We talked to Mike Jackowski of ASPER BROTHERS about the software house from Poland and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Mike Jackowski: Surely, the epidemic of covid-19 has changed the lives of all of us, also privately. Limited contact with other people made us feel how much we need it every day, how social beings we are. In turn, the problems with free mobility bring back the memories of the times when contact with nature was not restricted. However, we know that all this is necessary. We have to think primarily about the health of people who are at risk. I believe that the situation will return to normal at the latest in the middle of next year.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded ASPER BROTHERS.
Mike Jackowski: I founded the company with my brother Paul more than 10 years ago, but we can say that the IT industry, especially in the area of web technologies, has always been close to us. Even in high school, we realized our first projects, and we went a long way to achieve the level of stable and promising business we are now. In hindsight, we know that it was a necessary way to gain experience, know what to focus on and what kind of services to offer. What’s more, thanks to this we can also better advise our clients who create their digital products.
How does ASPER BROTHERS innovate?
Mike Jackowski: We are a software house, so our innovation is mainly about the technology in which we produce software. We always rely on the latest frameworks and tools on which we develop applications for our customers. We are also growing strongly in the area of artificial intelligence and machine learning. A large part of our team is covered by the programmers of Python, a language which, due to its wide application in solutions based on AI, is extremely desirable today.
But most of all we create innovations with our customers. Our partners are mainly companies that want to develop new digital products and services, so, naturally, they have to be innovative to stand out in a competitive market.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Mike Jackowski: Initially, during the global lockdown in mid-March, we had a little trouble. Our clients reacted nervously to take care of their situation, and some projects were suspended and postponed in time. Fortunately, after a few weeks, everything started to return to normal. I think it was a global phenomenon. We were all afraid of changes in the beginning, but later on, we realized that despite the difficulties, we had to develop and invest further, both our clients and us.
Currently, almost the entire company works remotely. In these difficult times, we are lucky because creating software for foreign customers is a job that can be done remotely, and we are used to it. Actually, we do not see any significant differences in terms of work quality and performance. It was certainly great to see the whole team every day, spend time after work, and integrate. We all miss it. Now we are in digital contact, and we use slack or video conferences. Some of our employees also meet privately after work.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Mike Jackowski: We have had some difficult choices, mainly concerning the crew during the first lockdown period. Suspended projects caused a stoppage of work, a temporary, small reduction of employment was necessary. The most difficult choices always concern people, and here it is never easy.
I think that the global epidemic teaches us all to focus even more on strategic management. We must remain optimistic, believe in success and growth, but have concrete plans on how to respond to the crisis. We are currently focusing very strongly in the company on fine-tuning our long-term growth strategy. We have done our homework this year and want to grow steadily.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Mike Jackowski: First of all, I am not alone, and this is very helpful. We manage the company together with my brother, so we split the problems in half, it’s always easier. Additionally, I try to be physically active, not to look for problems where there are no problems. I am an optimist. The development of the company also means working on yourself by reconciling humility with ambition.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Mike Jackowski: Our competitors are actually companies from all over the world. There is also a specific situation in Poland because our domestic software companies are widely appreciated for their high level of service, we have very good programmers. But what’s interesting – we don’t feel like we’re fighting each other. On the contrary – the industry has a habit of exchanging information; the community shares experience, but many people maintain private relations.
As an ASPER BROTHERS, we try to stand out above all for our very good communication with the customer and advice at every stage of product development. We try to make our partners feel that we not only create software for them but also take care of the future commercial success of this project together. If a client’s project is well recognized on the market, generates profit, we also have more work on its further development. This is a classic win-win situation.
Of course, we also have to program at the highest level. This is the basis.
Your final thoughts?
Mike Jackowski: Although the first quarter of 2020 has turned everything upside down, we are slowly getting back to normal. Once again, it turns out that even the most difficult situations do not have to end in disaster.
We are lucky because our industry is doing quite well during this period. I know that not everyone can say that. I wish everyone perseverance and good luck. I keep my fingers crossed for all entrepreneurs and encourage others to support companies from sectors particularly affected by the epidemic.
May the year 2021 be much better.