AnnouncementsOpinion

Can the right person be guided to begin a career as a programmer in 12 months? Yes, I think so

In my experience, my Sri Lankan colleagues are some of the most reliable, responsible and dedicated professionals that I have ever worked with. 

If you value technical soundness, tenacity, and creativity, that is. For everything we say about how the modern education system educates creativity out of our children, I’ve found local talent to be some of the best when it comes to getting the job done. Good programmers know how to follow documentation and put things together, but great programmers look at what’s in front of them and figure out ingenious ways to build something totally new. The latter is the common thread which binds every great programmer the world has ever known. 

Tech – The great catalyst for Sri Lanka

While the country awaits a deal with the IMF, I believe tech can be a powerful tool through which the economy can stage a rapid recovery. Sri Lanka’s IT industry doubled between 2015 and 2020, both in terms of revenue and the size of the workforce. By 2030, the industry could very well generate over US $ 6 billion in revenue, if it plays its cards right. Also, consider this: The total investment to produce a graduate amounts to nearly LKR 1.6 million (i.e. the cost of a bachelor’s degree from a private institute). But, the value each IT professional can generate in a single calendar year alone is many multiples of that. Not many industries can boast of such great investment dynamics (Source).

Imagine how much better things could be if we could reduce the cost and time taken to produce a tech grad, so that they can at least have a foot in the door?

The two choices before us

Now, there are two ways to get things moving in the right direction. You can push for top-down change (i.e. at the policy level), or get things going at the grassroots level. The former is necessary though time-consuming, but the latter is very much doable. And if the results are good enough, pushing for policy-level change will be so much easier.

That is why as a company, we launched Calcey Springboard.

Springboard is a 12-month, fully-funded coding bootcamp we’ve put together to support talented students get into tech. Calcey’s own engineers will guide them while they learn from a globally recognised curriculum of MOOCs, and they will be tested each semester by us. Once they graduate, they can seek out an internship at any company they like!

We chose to put together a curriculum consisting of MOOCs simply because they’re proven, recognised, and are of a high standard. We’ve vetted them personally and can vouch for their quality. Sometimes, we even use them to train our own people on emerging technologies.

Why are we doing this?

The way we see it, we are simply giving back to society and doing our part to widen the pool of tech talent in Sri Lanka. We owe a debt of gratitude to Sri Lanka’s public education system which produced the awesome people who built Calcey into what it is today, and this is our way of paying back our dues.

Now that you know the what, the why, and the how behind Springboard, I have one more favor to ask you. We want to make sure we can award as many scholarships as we possibly can, and would be really glad if you could spread the word. Applications close on November 30th, which means whoever wishes to apply has 15 more days to do so. 

Apply for a Springboard scholarship at https://www.calcey.com/springboard/ !

-Mangala

Mangala Karunaratne is the Founder and CEO of Calcey.

AnnouncementsNewsTech

Reminiscing our journey with Upflex

A few days ago, our client Upflex announced raising a round of Series A funding from a collective of strategic investors which includes WeWork, Newmark, Cushman & Wakefield, and the Silicon Valley Bank 🎉

Of course, we are really happy too. As Upflex’s engineering partner throughout, we’ve directly been involved in helping Upflex get to where it is today. We’ve navigated the ups-and-downs of building a startup together, including that fire walk every founding team has to endure—finding product-market fit.

In the five years since inception, Upflex has signed up names such as American Express, Richemont, Trinet, FlexJobs, Stella Connect, and Schneider Electric as customers, and Colliers International as a partner. More recently, the company partnered with Anarock to expand operations in India, and its digital platform covers more than 5,500 office spaces in 75 countries. All in all, the future is looking bright for Upflex, but the seeds of this growth were planted a long time ago.

In 2017, We Got A Call…📲

…from Upflex’s co-founders, Christophe Garnier and Ginger Dhaliwal. That’s when it all began. At the time, Christophe and Ginger had a rough-around-the-edges idea to build a digital platform that allows companies to book flexible workspaces. In their possession was a partially completed MVP and a small budget which they had managed to put together by themselves. 

