Let's Fly Inside #3: the Results of the Year With Fively Co-Founders
Enjoy a special interview with Fively co-founders and discover a bunch of interesting facts, thrilling insights, and company plans for the next year.
The end of the year is always filled with magic, excitement, and joy spiced with some kind of mystery. It’s a time of wonderful surprises and happiness when people have fun and make pleasant gifts. Fively is not an exception here!
Today we have prepared for you a special double interview with our co-founders Alexey Kalachik and Igor Yakutovich! In this special article, they will discuss the results of the year at Fively, tell a couple of thrilling stories about the company, share their secrets of being successful businessmen and just good men, and get a hint about our future plans. Here we go!
Hi, Alexey and Igor! I’m very happy that you’ve found the time for the interview at the end of the year! Let's start with the main thing: what event do you consider the most iconic for Fively in the outgoing year?
Igor: Hi! Disregarding the deep crisis in the IT industry as the most important ongoing event in the global IT sector in 2022, Fively expanded its presence in the international market this year, which is undoubtedly good news.
Alexey: Yes. Speaking about our company, I would also highlight our award as one of the Top Website Development Companies in Poland, we appreciate this remarkable award a lot.
Recently, the staff of the company expanded significantly, and now we already have more than a hundred employees. Specialists at what positions have been added and what are the future plans in this direction?
Alexey: We have never set any strict KPIs for the growth of the company, as we do not try to hire people to make a layoff later when the times go harder. We try to do everything naturally and grow steadily. If we have a boost in the number of customers, then we employ more people and expand the company.
Numbers always speak for themselves. Can you please share the new numbers on annual performance and KPIs? Did the outgoing year meet your expectations?
Igor: I would describe this year as the year of marketing at Fively. We launched a new website representing our capabilities, developed a new marketing strategy, and undoubtedly have more new customers thanks to it. The other question is that we faced a new challenge now - a global recession in the IT sector, so we’re going through a small drop in KPIs right now. But if to sum up everything, the year was quite successful for our company.
Alexey: In fact, the company is expanding naturally, as we do not want to push our people for KPIs, we just want to create top-market products for our clients in the first place. I would mark that this year we have more interesting projects with complex tech stack and fresh architecture. Concerning the current crisis in the IT sector, I can say that the whole course of our company is followed by overcoming various stressful situations taking place in the world, so some kind of instability is okay for us. As someone once said, “hard times create strong men”, and this is about Fively for sure.
“We do not want to push our people for KPIs, we just want to create top-market products for our clients in the first place.”
Taking from your perspective, what are the greatest projects our developers took part in as for the end of this year? And what makes them special?
Alexey: It is very difficult to choose a specific project or client. But the successes of our partners always cause a special thrill, when we solve their business problems with our apps and help them grow.
For example, one of our clients from the human resources business line approached us with a very complex technical problem. They wanted to create an ultimate automation platform for holding detailed HR surveys, quick compensation calculations, and personal reports. We took the challenge and built a great web application for them. Thanks to this, the client's company is growing at an incredible pace. They’re already partnering with dozens of companies included in the Fortune 500 list. This is an amazing success story, and we are very happy to be a part of it.
Igor: I would like to add here, that the past year has brought us a bunch of new projects in the Insurance and Healthcare domains. We are very pleased that new customers turn to us and trust our technical skills and domain expertise.
In 2022, Fively received a lot of prestigious awards, including those from such top-market review companies as Clutch, GoodFirms, TopDevelopers, etc. What award do you consider the most notable for the company, and what milestones would you like to achieve next?
Igor: I would like to mark here that recently we became one of the Top website development companies in Poland. Speaking about the goals set for the company, we are not pushing our team for getting any specific awards.
What’s really important for us, is deepening our expertise, growing in partnerships, and getting technical certificates proving our skills. Therefore, we are now striving to build partnerships with IT giants like AWS and GCP, and confirm our expertise with the appropriate certificates.
