First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Paul Attard: Fortunately, we’ve been doing well. My wife and I have been keeping ourselves busy, active, and entertained. With Malta, where I’m currently based, having few restrictions, we’ve been lucky enough to continue enjoying the outdoors and good weather while staying clear of crowds. Keeping our regular routines and going Standup Paddling and running when we can.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded wearegoat.
Paul Attard: In 2011, I was studying for my Masters in Graphic Branding and Identity at London College of Communication and living with a fellow student — Alexey Golev. During this time, we worked on projects together and realized how well we worked together and how much we enjoyed the process. Coming from drastically different backgrounds and experiences, we had a surprisingly lot in common. Looking at problems from different viewpoints, we complemented each other’s styles and processes and were able to produce great work.
We made the decision to set up a studio together and focus on branding and advertising projects. After three years, we decided to pivot and work solely on digital products — website design and software development.
Since 2012, we’ve worked closely on every single project together. Knowing that each side brings something different to it, and without this collaboration, the work just wouldn’t be “goat.” This has also meant that we wanted to keep the company small in order to oversee the work being done, making sure that from beginning to end, each project gets the expertise, energy, and focus it deserves.
How does wearegoat innovate?
Paul Attard: Regarding design, we try not to follow trends and whims. Each project deserves a specific treatment that attempts to solve the problem of the client. There is no standard approach or solution, only a methodology and certain knowledge that can guide a result that serves the client’s needs appropriately.
When it comes to technology and development, we rely on Alexey, our CTO, to drive this forward. With his constant research and experimentation, we are comfortable in his solutions and decisions for how to continue building effective solutions.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Paul Attard: At the start of the pandemic, we thought that our workload would increase as businesses scrambled to get online. This didn’t seem to be the case, as most businesses were looking for quick and cheap solutions. We are now starting to see more businesses, who have taken the time to assess their situations, come out and request something long-lasting and valuable.
The nature of how we work has always allowed us to work remotely. I have been doing that for two years from Malta while the rest of the team worked from our studio in London. In March, we decided that everyone will work from home and try to continue our routine as usual — with our daily team meetings at 11:30 GMT. Not much has changed for us, but we did see certain stress being put on our developers.
We tried to be as supportive as possible, offering time off for them to reset and come back refreshed. It was important to have regular catchups with everyone to see how they were doing. We’re an extremely small team, which allows us to have a close and open relationship. Unfortunately, the lack of standard routine and interaction was too much of a burden for one of our developers. After a month’s leave, he decided to leave the company.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Paul Attard: Running a company, at any time, can be extremely stressful. Worrying about the quality of work being produced, deadlines being met, enough work coming in to pay the bills, these concerns don’t go away. Additional stresses were added during the pandemic: will my staff be happy and productive without coming into the office? Can we bring in new work as easily as before?
The only way I know how to deal with these concerns is to simply continue working. Everything will continue ticking along, and if we need to adjust and adapt, then we will. It’s important to prepare for what could be, but if it affects the work that should be done, it’s not worth it.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Paul Attard: I believe that there is enough work to go around. I love collaborating with others who are more appropriate for certain projects or who have skills that we don’t offer. I believe our industry’s future is smaller studios who work together on projects based on the different skills and expertise being offered.
Your final thoughts?
Paul Attard: In the 8 years that I’ve been running my company, I’ve learned that the best work is done when you’re having fun. Regardless of the task being attempted, if you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong, and don’t take yourself too seriously.