Boss It Like

How To Boss It Like… Jason Trost, CEO at Smarkets

By Kitty Knowles 7 July 2016
Jason Trost, founder and CEO at Smarkets. Pic: Smarkets.
Summary

These leaders are changing the world for the better. We find out how they get the job done.

There are a handful of business leaders and industry figures in Britain who are changing the world. Ian Fordham, Lindsay Pattison and George Burgess seem to get an incredible amount done, in an impossibly short space of time.

Originally from the States, Jason Trost left a career in finance to move to London and co-found Smarkets in 2008. The company grew steadily in its first few years but has exploded recently.

Over £2.5 billion has been traded on the platform’s sporting, political and current affairs events, and Trost now employs 60 people, from 20 different countries, at its offices in St Katharine Docks and Malta.

A busy man, with big ideas, The Memo asked Trost how he gets it all done…

What time do you get up, and what part of your morning routine sets you up for the day?

I’m more of a night person, so I do most of my reading late until about 1 or 2am and then get up about 9am.

I like to read tech, business and general news on the New York Times, Guardian and Washington Post. Recently I’ve been reading loads about Brexit. I’m pretty angry about it all, but there is hope in that we might not actually leave.

It’s ridiculous that the guy who called for the referendum, the guy who gave it the green light and the guy who campaigned for it have all resigned.

Someone has to stand up.

As for exercise, I’m not going to the gym or running at the moment because I’m on the 5:2 diet and trying to see how far I can go this way.

I’ve been on it since April and I’m losing about 0.8lbs a week, tracking it all on my Withings scale.

What apps or methods do you use to be more productive?

I used to be awful playing all the Clash of Clans derivatives but I’ve managed to cut that all out.

I mainly use navigation and news apps on my Nexus, and Google Keep is good for taking notes.

I’m obsessed with FlightRadar24 as well. Apart from that, mail and calendar are the two apps I use the most to keep on top of messages and my day.

What smartphone do you use?

Google Nexus 6. iPhones are attractive but they’re not as functional and I don’t really like the walled-garden approach of Apple.

How many people do you meet in a day?

At Smarkets we use a self-management structure, so most of my day is meeting with various teams and getting updates from across the company.

Staff here can choose which department they join and work on what they want, so it’s good that people want to keep me in the loop.

I’ll catch up with journalists and friends when I can, but it’s hard to fit everything in!

What book are you currently reading or which one book would you recommend?

The book that influenced us to take on teal principles is Frederic Laloux’s Reinventing Organisations.

He showed that self-management is the next generation of human evolution, not a crazy, far-fetched philosophy.

I really liked Ted Simon’s Jupiter’s Travels as well. It’s about a guy that went around the world on a motorbike for four years.

The thing I learned is that you’re never done with your journey – he travelled for four years and you would think you can see the world in four years, but he saw so little.

What advice would you give for people who are eager to get into your industry?

From a sports betting and fintech point of view, look into trading and the professional betting syndicate side.

Starting from the operator perspective is tough because there’s so many regulations.

Above all else and no matter what you do, I would say learn to code.

It’s so important now and in the future it’s only going to get more so.

You should have a good understanding of the tech that’s changing the world and it will help you get things done quicker.


When do you work until? Are you still sending emails in the night? Or do you have a wind down routine?

I keep on top of my emails until I go to sleep, but catching up on the day’s news and watching TV is how I like to wind down.

Tech is my main interest, so I like to check out TechCrunch, HackerNews and a few others.

I’m avidly awaiting the next-generation Google Nexus phone so I’m always on the lookout for rumours about that too.

The Sopranos is by far my favourite show – I’ve watched it three times – and I’m on Orange Is The New Black at the moment.

Silicon Valley is pretty funny as well because it really resonates with me as a startup founder. We basically went through everything that happens in the show, in a less ridiculous way of course!

We’ve also just become QPR’s main sponsor. It’s cool to see how football works from the business side of it and I’m counting down to the new season now.

Come back next Thursday for our next #BossItLike interview, and get in touch if you know a business leader who’s also a productivity guru for us to talk to.