Being non-technical founders, they were looking for someone to help complete the MVP and handle all end-to-end engineering duties if the MVP succeeded in gaining traction. We said yes, but on the condition that completing the MVP and taking it to market was going to be treated as a pilot project. We believe this is a better approach to developing software, as it allows both parties to understand whether they’re a good fit for each other. It’s also a very fair way of doing things, in our opinion.

The MVP garnered positive interest and we also liked working with Upflex, so we agreed to become Upflex’s engineering partner. In order to accommodate their limited budgets, we agreed to provide our services at a discounted rate. Not only did this unique agreement allow Upflex to continue working with us, but it also allowed us to perfectly align our incentives with those of the Upflex team.  

That’s not all though. we even decided to become seed investors in the startup. To us, Christophe ticked all the boxes as a founder. He was passionate, resilient, and had a lot of experience in the industry. Being a founder-led company ourselves, we knew what it takes to build a thriving business, and in our eyes, Christophe had it all. Therefore, the decision to become a seed investor in Upflex was an easy one to make.

Pivot, Pivot, Pivot

Between what it is today, and how it was first conceptualised, Upflex has gone through many pivots in response to market conditions—as startups do. In 2018, Upflex operated as a marketplace that allowed anyone to book a shared office space with ease. The company targeted business travelers who wanted a nice office space to work out of, and long commuters and remote employees who didn’t want to work from home but also didn’t want to spend hours on the road everyday.

Upflex’s value proposition in 2018, as described on its website. Source: The Wayback Machine

12 months later, Upflex realised that lots of companies were very interested in setting up distributed offices around the world without signing up for expensive leases. As this was a lucrative market that could provide a more stable revenue stream, Upflex decided to double down on it. We worked with Ginger, who by then was running Upflex’s product team, to roll out a slew of new features to support the company’s new direction. Among them was a portal that business customers could use to add team members on to their subscriptions and allocate usage limits on an individual basis. Once added, team members could book workspaces under the company’s name. At the end of the billing period, the company would be sent a single invoice to pay, sparing accountants from periodic headaches.

Launching SafeSpaces™

Then came COVID-19, and it necessitated another pivot. While the world collectively embarked on the single largest remote working experiment it had ever seen, many predicted the death of the office as we know it. 

But Upflex correctly sensed that post-pandemic, there will be a significant subset of workers who wouldn’t want to work from home, but also would not want to put themselves through the misery of a long commute as before. Companies wanted to become as asset-light as possible (Why pay for office space that you don’t need?), but at the same time had to provide employees with a safe and hygienic office to work in. The latter contradicts the former, as you can’t vouch for safety and hygiene when you don’t actually have control over the upkeep of the building that houses the office.

There was also another side of remote work that was becoming more apparent with every passing day. New employees to 100% remote workforces were finding it hard to build social bonds with coworkers, and as a result, collaborative cultures carefully nurtured over time were at risk of falling apart.  

SafeSpaces™ is Upflex’s answer to this trilemma. Under the SafeSpaces™ program, companies can provide employees with flexible workspaces that meet CDC and WHO standards, thus providing them and their families much-needed peace of mind. Employees can choose from any of Upflex’s 5,500+ workspaces around the world and make bookings by themselves.

Late nights, deadlines, and disciplined iteration

Driving rapid iteration and hitting every deadline is no walk in the park. Things become even more complicated when you consider that our team in Sri Lanka has to work around a 9.5 hour time difference with NYC, where Upflex’s team is based. But we never shied away from the challenge, and simply found ways to adapt.

On some days, that meant scheduling calls at odd hours for both sides. It’s not easy (They have their own lives too!), but we trusted our teams to find a balance that worked for them. It also meant investing a lot of time and effort into building trust with Ginger and the product team at Upflex, as that is the bedrock of a strong working relationship. 

