Phil McMannis, our client from Boston, has visited us before Easter. Phil is a product manager at FreeLogoServices and came to Tîrgu-Mureș to meet with our developers. We receive a visit from a representative of freelogoservices.com annually, because the most complex aspects of the project require face to face conversation. Also, there are many stages of the project already planned for the following period, but not without analyzing the strategies applied last year. All of these help us to continue our work with the same efficiency! We have managed to talk with Phil among the numerous technical meetings.
Q: Welcome to Tîrgu-Mureș. You are here for the second time. What brings you back to our company?
A: Yes! So, I came back to meet with the team, catch up on things, go over the project and talk about some of the bigger strategic initiatives that we have and sort of helping provide a little bit more clarity into what we are doing, where we`re trying to go with the project and also talking about some of more challenging projects that we want to take on, but is easier to discuss in person and work through things.
Q: The project we are working on together has been evolving for quite some time now. How is working with Reea’s specialists?
A: Yes, is great! I love the team. Everyone is extremely hard working, extremely intelligent. One of my favourite things is that when we want to do something challenging, there is never “we can’t do it” or “it is impossible”, it`s “we can do it” but it`s gonna take significantly longer time or we need to came up with creative solutions to it, so it`s great that the team is always very creative and innovative and always willing to come up to a way to solve the problem and it`s never know how long or how creative you have to be to find out the solution to the problem.
Q: What are your goals for the next period? Basically, what have you decided these days?
A: We think some of the big strategies continue to work on selling additional products to our customers so increasing our portfolio. So we started selling five years ago just logos, and we`ve continued to add on business cards, promotional products. We`re now doing domains, websites, and emails. So trying to look how to fit that into the process and continue to grow it . How we take what we built so far and make it able to support all the additional products and functionalities.
Q: How would you describe one of your ordinary days of work?
A: Normal day of work for us…I think it is a really great way working with the team. When we`re coming first thing in the morning we are able to get updates on all of the things what we`re deployed on the site for the day and sort of an update on the work that been done, a sort of morning and afternoon here in Romania, because is just work in the office in the USA. So it`s great that we have a couple hours to sort of overlap, work through things with the team, see what questions and problems need to be solved and then they are able to go home and we are able to take the afternoon to try to figure out what`s next solve things ourselves and get them an update at the end of a day, so they came in the morning and have fresh updates of where were at and all the different things they want to do.
It`s worked well. I`m sure that we were here all of the time, we probably make them crazy with questions and not being able to go and work on stuff, so works that very well with the team.
Q: What part of your work you love the most?
A: Part that I love the most is that thing is never the same, there is always a new challenge, and we are always coming up with really new and innovative ways to offer our products and solutions to our customers and coming up with new and creative ways of using technology. So it`s never “it`s only been done this way, we need to do it the way that is been always been done” is always “how we…a new way to do things” and it`s always very challenging and exciting.
Q: What is the difference between the American and Romanian IT companies? How does the American workflow differ from ours?
A: I worked with developers from USA, UK, Bulgaria and India, and of course, Romania. Personally, I think the team that we have here is the best team I have ever work with, hands down. I think one of the big differences is, everyone here, I don`t know how much it`s, you know, Romania or just start team that has a very good approach and work ethics, very hard working, also…a good job of understanding how the work that are doing fits into the product and the technology on our website and what the customer needs. They are capable of seeing that way instead just seeing as this is the code I’m writing, well I don`t care, this is the way technology needs to be done, so the customer needs to figure out how to use our technology.
I think they are very good understanding that balance and how to make something that both needs to needs of the customer and aswell as sort of technologically solid solution of the problem.
I think in the US in particular, people tend to get really caught up with very elegant technology and doing something that is technically very cool and very unique, and very innovative, but not always sort of meeting the customer’s expectations.
Q: What is the recipe for success regarding a start-up?
A: It`s a great question. I think the most important is passion. Everyone from our company is very passionate about what we are doing, and I say not just passion about what we`re doing, passion about doing things that are great for our customers and putting the customer first. So, I think that`s another really important thing and always trying to strive to push yourself harder and finding a better way to deliver what the customer needs and not say our business gonna create this and we gonna make sure the customer likes it no matter what, but putting your customer first, because at the end of the day, if you`re not solving the customer needs and the customer problems, you`re not really doing what you need to do even if you add the best technology in the world.
So, I think sort of that, either passion to be part of the team and make something great and innovative and cool for our customers that need their needs efficiently, I think is really the key to success.
Q: What are the skills a product manager in his early career should possess?
A: I think that for a product manager early in his career there`s a few things they need to look for. You need to have a good understanding of technology systems and how things will work together, how to be able to manage a project like that.
I think you also need to have a good understanding of how to understand customer expectations and customer needs and a way that you can allow us to interceptive find a way to develop a great product that successfully delivers the technology system website application, but also meets the customer expectations and is delivered in a way that it gonna be usable by the customer and they will like and continue to use, going forward.
The third thing that is really important is not being afraid to innovate and try new things and tests . I think one of the biggest things that we do in this, actually is probably just this much, sort of a recipe of success for a start-up, we are A/B testing almost everything that we do, we`re constantly experimenting and not making a decision to make a button, you know, blue, because a blue button looks good on the site. We test a blue button against a pink button, and the blue button performs 30% better. So we really following the numbers and the data, and not being afraid to test also I think not being afraid that everything is wrong, because every time you get something wrong, you have the ability to learn from it and being able to take the learnings from making a mistake is what allows you to get ultimately succeed and getting the right answer.
Q: Would you give three pieces of advice for Romanian IT experts and young people who want to launch a business?
A: The first one is what I`ve just speaking about, don`t be afraid to fail. You are going to fail, there is nothing you can do about it, but when you fail and something doesn`t work, make sure that you are doing in a way that you can learn something from it, and pull yourself up and try something new. So that`s the first piece of advice.
The second piece of advice is that you need to put your customer first. If you`re not doing what the customer needs, and you`re not understanding your customer, there is no way that you can solve their problems. And that`s not always just having the work done, the website and looking at metrics, it’s speaking with customers, understanding what`s going on when they having problems, not just saying “oh, we`re let the customers service handle it”, but getting on the phone with them and understanding what`s their problems are and what they need to solve.
The third piece of advice is you got to love what you`re doing. If you`re not enjoying what you`re doing every day, it`s impossible to make it through the tough times when things are challenging, because it makes it hard to keep coming in every day and keep trying again, but if you’re doing something that you love and enjoy, it becomes very easy to continue, taking the challenges, head on and find a way to solve very difficult problem , because it`s solving the difficult problems that allow you to really succeed.