We talked to Yasen Pramatarov of Lindeas on how professional Jitsi meet WebRTC services and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Yasen Pramatarov: We are doing well, taking into account all the restrictions this disease brought to everyday life; thank you. Fortunately, we didn’t suffer a loss, although a lot of our friends have already had the Covid and recovered, we also believe we had it in our family. Here in Bulgaria, it’s not very trivial to go and have a PCR test because of all the bureaucracy added to the high price of the tests in the poorest country in the EU. The hardest part was not the closing of stores and bars and not the partial lockdown, but the switching of schools to fully remote operation.
It’s a big test of our educational system, and I’m afraid it’s not been showing very good results. The kids stay home and try to follow the confusing rules of the schools – they switched the video tools several times, there was a time when each teacher insisted on using his/her preferred application.
I saw how the schools tried to directly copy the offline education to an online one. For example, they have the hours and breaks exactly as they had them in school, a minute-per-minute online copy of the workflow. The way the teachers worked, the homework, checking the presence by calling students’ names (instead of just doing this through the app) – it was an example of bad practice of copying an offline workflow to an online one, without rethinking it and building it on the new concepts.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Lindeas.
Yasen Pramatarov: I’m a DevOps and sysadmin who worked with the team behind Jitsi. This was when I got introduced to the world of online web conferences – and I mean not just by using them, but mostly by working with the software and technologies that make them kick. Before that, I worked as a GNU/Linux sysadmin for long years, and combining this with Jitsi led me to start my own company (Lindeas) to provide professional server care for Jitsi Meet platforms running on Linux servers.
How does Lindeas innovate?
Yasen Pramatarov: In the web conferences, pretty much everything nowadays is innovation.
I’m not on the cutting edge of innovation, of course, but all my work in integration and deployment of web conference platforms in the cloud is related to small improvements. In general, my company relies on the innovation of WebRTC and Jitsi.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Yasen Pramatarov: Maybe the IT companies, and especially the ones like Lindeas that are focused on providing tools for remote communication, are seeing less of the bad effects of the coronavirus. Of course, a pandemic is not something good by any means, but in such hard times, it’s only natural for all people to look for the best tools to keep working while distanced. Online web calls are such tools, and although, in general, the pandemic has limited the companies in every possible way and the budgets are being cut everywhere, there are still opportunities. We try to use these and we keep our services available. So when we draw the line, I can’t say it has a positive effect, but as with all IT companies nowadays, there is work available.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Yasen Pramatarov: We are a very small team, and we plan our work per project, so there were no difficult decisions in human resources.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Yasen Pramatarov: Our CRM process has not changed much due to the pandemic. We keep track of all our communications, and we use open-source tools like Odoo to manage them. I’ve found out that the simpler processes that do work are much more efficient for smaller teams than the large and complex processes and software that do more than you need.
Maybe the most visible change is that now more of our clients are willing to use web calls instead of phone ones. It’s always easier to schedule an online call than call the person on the phone. The mobile is always in your pocket, and that is convenient, but it also means people can call you any time during the day…or night, and this can easily become a burden. With online calls, time can be managed better.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Yasen Pramatarov: No.
Your final thoughts?
Yasen Pramatarov: It will be nice if we all go out of this pandemic lockdown with a better understanding of online communication. Simply coping over the offline or online never works well in the long term. It will be great if we make new concepts and a new understanding of what is important in online communication and what is not.