N47 Meetup #19 in Macedonia

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In the beginning of July we organised our first N47 Meetup in Macedonia. We spent 3 full days together eating, drinking and exploring (especially Lake Ohrid ๐ŸŠโ€โ™‚๏ธโ˜€๏ธ) this lovely country! Besides that, we also had to celebrate our newly built office in the city center of Skopje ๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿฅณ with a nice office warming party!

Who we are? A recap of our joint venture

Reading Time: 5 minutes

On our website, you can find a lot of information about what we are doing, what our expertise is and how we can help to solve your problems. But we also want to let you look behind the scenes: Therefore, on our culture site, you can have a look what we are currently doing in behind, what we want to achieve and how we want to care about ourselves, our employees, too. And when we play with open cards anyway, maybe itโ€™s interesting to you how it all began and how we came until here. Our vision is to be a company in a glass house. ๐Ÿข

So, here we go – this is our story

It started when we were still students ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿปโ€๐ŸŽ“ at the University of Constance Germany. We started to work on tiny little projects ๐Ÿค“, doing things like a website for a barbershop or a little online shop. The first projects were just some hundred bucks worth – but we were proud of it ๐Ÿ˜Ž! With our first income we started to open our first โ€œofficeโ€ – ok, it was more like a garage ๐Ÿš— or basement. But we started to get entrepreneurs, got some new projects, something bigger and it worked quite well, so we were able to hire our first employee in 2015 and moved into a “real office”, the starting shot for us to grow. Since it was clear to us that we want to have our on place, keep our free work, inspired by the working groups of the university – and give other talents a place to grow with us and also shape the company.

In 2016, we were grown to 6 employees, at this stage, we saw that we could need some support, some manpower but also seeing how difficult it was to find developers, so we started to get our first experience with offshore companies๐ŸŒ. And, as we took the entrepreneurship in, we thought ok, why not establishing our own company in another country: So, therefore we opened an office in Skopje Macedonia ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฐ with just one employee at first. You can read more about it in our blog post: IT nearshore in Skopje: Turning Fail Story to Success Story.

In 2017 we made it to grow up to 12 people ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿป, thanks to the University and Fachhochschule in Constance, where we found some very talented developers helping us to grow. But by becoming a bigger team we also had to deal with different challenges: How to deal with the growing administrative work, financial stuff, management and things like that? How to reach the next level into professionalization and therefore make some decisions: How should we go on with our company in Skopje? Close it or invest in it? How should we handle our opportunities in Switzerland?

Lots of topics, one after another. To focus on our core business, we externalized our finances ๐Ÿ’ฐ and some of the administrational stuff ๐Ÿ—„. Our point here – letโ€™s make professionals take care of that and we focus on what we are professionals in. We also created a internal position for project & business development ๐Ÿ“ˆ.

As the topic of nearshore/offshore gets more and more important, we decided to go on more professionally and started to hire a Store Manager in Skopje. We followed up on this on a separate blog post IT nearshore in Skopje: Turning Fail Story to Success Story. but without telling too much, our manager did a great job so far and built up a team of professionals very very quickly.

In September 2018 we also founded our office in Switzerland ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ. Our goal here was to work for clients in Switzerland, have seniors near the clients, architects or lead developers who can take over the responsibility for conception and realization of projects and also organize and delegate work to Germany ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช or Skopje ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฐ.

In the 2nd half of 2018 with the fusion to 47 North Labs AG, we got two very experienced guys on board and made a big step to expand our expert know-how and follow our ambitious goals – growing in manpower but also in culture, together as a seamless team, as an IT agency.

How we will do this in 2๏ธโƒฃ0๏ธโƒฃ1๏ธโƒฃ9๏ธโƒฃ, what our goals are and how we want to achieve this will be shown and documented on our culture site. Stay tunedโ€ฆ

To be always up to date you can follow us on twitter, instagram or linkedin… see you there!

My journey at neubelebung – From my bachelor thesis to building up and being part of a start-up

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How everything began…

Everything had started when I was looking for a company where I could write my bachelor thesis. Although you have plenty of choice of companies, especially in Stuttgart and the surrounding area, but it also had to fit with the topic. Like so many choices in life, I also wanted to make that decision with my friends. As a result, neubelebung’s offer was to write about the topic: Evaluating open source and commercial e-commerce solutions.

That was also the beginning of my journey in the neubelebung world.

Hiatus of one year…

After graduation ๐ŸŽ“, I took a break and travelled ๐Ÿš— with my family ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ง around the world ๐ŸŒ I think anybody can put himself in my position. After years of school and university, a hiatus is an obligation especially when you are already married and have children.
It was also the opportunity to spend time with my two little girls ๐Ÿ’ž.

My Comeback…

During this time neubelebung had developed further and already pulled some small orders ashore. This was also the opportunity for me to join the neubelebung world again.

Initially, I did an internship, where I did some content management tasks. After the internship, I worked as a freelancer for neubelebung and served as a test manager. After a few months, everything became more serious, so I took a permanent position and spent a long time doing my test manager activity.

neubelebung became more and more successful and it was time to get new employees on board. Now my role changed to Team Leader, where I took responsibility for the newbies. Furthermore, I was also on the road as an HR manager ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿ’ป and I was doing all the tasks that had to be done in this regard. Including recruiting new people: writing job advertisements, publishing on various platforms, as well as at universities around, conducting interviews with candidates and looking after all the processes that were in connection with employees.

