It has been over a year since the pandemic began, and there have appeared recently many articles summarizing this time in terms of business and life. We ourselves often talk about how the last year’s events have influenced our reality and the way we work. Especially since the idea of Meetsales was created in response to these rapid changes.
So I have decided to invite our CTO and Co-founder, Jakub Mikołajczyk, to spill some tea and engage you in the topics which are on our lips almost every day. In this conversation, we discuss, among other things, the challenges of creating an innovative product, the positive aspects of leading a small team, and finally, we ask ourselves what comes next in eCommerce.
Monika Ferens: As the whole concept behind Meetsales was born out of what happened last year, what is your view on the changes that the eCommerce industry has experienced since the pandemic broke out?
Jakub Mikołajczyk: I think it is safe to say that 2020 forced all of us to digitise, and there is no turning back. Most of the companies were forced to move their business’ online, create their own eCommerce departments, but also move their employees online, who up to this day have to work remotely or in the hybrid system. We all have observed the transformation happening for a few years now, so the pandemic was just a catalyst. When this happened, we have noticed that while the B2C sector handled this process quite well, for B2B companies, it was a completely different story.
The original concept, which we developed under Catch the Tornado, was to create an application combining the features of video conferencing with the possibility of integration with a product database. During this initial phase, we saw that the product had great potential. We started to think of much more innovative ideas, but even then, we did not know if their implementation would make sense and if it would be possible. The most significant breakthrough came during discussions with potential investors, who confirmed the validity of our assumptions and thus showed us the direction of development.
MF: And a few months later, here we are - with a totally different product and a quickly developing Meetsales team. Can you tell us a bit more about how the product looks right now?
JM: It is true that much has changed since that initial phase. We have taken a more innovative approach and created a totally new product which hasn’t existed before. I would say that the application has developed into a SaaS tool for the digitised management of sales resources that provides analysis, support and supervision of sales. All designed to sustain and build B2B relationships and facilitate remote working. It still has its original features, such as videoconferencing and PIM integration, but it goes beyond that. I would say that the most innovative element is actually combining the online store with a sales assistant through Meetsales. It prevents shopping cart abandonment by retaining your customers and guiding them through the entire sales process until they complete their purchase. It serves to combat abandonment ultimately, and as we all know, it is one of the most pressing problems in the whole eCommerce industry. You don't have to use any other tools. You don't have to leave the house. It’s convenient, comfortable and saves you time and money.
When it comes to development, we are at the point where our architecture has been thoroughly developed and implemented according to the MACH approach. We embrace the changes occurring in the eCommerce industry and will continue to build our product, leaving room for integrations and custom solutions for our clients. Moreover, our Meetsales team is growing, so all works and implementations gained speed and taking into account the fact that until recently the development was handled by a one or two-person team - I am very happy about it!
MF: I am sure you are, considering the fact that plenty of work was done by yourself!
JM: That’s true. At first, we started as a two-person team, which required some sacrifices from us. It was worth it, but we are glad that it’s over! [laugh]. It is super important to have a proper work-life balance, especially at the beginning of the project, to keep a fresh and open mind. And of course, let's not forget the cultural aspect of teamwork. We aim to create a great work environment where everyone feels free to talk about their ideas and contribute equally. And this is the most fun part of taking part in the early stage of product creation - having a chance to make a real impact on the product and creating something out of the box.
MF: Can you elaborate on how you work in development?
JM: When it comes to the methodology itself, we don't do anything unconventional. We use and combine the best practices of agile development. For the backend, we apply Node.js and on the frontend side React.js. In addition, we use GraphQl, Typescript, Kubernetes and Helm for deployment and Azure as a cloud service. But we don't require our new team members to know all of the above. We rely on a willingness to learn, an open mind, and not being afraid to take up a challenge. We are not closed to anyone, neither to seniors nor to juniors. But the biggest challenge in building a team is to create an atmosphere of support where everyone can speak up and feel motivated at the same time. In my opinion, it is way more accessible in a smaller team such as ours, where everyone is on the same page and communicates with each other directly.
MF: My thoughts on the topic are exactly the same. I wonder, though, how you see the future of the team then?
JM: At the moment, I would call our development team ‘the core team’. We are focused on developing the most crucial product components. Over time, we will have to set up an implementation team, thanks to which we will be able to introduce dedicated solutions for customers and operate in two directions. Technologies change so rapidly that it is hard to say what we will utilize, but this shouldn’t concern us. Our fundamental approach for the future is to stay as elastic as possible, immediately respond to the changing conditions and our client’s needs.
As we already have outstanding members on board (and some fantastic business angels as well!), we will concentrate on delivering the most innovative product as we possibly can and hopefully serve as a response to the most striking difficulties that B2B eCommerce businesses experience these days such as cart abandonment, work overload connected to selling remotely, measuring sales teams performance and supporting strong relationships between our clients and their customers. Automating all the activities in one place so the sales reps can help their clients in the decision-making process, and the rest should do itself. But that’s another story, that we could actually continue for hours.
MF: We definitely should keep the conversation going in the future then! And lastly, I would like to ask if there are any sayings or quotes you live by?
JM: They say that if you can't measure something, you can't manage it - that’s the idea I definitely agree with and try to apply in my everyday work life.