Julien Danjou of Mergify tells us how they are creating new tools that software engineering teams can leverage to enhance and improve their GitHub workflow.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Julien Danjou: This is quite a challenging time for everyone, but we are doing good, fortunately. I wish the best to everyone reading this.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Mergify.
Julien Danjou: I’ve been contributing to open-source software for the past twenty years now and throughout my career. This is actually how I met my co-founder, Mehdi Abaakouk: we were working together on the same open-source project, building an open-source cloud platform. While doing so, we struggled to find proper development tools to help us build it.
When using development platforms, such as GitHub, there are always missing pieces for people wanting to achieve advanced workflows. We started by scratching our own itches. Soon enough, many developers we were chatting with got interested in what we were building, to a point they couldn’t work without it. That’s where we decided to start Mergify.
How does Mergify innovate?
Julien Danjou: We are pushing development tooling and workflow automation into a brand new direction where no company has gone before. We’re creating new tools that software engineering teams can leverage to enhance and improve their GitHub workflow.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Julien Danjou: We don’t think it actually impacts our business – or at least it does in a good way. As engineering teams are more and more distributed and used to working remotely, they need better collaboration tools. Mergify is such a tool, so if we are impacted by the pandemic, it’s at least in a good way for now — as engineers need more tools like the one we provide.
Internally, we’ve been a remote-first company since day one, which means we don’t have any office nor expect people to work in a specific location. That helped us keep our working pace.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Julien Danjou: Running a startup is all about making choices. The COVID pandemic just makes things even more difficult, for sure. That being said, as the pandemic had little impact on our business, we didn’t have many options related to the pandemic itself.
If we learned something, it is that having the company entirely built remotely and with an asynchronous way of working was a real advantage. We saw no loss in productivity, and we were able to adapt promptly.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Julien Danjou: We keep using the same tools we did before, which are the usual suspects: Slack, Google Meet, etc. That allows communicating properly with the whole team, synchronously and asynchronously. Our experience in working in an open-source allows us to keep working asynchronously and remotely, which is a must nowadays. Communication is the key to success, and is used to interact properly with your team remotely is a game-changer.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Julien Danjou: We’re new enough that we don’t really have competitors. As we’re creating something different and solving problems that engineering teams never thought about ironing out, our real competitor is ignorance. Our plan to address this is to keep educating our users so they can leverage Mergify to increase their development pace.
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