Alexey: As for me, there have been and will always be only 3 main awards: the success of our customers, the number of long-term partnerships, and the satisfaction of our engineers. These are the awards we truly strive for.
“As for me, there have been and will always be only 3 main awards: the success of our customers, the number of long-term partnerships, and the satisfaction of our engineers.”
Fively has always stood out for its deep expertise in eCommerce, Cyber Security, FinTech, HealthTech, and Real Estate industries. What do you think, why companies from these industries choose Fively?
Igor: When we started Fively, we have never aspired to be experts in any certain field, I would say that we grew in expertise organically. We were approached by companies from Healthcare, Insurance, eCommerce, and other listed domains, and just built good web apps for them. Then, our clients recommended us to their partners, and that’s how our expertise grew.
Alexey: Plus, our company has built several side-products in related domains, which also add value to our expertise. Here I mean DogQ, Otomate, React Material UI, and mobile eCommerce kits for Figma. They prove our knowledge and skills and help customers in choosing Fively for their custom software development.
Let’s talk a bit more about the company’s priorities. What new areas, industries, and services do you probably want to explore next and add to an impressive Fively backpack?
Igor: We are happy to work with a team of skillful and technically versatile developers, and we value this a lot. Fively is really good at developing web apps based on various libraries, frameworks, and programming languages. However, everyone has room for growth. For example, we have extensive experience in developing hybrid mobile apps, but now we would like to pay more attention to native mobile apps, since this is a promising niche in the modern IT market that we have yet to fill. So next year we would like to grow our knowledge and expertise in it.
“We are happy to work with a team of skillful and technically versatile developers, and we value this a lot.”
In 2022, lots of the company’s resources were paid to the development of our own digital products: DogQ - a no-code testing tool, and Otomate - an all-in-one solution for managing product catalogs. Why did you choose them as service products?
Igor: Before investing resources in our own products' development, we conducted marketing research, as we believe that this is an essential part of any product's success. Thanks to the held research, we estimated our product plans, made some amendments, and became sure that our products will take their place in the niche of eCommerce automation and test automation. Also, we have deep knowledge in both these domains, and we do believe in the bright future of these industries, therefore we feel the strength to make revolutionary products in this market.
Alexey: Plus, our company aims at building an ecosystem of Fively products, in which each component will help the other one. For example, DogQ can help to cover the need for testers in Fively (as Fively actually doesn’t have a large staff of testers).
Otomate is a good example of eCommerce automation. In the course of our work, we discovered a typical problem that many of our customers faced so we created Otomate - an ultimate tool to solve it, a long-awaited answer that the IT market needs. Many eCommerce automation solutions are very expensive, while our product provides a much-needed service and is a low-cost solution for our customers.
At Fively, everything works as one system of products. If our client enjoys working with Otomate and wants to develop their own custom eCommerce platform, they can contact Fively for that. I would describe that as follows: Fively helps to make your customers happier, while Otomate and DogQ - bring Fively new partnerships. Together they’re a perfect set of products.
New directions always require a lot of resources, time, and effort. How do you prioritize tasks and share the responsibilities for managing current projects, the team, and the overall company’s strategy? What are your business management secrets?
Igor: Since Alexey is currently in Warsaw, and I'm in Toronto, it’s even better for our timetable, and we easily manage to do everything. When one of us is off, the other is working. If taken roughly, I am largely dealing with our clients from the USA, and Alexey communicates with the European ones.
Alexey: Yes, we have no problems with sharing our responsibilities. There are also tasks that were shared somehow by themselves, for example, I am more responsible for leading our in-house software teams, while Igor is more responsible for the management of the presale processes and communication with customers. But in solving any task, we complement each other very well and everything is just fine.
By the way, you both have deep technical knowledge backed by years of experience with numerous programming languages and frameworks. Which technologies that are trendy nowadays do you consider the most promising for custom development?
