Building an international technology business

An alumnus of Birkbeck’s Business Innovation with Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management MSc (2015), Matt Johnson is now a technology entrepreneur based in California. Matt is a co-founder of Taskable, a personal productivity application which aims to enable people to spend more time on the tasks that matter day to day. Here he tells us about his time studying in London, why he is pleased to have chosen Birkbeck and his experience starting his own business.

Born and raised in America, Matt came to Birkbeck in 2013 after deciding that he wanted to further his studies internationally; London immediately appealed to him. “I ended up spending more than six years in London instead of the one year I had planned, which is a good sign!” Having researched innovation and entrepreneurial courses in London, he was drawn to Birkbeck’s MSc, and is pleased with the choice he made: “I was impressed with the close friendships I made and the people I was able to connect with. I still get together with old classmates quite regularly, including people I met on the very first day.” Matt even went on to work with one of his classmates following graduation.

Matt’s current company, Taskable, was created after he and a colleague recognised a need that they personally experienced: “We kept coming back to the same problem in our roles – the information that we needed for daily tasks was spread across multiple platforms. This meant that simple things took so much longer than they should have. In any job, searching for information should be easy.” Taskable aims to give users more control, allowing them to spend less time searching and organising, and more time doing the things that matter. Matt and his business partner Tomasz Krakowiak have had considerable success with their app thus far, having recently raised their first round of funding, and continue to grow their reach.

When asked about advice he would give to those looking to start a business, Matt suggests:

 “If you have a partner or partners, make sure they are the right people. It’s like a marriage – if it’s not working out then it’s hard to fix that.” He and Tomasz have established a routine that fits them both, even though they are now based in different continents. Matt adds: “Next month we’re meeting in person for the first time since January 2020!” He also encourages taking a moment to enjoy the good times: “The proudest moments are when you get feedback from people who feel your product has really helped them. You want to build something meaningful that solves a problem and when you see people signing up or giving good feedback, it is a great feeling.”

Matt is now supporting others to realise their ambitions by taking part in Birkbeck’s Mentoring Pathways programme and has just completed his first year on the scheme. “I really enjoyed it! It was fun to see my mentees progression as we moved through the year, but it was also useful as it made me consider my own approach to certain situations.”

Find out more about getting involved with the Mentoring Pathways programme here.