As a company that wants to establish itself as a powerhouse in the Asian market, Google Apps development outfit WeMakeProjects was there to present its Google Apps project management tool CollabSpot and was represented by one of its senior developer for its Asian hub, Adler Santos.
Having established its Asian hub only a year ago, it was the first time for WeMakeProjects to publicly pitch its product here in Asia, and with this short interview, Adler talks about his experience of the said event.
Sacha: Have you always dreamed of working for a development company?
Adler: It wasn’t initially my goal to become a full-time web developer. But hearing about all these web startups that have become successful or have gained traction by using a bit of ingenuity and the latest open source technologies really got my interest. These startups usually have teams composed of people as young as me, who all have the freedom to create their own products and setting their own paths towards financial freedom. So I guess yes, working for a web development company has become a dream for me.
Sacha: How did you become part of WeMakeProjects?
Ader: My bestfriend, a Java developer, knew that I was doing computational physics research using Python. I’ve been giving him hints that I wanted to become a web developer if I get the chance. Now Jeremi, the founder of WeMakeProjects, was looking for a Python developer and so I was referred to him by my friend. I had doubts of getting accepted for the job since I don’t know anything about web development using Python.
But probably the ability to teach myself skills that I need to progress really made the difference. It’s indispensable to be able to self-study whenever I need to, especially back when I was doing scientific research.
Sacha: How would you sum up the entire Echelon satellite event?
Adler: Very rewarding. It was a way for our team to know where we stand amongst other startups and how our way of development varies from theirs.
Sacha: Representing the entire company for the Echelon satellite means that the image of the company was partly in the hands of your pitching skills. You must have eagles and not butterflies in your stomach. How did you prepare for it?
Adler: I got help from Jeremi and Gino. There was a night that I met Gino outdoors and we spent time planning in a coffee shop until way past midnight. We iterated on ideas on what stuff to include in the pitch. We were finally able to settle down with a gameplan, to pitch with a slideshow presentation and a live demo of Collabspot. I would practice the pitch by myself with a timer since we were only given 5 minutes for the pitch. After more than a dozen rehearsals and a few more modifications, I was able to contain the pitch within 5 minutes. Then during the event, we would rehearse further by simulating the pitch while Gino is assisting me for the live demo. Every time there was an error, I insist we practice again from the start. If you want everything to hold together in a pitch, there really is no substitute to preparation and practice.
Sacha: How was it like to meet your peers/competitors face to face? And how did people react to the WeMakeProjects flagship app Collabspot?
Adler: It was gratifying. It felt like all the preparation and practice we did for the pitch was truly worth it. I’m pretty confident to claim that the other startups were not as prepared as we were. They would go over the time limit, didn’t spend time in improving their slides, and have no live demos or prototypes to present. How we stand against the other competitors made me appreciate how amazing the WeMakeProjects team really is. I think the audience and even the judges were generally satisfied with our pitch. After the pitch, there were around 4-5 different persons who approached us to give compliments and to get our contact details.
Sacha: Was there any reaction worth mentioning?
Adler: We were able to talk to one of the speakers in the event. His name is Guyi Shen and he told us that “your app looks very polished”. That really stuck in my head.
Sacha: After the event and after meeting all those start-up companies, where would you put WMP in the Asian market and why?
Adler: Well it’s a long way to go for WMP to find our sweet spot in the Asian market. But knowing the capabilities of the WMP team, I’m pretty optimistic of WMP being one of the start-ups in Asia that can keep their team small and still be able to deliver and profit from novel web services.
Why? It’s because each member of WMP has a certain role, has a unique set of technical skills, and has the ability to teach their skills to others when needed. It’s a complete picture when taken together. Plus there are healthy arguments when discussing project details and there’s lots of transparency such that it’s natural for us to have no room for politics at work. Also, we’re lucky to have Jeremi as the team leader. He keeps things together and is very considerate when concerns are clearly communicated. It’s easy for us to be motivated in working together to grow the company. So if I were to put WMP in the Asian market, I’d like us to be the hottest startup in Asia that provides uber-simplified yet uber-efficient project management solutions for small-to-medium sized businesses.
Sacha: Any last words before we end this short interview?
Adler: None really. I have to get back to work.