Adriaan Kruger: Leading a Company while Prioritizing Other Aspects of Life

Top 10 Most Influential CEOs to Watch Out For in 2024

Being successful is what everyone strives for, but success looks different for everyone. To some, success means monetary achievements, they mainly focus on profits while others focus on material possessions. But to Adriaan Kruger, CEO and Co-founder of nuvoteQ, success is about finding that perfect balance between ambition, hard work, and spending quality time with family.

From a Corporate Employee to an Entrepreneur

Adriaan grew up in a town about 100 km from Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa. He studied computer science at the University of Pretoria and joined a small Oracle Consulting startup as soon as he graduated. He not only learned a lot from his knowledgeable mentors but also made lifelong friends there. The company grew rapidly and was eventually acquired by EOH Holdings, a large corporate in South Africa.

Being part of a large corporate like EOH exposed Adriaan to a whole new world. He got to learn many valuable lessons from the corporate environment, but the one that he values the most was – ‘culture eats strategy for break-fast’. He states, “My ambition led me to a point where I left the corporate environment in 2014 along with my friend, to launch a software startup in the life science space, with culture being the epicenter of everything we do.”

While working for this multinational company, Adriaan pursued an MBA course along with a friend who came from a medical background. It was during this time that the idea of nuvoteQ was born. 

About NuvoteQ and Helping Clinical Researchers with Innovation

nuvoteQ is a software startup launched in 2015 to provide integrated Electronic Medical Record (EMR) solutions within clinical research, eliminating the problems inherent to paper-based data collection methods in Africa. Their intelligence engine runs on the EMR’s real-time database and allows their team of statisticians and data managers to do predictive analytics and enable adaptive clinical trial designs. Their uniquely designed solution allows all the stakeholders within the product development lifecycle to work on a central, cloud-hosted platform sharing the same database.

In Africa, most clinical researchers struggle with paper-based methods of conducting data collection and cleaning, they realized that this is extremely inefficient and costly. They decided to come up with a solution and along with his team approached this problem in a unique way by following the “no-code” software design principle which has been around in other industries, but they applied it to the life sciences industry.

African countries also have a lot of limitations in terms of poverty, disease burden, and infrastructure. Adriaan understood these struggles, hence he took all these factors into consideration while he designed the final product and made it available to the research community at an affordable price to ultimately help optimize and digitize the way research is being conducted in the country.

Challenges and Lessons

The corporate world is extremely fierce and it is especially challenging for startups. The journey to success is riddled with challenges like sleepless nights, cashflow worries, and full accountability for others’ mistakes but Adriaan believes it is all worth the rewards. He adds, “It is part of the adrenalin rush you get when building a small business!”

These roadblocks are often the ones to teach the most valuable lessons and for Adriaan learning the massive difference between coming up with a cool idea and being an entrepreneur, was the most important lesson of them all.

He considers himself fortunate to see the best of both worlds – Startup and Corporate. He admits that both have been equally satisfying, challenging. He adds, “I favor the disruptive startup world – with all the challenges it brings.”

Life as a CEO of NuvoteQ

nuvoteQ is currently a small team of 20 talented individuals. The management team of the company takes care of the daily operations and Adriaan spends the majority of his time on business development activities (sales meetings, demos, partnerships) or strategic workshops (shareholders, partners). But he also spends a lot of time maintaining their culture. He adds, “We have a group of extremely talented people working for nuvoteQ, who are working under immense pressure, so having a balance between that and making time for fun or having some time off as a team is essential.”

He also believes in transparency and communication. He checks in with most of his team members weekly via our different IM channels. But his relationship with them is not just limited to work; he is very close to each one of them and believes in taking a break from work to share some activity together.

On Staying Abreast Competition

Instead of worrying about staying ahead of the competition, Adriaan focuses on innovation with an aim to provide efficient, cost-effective products/platforms which would be easily available to the majority of the people on the continent. This, is not very easy considering the many limitations in the country however, Adriaan is passionate about offering the best by taking into account all the deficits of the nation while designing the product.

He adds, “We make use of the latest technologies to ensure that our development platforms are current and relevant to the industry changes. Although we abide by the strict rules set out by industry-specific regulatory authorities on developing applications storing sensitive information, we are forward-thinking in our processes and venture to produce market-relevant and user-friendly systems.”

On Work-Life Balance

Creating a harmonious work-life integration is critical not just for our career but also for improving our quality of life. Dolly Parton says, “Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life” and Adriaan strongly believes in having a balance between professional and personal life, no matter how hard it is to achieve. He believes in spending quality time with his wife and two children. His belief is not just limited to him, he has inculcated it in his Company’s culture. “Family comes first, no matter what!”, he says. This is not just beneficial to employees in general, but also lays a strong foundation for a healthy work environment. He adds, “We have been to each other’s weddings, cried together and we laugh together constantly. We really try to not just work together, but do life together!”

Future Plans for NuvoteQ

Adriaan has many plans for the future of his organization. He is focusing on Global expansion especially moving into Europe and North America. He has also been discussing internally about disrupting other industries in a simplified way. But expansion is not the only thing on his mind, Adriaan is determined to help the people of Africa. In the next couple of years he will be focusing on agritech and the water industry as a whole. 

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