1 year ago, on Feb 15, in a far-far-away galaxy, Andriy and Dima quit their jobs and started Uptech.

We felt like the typical way organizations are run is not the best, that it’s possible to create a better workplace with more fun, where your work is meaningful, where you grow both personally and professionally and enjoy the stuff you do every day …

And we wanted to challenge the common sense.

Of course, we had no idea of how all that should look like exactly. We just started, trusting our gut to do what best we could.

Since then a lot of cool stuff has happened, we faced a lot of challenges, made quite a decent leap in the previous Leap year that we’re excited to share with you.

uptech team
Uptech Team during the 1-year birthday celebration

Start with WHY

We believe it all begins with the culture. Culture and values. We believe that if you get the culture right — most of other things will come up on its own. Things like healthy friendly team spirit, passionate team members that do care about the product they build, the end customers and the client. Team members, that crave for professionalism, personal and professional learning, top quality excellence. And other things, like building a strong long-term brand.

We probably invested in culture more than in any other field at Uptech so far (except for our core competency — software development). These were talks, presentations, open discussions, team building events, and activities.

We do understand that building the culture is a never ending process, that culture evolves over time. So far we formed our current mission as the following.

“Enrich people’s lives by bringing technology with great user experience.” — Uptech mission

Also, we’ve defined our core values. Many companies have and advertise the core values. First of all, we wrote them down for us, to live by them and reference to every day. To show our new team members who we are. This is actually the first time we share them with the world.

  1. Top quality product. No tolerance for the poor quality, in everything we do. Our customers love quality products, only quality product can create a memorable user experience and enrich their life. Also, focusing on quality helps us live by the second core value.
  2. Continuous learning. We started small, and have always been growing. Growing within ourselves, and as a team. Growing personally and professionally. Always learning and discovering new ways of achieving goals. Always on the road of improving our service, skills, products, relationships with customers and in the team. We embrace continuous learning by reserving 20% of the work week so that everyone could have an opportunity to learn and do stuff they want.
  3. Openness and transparency. We pay a lot of attention not only why we do what we do, but also how we do it. We believe that open and transparent relationships are essential to bringing happiness and fun to the workplace. Transparency helps create the psychological safety and dependability — core factors defined by Google that make teams successful.
  4. Equal Human worth. We believe that all people are essentially good and trustworthy unless otherwise proven. Thus nobody needs to be managed in a traditional way. We believe that when people are not restricted with “conventional rules”, and just allowed to do their best — they will be much more productive and achieve better results. That’s why we also adopted practices from modern organizations, such as conflict resolution and decision-making mechanisms.
  5. Push technologies further. We love to challenge ourselves, solve complex tasks, seek for sophisticated solutions, etc. We just love technologies and want to advance them, push to the next level, helping make the internet better and easier to use.
  6. Social responsibility. We also understand our social responsibility and give back to the community as much as we can. This involves sharing knowledge, contributing to open source, giving tech talks, etc. More on that further in the article.

Of course, there’s still a lot to do, but this is the direction we have chosen. Already, the culture started forming our brand too, even though we didn’t have a marketing strategy for that. Candidates contact us, saying smth like “… Uptech looks like an incredible place to work, with your free Fridays and team attitude to work”. When visiting our office clients are impressed that we invite them to talk to and meet with the whole team, not just “management”. Clients also give positive feedback about work, sometimes very emotional:

This is how we live at Uptech, and below are the results we’ve achieved living that way a year.

Uptech achievements

Ok, so since February 2016 we grew from 2 to 24 team members. For that, we had to change 3 offices — from 3 guys and 2 tables in the personal flat to a spacious green open space in the Smartworking.

offices
Offices changed during the year)

On average we’ve been growing 2 new team members per month. To gather the team of so many talented people, we had to interview more than 210 candidates.

What we did for our clients

During the year we’ve successfully completed a number of cool projects, among which were:

voter project
Voter project (iOS and Android apps)

Voter — matchmaking for politics. Voter allows users to answer a few simple questions and find out which politicians truly have their best interests at heart, and have a track record to back it up. We developed Android and iOS app for them.

Voter Facebook Messenger Chatbot

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Voter Facebook Chatbot. It was our first chatbot and was our suggestion for the client, we developed it as an experiment, It became a nice bot and it was a great experience for us. We learned a lot. The bot enhanced the client business.

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#YoShirt Android App

#YoShirt is the app for creating one-of-a-kind apparel and accessories. Simply snap it, customize it, and wear it. It was a lot of challenge and fun building the custom shirt editing application.

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Over the course of a year, we’ve served 60 clients, from just giving an advice to developing a complex solution for their businesses. Here are some more numbers:

  • received 500+ “thank you”s and 30 complaints from clients
  • made 10k commits and 1.6k pull requests
  • had 500 video calls
  • conducted 650+ Daily Scrums and 120+ Sprints
  • ran 1250+ CI builds (600 of which were successful)
  • found 1000+bugs and experienced 23k+ crashes

What we did for the community

Social responsibility is one of the core values, and we always try to share with the community the expertise we’ve gained. This resulted in 8 blog articles that received 750+ likes in total. 3 times our articles were published in one of the most popular Android Digest — Android Weekly:

We also contributed to such resources as AndroidDev Digest and Kotlin Weekly.

One of the things we practice regularly in Uptech is Tech Talks. We organized about 25 Tech Talks last year. Most of them were internal. Several were public. One of the latest —Clean Architecture in Android — gathered 36 visitors for the event.

Clean Architecture in Android Tech Talk by Halyna Halkina

We’ve also shared our experience creating custom stickers in the open-source library MotionViews, that received 165+ stars and 40+ forks.

Personal achievements

While delivering happiness through great products, we had a lot of fun last year. Having fun is also what Uptech is good at. Here are some more numbers from our team:

  • failed 16 attestations and 4 exams in the university, 1 drop off from the university
  • read 100+ books
  • consumed 1.8k+ coffee cups and 4.5k+ tea cups
  • smoked 7k+ cigarettes
What’s interesting - the most smoking was our iOS team :))
  • spent 3k hours learning
  • organized 6 parties
uptech team
Halloween Party 2016 in Uptech
  • created 105 custom emoji
  • donated 4200 UAH to charity

What’s ahead

The next year will be even more challenging for us. Our mission encourages us to continue growing to bring more value to the world. We’ve set audacious goals for the next year. Among them:

  • Grow to 50+ people and open the second office
  • Save and improve the culture while growing, integrate values in everyday life in the company
  • Grow and enhance Development and Design departments
  • Open Data Science department
  • Create WOW-effect through servicing clients
  • Create Uptech Handbook (for new team members)
  • Release product from Uptech
  • Improve company processes (Scrum, Recruiting, Marketing, Talent Development, Sales)
  • Enhance company perks (insurance, sport, gyms, relaxation zones)
  • Love and Code the whole year!