Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Mitchell Bayer-Goldman, Co-Founder & COO at Volta XR

Mitchell Bayer-Goldman is the Co-Founder & COO at Volta XR, an experience creation platform that helps artists perform mixed reality events, in a few simple clicks.

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

I’ve had quite a varied background to say the least. I started off as a racing driver and then founded my first business when I was just 16 in the Event Management space. I managed to exit that business which funded my university education where I then went on to be an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and then Barclays.

I learnt more than I could’ve possibly imagined, both in terms of what to do and not do but wanted to go back to my entrepreneurial roots when I felt like my progress was slowing down.

I left investment banking in 2016 and co-founded my first tech startup, nez, which was an app which helped the hospitality/retail sector gain more customers, understand them with data-driven insights, and increase profitability, all with zero operational disruption.

Things were going really well and we had our best week of revenue prior to the week of lockdown, and a hockey stick growth curve, but a business facing the high street on one side and consumers at home in a footfall model, didn’t have many available pivots.

I started advising a number of startups (inc. Volta) and consulted for OLIO as their Head of Growth when my former flatmate and close friend, Alex, asked if I wanted to come on as a Co-Founder & COO at Volta.

Given my passion for music over the years, with an incredibly compelling tech stack and the opportunity to solve a big problem, I was hooked in no time. Volta, a Techstars portfolio company, is an experience creation platform.

We help artists perform mixed reality events, in a few simple clicks. I now look after strategy, business development & partnerships, marketing, and all things commercial (from fundraising to legal affairs).

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

I’m generally a late starter (and finisher) and come online around 830/9 with most mornings starting with internal meetings like stand ups and marketing catch ups.

I try to organise my mornings around GMT, afternoons around ET and evenings around PT as my days are usually 70%+ of calls. I’ll try and finish things up by 7/8pm GMT but that can get a little worse if there’s a big event or partnership around the corner.

It can be a little hard to execute on things during the week, and I put dedicated blocks in my calendar for big pieces, with general bits being tackled over the weekends at a more leisurely pace.

I travel a fair bit for work as well, especially for large events, and that’s when things can get a bit manic to say the least. Especially with multiple time zones and the challenges of running large live events.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

We’re a fully flexible & remote company which really helps me out. If I have a day that’s particularly dense with calls, I’ll work from home and save time commuting.

I always come to the office on Mondays as we have a lot of internal/founder-focused catch ups, and the rest of the week is more ad hoc depending on if there’s any in-person meetings or deep work needed.

Flexible working means I can take some time during the day to head to the gym if I know I have a late work evening, and also makes travelling for work way more palatable & efficient.

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

To me it means finding something you’re passionate about enough so it doesn’t feel like work, but that’s because I’m a bit of a workaholic and enjoy the challenges of scaling a business. I make sure I’m at the gym at least three times a week and also am a big believer in taking holidays and actually being offline so the mind can recharge for the next stint.

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

I’ve definitely made a point of being more consistent with my sleep-routine, as well as exploring the usual bio-hacking trends of Nootropics and other “healthy” supplements. Within work I’ve made more of a habit of putting blocks in my diary and slimming meetings down to the absolute essentials.

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

I always love the usual lean suspects of The Lean Startup, The Cold Start Problem and Scaling Lean. To that note Andrew Chen’s newsletter from a16z/Reforge has certainly been an inspiration.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

I’d say my shiny new M1 Macbook has to be up the list as well as my favourite toy, my DJM-900 Mixer.

I’ve found Superhuman to be an incredibly powerful email client which has saved me tons of time (and anxiety in seeing a full inbox), and really loved adopting tools like Miro at Volta.

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

Elon Musk.

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

I think in this day and age we’ve all been conditioned to assume a successful life means having a successful career. Whilst I’m unfortunately a bit in that camp, it’s been really transformative to be working at a company like Volta where we’re all genuinely passionate about the product we’re building and all have the autonomy to execute on what each of our departments need.

I came from Investment Banking where there was no such thing as a work life balance, and when I started building my first startup, nez, I had 0 salary for 18 months but the joy of working with friends and building something interesting gave me such a sense of purpose that I was happier working for a zero than a day in IB.

I’d really encourage anyone reading this article to optimise for fulfilment & happiness, and let the rest come with it, as I do really believe finding a passion is the biggest way to make you at least feel like life is more balanced.

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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.