* This interview was conducted by Startit - Serbian IT and startup hub. Read the original article in Serbian here.
A domestic outsourcing company Vega IT partnered with the Danish company and launched its own product Heartcount which measures the level of happiness of employees at work. As a company which was traditionally focused on providing software development services, launching their own product was not a typical thing to do. However, the founder of the company, Saša Popović says that the experience in providing services to other companies helped them to learn about which approaches to the development and launching of products on a global market are good and which are bad ones.
S.P.: To be honest, during the last 11 years, ever since we established Vega IT, we have tried to develop our product a few times. Each time we started a certain project, we decided to reassign a part of the team who was working on the development of that product to one of our client’s projects. We learned that it was the right way to ruin the product development. We even succeeded in developing a product a few times, but that was it. When we had to take another step, we failed to do what was necessary to launch the product on the market.
It seems to me that we needed some time to grow and gain enough knowledge and experience to start developing our product in the right way.
Alexander Kjerful, a founder of the company Woohoo Inc. and the author of a few books about happiness at work, designed the way how to measure the level of happiness of people working in companies. He has been researching the science of happiness at work for 20 years and has been collaborating with some of the leading world companies as a consultant. He helps those companies improve their organisational cultures so that their employees would feel happier at work, and therefore become more successful.
That experiment was performed “manually” - meaning that there were no tools that would automate the entire process. The results he had obtained were one of the crucial factors Vega IT took into consideration when starting their collaboration with Alexander because they wanted to automate the entire process by using a tool which they would commercialise after some time.
S.P.: Soon after the research conducted by the company Woohoo Inc, Alexander, Vladan, who is my partner in Vega IT, and I had a meeting where we discussed all the things that Woohoo Inc could do for our company so that we could additionally improve our organisational culture. At one point, Alexander referred to his own researched and said that he is fed up with listening about “headcount” from the people who run companies. “Headcount is for cattle!”, said Alexander. I am interested in “heart count”. Then he explained that he is not interested in how many people there are in one company but rather how many people working in that company truly want to be a part of it.
They started working on the project 2 years ago. It took them 6 months to finish the first version of the tool, and after that they had been using the product, conducting interviews with the users (our colleagues) and working on product improvement for a year and a half within our company. Heartcount functions as a platform that, each Friday morning, sends employees an email with three questions and five given answers. Saša Popović explains that It takes people less than 30 seconds to do this short survey.
S.P.: Since all of us confirmed the value of the approach he came up with, we came to a logical conclusion that it should be automated and utilised to the full. And, as there were three entrepreneurs in the room at that moment, we immediately realised that we could create a product that other companies could also use. “Let’s make an excellent product and help others gain insight into how their colleagues feel at work”, we said simultaneously. Even then we agreed that the companies that have less than 20 employees could use our product for free.
The product is the easiest to implement in companies where people are encouraged to say what they think and how they feel. However, it is also possible to use our product in companies which are aware of the fact that their organisational culture is not excellent and who want to work on its improvement.
S.P.: Apart from the fact that Woohoo Inc. brought extensive knowledge in the field of happiness at work into this partnership, this is also a company which already collaborates with some of the biggest companies in the world which have been working on the improvement of how their employees feel at work for a long time. The fact that Woohoo Inc. is a part of this endeavour is basically our ticket for collaboration with some of the most interesting clients. We believe that other startup companies in Serbia could use similar partnerships are recipes for achieving success.
When we talk about the challenges of establishing startup companies in Serbia, Popović doesn’t consider a lack of money or a lack of people who have the right knowledge to develop a product as real problems. He believes that having difficulty finding first clients is a real problem, and this is exactly what the Danish company they collaborate with helped them achieve.
S.P.: We believe that besides investing in the development of the companies that provide services, it is also very important both for us and the country we live in to invest in the development of companies which sell their products. Companies that provide services allow us to start our own business and earn money with small investments and lower risk. Also, this gives us a possibility to enable a large number of young people to find jobs, acquire knowledge and gain experience that will help them become entrepreneurs one day. In addition, this allows us to earn enough money so that we could start investing in the development of our products. On the other hand, the companies that have their own products could potentially bring us a huge profit - much bigger than the amount of money we invested in those companies. In this way, we could also offer many job opportunities for people of different professional backgrounds (not only programmers).
If you also care about how people feel in your companies, read more about how Heartcount can help you with that.
This article was written by an external Guest Author.