Ultraworking was founded in December 2015 in Dubai by Sebastian Marshall and Kai Zau.
Marshall and Zau had been friends for around a dozen years, had co-authored the extremely well-received “Gateless” together, and had worked together on projects in technology, enterprise, nonprofit, and education, including commercial development for Shopify, instructing the top-reviewed MIT Global Startup Lab partnership with Johannesberg’s Wits-Watersand University, and speaking with and hosting workshops and events at basically all of the top universities in the United States and in many other countries, including close ties with UChicago, MIT, and NYU among others.
Before shifting primarily to nonprofit work, Marshall’s background was in enterprise sales, high-stakes negotiations, productivity, and operations; he consulted for many effective companies in over a dozen countries, adding deca-million dollars of revenue, overseeing product development, product/market fit, and seeing through the first $100,000+ of new sales for over a dozen different products and services, primarily in the enterprise space. If you count his work in finance, he’s added 9 figures of incoming money to the organizations he’s worked with, and led or advised on complex sales and high-stakes negotiations ranging from the $10,000 to $2M range with a significant portion of the Fortune 500 companies, privatized formerly state-owned enterprises, and a whole lot of other complicated situations.
Marshall’s background, thus, was “people first” — in complex sales and in complex negotiations, understanding to a deep level all the subtle cues and incentives of everyone involved is paramount.
Zau has worked on similarly complex interventions in business, from the radically opposite perspective — as a computer programmer, designer, and project manager, Zau has developed for a number of companies ranging from fast-growth startups to industry leaders like Groupon. He’s done popular open-source development that powers thousands of websites and back-end technologies around the world, including the popular Font Custom open-source tech in Github. He’s also been deeply connected in the Boston and San Francisco technology scenes, organizing events and bringing together coders, founders, and financiers to grow the field.
Zau and Marshall, thus, would always come from radically different perspectives to the question, “How do we make things happen?”
The founders would obsess over this seemingly simple question — and constantly discuss, debate, and analyze successes and failures across a broad spectrum of situations: in SME’s, in fast-growth startups, in major organizations, in government, in universities, in the nonprofit world, in distributed teams, in international situations with different cultures, and so on.
Whenever time permitted, Zau and Marshall would travel together and share insights. In discussions across four continents, the founders would share notes, refine operations and technologies, and — whenever possible — make hypotheses to test as soon as possible.
Marshall’s people-first approach was always focused on understanding the natural incentives, motivations, and feedback loops of the people involved. Zau would approach things from the lens of technology and workflows. Through discussion, dialog, debate, and analysis, the two founders would work towards a synthesis of their ideas — and then test them out immediately in the commercial world, in the nonprofit world, in writing, and in education.
Thus far, there’s been rave results — the initial concept for Ultraworking was conceived in December 2015 in Dubai when Marshall and Zau were planning and exchanging goals for the upcoming year. In 2016, beta versions of Ultraworking’s technology and methodologies have been used by top attorneys, accountants, former military officers in the private sector, entrepreneurs, managers, professors, scientists, civil servants, programmers, and engineers — with consistent rave results.
We’re thrilled you’re here with us on the journey to make work itself better — in every way.