation, which is inherently motivating. We encourage open communication and the sharing of ideas, providing a platform for employees to contribute and innovate. As leaders, our role is to provide the resources and support necessary for our team to explore and develop new ideas, without hindering their creative processes. We also emphasize the importance of not just hiring talented individuals but creating an environment and teams where their ideas can flourish.

How has the SaaS model evolved since you started Autenti, and what key trends do you foresee in the near future?

When we started Autenti, there was an expectation that our solution would be on-premises, but we believed in the cloud-based model for its scalability and security. Partnering with Microsoft, we ensured that our platform met the highest data security and compliance standards. The SaaS model has evolved significantly, with a growing acceptance of cloud solutions. Looking ahead, I see subscription models becoming even more prevalent, not just for software but for various services. Additionally, there is a trend towards valuing authenticity and human-centric approaches, even in tech-driven fields. Consumers, especially younger generations, value genuine and transparent interactions with brands.

How does Autenti maintain a customer-centric approach, especially when developing new features or services?

Maintaining a customer-centric approach is fundamental to our strategy. We continuously gather feedback through surveys and direct interactions to ensure our services meet customer needs. Before launching new features, we involve customers in testing, allowing us to refine and tailor our solutions based on real user input. This feedback loop ensures that our developments are always aligned with what our users truly need, enhancing both satisfaction and adoption rates. Additionally, we maintain multiple communication channels, including a telephone hotline, which is somewhat old-fashioned but crucial for providing a personal touch and immediate support.

What strategies have been most effective for scaling Autenti from a startup to its current stage?

Our scaling strategy has been methodical and customer-focused. Initially, securing key clients in various industries and using their success stories as case studies helped build trust and attract more customers. First in Poland, then in other European countries. Content marketing has been another pillar, positioning ourselves as thought leaders and advisors rather than just sellers. We produce high-quality content that educates our audience and demonstrates practical applications of our solutions. Sharing customer success stories and leveraging social proof have helped build trust and credibility. Additionally, maintaining strong relationships with our investors and aligning our growth plans with their expectations have been essential.

What are some of the most common misconceptions about entrepreneurship, based on your experience?

A common misconception is that success in entrepreneurship is quick and easy. Many people believe startups can achieve overnight success, but the reality involves years of hard work, persistence, and overcoming numerous challenges. Another misconception is that entrepreneurship is only about having a great idea. In reality, execution, team-building, and market validation are equally important. Entrepreneurs must be prepared for a long journey and be resilient in the face of obstacles. Additionally, there is a belief that without connections and acquaintances, one cannot succeed, which is not true. While networking is important, determination and strategic thinking are crucial.

How has digital marketing influenced the growth of Autenti, and what role does content play in your strategy?

Digital marketing has been crucial for Autenti’s growth. It allows us to reach a broad audience and communicate the benefits of our platform effectively. Content marketing, in particular, has played a significant role. We produce high-quality content that educates our audience and positions us as thought leaders in digital signatures. This includes blog posts, case studies, webinars and video content that highlight customer success stories and the practical applications of our solutions. High-quality content helps build trust and drives customer acquisition. Additionally, video content has become increasingly important, and we’ve invested in creating our own video studio to enhance our communication efforts.

Can you share your approach to coaching and mentoring within your company? How important is this for a growing startup?

Coaching and mentoring should be integral parts of every’s company culture. I believe in the importance of sharing experiences and supporting the personal and professional growth of our team members. Within Autenti, we create opportunities for mentoring by encouraging senior staff to guide newer employees. This helps foster a learning environment and ensures knowledge transfer. Externally, I engage in mentoring and coaching for aspiring entrepreneurs (sometimes even pro bono), contributing to the broader startup ecosystem. Internally, I aim to increase my involvement in mentoring within the company, recognizing its value in nurturing talent and driving innovation. Although I have done some internal mentoring, I plan to formalize and expand these efforts.

In your opinion, what makes a leader ‘innovative’, and how do you embody this in your daily work?

An innovative leader creates an environment that encourages new ideas and experimentation. This involves providing resources, support, and the freedom to explore. I strive to be approachable and open to new ideas, ensuring that my team feels empowered to innovate. I also emphasize continuous learning and staying informed about industry trends to inspire and guide our innovation efforts. Being innovative means constantly pushing the boundaries and being willing to take calculated risks. Additionally, I believe that innovation happens at the edge of comfort zones, so I encourage my team to step out of their comfort zones and embrace challenges.

How does Autenti stay adaptable and responsive to the rapidly changing tech landscape?

Staying adaptable requires a commitment to continuous improvement and agility. We closely monitor industry trends and customer feedback to stay ahead of changes. Our development processes are designed to be flexible, allowing us to pivot quickly when needed. We also invest in research and development to explore new technologies and ensure our platform remains cutting-edge. Regular internal training and knowledge-sharing sessions help keep our team updated and responsive to new challenges and opportunities. We’ve implemented practices like dedicating a day each month to learning, where employees can explore new topics and share knowledge with their peers.

What tools or practices do you find most effective for fostering collaboration in a tech-focused team?

Effective collaboration in a tech-focused team relies on robust communication tools and practices. We use various project management and communication platforms to ensure everyone is aligned and informed. Regular meetings and check-ins help maintain transparency and address any issues promptly. We also emphasize the importance of clear goals and expectations, using metrics to track progress and ensure accountability. Creating a supportive environment where team members can freely share ideas and feedback is also crucial. Additionally, we focus on building a strong culture of communication and collaboration, even in a remote work environment.

How do you balance long-term vision with the immediate demands of running a SaaS company?

Balancing long-term vision with immediate demands involves strategic planning and prioritization. While we set long-term goals and objectives, we break them down into manageable, short-term tasks. This allows us to make consistent progress while remaining flexible to address immediate needs.

We also use a data-driven approach to measure our performance and adjust our strategies as needed. This iterative process helps us stay focused on our vision without losing sight of daily operational requirements. We believe in setting realistic short-term goals that align with our long-term vision, ensuring that we can adapt to changing circumstances without losing our strategic direction.

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for Autenti, and what impact do you hope to achieve in the digital signature industry?

Our aspiration for Autenti is to become a leading provider of digital signature solutions globally, at least in Europe. We aim to expand our presence in international markets and continue innovating to meet the evolving needs of our customers. We hope to significantly reduce the reliance on paper-based processes, contributing to greater efficiency and sustainability.

By making digital signatures accessible and user-friendly, we aim to transform how businesses operate and interact with their stakeholders. Our goal is to be synonymous with digital signatures, setting the standard for security and convenience in the industry.

Any advice for startup founders? What are the dos and don’ts?

For startup founders, my advice is to focus on validating your idea through market research and customer feedback before fully committing. Build a diverse and competent team to complement your skills. Be prepared for a long journey and stay resilient in the face of setbacks. Avoid the trap of trying to scale too quickly without a solid foundation.

Lastly, maintain a customer-centric approach and continuously iterate based on feedback. Don’t underestimate the importance of strong relationships with investors, partners, and your team. Also, remember that success takes time and requires persistent effort, so be prepared for a long and challenging journey.

Efi Heart

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