It’s been December 2017. That was a cold, sunny day. Was sitting with my wife Ida in The Hague, beautiful city of The Nederlands and we were just about to make an important decision, whether to stay there, after completing my role as CTO at Twill Logistics, a digital freight forwarding startup founded by Maersk, or maybe get back to Poland, closer to family, especially we already had two really small kids.
At that time, I was looking for ordinary employment, as a CTO, VP of Engineering, etc. But at the same time, I started seriously considering starting my own company. I said to myself, that I have savings, I’m getting older :-), having a very strong network of one of the best engineers from Poland.
After several weeks of discussions, finding the right people and partners to start the company, acquiring the first client, we have launched SolveQ.
From the very beginning, we were pushing for quality and speed. I’ve experienced many times, how bad experience it may be for a client if the external supplier is not providing what you would expect, due to poor project management, playing with you around by sending junior engineers to learn, having less qualified engineers, because they are cheaper.
This is what I pushed to avoid from the very beginning. Even though it may mean our margins are lower, we would have less money in the account.
But that, in the long term, will for sure bring us new clients and more work because those already satisfied will stay with us but more importantly, they will spread the word about what SolveQ is and how astonishing service we may provide.
For two years journey, we have already served several important clients. Most of those, out of 18, were from abroad, mostly Scandinavia, Germany, and Benelux.
We’ve delivered 33 projects of different scales and complexity.
We have also grown the team. From 3 people to almost 20. Mostly one of the most experienced and talented engineers from Tricity, but also sales, HR and EB, social media experts, etc.
IT IS NOT A PIECE OF CAKE. Really. Even though you have +20 years of experience in enterprise companies, scaling startups, building mature engineering organizations, hiring and firing engineers, etc. It is not the same as running your own business.
Running your business means that you not only deal with successes, but you must be prepared to deal with failures and also to find a way to avoid failures.
But the most revealing news, for me, and maybe for you, is that was my fault. Not my clients who decided to end the contract, not the surrounding circumstances.
It was ME.
SolveQ is a service company. So, to survive and grow, we need to constantly acquire customers for our service. They will not come on their own, they will not be looking for us, they will not decide to work with us if we are not constantly and proactively looking for them.
So, the learning for me was:
Get the f.ck back to work and get things done !!!
We have survived, I got my lesson. We started building a more mature organization, with people responsible for certain parts of the business. People are more experienced than me.
Now we are in very good shape to accelerate growth. Some financials may say the word on how we perform and what are our plans.
2018 – 320 000 €
2019 – 500 000 €
Gross income may not be impressive but bearing in mind what we’ve gone through in 2019, it is a great starting point to plan strategically for next year.
Our goal for 2020 is to grow to around 40 people in the team and to make an income of around 1 200 000 €.
We also initiated an internal effort to agree and live with our company’s values. That will tell both clients and potential co-workers, who we are and why it is worth staying in touch with us.
But building a company is not only about here and now. It is also to leave something positive for the future.
That is why we will also be working hard to make SolveQ a green company and focusing on social responsibility.