An Interview with Web Developer Povilas Korop: Don’t Stick to One Language or One Technology
Povilas Korop, a founder and a CEO at ReikiaPuslapio.lt is a professional programmer focusing on the business side of creating web-projects. In this interview Povilas reveals how he’s not been afraid to start a career of his own, has founded a company and tells what gives him a hand solving common problems in the management of both projects and clients.
Povilas introduces himself
So, briefly about me: my name is Povilas, I am a web-developer originally, but now focused more on business side of creating web-projects. Established my own web-development company, working with clients from Lithuania and UK.
Even after 12 years in web-development, I clearly remember the initial reasons to move in that career – I always liked creating and building things. So when I found internet as a tool to build amazing things and to launch them to the world without boundaries, it was a no-brainer choice.
How was your career developing until you founded your own company?
It’s a hard question to answer briefly – there were different periods, ups and downs: working remotely for a company, then moving to another company as a project manager, then going freelancing, then going back to full-time position etc.
But that’s exactly what made it easier to found my own company to provide various web-solutions for businesses – throughout my career I’ve seen different sides of web-projects: been a manager and a developer, also created several mini-projects of my own. So now I see a full picture and together with a small team we can now offer much broader solutions to the clients.
Having been a developer, and then a project manager of TAMO school management software, I’ve seen all the long path of a new project. That was a huge experience for me personally. But it was far from *my own* project – we had a great team of enthusiasts who worked on it long hours and weekends, if necessary.
What would I do differently is probably be more aggressive in marketing and promotion from the beginning – because we had a great product from the start, but we were slow and humble in marketing it.
Talking about success – only one word: passion. All team of creators was so passionate about TAMO, that it eventually overtook the competitors, who were mostly government-driven slow moving projects.
I’ve built a solo project for helping Lithuanian people to learn English language, when I saw a clear gap in the market. No one was providing real-life phrasal English lessons – all the so-called competitors are focusing on grammar and preparing for exams, which doesn’t really help you when you move abroad and deal with real phrasal English. Therefore our strategy of learning, getting 3-5 short lessons everyday by email is really powerful and is becoming a habit for our users.
How did you launch the company Reikiapuslapio.lt? What is that you are happy about it?
It was almost a natural step – I’ve mentioned that already before. The hardest part was to move from a solo-career as a web-developer to building a team and actually managing it. That’s an area I still have a lot to improve in: dealing with employees and freelancers is a really tricky part of the business, but the most crucial one – at the end of the day, it’s all about people, not projects.
Actually, I’ll tell you a little secret – first time I’m talking about it in public – I own two companies, not one. Just recently I’ve established a London-based company “Web Coder Pro Ltd”, which I hope will take care of my UK-based clients.
What tools do you use while working?
A really relevant question – just last week I’ve tried to measure my working hours with RescueTime and apparently web-development takes only 25% of my day – while 50% is taken by category called Communication – which is Gmail, Skype, Thunderbird and, yes, TrackDuck. Generally, I work from five different devices so I’m a big fan of cloud-based software and synchronisation.
How did you start using TrackDuck? Why?
First time I’ve heard of it when Eddy was pitching the project at Login Startup Fair in 2013. At first, I was pretty skeptical about “another project management tool”, but when, after a couple months, was personally invited to try, became really impressed.
So impressed, that decided to tell about TrackDuck to a broader Lithuanian audience and wrote a detailed article on what TrackDuck is and how to start using it. From then – applying the software to some projects for dealing with clients and getting feedback from them.
What problems does this tool solve for you? In what ways does it help to facilitate communication?
Being in web-development business for quite a while, I know that web-projects are not about “launch and see what happens”. It’s about releasing the first version and then constantly improving, iterating, getting feedback and moving further. So TrackDuck helps to save time, gathering that valuable feedback – both from the clients I work for, and from users of my personal projects.
No more going back and forth, trying to visually explain the ideas and problems, or making screenshots with Paint or browser plugins. TrackDuck simplifies that process, saving time and, essentially, money for all participants of the projects.
What do you like most in this tool?
The overall experience for clients, I guess. When it’s easy for them to give feedback, they are doing it much more often and efficient. In a way, it’s bad for my team, because we get more amends and more work to do, but in the long run it’s really beneficial for the project.
What are the most common problems you face while communicating with clients? How do you solve them?
Well, that would be a topic for a separate long article (maybe, next time?), but short version would be communication. It’s all about being on the same track with a client, understanding overall goals of the project, trying not to lose focus and, in a weird way, “managing” the client.
What I’ve learned the hard way, is that if you let the client absolutely control the creation process, he usually will. Which might turn into a one-way ticket to eternal amends and “almost launching” stage which could last for months. You have to be an active part of the process, a consultant, making suggestions and managing client’s expectations, helping his business goals. And surely not every client respects that – it’s the biggest problem, probably.
What are you interested in? What do you read to improve and stay in the field?
In general, I’m interested in, as people from US like to say, “creating awesome sh*t”. Earlier it was more development-focused, now I’m much deeper in the business part of the creation process.
So for that, I read and consume a lot of business literature – as RSS in Feedly, as e-books on my Kindle, as podcasts or Youtube videos. Though lately I became much more selective in choosing a thing to read or watch – there’s a lot of same things being told over and over again, so it’s harder now for someone to “sell” me information. Also I became a believer in “just-in-time learning” – I don’t read books about something I might need in a couple of years (or might not ever), I’m concentrating on what I need right now, in upcoming months, which currently is team management, sales skills and overall web-project workflow management.
What would you advise a person who’s about to launch a new business in IT sector?
I would say that it’s the best time. IT market is growing rapidly, especially with cloud-based solutions and more new devices, but it hasn’t yet reached the point of saturation – so if you want to go to IT business, do it now and as quickly as possible. Speed is everything.
On the other hand, never stop learning and adapting to market changes. That is especially true for IT business – devised, operating systems and programming languages change not every decade but every year now, and it’s crucial to keep up and be a leader of the industry.
What would you tell for a young ambitious web developer?
Don’t stick to one language or one technology. When someone says “I hate PHP” or “Ruby sucks” or “[insert_your_technology_here] doesn’t have a future” – think twice. You will have to learn quite a few languages and systems to build complex solutions – so it’s not about language syntax or structure, it’s about understanding overall picture and choosing the best tools for that particular project.
Also – learn to Google. Or StackOverflow. Or both. Seriously. It freaks me out, how many young developers ask stupid/novice questions without even trying to find solutions themselves. I’m always happy to help, but only if you invest some of your precious time too.
Maybe there’s something more that you’d like to tell to the readers? What message would you like to send?
This year I’m turning 30, so thinking about life behind and ahead of me and how I was afraid to start my business, I would like to end with a quote from Seth Godin: “The only thing worse than starting something and failing… is not starting something”. Good luck with your starts!
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