2021 raised high hopes for the end of the pandemic and a return to normality. The reality, however, quickly verified our desires. January at Applover was also a month of considerable changes, mainly due to Piotr Sędzik taking over the position of CEO. Radek Bułat, who held this job until the end of 2020, decided to step into the role of CIO and devote himself to work on our own products – including Bench.
At the end of 2020, in one of his blog posts, Radek admitted that he is handing over the company’s management to Piotr’s hands with total peace of mind, aware of his broad skills, experience, and knowledge. On Applover’s 5th birthday, I asked Piotr to tell us about his impressions, challenges, and achievements after almost 6 months in the new role.
Natalia Kamecka: Hi Piotr, you can’t deny that the 5th birthday is quite an event. How do you feel about it?
Piotr Sędzik: Yes, it’s pretty exciting, and looking back, we’ve achieved a lot. We’ve grown from literally a handful of team members to over 80 great professionals on our board. Over the past 5 years, we’ve seen our skills develop and experience expand, which has also been reflected in the growing trust bigger and more prominent brands have given us. We have also increased our revenue by almost 100% every year, which is a direct indicator of our growth. I am very proud that, thanks to our actions and the commitment of our team, we can successfully achieve all our goals.
NK: Sounds like a whole lot of achievements! Growing your business is something you constantly focus on. That’s obvious. Tell us about the most significant challenges you have faced since you became Applover’s CEO.
PS: I stepped into my new role at the beginning of 2021. This year was much different from any other year due to the pandemic. To this day, we still primarily operate remotely, and with that comes the significant challenges we’ve all faced. In an interview in Thrive Global, I recently listed the 5 most important challenges that the team and I have encountered.
First of all, there is a lack of regular communication with the team. There’s much less of face to face integration that we are used to. I must admit that for such a close-knit organization as Applover, this was a huge shock. Due to the growing number of people on our board, the other founders and I did not have the opportunity to maintain contact with each employee. At least not on such a level as before. Therefore, this time accelerated selecting leaders to pass on a significant part of our current responsibilities. The leaders are responsible for specific Applover’s departments, as well as for determining employees’ development paths.
For me, the biggest challenge since becoming Applover’s CEO was the lack of regular contact in the office. By this, I mean the absence of direct contact with the team regarding seeing how people are doing, how they work, and how they feel every day.
NK: Many challenges for such a short time! Pandemic is for sure something that took everyone by surprise. So, how is this different now than, let’s say, on the 3rd Applover’s birthday?
PS: Unlike 2019, when we celebrated Applover’s 3rd birthday, our team is now 2 times larger. Together with the administration, HR, marketing and sales department, we have implemented quite a few solutions that have significantly streamlined our internal processes. This, in turn, translated into a faster work pace and delivered ready projects to our clients in a much shorter time.
Since then, we have emphasized increasing the role of leaders and delegating more responsibilities to them for internal projects, which they now carry out themselves from top to bottom. As a result, I feel that we have matured a lot, which is evidenced by the numbers and the incredibly smooth transition to remote working. For example, over the last 6 months, our HR team entirely remotely managed to hire and onboard 13 employees who are still with us. All of this would not have been possible if it wasn’t for our mature approach, which we have undoubtedly come to over the past few years.
NK: Ok, so let’s talk about successes that you are most proud of since you became the CEO?
PS: I need to mention further task delegation. It is really tough for managers and founders to delegate tasks and give up responsibility, but it is just so beneficial that you have to do it. Moreover, it shows that you trust your team and gain more time for yourself. Our leaders and how they develop are what I am the proudest of at Applover. But of course, there are other things as well – I am impressed how we win new clients despite pandemic challenges. I am proud to see how we take care of our employees – starting with PGFs for everyone to introduce a buddy into our onboarding process. We are still growing, developing, and becoming better and better, which makes me proud.
NK: Are there any regrets so far? Is there anything you would have done differently right now?
PS: I wish we started giving more responsibilities to our leaders sooner. We see more significant development of the whole company thanks to it. I do not regret anything. I am still learning to be an efficient CEO but also learn from my mistakes. I know that I do not have to have all the answers, and I can rely on my team. That is a lot, in my opinion.
NK: Applover currently employs over 80 people. You certainly don’t want to stop there, so what are the plans for the next 5 years?
PS: We plan to get involved in local CSR. We want to support selected organizations to emphasize where we come from and share with others what we have achieved.
Moreover, I hope that when we meet in another 5 years, Applover will already be listed on the stock exchange. In the meantime, we will undoubtedly continue to professionalize the processes inside the company.
I am committed to further professionalizing our internal processes. It will significantly influence our efficiency and speed of our work and delivery of finished projects to our customers. At the same time, we will be increasing the role of leaders to make everyone at Applover feel taken care of and aware of development possibilities. I also want Applover to be a great workplace to grow for each of our employees and continuously increase the company’s profitability. In 2021 it means rising last year’s revenue and choosing more challenging and profitable projects.
NK: Any birthday wishes? Is there anything you dream of as a CEO of Applover right now?
PS: The most important for me is further development and broader brand recognition. It will help us recruit great talents faster and grow as a professional and reliable organization. One of my biggest wishes is also to have great luck working with exceptional tech experts. I have it so far, but I hope this continues to grow as a team in numbers, skills, and competencies.
NK: I am keeping my fingers crossed! Considering your achievements so far, the pace of development, and the path that Applover follows, I am sure that your birthday wishes will come true soon.