CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Dylan Holtzhausen, CEO & Co-Founder of Menuzen

Dylan Holtzhausen is the CEO & Co-Founder of Menuzen, a free online menu creator set to make costly menu updates and design fees a thing of the past.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

My name is Dylan Holtzhausen, 31 years old from Perth, Australia.

Quick background insight on my journey to date:

In 2017 I combined forces with my now business partner Matthew Steedman who was running an IT company called Amped IT. We decided strategically to move away from IT services and into another more fast-paced niche.

With Matt’s tech background, my business development skill set and a lack of quality providers in the Digital Signage space, we decided to specialise in providing Digital Signage and Digital Menu Boards to businesses of all shapes and sizes. 

Our vision was clear from day dot to be the leading and most respected Digital Signage provider across Australia and New Zealand, dialling in on only giving the best service to all stakeholders. 

And that is when Amped Digital was born.

Over 6 years, I assisted with the rapid growth of Amped, which increased the business’s revenue by 2,900% from its last financial year as an IT company. 

During this time, I was heavily involved in securing, planning and managing some of the most significant Digital Menu Board projects in Australia and New Zealand. 

If you walk into any Subway, Krispy Kreme, Mad Mex, San Churro or Schnitz restaurant and see the menu boards or promos screens inside or out, Amped produly provided and delivered.

Fast forward to 2022, and I have grown into a role as a Strategic Sales Advisor for Amped Digital, which consists of supporting the upper management and sales team with my key focus on a fresh startup.

My role now is within an exciting software startup called Menuzen, and I serve this company as its Co-Founder and CEO. Menuzen’s mission is to build global software that effortlessly connects people with local food businesses via modern, collaborative technology. 

Our first product being a free online menu creator for food service businesses. 

Menuzen has snowballed in the last 12 months, starting as a small team of two people, myself and Lead Designer Rhiannon Davies. While still working at Amped, together we designed our MVP wireframes with no knowledge of software development and built our first MVP in 8 months.

Now we have a team of 10, and in June 2022, we successfully secured our Seed Series funding from our close investment partner Larsen Ventures, which has been a fantastic journey in itself and has allowed me to meet some really awesome people who have put a lot of faith and trust into me. 

Our focus lies on improving our first product and exploring new markets and working on an exciting concept called Menuzen.Site which is allowing food service businesses to create Free Restaurant Websites in minutes linking their viewers rapidly to services and important business information.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I start my day by responding to emails. These can stack up fast when you are working in multiple time zones. I check my emails throughout the day and treat them like text messages. I believe fast responses = virtual trust/reliability and positions you ahead of the pack. 

I head into work and always stop to get a coffee at my local coffee shop, sometimes making essential calls in the car to people like my business coach Oscar Pellizzon for advice on anything I may be experiencing and need a second, third or fourth opinion on. 

Once I get into the office, I greet the entire team before I sit down at my desk (it’s a must and something I have practised since my first hire!) 

I then start the day by writing blogs (a new task I have picked up a liking), reading relevant news and articles and working on new product concepts, features or business strategies. 

I aim to lock in all my important meetings from early morning to 11:30am as my productivity drops significantly (even with caffeine) after this time.

Then it’s lunch, usually with my team discussing ideas and planning on the car ride, grabbing another coffee, finishing up key company tasks, and assisting with any problems or issues naturally occurring as a technology company.

I spend a lot of time in the afternoon planning and putting into place strategy with my Co-founder & Head of Customer Engagement Jarrad Grigg and Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Tyson Cung. It’s mission-critical that any issues that arise are worked on immediately before they become problems. 

It’s also vital for me and Menuzen as a company to stay close to the entire team and understand the ins and out’s of everything we do so I can support and be available around the clock.

Before I leave the office in the afternoon, I spend 30 minutes at Amped Digital chatting with the team and providing any support I can in my advisory role. 

Then it’s the gym, dinner, and a couple of hours of downtime, usually some online gaming with friends from New Zealand. The downtime is squashed if I have any international meetings. 

I meet a lot with partners and companies in the US, UK, and as of recently, my first meeting with a fantastic team out of Nigeria. 

Any inspiration or productivity that kicks in during the night hours, I usually have my phone or laptop close by to jot down notes! 

3) What does work-life balance mean to you, and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Work-Life balance to me has been a challenge over the last 6 years. I have dedicated a lot of time and energy to work. When I’m not at work, I’m thinking about work and so on.

But I believe this is a sacrifice all entrepreneurs, founders and people who are high achievers, no matter what their calling in life, need to embrace and figure out how to make it work for themselves.

Being resourceful and coming up with workarounds has helped me alot. For me, it was starting with my health – reinventing my exercise and eating habits. 

For example, after a long day, the last thing I felt like doing was cooking, and I would usually lean towards a semi-decent/healthy takeaway. Outside of this racking up a high weekly food bill, I quickly realised these healthy takeaway options were not beneficial for me or my bank balance. 

Instead of ordering what I considered a “Healthy” takeaway every second or third night, I signed up to Marley Spoon, which helped me alot! The meals are fantastic, and the time it takes to make a healthy dish doesn’t negatively impact my lifestyle.

Training at the gym, setting a time every day for yourself no matter what, and even pushing aside important meetings to commit to your personal schedule is hyper important, and I believe it pushes me to the next level as an entrepreneur. 

My business coach gave me an amazing example using Lebron James of how important this actually is. 

Lebron is arguably considered the best at what he does, which is play basketball. Lebron is constantly working towards his goals. During his training weeks, he only operates at 50% – 70%, not 100%. If he was to go 100% 24/7, he would have burnt out a long time ago, and it’s not physically or mentally possible. 

He saves that 100% for when he’s on the court playing his opponents, not his team members or taking the buzzer shot. 

I believe this relates to the founder/business world. I have learned to adjust when I need to be at that 50% – 70% mark and know when I should be firing and playing the big game at 110%! 

4) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Yes, I have stopped ordering so much takeout and have gotten heavily involved in the gym, something I have always enjoyed but never made enough time for. 

It’s a commitment, with the first few weeks being a struggle to get back into it, but it provides me with a clearer mind and a ton more energy! 

5) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I don’t read many physical books or listen to podcasts which is not really the status quo for someone in my position. 

I like to study the history of people and companies that have changed the world that inspires me and learn from what these leaders in specific verticals have done to achieve this. 

Documentaries and education around high achievers and leader’s behaviours are of enormous interest to me! 

6) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

I would say Jack Dorsey. His background and what he has achieved is impressive to me. Running polar opposite businesses (Twitter and Square) that have both tackled a global market is the next level. But there is a ton on this online already, so I guess it doesn’t count.

So probably Jeff Bezos. I would be curious to learn more about how he juggles team growth and staff management to scale up new projects and initiatives fast, balancing expectations, performance and a range of personalities. 

7) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I would recommend starting with setting tasks in your calendar that are had set and blocked out that time in a different colour scheme just for you! 

At least one perineal calendar task a day, whether it’s gym, walking the dog, cooking, meditation, or whatever you enjoy – as long as it’s personal time. 

I commit to my calendar no matter what is in it, so psychologically, this ensures I am at the gym at times I set each day.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.