Devhouse got its name for a reason. People matter here and being a team means a lot to us. But how did it come to that? How do you build a company culture where people are valued, heard and given opportunities to shine? We talked with Igor Boky, a CEO, mentor and friend to learn about his vision for Devhouse, aspirations and future plans.
- Tell us about yourself. Your background. Where do you come from? How did your journey in IT started?
I’m come from a small village and a family of 2 teachers. Naturally, there was only one option and it was being smart and graduating with honors. I have this classic story of my father bringing me my first PC when I was 8. So, started exploring and playing very early. Video and photo editing was another passion for a while. Ultimately, I was that first guy at school who knew how to fix something in most PCs.
Then I got my golden ticket to development - my friend gave me a CD with the Visual Basic course. That was officially the first programming language I’ve learnt. At the university I was a big fan of complex tasks and really passionate about coding, participating in coding challenges and championships. I guess I carry that passion and competitiveness with me to this day.
- Who are the mentors and peers that have helped you grow professionally?
Oh, there are many really good mentors on this way, starting from my good childhood friend. He was the one opening this world for me, the one I could ask many stupid questions. For sure, my team and coding teachers at the university helped me become a strong developer. These days I think communication is the key to knowledge and success, so I try to learn every day from my colleagues and especially my partner John Rush.
- What inspires you to stay motivated as a leader to your team and thrive in your industry?
Good question. I believe creating and helping people around is my passion. I truly believe that with the products we develop we make someone's life easier, by sharing knowledge with colleagues I give them opportunities to grow.
What goes around comes around, so, I’m a big believer in that when I give knowledge, opportunities, feedback, I’ll get even more positive things in return. That motivates me.
- Describe your perfect day.
It has changed quite a bit lately, these days I would love to sit and just code at least half a day, I love coding. As a CEO, I have to focus on many different things and I would say any day is perfect if I manage to achieve daily goals. But in general I like days when I have 2-3 calls max, and 2 hours in the middle of the day, where I can be focused on important things in zero-destruction mode and also have an hour or so for running/walking around to clear my head.
- First, pandemic. Now, the dramatic changes in the political situation. How did that affect the work flow at Devhouse?
Pandemic made us adjust to the rapid changes, learn how to work remotely and be a lot more flexible. Current situation is a bigger challenge, for sure.
Pandemic has united the world, we were fighting for the same thing. Now, this new reality splits people, unfortunately, makes us vulnerable.
We don’t know what the end of that story is going to bring, so it’s hard to predict its effect for Devhouse. But for sure there are few obvious challenges already: unpredictable currency rates, and payments issues.
Although, there’s something I’m pretty proud of at this point. We didn’t fire a single person in the company over this period, and we always look positively in the future, we have a strong team united by the same idea: deliver good products and improve the world together.
- Leading in this environment can be stressful. How do you adjust your management style to the situation? What are your challenges? How do you ensure that you have the team’s support?
Sure, everytime the context changes you need to adapt. It’s stressful and it requires a lot of mental energy to keep it up and running. It’s quite important in this situation to share the actual status of things: what is going on with the company and projects. We started to do monthly calls with the entire team to do that and get feedback.
And I believe that we should be super transparent in such periods, we should not hide negative effects and mother our employees.
Transparency builds trust, it makes us stronger and each team member has a chance to learn from this situation and help the company as much as possible.
- What inspired the international development of the business?
It’s like that since the very beginning. I think it’s a different kind of customer, they’re easier to work with and not compromise on quality over saving resources. I think even the opposite. It’s easier to work with international customers as Partners and deliver good products together. There is definitely a higher level of Trust, too. We helped a lot of startups to succeed, which I’m especially proud of.
Usually only 25% of startups get to the next investing round, in our case it’s about 80%, and we are a big part of that success.
- You are a leader of the team where most of the team members work remotely. How do you make this work?
As the pandemic hit, it was sink or swim. We had to adjust fast not to lose our culture, our productivity. We use Slack as the primary tool to communicate and Google Workspace as a cloud solution for many processes in the company. We use many other tools too, but the key here is that they are 24/7 available remotely, they allow us to be productive. But sure, remote work is not that simple and we love to get together and talk in person. We have a core team in the office and our current vision is to keep it like this until we have better options available.
- According to your colleagues the best thing about Devhouse is its people, the ability to communicate freely and not having a hierarchical structure. Tell us more about the culture at Devhouse.
Yes, Devhouse is a House for developers, I would prefer to even call it DevHome, but it’s not as pleasant to the ears. Our organizational structure is as flat as possible.
We are a team of positive thinkers, we believe that humans are not ideal and mistakes we make ultimately improve our tomorrow.
We are strong believers in a team effort, so any result we get is not an individual result of Andrey or Igor or Anna, it’s a result of cumulative work.
- Can you talk about some initiatives and changes at Devhouse that happened this year?
The big plan for this year was to shoot for the stars and scale like crazy. Unfortunately, no one has expected the situation we are in today. So that’s the biggest challenge right now. However, we believe that we still got time this year for something remarkable.
- What does the Devhouse roadmap look like for the rest of the 2022?
We always are in the middle of product development for our clients. Now we decided that its time for us to develop our own product which could definitely become a gamechanger in the industry! I’m not going to give away too much at this point. Stay tuned for the big news!