Igor: As a technical expert, I truly believe in using DDD (Domain Driven Design) methodology. This development model allows you to focus on the needs of the business first, and only then think about the nuances of implementation. This allows you to fully implement customers' business goals and develop game-changing products. I believe that DDD is the back-end development model of the future!
Alexey: I think that when developing your product, you should not blindly pursue trending technologies. Before starting development, you need to determine the following things for yourself:
- What business goals will the application cover?
- Do you really need to use these trending technologies?
- Do they fit into your business model?
- And also you need to estimate the amount of the respective developers' salary. It’s of crucial importance to be able to expand the team, if necessary, don’t forget about that.
It is also important to remember about microservices. Today, they are the standard of the programming industry. This approach allows you to rewrite any of the elements of the system at any time, without a threat to business.
And of course, I would like to advise you not to try to build “everything in AWS” if you are not ready to pay huge amounts of money for infrastructure. Some companies are forced to pay more than $20,000 per month for AWS due to the fact that they have high loads on individual elements of AWS, and you should include this in your budget estimations.
Let's flashback to 2018, when you were just starting Fively. How has our company changed over these 4 years?
Igor: It’s a very interesting question, thank you. I would describe our company back in 2018 as a small boy with flashing eyes full of enthusiasm and belief. And now Fively is rather an adult man already, but deep inside he’s still a boy with flashing eyes and curiosity in reaching new heights.
Alexey: Igor gave a bright picture of our growth. As for me, I always tend to underestimate our success, so I would rather say that Fively is still on its way to building an ideal team and an ideal company, and I believe we will reach these heights soon, but now the time hasn’t come yet.
Going on with this topic, how has the IT market changed especially after the Covid-19 pandemic? Has total digitalization influenced the internal processes of the company?
Igor: Speaking about remote work, Fively has never had any problems with that, as we were one of the pioneers of the remote work model. Even before the pandemic happened, we had never demanded our people to stay in the office, so nothing changed for us from that time, thanks to our relaxed and friendly corporate culture, we're fine!
Alexey: I would like to tell a small story about overcoming the Covid-19 crisis. When the pandemic had just begun, we had a client who had initially agreed on our rate, but right after the Covid-19 splash, they asked for a huge discount of almost 35% of our rate. Unfortunately, in that case, we were unable to work out a compromise. We had to give up on that project. Then it seemed to us that these were only the first signs of the coming tough days.
But as time passed by, we saw that we were right, as the situation in the IT market stabilized, and everything went as it should. Yes, overcoming this crisis wasn’t easy, but we did it, and everything turned out to be not so scary. What’s really important is that thanks to our strategy we avoided layoffs and pay cuts, and we’re very happy about that.
Speaking of the current situation, it’s probably even worse than with the pandemic. When IT managers are in a panic, hundreds of thousands of people are fired, and nobody knows what will come next.
But let’s look at this situation from the positive side: some of the people who were hit by the current crisis, I believe they’re brilliant engineers and marketers, and some of them can create new products and launch new companies, so we expect that demand for our services may become even higher quite soon. But this is just one possible scenario, we can’t predict the future, but we hope we’ll overcome all the challenges.
This year Fively released a brand-new website with a bunch of service pages representing our technical capabilities, as well as our domain and business expertise. It feels like a total level-up. How would you describe what’s the difference?
Igor: our previous website was really a great one for a young growing company. It served two simple goals: to show our presence in the IT market and stand out with the original design. Nowadays, the company has become mature, and we have outgrown the previous site in all senses. Our new website reflects our skills and priorities much better.
Alexey: I agree. It is important that we strike the right balance between being informative for business and showing our technical capabilities in a Fively-like original manner.
Now the global IT sector is going through a severe recession, with huge job cuts and depressing KPIs. How do you manage to rule your business effectively and move forward in such difficult circumstances? What insights have probably come to you because of that?
