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Hello, readers :)
I’m the co-founder of an IT company — Uptech. Together with my partner and the team, we are building the company where we adopt innovative practices and challenge the old-school and not effective business approaches.
As of May 2019, Uptech has 53 team members, who share the culture of Freedom & Responsibility.
I would like to share with you why we built the company and what values we live by.
Once upon a time
I (Andriy Bas) and Dima Kovalenko, were disappointed about the working environment at most of the outsourcing companies in Ukraine. We decided that the best way to fix this was to start our own business. We had our vision of how to build a team. And it was different from the standard approaches on the market at that time. So we decided to quit our jobs and to go on our own. Consequently, in February 2016 Uptech was born.
Both only 21 years old at the time, we invested our $2,000 and started working on the first project, that we received from our friends from the USA. Over the following three years, we didn’t take any external investments. All the time, we were growing on our own cash flow.
Our first office was an apartment, where Dima and I lived. Since we did our work on a good level, more clients wanted to work with us. Soon, we moved from one co-working place to another, as our team became bigger and bigger. The range of our services had been growing too — iOS, backend, web frontend, design, later Business Analysis, and UX research. In January 2019, we moved to our own spacious office.
Learning by doing
Dima and I didn’t have any business experience. Thus we had to discover everything on our own. It allowed us to define our way how we want to build the company, together with all the team members, and not copy the existing models described in MBA books. And we experimented a lot. For example, we adopted 20% free work weeks (similar to how Google used it) and ran this practice for more than a year.
By autumn 2016, when we grew to almost 20 people, we faced a need to add a structure to our company. At that time we bumped into the book “Reinventing Organizations” by Frederic Laloux. The author described the alternative, teal way how organizations can be managed. Instead of the traditional hierarchy, he suggested the self-organization and circles of responsibilities, instead of the KPIs and money-oriented-targets — values and evolutionary purpose. Together with the team, we decided to adopt some practices from teal organizations that we loved and that worked for us. Among the selected methods were:
- Decision Making
- Conflict Resolution
- Performance management, etc.
Through many iterations, we tested and refined the processes, created some of our own (e. g.: self-defined salaries) to have what we have now finally. And this process will never end. If you want a company’s growth, you should continually experiment and improve a company’s processes together with the team to become better every day. To understand, what will work for your business, first you should try and then choose the best approaches.
Always start with “WHY.”
Uptech’s vision is to become a Product Studio and create products that would improve the world, both ourselves and for our clients.
We believe that the right way to achieve this goal — is to create the right environment in the team, where each team member can fulfill their best potential and make a contribution to the world. And that is still our biggest mission today: “To create an inspiring work environment so that together we build quality products and improve the world.”
To make this goal a reality, everyone at the company should embrace the core values. Many companies focus mostly on business goals but often forget what are the underlying crafts that make their companies successful are shared values.
Together with the team, we defined the following values, with which we live by:
- Deliver Quality. We always target to achieve the highest possible quality (taking into account the business value and constraints of the product, embracing product mindset);
- Strive for continuous improvement. We are constant explorers and learners, discovering how to become better every day;
- Embrace Freedom and Responsibility. They are the two sides of the same coin. We take ownership of our thoughts, words, and actions;
- Create a Teamwork. We help team members, celebrate their successes, create a little bit of fun, joy, and happiness at work;
- Be Honest. We say what we think, respecting the psychological safety of others, applying empathy and tolerance;
- Embrace the Product Mindset. We believe in Lean, Customer Development, and iterative approach. And we treat all projects like our own.
We believe that having core company values will help to ensure all team members are working towards the common goal and align around a higher purpose.
Our primary motivation starting Uptech was to create a working environment that would be a pleasant place to work, where you can grow as a professional, build something cool, and have fun along the way. Now we have the team of 50+ creators, who share our vision and are ready to make our shared dream a reality.
I cannot say that our way of building the culture of Freedom and Responsibility is the right one. But it’s the way that we believe in and that works for us. After all, who never tries, never finds the best opportunities to grow.