Kristian Kabashi Of Numarics: “Simplify to amplify”

I don’t even remember anymore where I read this but since then it always stuck in my head, it became a guideline for me starting always with the question, “if this would be easy, how would it look like?” I see it over and over, in the enterprise world or in startups, trying to swallow […]

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I don’t even remember anymore where I read this but since then it always stuck in my head, it became a guideline for me starting always with the question, “if this would be easy, how would it look like?” I see it over and over, in the enterprise world or in startups, trying to swallow the whole elephant instead of trying it piece by piece.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristian Kabashi.

Kristian Kabashi transforms business processes with a strong philosophy where people are exclusively creative thinkers and strategists. Repetitive work is performed through advanced technologies. As a co-founder at the Swiss fintech startup Numarics, he is instrumental in digitizing competent and reliable fiduciary services.

“How many people would have already achieved their dream of self-employment if they weren’t too worried about accounting and managing back office tasks?,” Kabashi asks. Numarics is designed to take that fear away. The one-stop-shop accounting app sends push notifications when a slip hasn’t been scanned. Algorithms detect whether it’s a receipt, document or invoice. Numarics handles communication with government agencies and sends invoices to customers. It becomes virtually impossible to lose track of everything.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I was always a fan of science fiction as a kid and awed at every Star Trek episode and the way how technology enriched the protagonists lives. 
The real aha moment came to me when I saw the announcement of the iPhone by Steve Jobs which was for me like seeing Star Trek in action.

I always used technology to enhance the lack of my capabilities so I was able to focus more on the things I was good at which in turn helped me to find my place in the work environment and in life.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

In the case of numarics what really stuck out to me was that the business accounting industry has not changed for more than 800 years, since the modern form of accounting was introduced in old Venice Italy, the only thing that changed was the switch from an Abacus to a Computer, but the mechanism behind it still the same.

The disruptive idea behind numarics is to not just look at one piece of the puzzle but seeing the greater picture. Accounting is only a small piece of business operations and it needs to be fed by several other entities in the organization. We looked into the end to end business process and mapped it fully out, then we reverse engineered the complete customer journey and started to automate it piece by piece.

With numarics, the company owner or entrepreneur becomes an observer of his company getting back wasted time to grow the business while basically having a digital CFO available 24/7 who shares the most important insights with the user.

Accounting was also always a look into the past, with our developed algorithms we are now able to look into the future and simulate outcomes based on the data provided by our user, think of minority report for SMEs.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

We are always asked the question, why did no one come up with the same idea before and I always tell them that there had to be many many circumstances and luck involved for the people at numarics to meet. I am by nature a creative person while my partners are mostly analytics-driven, while I was agile, they were totally waterfall.

I remember a call in the beginning where it seemed I drove them crazy with agility. My business partners are Swiss certified auditors and analysts, and in this call they were saying my way of working was not efficient. I admit that my ways may not seem efficient, but when I asked them in return, wouldn’t you say that what we achieved in this short amount of time is basically nothing but a wonder? They nodded and my answer to that was, you see, I might not be efficient (waterfall) but I am effective (agile).

It was a turning point in the way we acted together and it supercharged our team going on forward.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

A big impact had a CEO on me that hired me around 10 years ago, he is a very prominent person in Switzerland and also renowned as the leading advertising personality. I was reading about him many times in the newspapers and basically became a fan.

So one day I just took my CV, went to their headquarters, went to the receptionist and said “I have a meeting with ***” (of course I did not) The receptionist called the CEO who in little under 2 min came to the front desk, looked at me and asks “Who are you?” I replied, “my name is Kristian Kabashi and I would like to work for you.” He took a long look at me and ripped the CV out of my hand and asked, “what can you do?” I replied “I am good with digital” and he said to follow him. Goes to the second floor to the Digital Managing Director and says “find a job for this guy, he says he is good in digital”. Two weeks later I started there.

Almost 5 years later when he visited me in New York where I was working back then I asked him at dinner why he had hired me. He replied “Look, Kristian, either you would have been the biggest idiot to pull this off or you would be brilliant and create value for the company, it is basically a low risk for me cause if you would have been that idiot we would have seen after 2 days and let you go. I hire for attitude and mindset.”

