We talked to Kostis Mamassis of Megaventory about cloud inventory management during the pandemic.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Kostis Mamassis: So far we are coping quite well. My kids live in the northern part of Italy (the initial epicenter of the pandemic) where I visit them and stay with them for one week per month. They are in their teen years and they need to socialize, so you can imagine that staying home is more difficult for them than for me. We just really hope this will end soon and we’ll get back to normality; we humans are an extremely social species and we just don’t function well when in isolation.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Megaventory.
Kostis Mamassis: I am a telecoms engineer graduate with a PhD in Operations Research. I think this tells it all: I am an extremely practical kind of person who really enjoys hands-on experience in anything challenging. Just after graduating, I worked for Siemens where I have traveled on mountain tops setting up microwave antennas for the backbone network of Greece. After three years, I quickly lost interest and pursued my PhD degree. During this time I also founded an e-commerce business (diveshop.gr) that became the market leader in Greece in less than 2 years. The company specialized in the retail of diving equipment (being its CEO diveshop did USD1M in revenues in 2008). That company was the playground for our current company, Megaventory Inc. In fact, the software was developed initially to be used for successfully managing the internal supply chain operations of diveshop.gr.
How does Megaventory innovate?
Kostis Mamassis: Creating a knowledge building organization is one of the key elements of our innovative approach. We use handy tools such as Trello or Intercom that help us maintain overall productivity and business efficiency, as well as improve communication. I always try to focus on norms and values that emphasize lateral communication and cross-functional cooperation. This way, each employee is allowed to act outside formal tasks and work on projects where they feel they can contribute something unique. We also have many group chats joining different departments for this reason.
Additionally, I am trying to avoid groupthink and prevent the team from suffering from cognitive bias. We maintain diversity in skilled employees, allowing them to follow diverse paths.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Kostis Mamassis: Obviously, Megaventory is not an exception, so just like any other enterprise, we are dealing with both internal and external challenges. As a consequence, our organization had to adapt to the global situation; therefore, we started working remotely. So far, I might say we are doing well. Megaventory is web-based; thus, we are experiencing fewer difficulties when managing our business than, for example, a retail store. Our client base is global, too, so Covid-19 had no impact on communication with them. Sadly, some of the users were lost, but this was inescapable.
What is more, 2020 revenues from health production clients have even seen an increase. Profitability from non-health companies is lower than in previous years. As a result, to maintain strong relationships with our existing clients, there were some discounts offered to them for short periods. Unfortunately, we could not propose any sales promotion for Megaventory’s new customers.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Kostis Mamassis: I’m sure every business has had to make difficult decisions during this time. Our field is thankfully one where the workflow hasn’t majorly changed. However, this pandemic has taught us that nothing can be taken for granted and that the core of your business has got to be strong. If we focus too much on things other than having a brilliant product, we aren’t standing on firm ground if/when disaster hits. A solid product and stellar customer service will sell itself. It’s been a reality check for us, and we are seeing that our passion for focusing on the product and customer service has been the right approach all along.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Megaventory in the future?
Kostis Mamassis: It’s necessary for me to have at least one full day off a week. This means no internet, no calls. A day of freediving or just being out at the beach helps me clear my mind and get ready for the next week. Knowing how to keep a balance is key for me and the business.
Having a good team also makes all the difference. I’m very thankful to have a good team where we can talk openly and push each other to be better. Issues within the team would have made this time much harder! Choosing your team well is a preventative of unnecessary anxiety.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Kostis Mamassis: We have some strong competitors, and we respect them fully. The plan for staying in the game is always listening to what our clients want and need. Knowing your clients and building trust with them goes a long way. We want to develop with them. Especially now, with the uncertainty that Covid-19 has brought to businesses, it’s crucial for your clients to know you understand their struggle and genuinely care about their success.
We focus on user-friendliness, customer support, and providing the best value for our clients’ investment. Megaventory is actually placed at high rankings in several GetApp categories, Order Management Software being one of them. Inviting new, out of the box perspectives from both our team and clients alike is how we stay fresh and ahead of the curb.
Your final thoughts?
Kostis Mamassis: The important thing for all of us right now is to remember what is of vital importance. As a SaaS company, we don’t only focus on the software, but the service as well. Making sure we are helping our clients in this hard time is key. At the end of the day, we are all humans trying to cope with a global pandemic. Also, making sure our team feels secure and safe is important now more than ever. We are in this together!