Interview for the magazine Tech+ – how can an innovative high tech startup cooperate with the Sensinum software house?
Sensinum is a software house based in Krakow specializing in application development services and the flourishing eHealth industry. What is the key to the success of a high tech startup? When can you breathe a sigh of relief and say to yourself, “I made it”? We presented those questions to the creators of Sensinum, Tomasz Orzechowski and Sebastian Pracuch.
Guys, looking at your achievements, it’s a safe bet to say you have entrepreneurship in your blood. Tomasz, your adventure with business started over a decade ago. Has the market changed in that time? Are there any major differences?
Tomasz: Of course there are, plenty of them. When I was starting my adventure with the IT sector and application development services, the market was much more receptive. Most of the companies were only at the beginning of migrating their obsolete systems to a Web-based model. You could say that basic competence in this field was enough to be able to compete with larger companies, which had not managed to switch to the new technologies yet. However, running a business today requires much better planning, and the standard range of services is not enough to stay afloat.
So what would you say guarantees the success of an IT project nowadays?
Sebastian: Expertise. Our founding idea was the area of telemedicine and eHealth, in particular web applications that work with smart devices and process the collected data in a sophisticated way. This is the area where we excel and it paid off – we were able to jump on the IoT bandwagon.
What are the problems that young entrepreneurs who would like to follow your footsteps may encounter?
Tomasz: The most difficult thing is gaining the trust of potential customers while being a completely unknown brand at the beginning. Our priority was punctuality. This is the cornerstone of our business relations, thus satisfied clients and business partners have recommended us further. It was a big investment, because it is known that small businesses are quite often short-handed.
Sebastian: I have noticed that a lot of the problems arising in projects are due to a lack of communication. That’s why we paid so much attention to this at Sensinum, even exaggerating a bit. But, as a result, we have always omitted unpleasant situations, and customers have always known the current status of the project and the problems we were dealing with. This allowed us to focus on solving technical problems and not on putting out fires.
A high tech startup is not only about ideas and innovative solutions; it is primarily a micro enterprise that needs management. How does that work in your company?
Tomasz: We are able to divide tasks as in a factory, so as to fit our natural predispositions. I am responsible for strategic decisions. I think about the company in the long run, thus coming up with or changing our services. I am definitely better at this than at focusing on small tasks for several hours.
Sebastian: My strength, however, is in operations, especially when creating new products. I like well-defined tasks with precisely scheduled deadlines and that’s something I look after in our business. Focusing on several projects makes it hard to think about long-term strategy at the same time, which is why I have paired so well with Tomasz. Each of us watches over the business in a slightly different, but an equally important way.
Tom: A feature that we have in common for a change is a kind of business restraint. We try to make no decisions based on emotions. We construct a very precise financial plan that we update on a regular basis. For most of our friends who have seen our Excel spreadsheet, it is funny that we have such a meticulous approach to corporate spending, but thanks to this we have achieved pretty good precision in planning. Simply put, as it befits Cracovians – we are frugal 🙂
This is not a common policy for a high tech startup…
Tomasz: Sometimes I think it’s a rarity even in medium-sized companies that have somehow managed to stay in the business without such controlling mechanisms. However, we use tools that large companies apply and thus we are able to find quite a bit of savings. We believe that with just a pinch of luck this diligence will pay off and allow for the rapid development of the company without introducing a radical revolution in the management or control of finances.
This corporate meticulousness works in project management too?
Sebastian: In this area we are just followers of Agile methodologies. What has worked best for us is creating products using Lean and Kanban task management approaches. Overall, I think the Far East approach to business and work really has a deeper meaning.
We have already established that the project must be innovative and efficiently run. But every success and every failure involves people. How do you build a team that communicates and operates efficiently?
Sebastian: It is important to hire people who complement each other not only in professional matters, but in character as well. The smaller the team, the more probable are conflicts. At a company that’s fighting for position and working under time pressure, the role of the boss is to motivate employees even in difficult situations as well as to lead the team to avoid conflicts.
What else should young entrepreneurs remember?
Tomasz: I am convinced that modesty and honesty give the best outcomes. Maybe the offer is not as attractive, and it does not generate a lot of sales opportunities, but once it comes to serious talks, the ability to draw additional aces from your sleeve can make a huge difference. After years in business, I can say that in the long run this strategy is the most effective.
Sebastian: It is also important to surround yourself with positive people who believe in the project and its success. Nothing works better in stressful situations than mutual motivation. I would also advise learning to differentiate between personal and professional relationships. I must admit, several times I agreed to undertake a project as a favor. As a result, we made them at cost or on the verge of profitability. Unfortunately, business is business. It must pay off for each party.
Tomasz: One must also remember that owning a company is also a great responsibility – not only for yourself, but, above all, for your employees. However, I can say with 100% confidence – it’s well worth it!
Finally, please tell us about your plans for the future and what you’re focusing on right now.
Sebastian: We are fortunate that Sensinum is stable and has a very reliable, independent team, and that Tomasz and I can take liberty to do what we really like to do – to create new products. Right now we are building solid relationships with our business partners who are thinking of creating new ventures. We can arrange a complete plan of action for them, build a team and, above all, deliver the product, creating the value of a new company.
Tomasz: We are glad to talk about any business that can be realized in a SaaS model. We have gained a lot of knowledge of how to prototype and build such projects, so it seems to us that we can be proper partners for such ventures. We are convinced that this type of software architecture is the only way for rapidly scalable businesses. No doubt that they may arise in Poland very soon and become global brands!
Sensinum is a Polish software house offering top-notch software development services to companies, marketing agencies and temas. If you need a subcontractor or a software house to team up on your own project, choose Sensinum. We give you smooth communication and highly skilled developers with experience in many advanced projects. See for yourself what you can get, contact us and consult your software idea for free.