In June, I decided to take a sabbatical of 3 months. In July, I started that and I now consider doing that every year :). I’ll tell you a bit about my life as an entrepreneur to shed light on this decision. In 2004, I did a back packing trip through Asia. I had not been outside Europe before and stepped into Mumbai in April 2004. I loved it from the first moment (although you need some nerves for Mumbai!). I travelled through India for 3 months and was inspired by the potential of the IT outsourcing industry. When I came back end of 2004, I decide to start an outsourcing firm: Bridge Global.
Picnic With Bridge Employees
Open Coffee Kochi Meet
After 10 years of building Bridge, I got a bit bored (actually, I got bored way earlier, but persisted for years). I saw the success of Odesk and started thinking about a variant for our industry. Odesk (now Upwork) is all about small projects. But for larger projects, there was no online platform. We started with the idea of having profiles of vetted programmers who are employed by a stable firm. After a couple of months, based on the feedback we got from users, we decided to build something more original.
In January of this year, we launched Ekipa.co as it is today: profiles of vetted software teams. Our vision is to create ‘Accenture from the cloud’. Instead of going to a (large) outsourcing firm which delivers your software, your project gets realized by a network of experts. Ekipa combines consultants (who can do consultancy, onshore project management, relationships) with remote software development teams. Ekipa vets everyone, thus ensuring quality. And we offer the support to make the collaboration work.
The Press Meet
I’ll be open and honest here. This idea is huge. And everyone tells us that it’s fantastic. But it wore me out. My brain kept going in circles about how to get this going. Because even though it’s great, a marketplace like this is tough to get started. Any marketplace is, but especially if you’re aiming at larger projects with high value. So that’s when I decided to take a couple of months off.
I thought deeply about my last 10 years and what I want to do the upcoming 3 years. I realized that I love distributed work. I love it because;
- It brings big challenges. Even though in slick presentations, companies will tell you it’s all ok and they’ll deliver quality, I’ve experienced firsthand that it’s not easy. It takes patience and persistence to work across cultures, times zones. Especially if you’re building great software, which is hard in itself.
- I get to interact with other cultures. I like travelling and exploring other cultures and I like doing this in my work too.
- I invested 10 years of my life in this field and now know what it takes to make remote collaboration work.
Now I am back. After my return, I had a full week’s brainstorm with Piotr and Jennifer, my two co-founders. We decided to take a step back by focusing on delivering value to the people we now have on our platform. Since January, this year, over 400 companies registered on our platform. Most of them are providers of software development services. You might be one too?
The first value we started delivering is sharing our knowledge with the people in our network through workshops. Our aim is to help offshore and nearshore providers sell and deliver to Western clients better. We plan to organize workshops all over the planet in the upcoming year. More about that below. With that, we hope to also learn what it takes for us to build our ‘Accenture from the cloud’ dream.
My entrepreneurial spirit is still keen on figuring out how to create more value with our marketplace. I have also decided that I want to enjoy the adventure a bit more. For 10 years I was obsessed with achieving results (mainly growth). Everything around me had to come second. I got kids along the way and got married, but I felt like the most important thing for me to do was build and grow my company. A general theme I experienced during those 10 years was ‘frustration’. I stretched myself and set goals that were challenging to reach and I often didn’t reach them. This lead to a feeling of frustration. Taking a step back I wondered why this happened. Why do I set these goals so high and what’s the goal of doing that anyway! Spending a couple of weeks on Bali, where people just enjoy life, take it easy, surfing and meditating, made me question the value of achievement.
I am still keen on creating something big. But I decided not to care about the outcome. The goal is creating something valuable, something which helps other people. But whether I reach that goal or not, I don’t care anymore. I am going to enjoy the process, put all the effort I must put and then see where it leads.
Read Next >> Agile With Remote Teams: Marriage Made In Heaven?