15 lessons from 2012 (and meet our team)
What a year 2012 has been! We’ve made Pipedrive better, added thousands of customers, raised a bit of money and, last but not least, grown from 7 people in January to 15 today. And we haven’t properly introduced the new team members to you. Instead of the usual headshot, accompanied by two paragraphs about pets and hobbies, let us do this in a bit more useful way. Each team member, new and “old” will share one tip, lesson or nugget of wisdom from 2012.
My own takeaway from 2012 relates to the title CEO. I was thinking, “What’s the most important thing a CEO must focus on?” First, I thought, “Executing!” But it shouldn’t be about this only, because you may be easily executing the wrong things. So, I’ve understood that my most important task is to make sure we (1) make good decisions as a team, and (2) really execute them. At the beginning of the year I started a simple text file to record our important decisions. I regularly open and update it to see whether the team is doing the things we’ve agreed to do, and follow up when necessary.
Here’s what the rest of the team learned (in the order of sending me their tips):
Ragnar Sass (partnerships and HR, co-founder):
I’ve been hiring throughout my career, but 2012 was slightly different. I started to spend 2-3 times more time with each hire. This made our recruiting process slower, but it has paid off. As the company grows it’s very important that people share values and act as one team, not just have a good skill-set.
Martin Kapp (front-end developer):
To me 2012 has meant going back to my developer roots. And going full circle has been useful: I’m now a better coder thanks to my previous role as an architect in a much bigger team.
Henri Kroosmann (front-end developer):
This year I’ve learned that you don’t need to have a big team to build something that matters. I joined Pipedrive from Skype, which had gotten to a size where there was a person to do every little thing. In a smaller team you get more done because information doesn’t get lost and you don’t need to spend lots of time on “co-ordination”.
Maxim Wright (customer support):
After my first year here I’ve understood the importance of being personal and personable in addition to being responsive and professional. Almost every question and piece of feedback we receive is unique and the best way to support our customers is to really “be in their shoes”.
Elar Nellis (back-end developer, employee #1):
Working in a bigger group of developers is much more educational/interesting than in group of 2 developers. There is so much to learn from each other and there are many good ideas flying around the office all the time. It’s really motivating to see the product evolve as planned.
Mihkel Pukk (back-end developer):
At times it’s been hard to choose the right path, but the worst thing that can happen is not to choose and leave things as they were. I’ve discovered that while finding the one right answer may be daunting, pointing out all the wrong ones is easy. And so when making important choices I pick one that feels the most wrong and take path opposite of that. That’s what got me into software development this year. It may not be THE right thing, but i’m sure it’s going to take me closer to where I want to be.
Ivan Suhhonenko (infrastructure developer):
Over the last couple of years I’ve come to understand that career-wise the most important thing is the team you’re working with. Result-oriented, highly qualified team is the key factor for any success and as a newcomer to Pipedrive I’m really glad to have found one here.
Andris Reinman (back-end developer):
In addition to joining the Pipedrive team, 2012 been has about experiencing the growth of my 1 year old son. It appears that raising a child is in many ways like working in a startup, you never know what is waiting for you behind the corner. You think that you already knew everything about the kid and then, before you even realise it, he is doing something totally new and unexpected. Might get a bit hurt in the process but by the end of the day, it is a wonderful and exciting experience.
Alex Tsus (customer support):
My takeaway from 2012 as a support rep has been to keep personal feelings out of my work. Even with some really difficult cases and customers (yes, these sometimes happen) it’s always best if I put personal feelings aside and just focus on helping the customer.
Angel Pärn (back-end developer):
This year I’ve enjoyed experiencing the power of mixing three things: a good idea, a great team and powerful tools. And what comes to the latter I’m increasingly assured that tools or technologies are not paramount, they can be picked and built as you go along.
Urmas Purde (customer experience, co-founder):
This year I’ve learned that if your to do list doesn’t fit on a post-it note, you’re trying to do too much.
Martin Henk (customer support, co-founder):
In 2012 I learned that I can take a lot more stress than I thought I could. This realization came with moving my entire family to the other side of the globe. I had thought my job in leading our support team was challenging enough. But when the stress of relocating a family, dealing with finding a place to live, buying a used car, getting insurance on everything, getting your kids into kindergarten, etc etc. was added on top, I was pleased to learn I did not die. Lesson: don’t be afraid to put yourself out of your comfort zone to move forward in life.
Andrus Purde (marketing):
This year we stared putting serious effort into content marketing. In the beginning nothing much happened, but after six months results started to show and today, 12 months in, inbound marketing is one of our top marketing channels. Do your keyword research well, get started as early as possible and be (reasonably) patient – and signups and sales will follow.
Martin Tajur (design & tech, co-founder):
This may a be a little technical but in my view the main takeaway from 2012 was the beginning of our shift towards distributed data storage. What this means is that you’ll receive all the relevant data as it is created/updated, not just when you refresh the page. This has required a lot of engineering from both our back-end as well as front-end teams, and there’s still lots to do. But it will open up some cool new possibilities, so stay tuned for new useful features sporting these capabilities in 2013.
We won’t be taking a collective break over the upcoming holidays, but in case we don’t see you before – Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!