Ilia (Elijah) Podavalkin is the co-founder and CEO of Scalamandra, a software development company with representatives in the United States and the European Union.
As a student, Ilia was involved in numerous entrepreneurial projects. His involvement in those projects sparked an interest in technology, and he hoped to construct a brand that would assist in building the industry, make services accessible, and generate profit. Despite the constant flow of new and emerging inventions, IIia was successful in starting his tech company, Scalamandra.
Scalamandra creates websites, analytical dashboards, automation systems, and mobile applications for its clients, allowing them to take the next step in modernizing legacy programs by utilizing functional programming and cutting-edge technologies such as Scala, Node.js, React.js, and others. Some Atlassian products used by the firm include Hubspot for customer management and Discord for an online office. In general, teams are dynamic and adaptable. Furthermore, because of the thin technology stack, project rotation is significantly easier.
As an entrepreneur, IIia encourages business creators to never quit, even if it is at the end. They must train themselves to consider alternatives and seek answers regardless of the situation. Because, in the end, a business entrepreneur must create a system, not just work for themselves.
We interviewed IIia to learn more about what he does. The entire interview can be found below.
Who are your ideal customers? Why are they your ideal customer?
Basically, Scalamandra works in two directions. These are staff augmentation and product development. The geography of our clients is mainly the USA and the EU.
The team extension is more about mid-sized technology companies with a certain stack. For example, they need to close Scala Developers’ positions and expand the current team. In this case, we help to get access to the necessary specialists quickly and also take care of all human resources-related issues: legal and financial, keeping developers motivated, holidays, sick leaves, etc.
Regarding the development of software solutions, this is work with startups or SMBs that need to build a product from scratch. Here, we are involved in the outsourcing of the whole project and are responsible for the risks. It means we handle everything from the business analysis of the initial idea and design to development, implementation, and maintenance.
How do you attract customers?
Attracting customers goes through outbound channels, where we do an action to attract them, and inbound, where customers themselves contact us about their needs.
We use social networks, online platforms like Clutch, specialized chats with IT companies, events, blogs, and road shows. The company also receives partner and client recommendations.
What are your business’s growth ambitions for the next 24 months?
We have quite ambitious plans for the next 2 years. They include the creation of an ecosystem of units in the company. Building outsourcing verticals and teams extension, Scala & JS academies, training centres, creating open-source frameworks and libraries, and growing Ukraine’s largest Scala community. The foundation for this is already ready, it remains just to work further.
Do you use scalable systems, processes, or tools for growth? If yes, kindly elaborate.
We use different layers of software for our needs. These are various Atlassian products, Hubspot for customer management, Discord for an online office. As a rule, teams work agile and remain flexible. Also, thanks to the narrow technology stack, rotation between projects is much easier.
What are your short and long-term challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?
Good question. In this business, the main challenge is juggling the number of employees and orders. If there are few orders, then the teams sit on the bench, and if there are a lot of orders, then the contrary, people get exhausted and we lose orders because there is no one to do them. There is a shortage of software engineers around the world, and so far, demand exceeds supply. This challenge is present both in the short term and the long term.
Besides simple recruiting, we cover the shortage of personnel with mentoring programs, partnerships with universities, training, and the development of various communities for software engineers.
Also, the task is to streamline the chaos to a certain level and systematize the current processes. I divide it all into five areas: finance, marketing, sales, recruiting, and project delivery. There are also legal aspects. I pick about 2-3 of them per quarter and spend more time on them than the rest. I like to improve processes and see results.
Do you have a team? How do you manage the team to achieve goals?
I am directly in charge of the management team. We have different types of calls in the schedule and reporting. For the task managers, we use Trello and Notion.
The teams use daily stand-ups where everyone says what they did yesterday, what they will do today, and whether they have blockers. Also, customer demos are held at the end of the sprints. For project management, we use Jira.