Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Peter Bakker, Co-Founder at Unhedged

Peter Bakker is the co-founder at Unhedged, a best in class algorithmic investment platform, providing everyday investors with to access advanced algorithmic strategies.

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

I was one of the luckiest people being born in Holland with an entrepreneurial video with two lovely parents who challenged me but also gave me everything I needed. Although they were not entrepreneurial they stimulated me as I was a natural.

This led me starting a business that in the end exited in 2001 (yes a year too late) but it allowed me to secure my future, travel the world and attend INSEAD for my MBA. After Google and a few other ventures I landed in Australia where I did several things but I was just fascinated by why AI tech was not pervasive in managing money.

Also realising that the industry is broken in the way it charges and treats customers like cattle, I just needed to be part of the change. So I started Unhedged and now after a year we have raised 3.1M, have 10 employees and are on the verge of serving 1,000s of customers in a new way of investing. I’m the founder and CEO, so I serve my team, make sure they have the tools, money and people to get chips done.

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

Lately, the first part of my day is taken out by homeschooling. I really feel for my kids missing out on social interaction at school and I feel even more that I’m not a good teacher.

When the kids are done I start my day by visiting my favourite coffee shop Piccolo in Williamstown and shift through my emails sorting them in delete, to read, to action.

Then I’ll bike home and look at the markets’ performance of the trading pasts, at the signal the algorithms had and whether there were any data warnings or other things.

Then usually I have a lot of meetings with investors, suppliers, and team members. Most will be done around 5 and then I’ll work until 8-10pm on things to do, like: following up from emails, research, writing specification, explaining new ideas (too many).

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

Flex and remote working is part of the DNA of the company. My team knows they can bother me from noon until 10pm but should not think about disturbing me before 10am. As we work with the US equity markets I tend to watch the opening or closing of the market to get a feel for the trends.

Now in lock-down with the kids at home there is a dimension that is hard to control: kids. What suffers is my lack of exercise. In ‘normal’ life, it’s Xfit 3 times a week but that is now out of the door and I feel it! I just need sport to release some energy and biking and running doesn’t do it for me.

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

Work life balance is being able to bring my kids to school or pick them up, and being able to work in my own time. Balance is where you can say to your team: don’t meet with me before 10am.

My brain is on fire from 3pm to 7pm so all my harder stuff I tend to do then. Work-life balance is easy if you get up every morning and can’t wait to start as work has a full-filling element.

But I would say flexibility to plan your day as you feel is the core, plus moving a company from synchronous communications to asynchronous communications. Which works for everything but brainstorming and making hard decisions

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

Unfortunately lock-down made me stop a lot of good habits: Xfit, biking to work and not working on the weekends. I hope the Vic government gets a brain soon as the current policy makers sacrifice mental health, kids education and small businesses for a few more hospitalisations and deaths. I don’t want to be flippant about death, but we need to learn to live with this virus.

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

Ray Dalio is a fantastic writer. I’m not a real podcast geek, I rather read the transcript then listen as I tend to read a lot faster then the podcast can convey information. It’s a lack of information density.

That said, I love to read Pompliano (blockchain guru), The daily Dirtnap of Dillian and the newsletter I really recommend is Lenny’s. For the rest: most that I read make people fall asleep: Baysian stats, machine learning, AI book, etc. I never read fiction

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

From an app perceptive: AFR, CNN, Delta (crypto), my trading apps (Stake, Superhero, IBKR, Alpaca) and Sudoku!

The only thing I cannot do without is my wood Barbeque. My wife and I BBQ twice a week, any season. A nice bonfire, Some meat, some veggies, a nice bottle of Chardonnay and a good conversation without screens present. The second gadget of choice is the boat I built, I love to tinker on it.

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

Anyone in politics who claims to have a good work-life balance: I’m always amazed how they are always present and I suspect they have no balance.

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

Work life balance is personal: don’t let anybody tell you what is a good or bad work life balance: there is a good balance for you. However if that balance is tilted heavily to life then don’t get mad if progression in work is not happening, just accept it.

You cannot change the world but by changing yourself you change the world a bit for the good of the world.

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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.