Interview with Marcin and Wiktor, Co-Founders and Co-CEOs of Pragmatic Coders.
Łukasz: What was 2019 like for Pragmatic Coders?
Marcin: Compared to the previous five years, 2019 is the year when we learned the most. At some point, we came to the simple conclusion that we should define the company’s vision, goal, and brand promise. We don’t serve the whole world, but certain companies. Startups, specifically. This lesson led to many other decisions about building sales, rebuilding marketing, and establishing company values. The value system is not completed yet, but some of it is already in the minds and hearts of the employees.
Our client portfolio changed, as some clients made business decisions that resulted in lost liquidity. During this time, many people in the company changed projects. We have addressed these issues and are in a better position now.
I would like to congratulate BLOC-X and Kitopi, two customers who entered production with us this year.
Wiktor: For BLOC-X, we built an electronic oil trading platform that streamlines trade processing and execution. Step by step, we developed product versions that validate business hypotheses and help the client to secure capital from investors. This was a great success, kudos to the team! See our BLOC-X case study here.
Wiktor: Our financial results at the end of 2019 were similar to 2018. The size of the company increased slightly. In 2018, around 40% of the revenue came from one customer. During 2019, we gradually terminated our cooperation with this client. This was a significant challenge, but I think we dealt with it well. We managed to transfer everyone to new accounts and now have a good spread of revenue, which is much safer of course.
New office in Krakow
Marcin: The move to a new location was a big step and it took the whole year, but we made it! As we are no longer split between three floors, people have got to know each other better. Our company culture is thriving and there is a nice atmosphere in the office.
Wiktor: Our new open space is not exactly what we dreamed of yet, but we are still working on setting it up. And people are already more integrated, as we could tell on our last company trip. This is very cool and positive.
Ł: Which strategic goals did you achieve in 2019?
Wiktor: 2019 was a year of reflection for us. Marcin and I founded Pragmatic Coders five years ago and we wanted to prepare our anniversary. We were thinking about the sense behind everything we do and realized that first and foremost, we want to create valuable products.
This objective can be measured in different ways. We have adopted a simple but ambitious metric – valuation of our clients. We focus mainly on startups, and our clients’ success is our success. Our goal for the next decade is to create 10 unicorns.
We started cooperating with a very interesting startup that shows signs of a unicorn company – they have experienced exponential growth, for example. This is a great achievement, and we are very proud to be part of it.
Wiktor: We have been working on our values and work philosophy, and focus on providing value quickly and efficiently. This is closely related to our goals for the coming decade.
As we progressed with our values and work philosophy, a few people left the company. Some employees simply had a work philosophy that didn’t match our values and didn’t feel comfortable to continue the cooperation. On the one hand, this was a pity as the company shrunk, but on the other hand, I think it will benefit everyone in the long term.
5 star dedicated product development team
Wiktor: In 2019, we concluded that we should offer the services of a complete project team, headed by a Product Owner. Data from the last five years show that we deliver the best value and get the greatest customer satisfaction in such projects. Several new Product Owners joined us and they are doing well.
Foundation of UX and Mobile development teams in Pragmatic Coders
Wiktor: In the past, we worked with agencies specializing in user experience design and programming for mobile devices. One of the agencies’ main problems was the lack of domain knowledge in the field of fintech. For example, designing a cryptocurrency wallet interface with only 1 decimal place showed that someone did not research how it should look and work. The external agencies simply accepted and carried out orders without analyzing the context.
Our foundation is to understand the customer’s domain and product context. To support our specialists with domain knowledge, we have started to build mobile and UX competences inhouse. This way, we can provide even better services to our clients.
The creation of mobile and UX teams within the company was also a result of feedback from customers who expected that the whole product would be implemented in one organization. According to the work philosophy of Pragmatic Coders, this will be done under the leadership of a Product Owner.
World Agility Forum Award for Pragmatic Coders
Wiktor: In 2019, the World Agility Forum recognized our pragmatic way of working with our customers by giving us an award in the category of Customer Service. The award was handed out by Peter Stevens and Steve Denning, two highly regarded individuals in the world of business management and authors of popular books about agile and lean management.
Ł: Why should we follow Pragmatic Coders in 2020?
Marcin: Thanks to our clients, we have worked out an interesting, non-standard and non-corporate view of the business world. Over the years, we’ve seen startups both fail and succeed. Just a moment ago, I talked to an entrepreneur from the United Kingdom with a typical startup dilemma – should he invest in marketing first, or make a product and then think about how to sell it? We’ve been in both scenarios and can help the client to make the right decisions.
Wiktor: We stand out in the market with our work philosophy because most web and software development companies provide outsourcing. Developers are rarely responsible for what they do. We want to build a culture and teams, and it is both challenging and valuable. I think everyone who is thinking about starting a company can benefit from following us.