We talked to Ivaylo Hristov about how DEV.BG organizes IT conferences and user group meetups, and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Ivaylo Hristov: Thank you for this question. We all remained healthy. My wife and I managed to stay at home and be cautious about the COVID-19 situation without disrupting our normal life. We switched all public services with online alternatives, and we do live the same quality of life as before.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded DEV.BG?
Ivaylo Hristov: My background is in software development. My career path starts as a software developer, and later I moved to be an entrepreneur. In 2008 I lived and worked in Copenhagen, Denmark, when I decided to quit my job and co-founded my first company, Komfo. Later we exited Komfo, and in 2016 together with some of my friends, we started DEV.BG.
How does DEV.BG innovate?
Ivaylo Hristov: DEV.BG started as an IT community and nowadays DEV.BG is the biggest niche job board for IT job ads. Building an IT job board, we decided not to take the tedious approach and buy the software, but as an IT crowd, we decided to build it ourselves and innovate most of it. It took us years to build with multiple feedback loops. Still, being the most prominent IT community in Bulgaria, we’ve got the support of so many IT professionals that this comes naturally. Innovations like emphasizing on locations and map of Sofia with all jobs and IT companies pinpointed on the map or rich company profiles, and so many more are at the bottom of our job board.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Ivaylo Hristov: Before the coronavirus, we were doing 15 tech events each month. All of this being in person with good networking, pizza, and beer. With the pandemic on the horizon, we needed to move everything online. It wasn’t easy, but we moved all events online and did not have even one event canceled. In the process, we started improving our web presence and concentrated on the DEV.BG job board.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Ivaylo Hristov: Yes, we needed to let go of one person from the team due to COVID changes. In a fast-paced business, we are used to making difficult choices. The pandemic taught us that when we are well informed and prepared – nothing can be ruined. Even if that means switching from an offline event to an online event structure for one night only. But we did it.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Ivaylo Hristov: Being at home, now I have much more time for my family. This is my stress and anxiety pill. The topic of stress and anxiety is also included in the DEV.BG team activities. From the beginning of the pandemic, we all work from home, and we do not see each other except for work issues in online meetings. So, we continued with the in-house DEV.BG tradition to have a so-called Team Hour – once a week, where we choose a topic (not related to work) and discuss it. It is a useful “tool” to stay connected with each other and to have those not-serious conversations that we miss from face-to-face communication.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Ivaylo Hristov: In terms of our IT job board, all general job boards are a competitor for us, but with our tight focus on only IT job ads, we plan to stay above them. As for our business, we are continually inviting better and better speakers, which makes us more and more popular.
Your final thoughts?
Ivaylo Hristov: The crisis is an opportunity to check all your assets and to clear your focus. That’s the time when you can put all your efforts towards the most significant parts of the business. Together with a strong team and stored knowledge from the years – we are eager to see next year’s surprises.