Igor: Our strategy has always laid in the organic growth of the company’s resources and the absence of any rush for KPIs. That’s why we don’t have now a bench in the amount of 50% of the company’s resources, as we can see in many companies nowadays, and we’re very happy about this. Thanks to our chosen strategy, all our partners trust us and are 100% sure that they will get the best possible experience.
Alexey: I totally agree with Igor at this point. The only thing I’d like to add here is that managing a company of 100 engineers is not just the same as managing a company of 1000 people, so it might be a bit easier for us to keep up with the market changes. But our chosen strategy counts for our success nevertheless.
I would also like to highlight here that we’re very sincere with our employees. We do not hide from them both our failures and success. We present things just as they are, and they also take everything with deep understanding, carefully approaching huge salary increases, and limiting their wishlists when there’s a stagnation in the IT sector like we face now. We’re very grateful for their trust, and value their support a lot.
If to compile the said above into some kind of advice, it will go as follows:
- Be honest with your engineers
- Be honest with your customers
- Don't try to earn all the money in the world
- Don't put KPIs in the first place
“Our strategy has always laid in the organic growth of the company’s resources and the absence of any rush for KPIs.”
Top management is the art of being a human in tough conditions. Do you feel that 2022 changed you? What helps you both stay yourself?
Igor: First of all, it’s our company's informal culture where everyone knows each other quite well and initially trusts us more than just a random company. Speaking about myself, I am a big music lover and have been listening to some kind of depressive music (like Blessthefall, Disturbed, Thousand Foot Krutch) all my life. So I feel like a fish in the water in the current quite depressive circumstances in the IT sector, as nothing changed for me (laughs). I really believe this kind of music helps me not to change.
“Our company has an informal culture where everyone knows each other quite well and initially trusts us more than just a random company.”
Alexey: Well, if to be serious, when people ask me about this, I always tell them what running a company means for me. Right since my childhood I always loved video games, and up until now I do, as I'm not a businessman by nature, but rather a curious child wondering what’s interesting may come next. Ruling a company for me is like playing a very hard MMORPG game, where I can see my own and my party’s results in a monthly report, and estimate how successful my company is, how many new clients we have, how satisfied my engineers are, and so on. If I see positive results, then I understand that the taken decisions were right.
Despite the fact that I compare running a company with playing a very interesting but difficult game, I understand clearly that every decision I take impacts the stability of more than 100 people who believe in me, count on me, and depend on the success of my decisions. The same goes for my clients. Therefore, my level of stress is tremendously high at times, especially in unstable situations like these that are taking place right now, and I have to fight. I use a complex approach to fight the stress, which is doing sports, listening to music, and drinking whisky (laughs).
“I understand clearly that every decision I take impacts the stability of more than 100 people who believe in me, count on me, and depend on the success of my decisions”
By the way, how would you describe the spice of Fively's strategy as an IT company? What makes it special and distinguishes it from others?
Igor: Well, I would mark honesty first of all. We realize who we are and do not try to be somebody else, we understand that there are people who can be more experienced than us. We are just ordinary people who run the company, and sometimes we’re not completely sure about our decisions. But we just try to do what we think is honest and right, and then look at the result.
Alexey: We respect honesty and transparency at all levels, both with our clients and with engineers, and we try to provide it at the maximum level everywhere we can. Among things that make Fively stand out, I would mark our deep technical expertise and understanding of how applications are built in practice. When not a businessman comes to a presale call, but an experienced engineer who is interested in creating a cutting-edge app and building a long-term partnership - this cannot be underestimated by our clients. Plus, we always try to make all project decisions together with the client, and this is also an important thing that makes Fively special.
And last, but not least: it is vital, to be honest, and separate your dreams and illusions (when you think you’re perfect in all fields and make your clients think you are) from reality, where things are not so easy. I agree with Igor, it’s crucial to see any situation with your eyes wide open, especially at times as we have nowadays. We’re not afraid to confess our drawbacks, and we always work hard on improving ourselves and keep up with any market changes.
“We are ordinary people who run the company, and sometimes we’re not completely sure about our decisions. But we just try to do what we think is honest and right, and then look at the result.”
