It’s a Kind of Magic: An Interview with the Founders of TechMagic

Our friends from YouTeam conducted an amazing interview with our Founders. Here are many insights into TechMagic's history, current activities, and future plans.

Behind every company, YouTeam partners with is a team of leading technical experts, energetic founders, and incredible projects. Because of working so closely with many partners, across multiple projects at a time, it’s important for to know their people very well.

In this article, there is a story of the founders of TechMagic, and how they discovered their own niche within the Javascript stack and native mobile development markets.

TechMagic has been in our Talent Pool since the very beginning of YouTeam. Their primary focus is on iOS, Android, Node.js development for startups and scale-ups. They also have expertise in JavaScript and Architecting AWS solutions. Together we managed to successfully deliver a number of cool projects including Areobooks, Etype Care, Elements, Tide (which, incidentally, has recently raised ca. $14 million), and iCAN.

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The people behind TechMagic

TechMagic was co-founded by Oleg (CEO), Andrii (CTO) & Lidiya (Head of HR & Communications). Their passion for working and developing client projects as part of TechMagic is very noticeable, however, they are really quite different in terms of their personal interests and strengths. Oleg has an active interest in philosophy and machine learning. Andrii has a passion for using theoretical mathematics to interpret phenomena in Physics, i.e. Quantum Mechanics. He dreams of contributing to projects requiring this unique skills set! Lidiya is a polyglot with strong French Translation skills who doesn´t keep her life and hobby separate and enjoys traveling as part of her executive responsibilities.

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The founders led through their office where we encountered meeting rooms – each named after famous and inspirational creators, including Tesla Room, Leonardo da Vinci Room, and Henri Ford Room. The room names serve to remind us of the fact that all of these people started as ‘nobodies’ with a simple idea and who ultimately managed to defy the odds to make a global contribution in their field.

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What leads to the opening and successful launch of TechMagic onto the Outsourcing Market?

Andrii and Oleh have both done their time working for the big outsourcers, rising to Tech Lead level well within 6 years.

At some point, they both felt a desire to create their own products, which is when Lidiya joined them who at that time was assisting the launch of foreign businesses in Ukraine. She joined the guys to help develop them a product called – EventInArea App, an event discovery application allowing to find relevant events in cities. The EventInArea startup company satisfied the selection panel and was admitted into highly competitive EastLabs accelerator programme.

But they weren’t finished there, the next product which they created was a customer loyalty system called HappyScan, for which they were able to attract investment, form a team of ten experts and set up two offices, in Kyiv and Lviv. Unfortunately, the Ukrainian hospitality market was found to be significantly less developed than western markets and turned out to be unconducive to commercialize the product into.

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What unique experience does TechMagic bring to Product and Software Development?

Lidiya: “With HappyScan we objectively assessed the situation and market opportunity and made an important decision to wrap up the business. We had to move on. Looking back, we realized that we gained a wealth of experience and skills in dealing with startups. We then realized that we are well suited to developing MVPs for other start-up teams, by taking complete ownership of the technical implementation. And this is how TechMagic emerged.”

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The Golden Days of TechMagic: How they snagged their very first project

Founders muse that it felt like luck to find and secure their first client project.

Andrii and Oleg moved to the Netherlands straight away to work for their first client. They lived in an apartment, which served both as accommodation and an office – working side-by-side with the founders of a dating app allowing people to meet in clubs.

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Oleg: “For more than a month, I was drafting client proposals but could not find the right formula. Andrii, on the other hand, wrote only one proposal and posted it from a professional profile without a photo, with next to no information, and immediately attracted a great project with a budget more than 10K! It really was magic!”

Andrii: “Our start-up development experience played a crucial role in our search for early clients. We could explain to clients that we could not only handle software development outsourcing services for startups but we understood much of the business side also. This strategy helped to get us our first two major clients who inspired us to develop the organization further”.

Scaling and choosing the niche

As the company grew bigger, the number of responsibilities and tasks increased. The next step was to divide the responsibilities between co-founders which resulted in Oleg becoming responsible for the financials and client relationships, Andrii took over technical expertise & delivery, and Lidiya focussed on HR and communications.

Lidiya: “Luckily, we are different. This allows each of us to focus on leading the organization using our natural strengths with confidence, we all have areas for which we aren’t experts, but these can be captured skillfully by other partners”.

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TechMagic then realized that they can deliver more than just quality prototypes and began the transition to the narrower specializations of JavaScript and native Mobile development. The goal was to take leadership and own this niche.

Nevertheless, the MVPing mindset is a strong part of the company culture and is the inspiration for the company’s logo: the image of an origami bird, which according to the founders symbolizes the ability to do something with your own hands – a prototype, for example.

