We talked to Karol Wegner of itCraft about Mobile & Web App Development during the COVID-19 times.
Tell us the story – what are the origins of itCraft?
Karol Wegner: I started as a developer, and my primary language was Java. I was then promoted to Tech Leader and Project Manager. During this time, my high-school friend Bartek (Co-Founder of itCraft) and I had been thinking about opening a company. We did that in 2010, and that was the beginning of itCraft.
For 10 years, we’ve been walking down that path together. With our technical background and management experience, we actually weren’t aware of the obstacles we would stumble upon during our journey. But we survived, and now we have more than 80 people on board. They are real experts and IT enthusiasts that have helped us grow itCraft to become one of the leading software houses on the market. It is also worth mentioning that this year our growth has been exceptionally rapid. In the second half of 2020, we have hired 30 people so far.
What innovative services do you offer as a software house?
Karol Wegner: Our primary area of expertise is mobile and web application development – both native and cross-platform. But there are two factors that have influenced our need for growth. The first one is that we really like what we do, which means we are constantly learning new things. The itCraft team is open-minded, creative, and naturally curious about new technologies and trends.
The other one is our need to offer our clients the best service we possibly can. Thus, we need to know about innovations and be able to use them if the product owner requires it. Right now, we are putting a lot of effort into machine learning. We have already done some projects using AI algorithms, and we want to explore this field even further.
How do you thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic? Any advice?
Karol Wegner: We reacted extremely quickly at the first signs of the crisis, and that’s been a significant part of our success in that matter. Many of our clients also changed their operations quite early to adapt to the new situation. Some projects had to be adjusted to the new conditions, but overall we have done quite well.
Our strategy for this uncertain time was to immediately switch to fully-remote work and adjust our workflow to our clients’ needs. We had to be sensitive and mindful of their changing expectations and pains. Suspending our recruitment processes was only temporary, and after deciding to continue our growth strategy, we managed to hire more people than ever. Also, we were constantly improving our frameworks and learning new technologies to offer even better, more advanced services.
itCraft’s marketing team was focused on creating a lot of useful content and promoting our company as a perfect vendor for tough times. My recommendation to any company that has experienced turbulence due to the COVID-19 situation is to not panic and adjust their strategy to the new reality.
What was the biggest difficulty you had to face this year?
Karol Wegner: Well, the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic was a little bit shaky, as some of our clients had to suspend or even withdraw from collaboration. We had to put a plan into action to make sure we could get through such a dramatic situation. Our main goal was not to lay off any of our teammates. And I can proudly say we succeeded.
Some of our plans regarding our team-building and social activities had to be canceled. This year we are celebrating 10 years on the market, and we wanted to organize something special, but we had to postpone due to restrictions from the government. We care about our employees’ safety, and we know we will all meet when this is over.
Do you have a concrete strategy to outshine the competition?
Karol Wegner: Quality always speaks for itself. Although we are not always the cheapest offer on the table, we get many positive testimonials where our clients praise us for delivering high-quality software. They appreciate our collaboration and do not regret the decision to invest more in their application. That’s because the relationship between itCraft and its clients is based on being a true partner where the product owners can treat us not only as vendors but also consultants and business advisors.
Then we have innovation – as I mentioned, we put a lot of time and effort into perfecting our skills and acquiring new ones. Creating a unique, custom offer for each client is possible because we always practice an individual approach. Our priority is to fulfill all requirements and deliver software that will meet the expectations.
Last but not least, we want to provide value in everything we do. itCraft is not a software house that only creates apps. We share our knowledge and experience in various ways – by hosting webinars, publishing ebooks, and writing blog articles with tons of useful information about our work. We’ve recently started to offer discovery calls and IT consultations to help all business owners transform their ideas into real, working software products.
What would you tell all aspiring startup owners that are looking for a vendor?
Karol Wegner: Always go for quality instead of the lowest price. We have heard so many stories about startup owners that wanted to save money by hiring a company with low hourly rates. Then, they came to us – asking for help because their app doesn’t work properly or has many performance issues. A situation like that could be avoided if they picked a software house that offers complex services and support along the way. Expertise should always matter the most because if you pick your business partner wisely, you can be sure you will get a high-quality software product. Hiring a cheap company and then reaching out to a vendor that can fix a poorly developed app means exceeding the budget so much it can hurt.
For all startups that want to start off on the right track or are looking for a software house that will save their app, we recommend our consultations. They are the first step to creating a genuinely perfect software product.