Everyone knows that 2020 was a groundbreaking year. Fortunately, we have already left it behind us and now it’s time for a summary. What was the last year like for Pragmatic Coders from the perspective of Marcin Dziedzic and Wiktor Żołnowski? And what do they want to achieve in 2021? Read the interview below and find out what exciting things are coming soon!
Ł: How was 2020 for Pragmatic Coders?
Marcin Dziedzic: I think this year was probably one of the most exciting in our company’s history. What definitely stuck in my mind was the countless hours spent analyzing the economic situation and its impact on us. We knew we had to act very quickly and decisively.
At the very beginning of the pandemic, most IT companies were looking to save money, cut jobs or reduce salaries. Instead of that, we doubled our expenditures on marketing and sales. As a result, we avoided situations that have occurred in many companies, such as group layoffs, salary cuts, or delays in payment. We went through the whole year without any harm to the people who worked with us or to our clients. I consider it a very big success.
Wiktor Żołnowski: The pandemic was an impulse for us to take and accelerate certain actions. Most of the marketing and sales plans, which we were supposed to implement quietly throughout the year, were already accomplished within the first six months. Thanks to that, we were able to get some very interesting clients. What’s better, these clients were more aligned with the vision of our company that we defined for ourselves last year, and I think this change has worked out well for us.
Going forward, we have a much more consistent organizational culture within the company and a vision of what we want to achieve between the various projects we do for clients around the world.
Pandemic has thwarted our growth plans a bit, but anyway we’ve attracted a lot of competent people, from marketing, sales, and HR, as well as great programmers and brilliant Product Owners, whose mindset and competencies fit with our vision.
Ł: How does 2020 compare to previous years?
Marcin Dziedzic: Undoubtedly, we were able to build an amazing management team, across all key areas of the organization, from HR/Recruiting to Delivery, Marketing, and Sales, which freed up a bit of mine and Wiktor’s time to put up the second leg of the business.
One of the most interesting people to join us is Duke, who has taken over the consulting and sales side at Pragmatic Coders. He is a person with incredible experience, founder of two startups, owner of a software house. An incredible team player. Additionally, together with Łukasz Ciesielski, they laid a solid foundation for a renewed offer focused on product development.
On the HR/Recruiting side, Maria and Michal joined us and we were able to hire over 30 people last year and start implementing the leadership idea in the organization.
Wiktor Żołnowski: The year 2020 was a tough one especially when it came to remote working. In the past, we spent most of our time having a face to face conversations and discussions, even if only ad-hoc ones in the corridor or at our desks. Replacing that with internet tools and video chats has been quite a challenge. I can see that from my calendar, which has filled up three times more than in previous years.
On the organizational side, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved in terms of standardization of software development processes through correct and full use of Scrum. The results I see and the engagement of the people far exceeded my expectations. I’m also very happy that there are people who have taken ownership of this topic. Now our processes are developing further, but only with my symbolic involvement.
Finally, I think it’s worth adding that by being able to work more efficiently, our customers’ costs are lower. In 2020, we deepened our partnerships with many of them, which we are very happy about.
Ł: What would you like to accomplish as a co-CEO of Pragmatic Coders in 2021?
Marcin Dziedzic: The goal we have been working towards for several years is to build an organization capable of sustained growth without my involvement at the operational level. That is, to simply build the processes, the management team, the marketing, and sales strategy, and super delivery.
My additional ambition for 2021 is for Pragmatic Coders to become the most selected go-to-center for startup founders looking for product teams.
This is what we feel best in and this is what we are able to do at the highest level. I only have the impression that we do not talk about it enough :-)
Wiktor Żołnowski: In the past year, I have largely been able to step back from the decision-making process at the level of current issues. In some areas, I am no longer needed because people are doing just fine without me. This has generated some time that I’d like to spend finally realizing what we’ve been intending for a long time, which is to build our own product. Of course, this is also one of the reasons why we are working on Pragmatic Coders, and we want to have people who will be able to build products effectively in the future.
Besides, it would be nice to continue the standards already developed. We want to attract more clients who have a similar mindset to us and want to work on the same standards as we offer. Of course, this also requires an increase in the team.
Ł: What is the growth strategy for Pragmatic Coders?
Marcin Dziedzic: We go into startups and cross-functional product teams. We have already had a lot of success in this field for a long time. From our perspective, startups are interesting companies with interesting, ambitious people and great potential for growth. Currently, we are able to help them at almost every stage, from creating the vision, strategy, through delivery, building UI/UX, user testing, and all the rest. That is the whole product development. Additionally, we focus on fintech and DLT. We know fintech, we know blockchain, we know building digital products and we understand startups like no one else.
Wiktor Żołnowski: As we want to grow further, it is necessary to introduce some scalable processes. We are mainly talking about HR topics. We are working hard on evaluation, team member development, etc. We want as much as possible to happen automatically.
In 2021, it will undoubtedly be important to realize the vision we defined last year and which, as Marcin already mentioned, is oriented towards startups we want to cooperate with. Our delivery is tailored to this type of customers and we want to attract them. We intend to reach out to potential customers at an even earlier stage than before and really help them in their development (e.g. in fundraising for the implementation of ideas together with us or while working on the product idea stage). We also want to widely share our knowledge and experience.
At the same time, we are considering a new brand, relatively independent from what we do in Pragmatic Coders. It will focus on recruitment and staffing services. More than 6 years of experience and thousands of completed recruitments (hundreds of which were successful) is valuable know-how worth using. Especially, that it’s also a natural way to provide additional value to clients who are at a further stage of their organizational development than the one we target with Pragmatic Coders.
Ł: What are your expectations for 2021? How will you know the year was successful?
Marcin Dziedzic: First, if we achieve the financial, growth, retention, and happiness goals – that’s the minimum plan. In fact, to consider a year successful, we need something more. After all, Pragmatic Coders is a service company, and the success of our clients is partly our success. At the moment we are working on some really interesting projects, like two challenger banks – I would love to see them in production.
Wiktor Żołnowski: If the pandemic ends it will already be a very successful year :)
In addition, I expect to expand our services and cooperate with clients also at an earlier stage of their product development. I hope that it will result in successes measured e.g. by the size of successive financing rounds gained with our help.
What else? Pragmatic Coders is already a company with which I, as a potential startup founder, would like to build my products. Who knows, maybe in 2021 the time will come for that too?
Ł: Why stay in touch with Pragmatic Coders?
Marcin Dziedzic: If only because of education, whether someone is interested in the technology or the product. We talk and write about this a lot and will continue to do so. We should especially be followed by people who want to learn how to build a product efficiently, quickly (literally within 2-3 months), and with relatively low budgets.
Around the middle of the year, we will try to bring an interesting surprise for the whole community, showing a holistic approach to development as we see it.
Wiktor Żołnowski: I think that the team we have on board, plus the knowledge-sharing strategy, are values themselves, and for them, it’s worth staying in touch with us. Besides, I can see myself how new members of Pragmatic Coders join our various groups or thematic meetings and are very surprised by the level of discussion. The fact that we want to share this knowledge outside should encourage you to stay in touch with us this year.