March 22-23 the 12th global conference Ag;)le Days 2018 was held at International Trade Centre, Moscow. One of the speakers was the founder and CEO of Umbrella Stas Meshkov. We asked Stas to tell us about how it was.
Interviewer: Hello, Stas! At the conference ag;)le days you’ve made a report on “Development: expand the company, while improving the quality”. Please tell us about the results you’ve achieved in 9 years your company’s existed?
Stas: Hello! At first, there were only two people in Umbrella, then a third person appeared and the fourth. Over the time, I’ve managed to expand the company from two people to more than 130. More importantly, I’ve succeeded in getting satisfied loyal clients with a very high NPS. People recommend us to their friends and acquaintances. This is the best indicator of the quality of our work.
I: Using the principle of outsharing in its work, Umbrella offers its clients an external team that develops mobile and web applications based on the clients’ values. In which industries has this approach proved to be most effective?
S: This approach’s proved to be most effective in medium-sized business, and first of all, in the companies that need strong specialists to build reliable long-term relationships.
I: What are the industries mostly? Medicine, perhaps?
S: Most often, there is no specific industry. Above all, it’s the matter of developing complex products. Our target includes media, social networks and various platforms for managing advertising and traffic.
I: Please, name the most popular technologies the guys in your company work with.
S: One of the most popular technologies is Java, React, mobile development.
I: What is the value of a remote team for web and mobile development?
S: First of all, its value is cost-saving. And this is a good opportunity for rapid expansion or narrowing – depending on the needs. Control and flexibility also get better.
I: You’ve outlined 2 main tasks to focus on while expanding the company. Why have you chosen them particularly?
S: Because, in my opinion, above all, everything is based on two components: employees (a top-quality close-knit team) and satisfied clients. For the company to grow it is vital that the clients wants to return to you, to work with you again.
I: It is not easy to find an excellent specialist. How do you manage to see the hidden potential of future employees? Would you share your secrets with us?
S: In fact, this is always a very hard job. Personal fulfillment of each specialist takes years. It is rather difficult to find such people. First of all, we pay attention to such traits as professionalism, industriousness, diligence, desire to work, proactivity, and responsibility. Continuous honing of skills, enrichment of experience – each specialist has a long way to go.
I: It reminds of diamond cutting. Please tell us a little about the management balance.
S: My task is to make sure the people who work in our company keep evolving and become stronger. To achieve this, it is necessary to maintain a balance – on the one hand, to set new tasks for a person, on the other hand, it is important that the person is able to cope with these new tasks very efficiently. Thus, the person not only does the job steadily but also does not stand still – moves forward.
I: You advise renting a bigger office than needed. Why?
S: Set yourself ambitious goals. Outline the tasks clearly. If your tasks include expansion, renting a bigger office. Then it will be your challenge – you will realize that you need to expand as quickly as possible.
I: Large spaces expand consciousness. That’s pretty cool! What are the key values of Umbrella?
S: There are three components: responsibility, proactivity and of course, client focus.
I: Please tell me what do you mean by the phrase “even if there is no KPI, it is still there”?
S: I mean that in any case, you expect something of your employees. Don’t be shy – formulate clearly what you want and let it know to your employees.
I: Why do you focus on business indicators, rather than local indicators? What’s their difference?
S: Because you need to set yourself the tasks you really want to solve. If, for example, you have a media IT project, then it could include the following tasks:
Focus on these indicators. They are much more important than such indirect things as releasing a new feature or something like that. Because releasing a new feature is just a tool to achieve your goal.
I: What does a client mean to you? How do you perceive a client?
S: Above all, a client is a partner to me. I perceive him as a person who can rely on me and on whom I can rely in turn. I take it as a quality long-term relationship.
I: Please tell us a little about the points of contact with the clients.
S: At all points of intersection with the client, you should try and deliver the top quality, the best results as compared to all your competitors. For example, a meeting with the client. For most companies, it is just a meeting, but in our company, we try to send a summary of things we’ve discussed and conclusions we’ve reached to our clients so that the person can read and review it, and if necessary, make some adjustments.
I: At the conference, you’ve mentioned that “there is no B2B business, only H2H”. Please, tell us more about this.
S: It is always necessary to understand the simple truth – any business is based on real people. If you work in the B2C segment, it can be interaction with users. If you work in the B2B segment, these are people who will accept your work and will work with its results.
First and foremost, it is important to remember that behind it all there are always people who will use it and benefit from it. That is why there is actually only H2H (Human to Human).
I: How do you improve the loyalty of your company’s employees?
S: By building of long-term relationships. A planned movement forward and development, as well as the improvement of working conditions. A constant professional growth, solving complex problems, and open communication on the development of projects.
I: Please tell us how the loyalty of the company’s clients can be improved?
S: Quality work, you need to constantly exceed the expectations. This is an extra mile. This is the reason people will recommend your company to others. It is always very important to exceed the expectations, at least, a little, and to give the clients a bit more than planned.
I: What makes Umbrella stand out among a huge number of competitors?
S: High quality and speed of our work make us stand out. We put quality first. It’s not just the quality of the code. It is also the quality in terms of communication, task setting and solving, and transparency of our company’s work for the client.
Today’s world is changing rapidly, that’s why we think it’s vital to make fast and correct decisions. Our clients have very ambitious projects. They want to achieve significant results and get the highest quality product in the shortest possible time.
I: Thank you very much for your time! I wish you success and exploring new uncharted territories!
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