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Stepping into a decade of software development — in an interview with Sensidev’s CEO

by Ionuț Movilă & Andreea Oproiuover 2 years ago 7 min read

While looking forward to celebrating a decade of Sensidev, we have to take a look back at our journey and identify what are our key takeaways, what brought us here today, and what not to do if you want to lead a successful software company. And who better to answer all these questions, than the company CEO — Ionuț Movilă.

1. When did you realize, together with your partners, that it is time to build Sensidev?

Well, it was back in 2011 when I met with Lucian, the other co-founder of Sensidev and we were both young developers with ambitious ideas. We liked assuming some risks and taking responsibility into our own hands regarding our careers. So we started freelancing as developers and also looking for new customers and challenges in terms of projects. At the same time, we also invested energy in implementing our own product ideas, such as: OCR receipt scanner (this was my master’s degree thesis) and eQuantification — a solution dedicated to optimizing energy consumption and giving insights and recommendations to end consumers.

2. What is your favorite part of working with fellow devs?

First of all, I’m also a developer, and working with other developers feels really natural and we speak a common language. In my efforts, I try to understand the needs of all our fellow devs because we’re all different in terms of soft skills, how we work within a team, how we approach challenges, motivation, and so on. At the same time, I get to interact with our customers that can be less technical and maybe not fully aware of how software development works using agile practices. Here I get to be the link between customers and fellow devs, in managing expectations and establishing healthy flows in the early stages of a project.

And nevertheless one of the favorite parts is discovering the solutions our devs have implemented to overcome complex problems, and even participate in a pair programming call or review the code.

3. Which decisions did you see most important in moving the company forward? How about the negative ones — do you think there are any opportunities missed?

We are passionate about what we are doing and the goal is to build a team with the same passion for coding, continuous learning, and keeping up with the latest technology advances. We started small in 2012 with a team of 3 developers (and co-founders) and for a couple of years, we were running the business and also handling the customer relationships as developers.

An important decision was back in 2015 when we had a bigger project and we started to bring new developers into our team in order to build a local team for a customer in China. Sadly in the summer of 2016, the project fell off in a short time (due to management decisions) and we had to scale down our team back to the team of 3 devs. This was because we were not prepared to act fast and engage a customer in a short time.

Then, back in 2017, we were getting traction again and we hired a junior dev. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the best fit, as his passion and commitment were missing and after almost one year we had to say goodbye. And even more in the Spring of 2018, we were left with only 2 devs/co-founders after Marius decided to go on a separate path.

All these mishaps forced both me and my partner, Lucian, to work even harder to bring in new customers and to pay more attention to the potential of a project in scaling up. This led us to one of our biggest milestones ⛳, as in the summer of 2018, we made our bet on 2 junior devs that proved to be incredibly talented and delivered in short time more than expected. Less than one year after, we were able to start new projects with them, for new customers.

As customer requests were growing, so did our team of developers, and back in spring 2020 we decided that we wanted a better public image and we started working with a very talented PR team at Digitales. We made our new site, new brand, social media presence before the end of 2020. And back in the early days of 2021, things were looking so great but we got to the point where all our developers were busy with customer projects that were going really well and expected to go like this for a long time. And we failed to push more on extending the team with new skilled devs and bringing exciting new projects. And then in the summer of 2021 the unexpected happened, one of our largest customers gave us one month before they will end the contract with us (due to a shifting strategy on their side, not the quality of our services) and we were left with a very ambitious team of 5 devs, with no project(s).In the end, they left Sensidev. We had a hard time this summer with many unpredictable events, but we have learned that we should have a strong commitment and ongoing efforts for bringing new quality customers, and at the same time match their demand with very skilled devs. Rigorously verified in our recruitment pipeline.

4. Which are the most lucrative industries for software development and why?

In general, we are agnostic when it comes to industries, and we can work with customers from very different industries as long as there is a need for a software product that can solve a problem and there is also a demand from end-users.

For us, the most lucrative industry (since 2018) is the healthcare industry. We had 3 projects in this area regarding sleep improvement for babies, analyzing large amounts of data in clinical research, or developing a digital solution for brain health. Not that we had a strong preference from the beginning but healthcare was and is a great fit for us. And once you start getting a couple of customers in a specific industry others will follow because you have a background of what you can deliver and this helps a lot in building the initial trust.

PS: We are preparing to start number 4 in health care just as we speak :)

We have also worked with the Entertainment industry, Blockchain (together with decentralized data), or Educational. All these 3 have really big potential and the demand from customers is HIGH.

And of course, a notable mention goes to the IoT industry where we have our baby Sensix — in-house developed product.

5. Is there any digital solution that you want to develop out of passion/pleasure?

Here, I’m proud to mention our startup product — Sensix . This started from our passion for making people and other businesses (because this is a B2B solution) more aware of ambient air parameters in correlation with energy consumption and efficiency. Providing others with practical recommendations for going more “green”, while reducing the operational costs, was a dream come true for us.

With Sensix, we are building a complex solution in terms of technical development: it includes multiple types of hardware devices with different sensors and energy meters, it has embedded software that runs on these devices, software for web and mobile applications, and the cloud infrastructure for communication and data storage. We also strive to provide even more AI algorithms to build extended value from the data we are processing. Since we are technical people, we love this sort of challenges, and also partner with professionals where our knowledge and skills are falling short, in order to provide end-to-end solutions.

And now on a smaller scale, (and not as a fully-fledged solution): as developers we are facing certain problems over and over and the solution is maybe one that we have developed in-house. We are open with the community of developers and if our solution can help other developers we would love to offer it as an open-source library. And what can bring more pride for a developer than knowing his solution is being used by thousands of other developers and saving their time?

6. Where do you see the future of software development going and what are you looking forward to?

Software development is an industry with a very fast pace and this makes it so special and, for sure, a reason for many developers to either like it or hate it. We like challenges, and keeping up to date with the advances and new trends is a MUST. As a true #sensidev (developer) the journey and pleasure of learning is one that will never end. The customer demands and expectations are high. Many times we are required to have an MVP in a couple of months with a limited budget (the case for startups). In such a scenario we must leverage all the new integrated services provided by industry big players like Amazon AWS or Google Cloud. They all go hand in hand with our favorite JavaScript technologies like React and Node.js and understanding how to work with the cloud platforms is essential.

Cloud is the future since it reduces the boilerplate to set up a project in terms of infrastructure, scalability, and the need to have a dedicated DevOps guy. And you get the option to pay for what you use. Other important trends as I see are

      i.     tools that promise to deliver product prototypes with a “no-coding” strategy,
      ii.    PWAs , apps that can deliver very close to native experience but they are web apps and can be simply added to the mobile home screen with no installation/download needed (see Google Travel ).
      iii.    And just some keywords to look for: #serverless, #microservices, #blockchain

7. Is there anything you’d like to share with your team?

I like to believe that we keep building together with a dream team of passionate developers. And not only developers since our team is actively extending on areas like HR and business development. I am really thankful for the quality work you are delivering each day and what we have built so far would not have been possible without your commitment and strong efforts.
Let’s dream BIG together!🎉 & build with care :)

Transparency is one of the values that we thrive on at Sensidev, and this interview stands proof as you can get a sense of our company story inside-out.

Do you relate to Ionuț’s perspective and work ethic? Join his team at: https://sensidev.net/careers/

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