Name: Pieter Schelfhout Age: 34 Role: Co-founder & Head of Engineering Making Cake since: November 2018 Location: Maasmechelen, Belgium
Tell us about your workspace
Before we renovated our house, back in 2015, this used to be the garage. It had no windows and no heating. It was basically a completely dark and cold room. As most garages are, I guess. 😁
Both my wife and I do a lot of office work so we decided to completely renovate it and give it a light and refreshing appeal. Since it was a dream to one day be able to work from home we installed desks for both of us and made it into our home office, annex library, where we can both work and relax comfortably.
Here we work on our projects, read books, play video games, create illustrations, work on photography and make our travel plans. It’s easily the room where we spend most of our productive time.
In 2018 my dream to work from home became a reality. We founded Cake and almost immediately decided to adopt a 100% work from home policy. This dramatically changed the way I spend my time during the week. For the better. 😉
What does your working day look like?
In the past it was normal for me to commute for up to 3 hours every day, being bored to death in traffic jams. I never ate breakfast because there was just never enough time. Now I start most of my days quite relaxed after having a small breakfast at home.
I usually start my day around 8 am with a small preparation on how to spend my time. What meetings are planned? Are there any open issues that need investigating? Is there someone on the team that needs my help or that I need to talk to that day? …
At 9 am we officially kick-off the day with a so-called “stand-up” video meeting, including most of the engineering and product team. We briefly talk about everybody’s plans for the day. Right after that meeting I usually discuss any open issues or topics with our engineers should there be any. And afterwards I start working on my own tasks.
Most days are quite varied. My time is divided between working on new features, discussing the architecture with our engineers, consulting with legal and compliance (shout out to the coolest legal and compliance team 🙌 Yves and Olivier), working out deals with our suppliers and external stakeholders.
I also jump in regularly on our support channels to help out users who have questions or issues with the product. I believe it’s important to have direct contact with the Cake community in order to stay in touch with their concerns about our product.
I finish my day when I’m satisfied with the work I’ve done. This means that I don’t really have a fixed schedule but I do take care to make time for some physical exercise 4 days a week. And every evening we go out for a small walk of about 3 km in the national park right behind our doorstep. Since I do most of my work indoors, I find that these walks out in nature help me relax and keep me focused every day. This is quite a change from a few years back when by the end of the day I was usually completely exhausted and only able to drop myself on the couch after dinner.
What do you do at Cake?
I’m the Head of Engineering. That means I’m responsible for the technology behind the Cake app, together with the engineering team. We’ve created the framework – the architecture – of Cake. And we continue to develop it every day. You can read more about it in this interview: Tell us about building Cake.
In short it means I’m responsible for making sure that the application is reliable, secure, fast, scalable and so on. To achieve that I’m lucky enough to work with some of the most motivated people I’ve ever worked with in my career. We all share the same goal: to build an application users love and we can be proud of.
I’m also in close contact with the banks and their teams who provide us with their PSD2 interfaces. This is the connector that makes sure that the transactional information of your bank account is visible in Cake. Over the past year a lot of time has been spent on getting those interfaces working. Not only from a technical but also from a legal point of view. But when at the beginning of July, BNP Paribas Fortis could finally be linked to Cake, there was light at the end of the tunnel! Since then, customers of all major Belgian banks can use Cake carefree.
For me a big part of the fun when working in a start-up is to be closely involved with all parts of the business and work with all the different teams and people. By doing that I’ve also learned a great deal. Largely thanks to the awesome people who work at Cake.
Why Cake and not another company?
Back in 2018, when I first met Davy, I was already looking to start a new chapter in my career and thinking about starting a new business. We had a good talk about new start-up ideas and a little while later he convinced me to join him as he pitched his idea for Cake to me.
The timing was right and the click was just there. It was a solid business case, the people who already wanted to join were extremely talented. Besides that there was this amazing energy in the team that made me believe we were also going to have fun while shooting for the moon.
What’s your most memorable Cake moment?
Probably the very beginning of Cake. The time when I met Davy in a small city in Belgium, Hasselt, and when he wouldn’t let me leave before saying yes and agreeing to join him. 😅 That moment changed a lot for me and I’ve never looked back since.
Not long after, the founding team met up for the first time. We just talked the entire day, brainstorming with a few drinks at a bar. After that day, I never had a single doubt, firmly believing that we could do it.
From that day forward there have been many memorable moments. Since each day has been challenging us to go beyond expectations. Personally that’s when I’m most excited and having fun.
What’s your favorite cake?
By popular vote, my own homemade cheesecake with raspberry coulis and blueberries. It’s so delicious that I only make it once a year for my wife’s birthday or we would get enormously fat.
Any topping on the Cake?
I’m repeating myself but being able to work with people who are extremely motivated and all striving towards the same ambition is the topping I would choose on any Cake any day!
You might also be interested in this interview with Pieter
Tell us about … building Cake