Anticipating customer needs

In keeping with Upflex’s pivot to adapt to a post-COVID world, our product engineering team worked tirelessly to introduce a ton of new products and features. For instance, we built a set of white labeled apps that can be used by third party real estate brokers to sell workspaces to their own clients. We rolled out intelligent local currency billing to eliminate currency conversion hassles, and introduced QR check-in. Each and every product and feature was carefully built to complement the existing mobile app, which again, was built by us. We understood that in a future where work will be distributed, customers would rate singular, convenient, and zero-contact experiences very highly. It was also a good way to differentiate Upflex’s value proposition from its competitors.

Upflex’s story shows what happens when you deploy software smartly to solve real world problems. Of course, it also helps to have a proactive engineering partner like us 😉

Looking to build a cutting edge digital product of your own? Talk to us to find out how we can help!

Cover Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

AnnouncementsLife at CalceyNews

Calcey Among Top 10 IT/ITeS Best Workplaces™ in Sri Lanka Again

Colombo – 26 May 2022

Calcey Technologies has been yet again recognised as one of the 10 Best IT/ITeS Workplaces in the country by Great Place to Work® Sri Lanka. The award is based on extensive ratings provided by a company’s employees in an anonymous survey conducted by Great Place to Work® in Sri Lanka during the study 2021 – 2022.

The Great Place to Work® institute assesses all awardees using the Great Place to Work® Framework, a proprietary model. According to the 2021-2022 Study, the key drivers of the employee perception in the IT/ITeS Industry are Manager Reliability, Management Role Modeling, Mental Health, Good Facilities, Managers Keep Promises, and Egalitarian Treatment.

“Receiving this award, particularly for the second consecutive year, is an immensely satisfying achievement as it proves that the Calcey Way—the set of guiding principles behind Calcey, are functioning the way they should. As an exporter of knowledge-related services, our people are our most important asset and this award will definitely inspire us to raise the bar when it comes to what a great workplace can be,” said Mangala Karunaratne, founder and CEO of Calcey.

Calcey Technologies is a Gartner recognised technology consulting and software product engineering services provider based in the United States and Sri Lanka. For more information visit www.calcey.com

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. Through proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and recognition programs, including Great Place to Work-CertifiedTM, Best Workplaces™ lists and workplace reviews, Great Place to Work® provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures. Follow Great Place to Work online at www.greatplacetowork.com or www.greatplacetowork.lk

AnnouncementsLife at Calcey

We are pegging salaries to the dollar

We are officially rolling out a USD-pegged remuneration scheme for all employees. The scheme is being implemented to safeguard salaries from exchange rate-induced inflation. 

“Our employees raised concerns about the impact currency depreciation may have on domestic price levels, and we devised this scheme in response to ensure that their living standards don’t take an undue hit due to exceptional macroeconomic factors,” said Gehan Dias, General Manager of Calcey Technologies. “The scheme is entirely voluntary and operates on an opt-in basis” he emphasized.

“Our people are our most valuable asset, and we’d like to actually walk the talk when it comes to treating them so. That’s the key motivation behind implementing this policy in its present form, and is just one of many other things we do to keep Calcey a happy and great place to work” concluded Ishara Walpola, Calcey’s Director – People and Culture.

We’re hiring! View all available openings here

AnnouncementsLife at CalceyNews

Calcey Among Best Workplaces for Millennials in Sri Lanka

We’re proud to announce that Calcey has been recognised as one of the best workplaces for Millennials by Great Place to Work® Sri Lanka. We won this accolade based on extensive ratings provided by our employees in an anonymous survey conducted by Great Place to Work® in Sri Lanka during 2020 – 2021.

“As a millennial myself, I always try to look beyond the pay slip and venture more into what this company can offer, whether this culture will embrace me like one of their own, whether it has a clear purpose that we can be proud of, and whether the company invests in the growth of its employees. And Calcey easily ticks all these boxes. We have a vibrant culture. Everyone is very helpful, and that’s why I love Calcey as a millennial”, said Chomal Miguntenne, an Associate Tech Lead at Calcey.

“It is indeed an honour to be recognised as one of the best workplaces in the country for a cohort of employees who are now entering their prime years as professionals. As employers, we have a responsibility to invest in them, as they are going to be the drivers of our future growth” said Mangala Karunaratne, founder and CEO of Calcey.