TechMagic’s philosophy: Find thy niche, Own thy niche

Oleg: “In fact, it is our philosophy that once we commit to a new direction, we aim to be the best in that niche. When we opted for mobile development, we were complete beginners; I only had 3 months of Android experience, Andrii had a similar level of experience in iOS. But now we can say with confidence that we got there, we became the best mobile development company in Lviv. We’ve also done this for JavaScript. Certainly, our success doesn’t imply that we will restrict our focus only to those two niches; it is likely that we add a new one soon, like Salesforce. By no means will we do a careless job, we again will strive for excellence! Of course, it can’t happen overnight, but it is a strong possibility within a 5 years time horizon.”

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Oleg: “Despite our experimental nature, our success has proven that only one expertise can be truly mastered at a time and before moving to the next competency. A clear focus is mandatory: development companies aren’t able to improve performance across multiples expertise concurrently.”

TechMagic’s focus on capability building, by training and nurturing their staff

Over a period of three years, the team has expanded to over 80 people, who together form a powerful ecosystem of javascript and mobile experts.

Lidiya: “We were able to attract top specialists thanks to our projects being startups with interesting business models and cutting-edge technologies. We always assess potential employees for their core strengths because startup can be demanding and technically challenging. There seemed to be some magic from the very beginning because we were hiring people having no fancy office or a social package. Eventually, those who trusted us as a company at an initial stage have led the key development direction of the company.”

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Apart from the specialists who are focussed exclusively on development activities, TechMagic works to strengthen and broaden its technical expertise. For example, many projects require Andrii’s input as a certified AWS specialist. Having this expertise in-house benefits not only the project but value to the whole team.

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Oleg: “When we started developing technical expertise as a company-wide initiative, it was agreed that our best staff would be raised and educated within the company. It was a long-term strategic goal to raise young experts from within.”

How TechMagic sources and retains the best talent available on the Lviv Market

In its first year, the company hired a handful of engineers who were appointed as professional developers. The following year, the co-founders set-up a specialized Training Centre – from an initial intake of 300 candidates (who undertook a test at the center), only 20 candidates were selected for an interview, of which 10 were ultimately shortlisted. Those shortlisted undertook three additional weeks of training and the three top performers are employed as a result of this programme. Nowadays, there are two training centers run by the company: one which specializes in JavaScript and the other in SalesForce.

Andrii: “Now, we pay increasing attention to soft skills: given that technical skills have already been mastered by our professionals as part of the work they do within our javascript and mobile development ecosystems. Therefore, we evaluate soft skills before continuing on with the rest of the candidate assessment process.”

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How TechMagic ensures continuous improvement of their development and operational staff

TechMagic’s Performance Review System is well integrated into the company’s operations. Review frequency depends on an individual’s role within the company and usually takes place quarterly, biannually or annually. Professionals are evaluated on criteria which include overall work performance, client-orientation, level of initiative etc. An employee is assessed by him/herself and by their team leads. After initial assessments, they meet to compare their assessment results and negotiate a final performance review. TechMagic plans to launch a 360-degree performance review where employees do a personal assessment, and then receive the assessment from their client, team lead and colleagues’.

Andrii: “The result of these meetings is to put together an individual employee action plan to address their current weaknesses, as well as to set them some professional objectives to be achieved before the next performance review. Our company offers all sorts of training to enhance different skills: including a speaking club for those who need to improve their communication skills and also leadership training. Any employee can request for external training. We are currently developing a tool to automate requests submission from employees about which training courses they would like to attend and which certifications are needed.”

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Andrii: “The level of competition is fierce between companies both in Ukraine and abroad, so it is important to stand out. And we do stand out: our experience in developing our own products means that we can offer clients more than just software development, we offer assistance in developing startups and attracting investment.”

Where is TechMagic’s client base? What are the caliber and scale of the projects they deliver?

Most of TechMagic’s clients are from the US but the team is actively working on a collaboration with companies from the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Recently, the company entered the Australian market and signed a contract with a powerful media company, which broadcasts Australian Open and Winter Olympics. TechMagic is also developing a service to allow the streaming of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Do you do magic?

This is a question the founders of TechMagic are often asked by their clients. Taking into account the experience they have gained in implementing all of these projects and the tough deadlines they met – well, hell yes! They are magicians!

The interview was originally published on YouTeam Blog and can be found here. YouTeam enables tech startups to rapidly scale their development teams with dedicated engineers from top software agencies. With an access to a unique vetted pool of tech talent available for contract hire, now it is possible to easily schedule interviews through YouTeam platform and hire perfect developers in a matter of minutes.

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