10 years of iteo! Our CEO shares his story
How did you come up with the idea of founding your own software company?
It all started in 2011 with one blink of the ski lift ride. I was sitting there with the skis attached to my feet thinking it’s time for a change. Back on the ground, I left my previous company and put everything on one card.
I launched iteo with no knowledge of technologies or software programming whatsoever, but I saw it as a path of the future. I was tired with the “old” IT — its hardware, ready-made solutions, dense atmosphere, lack of development, and a specific way of fighting for new clients. Software was my big blue. It was something unknown and maybe even a bit scary, yet still highly appealing.
I knew that throwing myself at something I didn’t know was neither cautious nor smart. And yes, I paid for it dearly with my time, money, and stress. But I have only one sentence to sum it up with — it was definitely worth it!
What did the first year look like?
It was all about gaining new knowledge as I’ve been just off the boat and had to learn all the intricacies of a software business by myself. Trips, conferences, programming meet-ups, startup events, Cracow, Warsaw, abroad — if you want to achieve something you need to be around.
Fortunately, it all paid off. I broadened my horizons, met dozens of great people and realized that I can do business all over the world, not limiting myself to Poland. In the meanwhile, a new generation of IT professionals grew up and the market drastically changed. It suddenly became more open and conscious of environmental protection, minority rights and other important social issues. Although the idea for a software house was still shaping up, I liked the new transformation’s direction and wanted to be a part of it even more. It was time to do some software!
Did you get inspired by other entrepreneurs?
The first person to inspire me 10 years ago was Ela Madej — a young, modern entrepreneur who changed the way I looked at running a successful business. Her attitude was much more laid-back and fun. She proved that you don’t have to be a serious, stuck-up businessman to achieve your goal and become a someone with a capital “S”. Now she rocks the Silicon Valley, having a few successful startup expeditions to her credit and being a cofounder of the Fifty Years fund.
Although Ela influenced me indirectly through a Proseedmag interview, there were also some interesting and inspiring people in my own business environment. I met professionals from the Silesian IT world and took part in the Tech Mine meet-ups. Many valuable encounters of this kind ended in new ideas and projects. Exchanging thoughts and having insightful conversations with highly skilled experts from the branch were a crucial aspect of growing a business.
Did the business background help?
Certainly. Launching iteo, I might have been a software engineering layman, but I had loads of experience from the world of business and formalities. I knew how to run a company and organize it properly from the formal and legal side. I also had a good eye for people. Most of the recruitment processes I took part in ended up in a long-lasting and fruitful business relationships.
What valuable lessons did you learn?
I learnt to seek information and inspiration in people who have already succeeded. I wasn’t afraid to ask them for help or advice. I was open, honest and always spoke my mind. What’s interesting — I received a lot of help from strangers who didn’t want anything in return.
What do you like most about your work?
Programming is like a living organism — it constantly changes, grows, and develops. What drives me most in my work is the variability of projects and technologies. I don’t enjoy sitting around or doing the same things over and over again. The level I reach is never enough. Quality, competences, achievements — there’s always room for improvement and I use it to the fullest.
Are there any regrets?
Having regrets doesn’t make much sense. There’s nothing you can do about the past anyway.
What do you feel when you look at iteo now?
I have three marvellous sons and iteo is actually my fourth child. I love what I do and what I managed to create. For me, a definition of freedom is working with people you chose to be at your side — and I have that from the very beginning. I’m aware that being employed in a corp would have made my life much easier, but I can’t imagine it would be as joyful, satisfactory, and fun as creating such a friendly working space and a professional software company as iteo.