I took Yum! Brands CEO Greg Creed’s following sentence to heart: Take the job no one else wants to do, so I mastered all the challenges that a start-up entailed. The world in a start-up is not like in a large concern, where you can expect organization and structure. You have to build up everything from scratch and thus not to be good to do tasks which no one else is ready to do.

What I enjoy(ed) the most…

Most interesting in my journey were the business trips to Skopje ๐Ÿ›ซ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฐ and workshops we managed with the management board in various countries ๐ŸŒ. We literally locked ourselves up for a few days and worked daily for over 1โƒฃ6โƒฃ hours. The goal has always been to become more successful. In other words:

  • How does neubelebung become more attractive to developers?
  • What do we have to change or make additional, so that employees will be happier to be part of the neubelebung family?
  • How does neubelebung become a big competitor in the IT services sector?

Looking back now, I realize how proud we can be of what we’ve all reached together. We are now represented in 3โƒฃ countries (Germany ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช, Switzerland ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ, Macedonia ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฐ) with 3โƒฃ companies (digitale neubelebung, 47 North Labs, digital natives). We are a team with more than 2โƒฃ5โƒฃ members and serve several major clients in Switzerland๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ.

The show must go on…

The challenge is not yet finished. We continue to fight ๐ŸฅŠ since our goal is to become an attractive employer and get cool/interesting/challenging projects in the IT sector ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ’ป in near future.

It’s all about teamwork, creativity and cultural change

Reading Time: 6 minutes

People of different religions and cultures live side-by-side in almost every part of the world, and most of us have overlapping identities which unite us in very different groups.
We can love what we are, without hating what- and who we are not. We can thrive in our own tradition, even as we learn from others, and come to respect their teachings

Kofi Annan

Over the past few years, the field and management sector of major companies have a big problem of how to arrange the days of their employees, something that will give a bit of strong light and positivity, which will avoid monotony and on the other hand give a great impetus to their creativity and vision, much greater motivation and strong spirit in overcoming further obstacles and challenges. The problem is even greater if companies are stationed in several locations in different countries, so that communication is interconnected constantly through technical apps, almost virtual, simply a voice, perhaps a shy picture or video call and of course mostly text and chat conversations.

47 North Labs locations: Switzerland, Germany and Macedonia.

It is very often the case that the company hierarchy is a list of members of different cultures, nationalities, so that it becomes even more difficult task of organizing team buildings. But on the other hand, it is one of the reasons why that makes them special.

The differences are part of us, the differences are making us so special, and of course differences we know well and we have become accustomed to it.

Differences – make us special and unique.

Team building, joint team events or hacking term in the IT industry are part of every company agenda, happens every year and they often happen few times per year.

Itโ€™s a chemistry thing, itโ€™s the time where you can share your points of view, your thoughts, your personality, your creativity, your vision, itโ€™s the time when you are not representing just yourself, but also your culture, your contry.

But, the idea of creating an event, that will bring together โ€“ Team Building and Hackathon event?  Yes, we did it and we arranged and created. Almost one week, gathering the team together. The Family!

24 hours of work, pure juice of 100% creativity, dedication and hard work.  Commitment always brings success, and YES some of the team after the deadline and voting for the best team and best project made, they had a shootout with the Champs Titles and Presents. Absence Hub – Resource Guru and Absence.io connector TEAM did it, they collected the votes and drove all the way through like Real Madrid in Champions League.

Yes, it was worth it! Title goes to the winners!

The event was a success, the employees loved it. And all of them are sharing the same opinion, maybe sometime and somewhere everything is not 100% perfect, but even the misses are part of that. People create, sometimes in the process of creating always is something missing, but in the end, the finish line and the title – thatโ€™s all what matters!

Final conclusion โ€“ 100% success and thatโ€™s what all IT companies need, at least once, but it’s good to be twice or even more per year.  Itโ€™s chemistry, it is fun, it is releasing the creativity inside all of the members of the company that doesnโ€™t have a chance before to describe themselves with their own words.
It’s a fact that programmers find Hackathons the perfect venue to unleash their ideas, it’s often that this kind of events produce ingenious products or ideas, or even they show the real potential, creativity, talents of employees. It’s an easy challenge, but the benefits of it can be great for the organization, company or network. And together with team building events, it’s double more fun and joy for the team.

The last moments after the end of the event, the euphoria of the faces of all colleagues, but also a bit of grief over why it was all too short, everyone wants more time together. But that’s the idea and motivation for the next event. Where, how, when, what’s next? Give your thoughts and ideas, let’s take a look and decide it together. ะœaybe somewhere on the sea, fishing, hiking, or mountain and skiing? Or on some great concert with DJs or maybe Stones or U2?

Afterwards, travelling back to home town, sitting in the aeroplane and thinking about the past few days, wow it happened all so fast and the days flew like a fast cigarette breakโ€ฆ

The A-team surrounded with lots of positive energy and good memories. And the question is what next,where to go next, what should we arrange next?

