Betting on London’s workplace of the future

Oct 20, 2017 · Jason Trost, Founder and CEO of London-based Smarkets

Screen shot 2017 10 20 at 07.19.24

I recently hosted a breakfast roundtable for fellow CEOs and business leaders who are part of the Leap 100 cohort of promising, high-growth companies. It was great to see so many turn out to hear me talk about the concept of self-management that early in the morning.

It's the organisational system that we have in place at Smarkets, which I believe makes us one of the most progressive companies in the capital (probably in the whole of the UK) as it completely challenges the traditional workplace rulebook.

Most traditional organisations are structured in a typical pyramid or tree-like system, where people at the top of the pile have the power to make decisions that roll down the chain and then slowly back up. Basically, everybody within that organisation has their box or level, which dictates almost everything from their responsibilities through to how much money they can spend without approvals.

The self-managed system we are evolving at Smarkets strips away those unnecessary barriers. In fact, we don't have any managers. Instead the organisation is much more fluid and concertinas into a web of networks where natural hierarchy forms in groups - much like a hub - to drive the business forward. In essence, anyone can make a key business decision provided they've sought the necessary advice from their colleagues.

In a system without managers who are ultimately accountable for actions within their chain of command, there needs to be an implicit trust and transparency throughout the company. Consequently, we've tried to implement initiatives that open the entire business up to employees, such as allowing them unlimited holiday, announcing details of any company spending on shared channels and even going as far as publishing all salaries on our internal wiki. We even allow our staff to set their own salary through peer review every six months.

In return, I hope that staff at Smarkets are able to fully take control of their careers and make impactful decisions that actually affect the direction of the business. In a perfect world, natural leaders will gradually take more responsibility as they grow into their role at the company, but we are still in a teething process and things haven’t been perfect.

Still, it’s really exciting to be pioneering this new way of working. We’re learning loads, but I hope more and more companies try to embrace some form of self-management in their organisations.

Check out our full interview with Jason here. Want to get your company involved with the Mayor’s International Business Programme? Click here to learn more!


Jason Trost, Founder and CEO of London-based Smarkets

Jason Trost is the founder and CEO of London-based Smarkets, one of the world's largest betting exchanges. As a trading platform, Smarkets simplifies peer-to-peer betting on hundreds of markets daily, with a mission to provide the best odds and the lowest commission. In a few short years, Jason has engineered Smarkets into a market leader that sees approximately 200,000 customers trade billions of pounds annually, and is counted as one the fastest growing companies in Europe.

Originally from the United States, Jason has been actively involved in the business and technology sectors in Europe for the past eight years. He currently acts as an advisor to other technology startups and young entrepreneurs in the London area with Entrepreneurs First and has spoken at Google Campus.

Prior to entering the betting industry, Jason was an application developer for UBS’s Global Asset Management Division in New York. He also worked as an equities trader at Great Point Capital in Chicago. Jason’s expertise in the arenas of software engineering, finance and business are a rarity in this industry. He holds a BA in Computer Science from Northwestern University.

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