I'm Matt, the COO of one of the top 10 JavaScript software development companies globally, serial entrepreneur (5 failures, 1 exit, 1 on-going profitable business), and angel investor. AMA about startups and software development.

Matt Warcholinski
Mar 6, 2018

I'm the COO of one of the top 10 JavaScript software development companies globally, serial entrepreneur (5 failures, 1 exit, 1 on-going profitable business), lately angel investor happy to answer anything about building startups, hiring developers and outsourcing. 

I’m passionate about scaling/growing global ventures. Happy to share my lessons-learned from many startup failures, talk about how to hire top developers and how to manage/choose software development companies without losing money.

AMA about: Growth, scale, outsourcing, software development, hiring developers, automation, marketing, sales, bootstrapping businesses. 

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What’s the difference between a CEO and COO? If you own a company, why not call yourself the CEO?
Mar 6, 3:52PM EST0

CEO means Chief Executive Officer while COO means Chief Operations Officer.

Usually the CEO is the #1 and the COO is the #1, when CEO is not there. 

To be honest, I'm not a big fan of those fancy titles (especially in companies with 50 or less people). However, I had to put something on my business card :). The high-ranking title will help you for sure with sales - Clients will feel important. 

Here is a pretty detailed blog post about the difference between CEO and COO. 

Mar 9, 12:38PM EST0

Nice to meet you 

Mar 6, 3:35PM EST0
Where do you outsource services? Are you comfortable in outsourcing service from workers from the other side of the world?
Mar 6, 12:43PM EST0
What’s your background like? Did you study IT or business, or both?
Mar 6, 12:29PM EST0

IT was always my hobby.

After hours, I did some front-end development with Twitter Bootstrap, but I was always more interested in building startups/marketing/sales in the area of IT. 

Business & IT were something that I learnt after hours, from books, events, my own experiments and usually - training-on-the-job.

My background is mechanical engineering & project management. I was previously working as a safty-systems engineer at BMW Group, but it was not even close to what I am doing today. 

Here you can find my old cv on slideshare with my background described in detail. 

Mar 9, 12:43PM EST0
How do you keep going? Don’t you get scared that a new business you’re putting up will fail again?
Mar 6, 11:55AM EST0

I'm not scared about current business at all. However, I'm really careful and risk averse today. Each decision or each step that I am doing is quite carefully planned. However, somebody could have an impression that I'm doing something risky, but the experience that I've gained over last few years enables me to make quite fast and bold decisions with well-calculated risk-factor. 

Entrepreneurs like only really good calculated risk. 

How do I keep going?

I simply love what I do. My work is my hobby and passion. I learn something new each week or implement new solutions inside my company. It's a great feeling, therefore you have to really like your company because you will be living it really intense for a few years/

Mar 9, 12:49PM EST0
What was your first failure? Why do you think you have failed? How did you manage to hit back?
Mar 6, 9:51AM EST0

I had a great idea and I was passionate about it, but after a few weeks, I lost a drive (not convinced about the concept). The problem is that I should simply execute. 

The end-business will be always something different than you've assumed. So, the next time when I do something I plan -> execute -> learn -> adjust and start the loop over and over again

How did I hit back?

It was not so difficult. It was easier each time after each failure to build the initial product/service faster than before by applying the lessons learned.

Mar 9, 3:51PM EST0
What kind of projects do you outsource? How do you select your outsourcing companies?
Mar 6, 9:15AM EST0

I have a framework/checklist to help me choose outsourcing companies. 

General Questions

  • How do you work? Tell me more about your process/approach of creating the application.(Tip: Get a big picture of the approach.)
  • How do we communicate during a project to know the PPP (progress, plans, problems)? (Tip: There must be a mechanism/procedure that ensures you know what’s going in the project. You must be updated at least on a two-week basis. You NEED to know when things go wrong. Dig deeper using the next question.)
  • How do you ensure we know when things go wrong? Helper question: tell me how you handled a project in the past that went wrong. (Tip: First, nobody wants to deliver bad news. Make sure they have a mechanism in place. Second, nobody’s perfect, so there must be a case that went wrong – listen to what they took out of it. Third: none likes surprises – the best is to be prepared for the challenges.)
  • What do you expect from us and what should we expect from you during the cooperation?(Tip: See what are the roles in the new-forming team. There’s no one way to set it up, but it is good to know what to expect. It’s great to know from the beginning what is the scope of responsibilities for each party.)
  • How do you try to deliver the product that will match our and market’s expectations? (Tip: See how they work on figuring out what you really need.)

Technical Questions

  • How do you ensure software quality? (Do they use, for example, peer code review or automated tests?)
  • Will I own the source code? (Tip: check the agreement.)
  • Do you work on technical documentation?
  • Could you provide me profiles of developers with whom I will work? (Tip:They will be anomyzed – with no personal/contact data.)
  • Can I talk to the best-skilled person on your team?
  • Tell me how you will solve/build a…. (Tip: Give an example of a tricky part of your app and ask the potential software development partner how they will approach it.)
  • Could you share with me your best practices for writing the code? (Tip: ex. we have it written down as a handbook and use an eslint company file….)