I kept this lesson since then to me and this is also how I hire people.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

I would start by taking a look several billion years back when we were still simple one cell organisms, without disruption, there wouldn’t have been dinosaurs and without the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs there wouldn’t be humans. So disruption per se is neither good or bad, it just happens and it is unstoppable.

I personally think disruption is always, even if in the short term a group of people suffer at the end there is always a net positive for the greater group. Every big startup that we know so far like google, facebook, Uber and many many others are associated with negative disruption but like Steve Jobs used to say in his famous Stanford speech “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.“

So bottom line, disruption, transformation and evolution are for me basically the same thing.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

  • “This country is not ready for you”

A decade ago it was not easy living and working in Switzerland, I just moved to Switzerland and started creating a career in the marketing agency space. One day I was invited to give a speech about the future of marketing in front of around 100 people in the marketing business. What happened there changed my course. I was talking about the rapid switch from desktop to mobile and that it would take less than a year until mobile would surpass the usage of desktop. The first small smirks started in the audience. I then talked about the decline in ad banner revenue because people will use ad blockers and install them into their browser. The first laughs in the audience were audible but when I then said, there is going to be a new form of journalism led by bloggers (today’s influencers) this is when people really started laughing.

I was really really frustrated after that evening, I actually have it also recorded so once in a while I re-watch it. I went the next day to the office, straight to my boss who was the CEO of the company and told him about what happened. He started laughing and said “This country is not ready for you, with your thought process, the only place I see you is New York”. Then and there I decided to leave Switzerland, moved to New York and the rest is history.

  • “In the moment you feel most comfortable, take a stone and put it in your shoe”.

My grandpa always used to quote this and I only started to understand it later in life. To become a disruptor or an innovator the worst thing that can happen to you is that you feel comfortable and secure. Human life did not evolve in comfort, it evolved through stress. In my opinion there is nothing worse than having enough funding or employees, it makes you lethargic and prone to errors, true innovation starts with a problem and scarce resources, this is when you need to come up with a disruption.

  • “Simplify to amplify”.

I don’t even remember anymore where I read this but since then it always stuck in my head, it became a guideline for me starting always with the question, “if this would be easy, how would it look like?” I see it over and over, in the enterprise world or in startups, trying to swallow the whole elephant instead of trying it piece by piece.

When thinking for example how to disrupt the more than 800 year old business area of accounting, of which I basically had no clue of besides what I remembered from university, I used the theory of first principles.

I dissected accounting to its most basic level which turned out to be the booking process, I then found out that even the most sophisticated booking always follows a standard pattern which never changes. After I was able to identify this first principle, we were able to extrapolate this hypothesis and extrapolate it to what is now numarics.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

While I am the co-founder of numarics, I am still working as the Global Executive Director of Business Transformation at Dentsu International . I believe that working in different fields of work broadens the ability to come up with unique solutions. I see the struggle first hand of a multinational enterprise with over 45 thousand employees while I am able to see the same struggle in building a startup and growing it.

Even though both seem to be very different, at its core they both face the same struggle, just in different scales and dimensions. I want to merge my knowledge from both areas and share the experience back from enterprise to startup and vice versa.

With numarics I want to create the global engine of the gig economy.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

I am currently in the process of finishing my first book which is called “ The Blank Collar Equation”.

The Blank Collar is the evolution from the blue collar, to the white collar to the blank collar worker. I believe that our state of advanced technologies is going to enable the second renaissance. I also have a blog where I write about technology and business transformation, if you are more into videos you can visit and subscribe to my youtube channel

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Hard times create hard men, hard men create soft times, soft times create soft men, soft men create hard times.

This quote basically helped me to understand that everything in life comes in waves and it is important to anticipate them and embrace them, because every state of the wave needs a different tool and skillset to adapt and each wave has its own opportunities.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

It would be to connect Blank Collars globally. There are so many people out there that just don’t know where they belong to at work, they are neither blue or white collar and many times they actually are a blank collar. I would love to lead this movement and teach the skill sets to enable these blank collars to augment their capabilities or the lack of.

How can our readers follow you online?

Find out more about numarics at or social handle /numarics.

On all social media platforms you can me under /theblankcollar handle or directly via LinkedIn Kristian Kabashi.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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