SaaS Founder Interview with Jakub Kubryński, Founder & CEO @ DevSkiller
Building a large company in the SaaS industry requires founders to find significant pain points or gaps in the market and develop solutions to address them. That is what Jakub Kubryński did in creating DevSkiller, a platform used by developers to assess and manage the skill of employees and potential employees. It’s a hands-off way to screen and develop tech talent with huge industry applications.
Insivia’s Founder and CEO, Andy Halko, sat down with Kubryński to break down how DevSkiller was created, the process of scaling a growing business, the challenges of shifting his role, and much more. Below, we’ll break down some of the most important takeaways from the fifty-minute discussion between Halko and Kubryński.
#1. Use Your Own Pain Points to Inform Your Product
Many start-ups are the product of founders brainstorming a product or service with potential upside. This wasn’t the case for Kubryński and DevSkiller. Instead, DevSkiller was birthed from a problem Kubryński was experiencing in his job working and hiring for a major tech company. “I was setting up the new development office in a new city. And we were just basically flooded by the candidates.” Says Kubryński. “And we’re not able to manage this highest scale of recruitment.”
Seeing firsthand the difficulties of assessing and hiring developer talent, Kubryński was certain there had to be an improved option. “I was so tired after three weeks, that I decided that it needs to be resolved in a better way than it was currently.” Says Kubryński. “And that’s how DevSkriller was founded. So I was resolving my own problem.”
DevSkriller took off because this difficulty wasn’t unique to Kubryński. Halko himself had experienced it. “I’ll admit, I’ve had the same problem. Even being a developer and interviewing other developers, it’s hard to evaluate skill,” Halko said. By finding a common issue he saw firsthand and building a business around that, Kubryński found a sustainable model for success.
#2. Part of Scaling a SaaS Company is Learning to Take a Hands-Off Approach
Every growing business will need to make substantial changes to its model to scale up. It isn’t just the model that will have to change; it will be how the founder oversees the business. This was a key part of Kubryński’s leadership journey. As Halko puts it, founders have to transition from “I’m the maker to I’m the leader.”
This may involve a more passive approach to leadership, as Kubryński notes. “I believe that it’s hard to just, you know, sit in the back station, see how it goes. But when you are able to do that, then you know that you are not a bottleneck of the company.”
Micro-managing the entirety of a company is an unsustainable habit that isn’t possible when the company grows. Kubryński found that relinquishing control showed how capable his employees are. “I just should watch and not tell them what they need to do,” said Kubryński. “Because they know what to do, they’d been at this stage; they just need to copy-paste the solution that worked for them them previously and adapt it to your culture and your strategy.”
#3. Find the Patterns in Your Customer Base to Understand Your Target Audience
Halko asked a pivotal question to Kubryński, revolving around something every business needs to consider: audience development: “How did you get customer number one? And how did you go from one to 10?”. For Kubryński, finding and growing his customer base involved spotting key patterns among his early-stage customers.
“You should be able to start with spreading the word and just looking at the first customers who are the easiest to acquire and then look at finding the pattern and utilize this pattern to build more and more,” says Kubryński.
Finding the pattern in the type of customers that use your business will allow you to narrow your focus. Halko agrees taking a narrower strategy will yield better results. “That’s probably one of my biggest things is finding your niche or your e narrow focus, and really going deep on it rather than being you know, wide and thin,” says Halko.
#4. A Good Hiring Process Can be the Catalyst that Defines Success
Developing a successful business requires a lot of decisions, with some decisions having an impact that defines the direction of the company. Halko asked, “Was there a key catalyst decision, you know, a hire or customer that made a big impact for your trajectory?” Kubryński answered that DevSkiller’s biggest catalyst was a strong hiring process.
“Because having a good hiring process ensures that the people who are entering your company, as leaders of teams, like leaders of sales, leaders of marketing, leaders of technology, these should be people that share your values, that have the same culture that you like to work with, that will follow your principles or paradigms of running the company,” said Kubryński.
The biggest asset any company has is the team, and a strong hiring process is a part of ensuring a great team.
#5. Building Your Company Culture Helps You Implement Strategy
Many companies talk about culture as a pivotal part of how their business has been shaped. Kubryński says that this is similarly the case with DevSkiller, and their culture has played a significant role in allowing them to implement their strategy. Building and implementing a culture was a core goal of Kubryński’s.
“If you don’t have like a proper culture, you can have the best strategy that you want, but you won’t be able to implement that,” says Kubryński. With a clear idea of the importance of culture, Kubryński set out to establish a strong one at DevSkiller.
This involved extensive discussions with employees of all levels and discussing what everyone likes, doesn’t like, and what the general values of the company are. Defining this has helped get everyone on the same page and make collaborating and implementing strategy easier.
While these are the core takeaways of Kubryński’s conversation with Halko, the conversation was wide-ranging. Both Kubryński and Halko offer valuable insights into starting, developing, and growing a company and the unique pathways they took in creating both DevSkiller and Insivia.
Watch their engaging discussion here for a great look at two founders’ journeys.