Despite the crisis in the IT sector, Fively continues to take part in various social projects. How do you see Fively's corporate social responsibility as a top-market IT company?
Igor: The fact that we are blessed with the opportunity to have more resources than others doesn’t mean that other people do not deserve it. We strongly believe in it and we feel responsible for correcting the inequality taking place in the world, so we try to redistribute wealth at least with the help of donations. Each time we hold a charity event in our company we choose a recipient very responsibly and tell our employees why we feel important to help these certain people.
Alexey: I would add the creation and mentorship of the Fively Academy here too. We created it to help all people who dreamed of starting their careers in the IT field but didn’t know how and where. We believe that we provide a bright opportunity to learn programming, as well as a cozy and friendly 1st working place to enter the world of high technologies!
Returning to charity in general, we do it at the call of the heart, just as all other initiatives and events in Fively. I believe that everything should come naturally. Our company does not pursue earning super high profits, Igor and I do not ride Lamborghini or McLaren - we just do our work with passion and honesty.
For us, it’s much better to help people in need and to solve somebody’s crisis situation, than earn as much money as we can. I can say that helping people can bring much more energy for new doings and ruling business than looking at your company through money lenses.
“We strongly believe in it and we feel responsible for correcting the inequality taking place in the world, so we try to redistribute wealth at least with the help of donations.”
Speaking of plans, what do you think about the launch of the second Fively Academy course? Are you planning to do this, and if so, will the new training program be different from the previous one?
Alexey: In Fively, we want everything to happen naturally, without rush or pressure. When we had the first launch of the Academy, there was a corresponding request from the company. Plus, there was a stable situation in the IT market in general, and we were 100% sure that we will quickly find good projects for all these people. And what’s also important, we had our own resources in the company, in which we are ready to invest time and effort.
Right now the situation in the IT market is different, so the time for the second launch is not very suitable due to many factors, but who knows what will happen in the nearest future. Probably, positive changes will come soon, and we’ll think of the second launch of Fively Academy more closely.
Igor: Yes, I totally agree. Two years ago the time and all the circumstances ideally suited for the launch, but now, as we all can see, things are different. In general, yes, of course, we think of it, and it would be great to start the second course at the Fively Academy, as soon as the right time will come.
I would like to tell you a bit more about our students from the previous course. It largely consisted of people from our network, who wished to change their current job and learn something new from the world of software technologies. We saw their great potential and will to learn and decided to help them realize their dreams. At the moment, we still have a list of such people, and when the time will come, we will offer them and all those who wait for it such an opportunity!
Regarding the program: two years ago we did everything by ourselves, it was an interesting adventure, a so-called first try, and I should say we did it really well. Now, we would like to make it even more professional and include materials taken from the public domain. I see our role here mainly in mentoring, which means checking the tasks, answering questions, and guiding those who want to study online at some established and well-known courses like Coursera or Codeacademy.
Later we will study them more closely and choose the best-fitting program for our people.
What else do you plan for our company in the next couple of years? Probably, there will be new offices opened, or new products launched, or something even more exciting? Please, share some secrets with our readers!
Igor: Speaking about plans, we really believe in our service products and expect their KPIs to grow. Plus, we would like to become a certified partner of AWS and GCP platforms, we spend significant efforts now in this direction.
Alexey: Yes, we will aim at deepening our expertise even more and honing our software services line, creating more complex turnkey solutions. We also expect our products to be released, and in the long perspective, we would like to shift to a hybrid product-service paradigm.
Thank you so much for the shared insights and plans, it was a pleasure to talk! What would you like to wish all our employees and customers on the eve of the New Year and Christmas?
This is the end of our exciting talk with Fively co-founders Igor and Alexey.
We want to thank you for reading us through this long and difficult year and hope you'll stay with us in the coming year. Push subscribe button and be the first to get the freshest news from the IT world in 2023. Fively team wishes you happy holidays!
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