I think, whatever, just bring it on baby!

IT Nearshore in Skopje: Turning Fail Story to Success Story

Reading Time: 6 minutes

After a successful start into the business in 2014, we wanted to offer our clients a wider portfolio. As you might know in IT businesses โ€žchange & developmentโ€œ is a main topic and if you stuck in development, you will die. ๐Ÿ’€

Beginning of 2015, we discussed about the establishment of an own nearshore company. Therefore we had a lot of questions, where we found also the answers and finally decided to establish a nearshore development company in Skopje. ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Here is the journey of establishing our nearshore and turning a Fail Story to a Success Story. ๐Ÿ™Œ

What are the benefits of an own nearshore company

  • We have the full control of developing our own experts ๐ŸŽ›๏ธ
  • We can feel what support the developer needs, instead of just body lease a resource ๐Ÿค—
  • Our team gets international and the know how exchange grows ๐ŸŒ
  • We can externalize specific expertises and create a well running work force, like testing units, front-end / back-end development units or mobile development units
  • We can offer our clients lower rates than Swiss experts ๐Ÿ’ฐ

After a detailed market analysis our thoughts of establishing an own nearshore company where affirmed! โœ…

But why in Skopje?


Skopje is a start-up city on the rise ๐Ÿ“ˆ. It is the capital of Macedonia ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฐ and the main point of the Macedonian start-up ecosystem. In the last few years the membership has grown surprisingly fast and younger people are becoming more familiar with start-ups and are willing in innovations and inventions. ๐Ÿข
There where also more reasons like:

  • 80% of the young population speaks English fluently ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ฅ๓ ฎ๓ ง๓ ฟ
  • Skopje has a great infrastructure and is well connected to the rest of the European cities, especially Zurich ๐ŸŒ
  • Direct access to students and a lot of IT universities ๐ŸŽ“
  • Financial advantages like lower salaries, living expenses and transportation costs, also low taxes ๐Ÿ’ฐ
  • And Skopje already welcomes start-ups with communities ๐Ÿข

Kickoff…

So we flew to Skopje โœˆ๏ธ to establish our business there. It was the first time, visiting Macedonia ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฐ but everything felt so homelike and tiny ๐Ÿ . After a very good preparation with the lawyers before we could finish all our tasks within few days. As we were back, we had established our nearshore company Digital Natives DOOEL โœ…, found an accountant โœ…, rented an office โœ…, bought some office furniture โœ… and employed our first developer there โœ….

It was surprisingly fast and we couldnโ€™t even believe it, how easy and fast it was! We felt like Flash!

โ€ฆ ok and we got a wheel clamp ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ™‰๐Ÿ™Š, because the parking situation in Skopje is horrible. But also this situation was fixed very quickly! ๐Ÿ™‚

But we had a bigger issue


For two years the productivity of our nearshore was not satisfying ๐Ÿ˜”. We were concentrated to our business in Germany ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช and Switzerland๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ. So it was hard to us to develop our business there in Macedonia ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฐ. Even, to have a company with just one developer afraid new developers to join, maybe we where too small? ๐Ÿšถ

In 2018 we did a big change, we stand in front of the questions โ€žWas this the dream of an own nearshore? Is this the end of the nearshore journey?โ€œ No, we faced with the problems and focussed on the growth in Skopje ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฐ. Now it was the time to turn the Fail Story to a Success Story!!!

Roll up your sleeves…

Our first task was to find a store manager ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿ’ผ, who is responsible for finding well educated and motivated developers ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿผโ€๐Ÿ’ป. Also he had to convince the developers of our vision and strategy. His main skill was to have a great IT network and the ability to convince the candidate with our story. We had to live the same dream ๐Ÿ’ญ and work hard for it ๐Ÿ’ฆ. Within few months we integrated the full Skopje team ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฐ into our projects and the environment of our client. We changed our office to a bigger place and in autumn 2018 we reached our goal:

Now we have a team of high class experts in the field of back-end, front-end and mobile development. We are up and running successfully ๐Ÿ™Œ. The know how and physical exchanges have grown. In our Hackdayz 2018 event we where all together and it was great to see how everybody knows each other, even if some guys hadnโ€™t seen each other physically before. ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ

Team at team lunch and our team is still growing… we will need bigger restaurants ๐Ÿ™‚

Our cultural change program is well accepted from everybody and we can feel even now the positive effect of our program. Our goal was to establish a seamless team with Swiss๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ, German ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช and Macedonian ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฐ developers, who speak the same language โค๏ธ and work on the same project with the same level and vision in different locations. ๐ŸŒ

With this success, we can offer our clients a well working model package of Swiss๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ, German ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช and Macedonian ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฐ developers for fair and low rates. The client is happy and we are happy. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

We have seen that is important to have loyal team mates ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ, who speak the same language ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿผโ€๐Ÿ’ป, feel the same spirit and have the same vision โค๏ธ! And we achieved that by integrating everybody in the same environment and having an open ear ๐Ÿ‘‚ to the needs of anybody.

The success of a great team!