Five Minutes With… Filip Stachura, CEO of Appsilon
1. What inspired you to start Appsilon?
On average, we spend one-third of our life at work. That’s a ton of time! I wanted to spend this time working on the things I’m passionate about and with people I like and enjoy working with.
2. How did you get the company off the ground?
I consider myself incredibly lucky to have my friends as co-founders. We never doubted each other and always supported each other through difficult times.
But getting off the ground was not easy, and I think it rarely is. For a couple of months, we struggled a lot. We were unable to close deals, and it was tough to get by. At one point, we found ourselves with a mere two weeks’ worth of cash and started considering looking for part-time jobs. Just to pay our bills. Unexpectedly, we closed our first deal on the very next day! This was almost ten years ago.
3. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?
A while back, we encountered a significant issue with delayed payments for one of our major projects. As founders, we were determined to honor our commitment to the team and make sure they were paid on time. However, this meant we were not receiving our own salaries. Needless to say, this was a really stressful period for us. But it was also an important learning curve. Since then, we have implemented guidelines within our team to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.
4. Is there anything you still find challenging in your role?
I find it hard to let people go. When you bring someone onto your team, you really want them to succeed. However, it is inevitable that organizations occasionally hire individuals who may not align with the work culture, ethics, or requirements of their role. Or it may simply not be the right timing for them. And that’s OK. Having open conversations and giving people honest but kind feedback is necessary. That’s how you keep your integrity and stay fair. These are the hardest conversations for me, but I have them because I believe it’s the right thing to do.
5. How do you balance the demands of leading a company with your personal life and other interests?
I strongly believe in fostering a team environment that empowers individuals to make decisions independently. This promotes autonomy and enables the team to operate efficiently and effectively. And gives me space and peace of mind to do things outside work. I have small kids, so it’s very important for me to have the time to spend with them.
The flexibility of working in a remote company is also very helpful. It allows me to take breaks during the day, whether to deal with some private matters or just enjoy the great weather. I can then complete the work when the kids are asleep.
6. What do you think makes Appsilon stand out?
I think we really live by our values. We want to deliver excellent work, are dedicated to creating a kind, supporting environment, and are willing to contribute through open source and Data for Good. We deliver great results through our passion and craftsmanship.
7. What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in the tech industry?
I can only speak from my own experience, and I’m always really careful giving any advice like this. But I am always happy to share my story and what worked for me:
- Embrace lifelong learning. That’s the most important thing. Everything else is basically a different way to optimize learning.
- Build things. Ideally, come up with ideas related to your needs or passions. Look for opportunities to work on something that you would happily work on in your free time as well.
- Take part in competitions. I found it very useful. I enjoy taking part in competitions. It also gives me a lot of motivation to learn (back to number 1)
- Find like-minded peers. Surround yourself with people who also want to learn, build stuff with you, compete with you, and as part of a team together. A supportive network of peers who inspire and challenge will help you grow professionally and elevate your career journey.
- Polish your English. Unless you are a native speaker, make sure you add this action point to your to-do list
8. How do you foster a positive company culture at Appsilon, and what steps do you take to ensure that employees feel valued and supported?
Many aspects of servant leadership inspire us. Everyone in the team has 1-1’s with their manager, whose role is to support people and help them grow. We follow the principles of non-violent communication and have clear communication guidelines.
As mentioned previously, we also live by our values encompassing things like kindness and unwavering support for team members. Our values and code of conduct are publicly available to ensure everyone joining the company knows what we are all about.
During the hiring process, we check if potential candidates are well-aligned with what we stand for and how we communicate. We additionally reinforce this during the onboarding process.
9. How do you think AI will impact the data science industry in the next 5-10 years?
I think AI will have an enormous impact on almost all industries. The speed of these changes is hard to predict. What I can tell now is that we already have to verify if large language models like GPT generated the answers provided during our recruitment process. And to make it clear – we don’t forbid using chatGPT! But we do expect people to share the information that they did transparently and to share their prompt. We don’t want to fight something that will clearly redefine the way we all work. Instead, we want to embrace it.
10. What do you enjoy doing outside of work, and how do you unwind and recharge after a long day or week?
Nature with my kids, going on a date with my wife, or a good book.