A smooth sea never made a good sailor. The launch of TechPods was a category 5 storm, says Benjamin Kane (Ben), a loving father, CEO, and leader of TechPods, who set out on a mission to make IT outsourcing more transparent.
Speaking with Ben is a pleasure – positive and determined, as usual, he tells us what inspires and challenges him daily and what are his plans for the future (as uncertain as it might be right now). Let’s dive right in.
Tell us in a few words about yourself and TechPods?
In 2018, following 12 years of work experience in IT companies, from startups to global enterprises, I decided to launch TechPods! When it comes to IT outsourcing, I have worked on both sides of the fence, having outsourced projects to India, and been responsible for building and operating remote teams across Europe for an EMEA-wide client base. A common trend I noticed with traditional IT Outsourcing (ITO) companies is they usually operate with a vague business model, and they are usually willing to engage in any type of project.
TechPods is different because we are fully transparent, and we select our clients carefully. With a global market size of 66.5 billion USD, we believe there is plenty of room for an original approach in the ITO industry.
Take us back to the time when TechPods was launched? How and why did you start the company?
It sounds like a cliché but TechPods was born out of frustration. After working on both sides of the ITO fence, I was convinced there was a better way. Traditional ITO companies lack originality, they’re happy to engage in any project with any company, which I believe is the wrong way.
TechPods is positioned differently, and the magic ingredient is just a sprinkle of transparency! I must add, when we launched, I had absolutely no income, and a family to support, so it was very scary and very stressful, but I suppose we all require a little motivation every now and again.
Tell us a bit about your mission and services? What problems do you solve for your clients?
Unlike traditional ITO companies, we’re not a cheap alternative to sourcing staff internally. TechPods provides companies of all sizes access to a fresh pool of IT development talent, enabling them to scale quicker. There is so much amazing, world-class talent in Bulgaria, from rockstar junior engineers, graduating from the Telerik Academy, to seasoned CTOs, and Chief Architects with decades of experience under their belts at global tech powerhouse companies. Who would not want unlimited access to that? Our mission is to provide companies with seamless access to that talent.
How competitive is your niche and what’s your key differentiator?
There are over 50,000 professionals within the Bulgarian ITO & BPO sectors, working for companies who are undoubtedly all fighting for a slice of what is a USD 66.5 billion global market. I wouldn’t say competition is fierce because a lot of companies in our space are what we call “traditional ITO companies”, meaning we don’t classify them as direct competitors.
Our key differentiator is definitely transparency. We don’t hide anything from our clients, and we let them have as much control as they want.
What inspires you daily?
I may have had the TechPods name, business model, even website design carefully planned for years before its inception (I thought of the name while my mind was wandering in a business meeting in 2015), but TechPods would not be what it is today without the unbelievable talent under our roof, and for that, I am thankful every single day. In addition to being the CEO, being responsible for the team, and ultimately responsible for the long-term success of the business, I’m also a father. The fear of failing my people is what gets me up each morning. Failure is never an option.
The most rewarding part of the job is when clients are grateful for our work. As the old saying goes - “next to excellence is the appreciation of it”, and I fully believe in that.
That said, witnessing the progress of a person going from a junior developer with no commercial experience to a solid mid-level software engineer in the space of 18 months is a close second to our clients’ satisfaction.
What were some of the biggest challenges your business had faced?
A smooth sea never made a good sailor, and believe me when I say that. The launch of TechPods was a category 5 storm! During the company registration process, I started a relentlessly aggressive sales campaign which yielded our first client. Just as our new client was ready to proceed with the commercials, my lawyer knocked me for six with the news that the Bulgarian trade register had been hacked, and our company registration was on hold for at least two weeks.
I was not amused. Challenges are endless in business, nowadays we’re faced with another challenge, better known as COVID-19. Regardless of the size or timing of the challenge, you need to be prepared to roll with the punches and quite simply, adapt or die.
Why did you decide to join Campus X?
TechPods started in my living room, and of course, it was always going to be a temporary arrangement. The planned trajectory was to mitigate the risk of investing in a permanent office at the beginning and seek a temporary space at one of Sofia’s co-working spaces.
As soon as I stepped into Building 1 at Campus X, I knew this was going to be our long-term home. Campus X is so much more than a co-working space, it’s a place where ambitious businesses can scale quickly while surrounded by other like-minded businesses.
How does it feel to be part of the Campus X ecosystem?
Going back to my point about the fear of failure, and being reluctant to take the plunge because of the risks involved - Campus X provides a sense of security. As a business owner, I have access to world-class mentors, advice, and guidance from successful entrepreneurs with proven track records. I have access to a world of knowledge from like-minded business owners who have been there and done that. I have access to funding if required.
To answer the question, in short, I’d say it feels safe. We can focus on scaling the business knowing that we have all the help we need, if and when we need it.
The great facilities and physical space are also helping. We have 5 different teams at TechPods, all of which require access to space like meeting rooms, kitchen facilities, and so on. Campus X provides that. We have access to event space, gaming rooms, conference rooms, additional office space if and when required.
All of these features are imperative to the existence and growth of TechPods.
What's next for TechPods?
COVID-19 has thrown somewhat of a spanner in the works with our plans for H1 2020, however, we aim to stay on track and keep growing throughout 2020 and beyond.
Looking at the COVID-19 crisis from another perspective, once things settle down, there will be a recruitment-boom as companies look to scale-up as quickly as they can, in order to cope with market demand. And helping companies scale is what TechPods does best.