The Name “Catalysts”
Have you wondered about the name of the company? It’s derived from an analogy to chemistry.
In the field of chemistry, a catalyst …
- is a substance that accelerates the rate (speed) of a chemical reaction without itself being transformed or consumed by the reaction
- enables reactions to occur much faster or at lower temperatures because of changes that they induce in the reactants
- provides an alternative pathway, with a lower activation energy, for a reaction to proceed. This means that catalysts reduce the amount of energy needed to start a chemical reaction. Molecules that would not have had the energy to react or that have such low energy levels that they probably would have taken a long time to react are able to react in the presence of a catalyst. Thus, more molecules that need to gain less energy to react will go through the chemical reaction.
In the field of business consulting, a catalyst …
- is a person who accelerates the rate (speed) of a process or change without himself being exhausted
- enables change to occur much faster because of his assistance, presence and influence
- provides an alternative pathway, with a lower risk or emotional barriers, for a change to take place.
This means that catalysts reduce the amount of effort needed to start a change.
People who would not have had the energy to change or who have such low intrinsic motivation that they probably would have taken a long time to change are able to change in the presence of a catalyst. Thus, more people that need to gain less external support will go through the change.
Catalysts is self-funded
We haven’t ever brought in outside financing. Since our earliest days this has been incredibly important in providing freedom to shape the company and its business practices.
Catalysts is more than a software company
We started our existence as a consulting company – making things possible that were not possible before, or speeding up processes, just like a catalyst in chemistry, without getting exhausted. And we’re still acting as a catalyst, but with a hugely expanded focus. Which is great, because we can provide more value to our clients now and we’ve also been able to diversify.
- We work on projects for clients.
- We do research on selected topics.
- We form joint ventures with clients.
- We provide an incubator environment for startups.
But mostly, we are a company full of passionate people who love to develope software.
Welcome to Flatland
Hierarchy is great for maintaining predictability and repeatability under stable circumstances. It simplifies planning and makes it easier to control a large group of people from the top down. But when you’re a software company in turbulent economic times that’s spent the last couple of years going out of its way to recruit the most intelligent, innovative, talented people on Earth, telling them to sit at a desk and do what they’re told obliterates 99 percent of their value. We want innovators, and that means maintaining an environment where they’ll flourish.
That’s why Catalysts is flat. It’s our shorthand way of saying that we don’t have any management, and nobody “reports to” anybody else. We do have two founders, Christoph and Christian. But although they are your managers, this company is yours to steer – toward opportunities and away from risks. You have the power to greenlight projects. You have the power to ship releases.
A flat structure removes every organizational barrier between your work and the client enjoying that work.
Every company will tell you that “the client is boss,” but here that statement has weight. There’s no red tape stopping you from figuring out for yourself what our clients want, and then giving it to them.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow, that sounds like a lot of responsibility,” you’re right. And that’s why hiring is the single most important thing you will ever do at Catalysts (see “Hiring” below). Any time you interview a potential hire, you need to ask yourself not only if they’re talented or collaborative but also if they’re capable of literally running this company, because they will be.