We talked to Parug Demircioglu of Invemo about mobile services, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Parug Demircioglu: I don’t think it has been quite as difficult for my wife and me as many other people. When the nation started the lockdowns, we were already working remotely a majority of the time, and it seemed like an ideal time to start catching up on other things since I wouldn’t have to spend much time going to work or traveling. The second lockdown didn’t change much because we really didn’t resume anything like our previous schedules.
That doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been without some real stress. After the first few months, it became obvious that things were going to be different for a lot longer, so we needed to start making adjustments for the long term. For example, we realized that it was going to be quite a while before we could make it to a gym. After a couple of months of a much more sedentary lifestyle, we knew that we had to find something else. I started joining my wife as she walked our neighbors’ dog. It remains such a relaxing part of the day because it gets me out of the house, enjoying the outside, and it’s impossible to overstate how therapeutic dogs can be. We can’t have dogs in our current home, so I look forward to that point of the day where I’ll get to enjoy a bit of unbridled happiness and enthusiasm. It has been a fantastic distraction and change from staying locked up every day.
We’ve taken to exercising our bodies and minds a bit more often. Without being able to go into the gym, it has been interesting finding the right exercises to keep us wanting to workout regularly. It’s a lot harder to do at home since there are so many distractions. Especially with working being literally just a few feet away – and those calls are a lot harder to ignore when the computer is nearby.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Invemo.
Parug Demircioglu: I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Even as far back as middle school, I wanted to create things for people to buy. Of course, in those early days, all I could manage were small things. In high school, I produced my own very basic computer magazine and sold that. I also had a website and was able to earn a few hundred to $1,000 a month by the end.
It gave me a fantastic start to running my own business while I was in school. Not having to take one of the more traditional jobs helped to free up some of my time. By the time I was finishing school, it was pretty clear that I could simply transition my work from freelancing into my own business. In 2005, I incorporated my small business working to provide mobile services. In 2010, we began focusing on apps. The only real difference between my time as a freelancer and an incorporated business was the scale of the work. I still very much enjoy offering the kinds of services that I did when I was back at university; just now, I can offer a lot more services and have people pitching in ideas on how to expand. That was a new experience and one that has definitely helped to make work that much more enjoyable.
How does Invemo innovate?
Parug Demircioglu: We believe in life-long learning, and the best way to do that is through keeping current with the latest tech. Essentially, we are constantly educating ourselves. If you are complacent in the tech industry, it probably means you are ready to retire. It’s an industry where you have to constantly push yourself to learn about the current change and likely trends. It’s amazing and incredibly engaging, so it doesn’t really feel like work either. As a general rule, we spend at least 10 hours a month on education, and some employees also spend between 8 to 10 hours on research (in addition to the more traditional type of learning).
We’ve also built innovation into the development process. During scrums, we discuss the things we’ve learned that might help. This doesn’t tend to take very long. It’s just a matter of making suggestions about current trends to help rethink our services and what we have to offer.
We’ve also partnered with a local university to offer an internship to promising students. Those who complete their internship projects successfully are often offered a part-time position at Invemo. Since they are literally learning as they work, these vital employees help to question why things are done a certain way, making us rethink the way we develop apps.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Parug Demircioglu: At the beginning of 2020, our employees had the flexibility to work remotely or at the office on their own preferred schedule. It’s one of the best benefits of being in tech – we know how to establish connections so that people can work from anywhere. When it came time for people to work 100% from home, it was pretty much just a matter of making sure people were online for meetings. That’s a bit harder to do when you never leave home.
Apart from that, the pandemic really hasn’t adversely affected our work.
The biggest change is perhaps the sudden boom in business. As other companies started working remotely for the first time, they were looking for new kinds of solutions. It has meant that we are considerably busier than we were a year ago. Personally, I often feel that I spend more time on calls now because we have so many more people interested in learning more. Occasionally, I have to decide to just cancel everything so that I can actually get the work done – spending 8 to 11 hours on the calls can be incredibly tiring, and then there’s still so much work to do that it feels a bit like I’m chasing my tail. I really enjoy the days where I just shut down from outside contact and just focus on the work.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Parug Demircioglu: I spend a lot more time doing mindful exercises than previously. As much as I love working from home, there is a bit of mental stress that comes with knowing that I shouldn’t go out. I know it’s the right thing to do, so I do stay inside; it’s just that I do it with a bit of resentment. I suppose it’s just that knee-jerk reaction of wanting what you can’t have.
Then again, cabin fever is real. Without any boundaries between work and personal life, mindful exercise is great for refocusing and rebooting the brain regularly. Meditation helps to really clear the brain so that I can establish some mental barriers between work and my personal life. Yoga is great for that too, but with the added bonus of stretching the body after sitting down at a desk for too long. Sometimes just moving my body and looking out the window helps make me feel less stressed.
And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Parug Demircioglu: Keeping a focus on R&D is really the best way of staying relevant. Incorporating the latest trends and building in better security is what really helps inspire customer loyalty, and they are more likely to recommend our services.
Ultimately, we want to provide the best possible services and make our customers happy. I think that enthusiasm enhances our reputation because we really want to offer our customers the best.
Your final thoughts?
Parug Demircioglu: I realize that I’ve been very lucky during this time of extreme trial and tribulation. Where most companies have been scrambling to stay open, even if they have a disaster recovery plan with a contingency for a pandemic, it happened so fast that many of them really didn’t have what they needed in place. For us, it was only a few changes. Apart from feeling a bit trapped from time to time, the only reminder that there is something going on is when I’m not working. It’s easy to do most things from home.
It’s during this time that we can really help others. We are in the business of helping to keep people connected and making it easier to work remotely. Being able to step into a time of trouble and offer something that could really help people is a surprising benefit that makes me feel a new sense of purpose. We aren’t just offering services; we are offering a way to stay connected during a very difficult time.