04 - Creating Touch for Touchless Technology
Tom Carter — Founder & CTO — Ultrahaptics
Ultrahaptics is a leading technology company making mind-blowing technology that lets users touch virtual objects in mid-air. The future is coming and they are at the pinnacle of it!
Tom invented the technology behind Ultrahaptics alongside his professor in a research lab at the University of Bristol. They have since grown the idea into one of the UK’s most innovative businesses raising multiple rounds of funding with a rapidly growing team. You don’t go through events like this without learning a lot of lessons.
On the podcast, he shares some amazing insights into what he has learned along the way. It’s an incredible story direct from the front line and I’m sure something all listeners will want to follow updates as their tech gets into the hands of consumers over the coming years.
You can listen to the podcast here:
Tom’s Top Tips:
I love the way he thinks about making a nice culture without trying to take over people’s lives to try and squeeze more work out of them. Just getting more hours out of people doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get more work
- Allow people more freedom from work, so work 9–5 and they can go home. They can enjoy the money they earn and live their own social lives.
- Make sure that meal times are utilised as a good way for the team to bond and get some down time, consider this in the layout of your office
2. Focus on your strengths:
I’ve got a lot of respect for the way he freely accepted taking on an incoming CEO so early on in the business, giving the company the management experience it needed to scale rapidly and allowing Tom to focus on driving innovation .
Know your own strengths and limitations and just step back
Be willing to get better people to do things you can’t do as well, this can help you achieve far more in the long run and you might learn a thing or two from them in the process.
He has a lot of insight from so conducting so many interview conversations in a rapidly scaling company that has experienced barely any turn over of staff.
Approach interviews as more open conversations with people rather than a structured process. Aim to just get a good feel for what they would be like and what they could be doing for you. They might even have a role in your company that you weren’t specifically interviewing for. Make a point to ask questions like:
What are they proud of doing?
What do they enjoy doing?
What are they best at doing?
When hiring for a top position, screen candidates until you get four people that can do the job and get them all in on the same day. Afterwards, If you can all agree that one can do the definitely do the job don’t waste time overthinking it and just hire them.
Bonus — Just do it
Keep trying. success isn’t easy but if you have faith in the end goal even if it is a long way off it is worth the effort.
Get out and try stuff whilst you’re still young! Don’t wait for life to happen to you because it comes around fast.
Tom’s favourite books
The Hard Thing About Hard Things — Ben Horowitz
the tale of starting and growing a business to a billion dollars and losing it all and getting back and then nearly losing it and then starting another billion dollar business. Basically, there is no recipe for success and it is defined by what you do when things are going wrong. Such a good read.
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity — David Allen
Just a standardly very useful book about just being an efficient human being and making the most of your time. Find top tips on maximising your time to achieve your goals that you can start implementing from day 1. It might not be the most exciting book but if you’re struggling to keep up with your task list or want to become better at achieving your goals then this should probably be at the top of your list before moving onto anything else.
Ready Player 1 - Ernest Cline
Since recording the podcast I have now read this book and it is amazing. I listened on audible and literally read the whole thing in 2.5 days whilst travelling in Kazakhstan. I couldn’t stop listening. Such an engaging read. Like Tom says it’s a really interesting perspective view on the future that gives a scary insight into some of the possibilities facing us. It also appeals to the geek in you and has a lot of 70’s and 80’s references so I sort of put it as the Matrix meets Guardians of the Galaxy maybe but based in a more possible reality.
Talk to Us
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Tom and Ultrahaptics:
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