We sat down with Ivan, our CEO, to have a chat about our current business endeavours. We also touched upon 2021, the plans for our future development, and the unavoidable Covid-19 issues.
How satisfied are you with EpicSS’s success over the past year?
I’m quite content, I can’t complain. The majority of experienced developers that were in my team before we became an independent company is still a part of EpicSS. That, in the first place, is what makes me satisfied and I take it for a great success. It shows that the team sees EpicSS as a company that fosters their growth. There were also several additions to our team as a result of the company’s development. I am proud that our long-term clients are still with us. We had a few new in-house projects and several new clients, as well. However, I’d say that the biggest change in 2021 was the introduction of some new technologies.
We’ll come to the new technologies later. First, could you give us an overview of how we do business? Which business models do we follow?
There are three departments within the company. One of them is the nearshoring team. We don’t interfere too much with their work. They are more of a part of our clients’ organisations. EpicSS only takes care of their HR-related needs.
Then, there is the outsourcing team. They are in charge of the projects our clients outsource to us. Once the development phase is done, we get hired for the maintenance as well.
Also, we have a team working on our own products. There are several in-house projects currently in development. BatWinner betting app is the one closest to the final phase. We have several other ones, too, that are in development.
The new company website creation is also underway as an in-house project. It will better represent the scope of our work to potential clients so that they can choose the cooperation model most suitable for them.
Why do we have such a large scope?
We spontaneously grew on all these fronts to this point where we have three independent departments. The two departments that work with clients developed thanks to the clients’ demand.
The in-house projects have started developing based on the team’s enthusiasm, passion, and personal interests. We hope all three departments will keep developing.
Maybe we can even say we are already sort of a holding company with three daughter companies. :) Hopefully, at some point, they will officially become independent and thrive on their own. That would be great! For now, though, we are satisfied with the stability all these business models give us under the EpicSS roof.
Can we elaborate on each business model we follow? First, what are the nearshoring benefits?
This business model is the most reliable. You have a permanent client that pays you regardless of the amount of work. However, when they end the cooperation, you’re left with nothing, so to speak, unless you have other clients. Nearshoring companies are no more than HR agencies, in my opinion. They employ people for a client, and all tasks come from that client. The client also chooses the technologies and projects. These don’t always cater to developers’ personal development and the job can get a bit dull. So, why do we still stick to this model? Because this is how we started collaborating with some of our clients, and these collaborations later developed into comprehensive partnerships.
What are outsourcing advantages and disadvantages?
Outsourcing is more significant for the team members. It is more demanding, so they get to improve their skills. This is the main among the advantages of outsourcing. The projects also differ from each other a great deal. That keeps the job interesting and rewarding. The main among the disadvantages of outsourcing is that a client may happen to need only a one-time job done. So, once the project is finished, the whole department switches to a completely new challenge. Of course, this fresh start can be exciting and motivating. Yet, sometimes, it can also become challenging and slightly dispiriting. Fortunately, our clients are growing and keep returning to us with different projects. We do our best to encourage their loyalty through our maintenance packages.
How are our in-house projects coming along? What are the upsides of this business model?
It’s going well so far. BatWinner is nearing the launch phase. Others are still only at the beginning stage. This model is the least safe from the company’s point of view. However, we love that we get to launch these sorts of projects. They allow us the freedom to choose the technologies and make all other decisions as well. This is where our skills are best tested and improved. However, although we love that we get to do these projects, we can’t say where they’ll go. We do hope they become successful and we are open to partnership offers on the development of any of them.
Will our products become our only focus at some point?
We don’t have such plans. As long as we have clients that want to work with us, our nearshoring and outsourcing departments will function. Of course, we’d be proud if one of the apps we’d built became super popular. However, this sort of success won’t push us into working exclusively on in-house projects.
You mentioned the new technologies we’ve introduced in 2021. Which technologies are those? How did we come up with this decision?
Our goal was to offer more affordable prices to our clients but maintain the quality of the products. So, the whole team sat down and tried to find the best solution. Our mobile developers were the ones who proposed the switch to Flutter. Now, they can rely on each other for help, and we get the job done in almost half the time than before. This change improved the atmosphere in the team as well. I can see they are more relaxed, but also excited that they get to learn new things and evolve as developers. I, too, believe that the Flutter framework is the next big thing, so I supported their suggestion. It’s always better to keep up with the latest developments in your industry, and especially in IT. If you adopt the new technologies early on, you'll have skillful developers in the team. This puts you in an advantageous position when the technology becomes mainstream.
Did we have any clients who asked that their projects be transferred to Flutter?
Yes, two of the major clients decided to make the switch. We could keep developing in two languages for several months and let the code pile up. Then, the transfer to Flutter would take more time. Luckily, our clients’ representatives trusted me with the decision to migrate to Flutter. I am sure they have only gained from this decision. After all, it saves them almost half of the costs. They don’t need two people working on the development project, and later on the maintenance.
We cannot avoid mentioning Covid-19’s effects on our business. The pandemic has been a part of our lives for two years now, and it looks like it's here to stay in the upcoming year. How have we handled it so far?
Financially, it didn’t change too much for us. Organisationally, we switched to working from home. That’s the major change. Our clients have been sceptical about this decision, and so have I. However, it turned out better than expected.
Why were you sceptical about switching to work from home? Do you now think choosing remote work was a good decision?
I worried about communication and productivity. Back then, the culture of working from home still hadn't developed so well. For many people and their families, a day of remote work meant a day off. I am proud that our team ploughed through the initial shock and remained productive. Do I think it was a good decision? Well, the whole team saw it as the only right decision. We thought it best for ourselves, our families, and the community. It did affect the communication, team spirit, and to some extent profits, but it helped a greater cause. Working from home even improved the happiness in our ranks. People get to save a lot of time on getting ready for work, commuting, and finding parking spots. Another plus—we get to eat home-cooked meals every day, instead of the fast food we often go for at the office.
What is the future of remote work in EpicSS?
We’ve grown accustomed to it and we definitely like the advantages. Once the pandemic is over, I’ll suggest that we leave the possibility of working from home on some days. Of course, we’ll gather in the office whenever it is crucial for the project at hand. In other words, we’ll move on to the hybrid workplace model. I think we have adopted the necessary organisational methods that will allow us to successfully work from home, or an “exotic” destination, once we move on to hybrid.
Finally, what are your goals and expectations for the future?
Our top goal is to be competitive quality-wise and deliver top-notch products in rank with the western companies. We strive to offer the best value for money not by lowering our price but by improving the quality of our service. I hope many more clients will see the advantages of cooperating with us. What I see as my personal task is to keep together the team of professionals who are great people, believe in this company’s success, and want to work towards it with me. All in all, I firmly believe in our success in the upcoming years.