Business Questions

  • Why are you better than other software houses? What makes you special? (Tip: ex. Sometimes, it could be a PM or QA or Senior/Architect Mentoring.)
  • How easy will it be to scale a team by 1/3/5 developers? How much time do you need? (Tip: if you plan to scale the team, communicate it to the software development company ASAP. Around 1-3 months should be enough to scale the team.)
  • What is your pricing per Man-Day? What does it include? (Tip: ex. Sometimes, it could be a PM or QA or Senior/Architect Mentoring.)
  • Have you done any project similar to mine, regarding the Industry/Technology/Product Features?
  • Could you provide any testimonials/references from your previous clients? (Tip: Check clutch.co, have a Skype call with one of the customers, check Facebook Reviews or simply google it.)
  • What is your experience working with Startups/SMBs/Enterprises? (Tip: Ask about the size of companies with whom they worked, ask to give you examples of projects.)

You can read more and download a checklist on how to choose a software development company - You can apply those rules to any kind of an outsourcing company. 

Mar 9, 4:01PM EST0
What is the cadence of communication and what are some of the tools Brainhub.eu utilizes to integrate clients into these systems?
Mar 6, 8:31AM EST0

+ Product -> JIRA, Confulence, GSheet/GDrive,

+ Design -> InVision, Sketch app, UXPin

+ Communication -> Mattermost, Appear.in/Google Meet/Zoom/Skype, 

Read more about our tools for software development project management and how to achieve high quality products with offshore teams

Mar 9, 3:58PM EST0

Hi, what do you mean by top employee? 

Mar 6, 6:59AM EST0

We hire around 1.3% of people with who we talk. The interviews are not so easy, but later on it's easier for everybody to deliver top quality products. See here a detailed description on how do we hire developers

Mar 6, 8:00AM EST1
Show all 3 replies

What is the most difficult and easiest business you've managed?

Mar 6, 2:56AM EST0

Each business is difficult and especially managing it is super difficult. 

The only one thing that is easy is when you hire top-notch people, then you can simply forget about some things inside of the company because they will take care of it. You can trust them and rely on them. 

So, the easy part starts when you hire great people and they help you to build the business - you don't have to do everything on your own. 

Mar 6, 5:47AM EST0
If one was to learn JavaScript from 0, would you say it is worth having such a narrow speciality or you have to expand and know other programming languages as well?
Mar 5, 5:34PM EST0

Yes. 

I think it's better to be a big fish in a small pond than to try to be good at everything. 

The JavaScript is constantly growing and will be still growing steadily, so this is a good choice. Read more on how we hire JavaScript developers.

Mar 6, 5:24AM EST0
What is the best way to grab top talent and retain them?
Mar 5, 4:34PM EST0

1. Create great cultutre 

2. Ask people for feedback each 1-2 months

3. Iterate and improve all the time based on feedback

4. Have a clear vision and mission for people - In case of my company, we said that we want to be a best JavaScript software development company in the world and we focus only on that (publish open source projects, organize events for developers, build apps only with this one technology)

Mar 6, 5:27AM EST0
What made you stick to businesses even after 5 failures and an exit?
Mar 5, 3:49PM EST0

I simply learnt a lot from those failures. 

The life of an entrepreneur is really stressful and you need a few failures and many hard times (still have those). After so many lessons-learned and hard times it would be a pity to not to use those experiences to build another company, right?

It's like with playing a guitar, if you have learnt on how to play, then you play gigs instead of selling the guitar. 

Mar 6, 5:44AM EST0

What was the major reason for so many failures? Do you take the accountability of failures on your head?

Mar 5, 12:50PM EST0

Yes, I have to.

I paid the unpaid bills, had not pleasent talks with employees etc. It's really hard personally. 

The reasons were various, but I think the two most important are -> not profitable business and lack of experience on executing things (the most important thing is simply to work really hard). 

Mar 6, 5:40AM EST0
Do you work with freelance developers as well? If so, how do you pick them?
Mar 5, 12:43PM EST0

Nope. 

We have our internall processes and standards and it's hard to share it with a freelancers. We only outsource part marketing/sales processes or UI design. 

Our culture/standrads are really important for us, so we rather don't take a project if we have not enought people to do it than hire freelancers. 

Mar 6, 5:29AM EST0
Why did you have to close down/exit one of your businesses?
Mar 5, 8:59AM EST0

There were many reasons for that: 

- Not profitable 

- Not enough experience on my side

- Ideas are great, but execution is the clue for the success

- Couldn't find the right people to help me build it (I'm not a good solo-entrepreneur, need a co-founder)

Mar 6, 5:38AM EST0
What are some of the methods Brainhub.eu uses to provide on-going maintenance of deployed software for your clients?
Mar 5, 7:17AM EST0

Have you tried firing employees in the past? What’s the most polite way of doing it without hurting their feelings?

Mar 5, 4:35AM EST0

It's really stressful and not pleasant thing for me and my co-founder to do it. 

I think you need to first give a 'yellow card' to somebody who you want to fire and give a clear message what they need to improve. If the msg is clear, then if you will fire somebody they have a clear 'why' you did it. 

Good example of firing people watch this movie -> 

Mar 6, 5:32AM EST0
If you could take a one-day seminar in any subject, what would it be and why?
Mar 5, 2:39AM EST0

Managing people. 

It's the most difficult part of the business for me. I'm great on executing/building things, but I still think that I would like to learn on how to be a better manager - set clear goals/KPIs and check them really carefully, delegate and simply manage people 

Mar 6, 5:34AM EST0
How does Brainhub.eu engage with clients throughout the design process and in what ways does this interaction improve or impair the design result?
Mar 4, 2:44PM EST0
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