Interview with Ivan Mak – CCO, MLSDev
Ivan Mak – CCO, MLSDev, exclusively interviewed by ITFirms. Under Experts’ Participation Survey That Reveal Upcoming Technology Trends for 2019-2020, He shared his success story and views.
1. Tell us in brief about your company and the leadership.
Ivan Mak is a CCO of MLSDev, a web and mobile app development company that helps clients build IT businesses with the help of innovations. The company was founded in 2009 by three partners: Ivan Mak, Slava Ledenev and Anton Sakharov. MLSDev is focused on solving clients’ problems by providing complex services. As a result, the clients receive ready solutions to their needs.
Now MLSDev has 4 offices: Kyiv and Vinnytsia (Ukraine), Krakow (Poland), and Denver (USA).
2. How would you describe your growth trajectory in 2018? Any particular achievement? Any disappointment?
In 2018, we were focused on improving our presale stage (analysis of clients’ needs) and the discovery stage (planning of the solution to cover their needs). Additionally, we worked hard to improve our Software Development Life Cycle, create a new goal-based pricing model for it to align with our value proposition, enhance the English speaking skills of the entire team, and many more things. 2018 became a year of preparation for further years for MLSDev.
3. Please describe the operational structure of your company- from the moment a client walks in, to the product deployment.
Our first stage is presale where the customer communicates with our client relationship manager (CRM). Along with the CRM, the team of a Business Analyst and a System Architect is involved at this stage. Other roles like Project Manager, UX/UI Designer can be added as well if necessary. At this stage, the team analyzes a client’s problem and makes a plan for the next stage. If possible, the team also roughly estimates the time and budget of the entire project.
The next stage is the Discovery. The same team elaborates a detailed solution for the client. After the Discovery the client receives a backlog, UX/UI design, release plan, and budget estimate. As an option, we can also help with competitor analysis, business model creation, marketing plan, and other services.
Once the project development is carefully planned, the development process starts. At this stage, our tech team sticks to the plan that has been carefully elaborated during the previous stages. Here, the quality assurance service is involved as well.
4. What engagement models do you offer? How should a client choose?
As a rule, we work by the Time & Materials model, taking into account detailed (accurate) estimates as the main landmarks. This helps us to keep our relations with clients honest and transparent.
If our customers prefer a Fixed Price model, we can negotiate individual conditions for their projects.
In any case, we apply the approach of the goal-based team setup. When calculating the project cost, we always consider the goals and tasks of the project and its technical complexity. Based on these factors we assign people with the required skills and experience. Hence, our rates for different projects may be different because of the chosen technology stack and the seniority level of developers.
5. What do you as a leader prioritizes – vertical expansion of your business or the horizontal expansion of your expertise and services? How do you balance both?
Our strategy is to gain and build our expertise in specific areas. At the moment we are mostly focused on the fintech and healthcare industries. Along with that, we have great experience in creating products for the social, dating, e-commerce, and on-demand delivery domains, and take on such projects with pleasure.
The same goes for technologies. We are a niche company whose task is to be the best in the limited number of programming languages rather than be Jack of all trades. Our technology stack is as follows:
- Ruby on Rails for back-end development
- Kotlin and Java for Android development
- Swift for iOS development
At present we are working on building a new department of Elixir developers.
6. What is your outlook for 2019?
From the market perspective, we think that it will become more and more competitive and the task of any company is to find its niche and establish itself as a leader there.
As for our company, we will follow our strategy further. We plan to introduce a few new services but we are not ready to tell the world about them yet.
7. Any particular technology or industry you would be targeting? How do you plan to prepare your workforce for the upcoming technology upgrade?
We are getting back to full-stack development and begin to use Elixir for back end development along with Ruby.
Speaking of niches, we would like to focus on healthcare and fintech now but we are ready to work on projects related to other interesting domains.
8. With technologies like React and Node that can be used for both web applications and mobile apps, how do you envision the development methodology to be in the future?
If you mean cross-platform app development, this is not what we are into. This way of building apps is good for small and simple projects. Additionally, when you need to grow a cross-platform project, investments into improvements and upgrades are incommensurate with the money saved during the development of the first product version. We have a good article about native app development that explains our position regarding the cross-platform option.
9. Other than technical expertise, what traits you believe are essential for any app development firm to succeed in this rapidly evolving industry?
Today it is not enough to be just good techies. In the context of the modern market, leading service companies give their customers more than just human resources for their projects. Now, in addition to tech skills, it is vital to be experts in business analysis, marketing, and of course in the industries you build products for.
10. How do you assess the role of research agencies like ITFirms in bridging the gap between clients and service providers?
Research agencies like ITFirms are a good opportunity for additional companies’ visibility. They are valuable in terms of collecting important and validated information about service providers and serve as a trusted source to help clients make the right choice.