Commenting on the award, Gehan Dias, our General Manager said “The millennial generation of employees are different from those before them in that they are driven to harness their talents to the maximum, and possess a strong sense of ethics. They demand more of themselves and their employers, which motivates both parties to aim to continuously raise the bar for excellence”.

Calcey Technologies is a Gartner recognised technology consulting and software product engineering services provider based in the United States and Sri Lanka. For more information visit www.calcey.com

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. Through proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and recognition programs, including Great Place to Work-CertifiedTM, Best Workplaces lists and workplace reviews, Great Place to Work® provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures. 

AnnouncementsInterviewsLife at Calcey

#WhatsUpCalcey – Our new recruitment experience for experienced developers

Look, we are hiring. And we’ve got lots of openings.

But we know that switching employers is not easy. There is a lot you may not know about a new company. Who will I work with? What is life like at this company?, and so on. These are all valid questions and you have every right to know the answers to them. 

The traditional interview process can make it harder to coax the information you need out of an interviewer. That is why we decided to switch things up a little.

#WhatsUpCalcey is a brand new recruitment initiative from us that is aimed at giving experienced developers the chance to understand the Calcey Way by talking to our own senior managers whom you will work with side by side on a daily basis. Moreover, you will be able to do so at your own convenience!

Here’s how #WhatsUpCalcey works:

  1. Visit www.calcey.com/WhatsUp
  2. Answer the two questions on the page
  3. If your profile fits our immediate requirements, you will be able to schedule a call with one of our senior managers immediately. On this call, you will be able to talk to them and ask any relevant question, no strings attached. It’s an exploratory chat after all.
  4. If you come away impressed with Calcey, our no B.S approach to work, and our remote-first operating model, you can let us know if you’d like to join us. We will then fast track your interview and take care of the rest.

What’re you waiting for? Go check out #WhatsUpCalcey now!

AnnouncementsLife at Calcey

Placed among the best

We are delighted to be recognised as one of the 10 Best Small & Medium IT/ITES Workplaces in the country by Great Place to Work® Sri Lanka. Companies that make it onto the list are Great Place to Work – Certified and are confirmed to have performed better than peers in the same sector.

The Great Place to Work For All model was used to select the 10 Best Workplaces and in addition to the overall results, employee perception pertaining to the areas of Hiring and Fit, Collaboration, Work Life Balance, and Growth and Development were prioritised to arrive at the final ten awardees.

“For nearly two decades, we have worked hard to foster a culture where passion is welcomed and talent can thrive. We are delighted to see those efforts come to fruition by way of our inclusion in this list. Most importantly, we are just getting started. In time, we hope we can go on to become one of Sri Lanka’s very best workplaces” said Mangala Karunaratne, founder and CEO of Calcey.

Commenting on the award, Gehan Dias, General Manager of Calcey said “Building a company that is a true meritocracy has been one of our guiding principles since day one. It is what has helped us build a high trust, high performance culture where excellence is the norm and not the exception. However, all credit should go to the entire team at Calcey who always strive to do what is right and equitable regardless of seniority or title. It has helped us get to where we are today, and I’m sure will continue to propel us forward”.

Calcey Technologies is a Gartner recognised technology consulting and software product engineering services provider based in the United States and Sri Lanka. 

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. Through proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and recognition programs, including Great Place to Work-Certified™, Best Workplaces lists and workplace reviews, Great Place to Work® provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures. 

AnnouncementsLife at Calcey

We are now a Great Place to Work®!

Last week, we learned that we’d been recognised as a great workplace by the independent analysts at Great Place to Work® in Sri Lanka. This new development delights us no end, for it validates our philosophy of building a workplace where talent can thrive.

In Gehan Dias, our General Manager’s words, “We are extremely happy and humbled by our employees rating us as a Great Place to Work. It confirms that our values, culture, and processes are all aligned with each other and are working in tandem to foster an exemplary work environment”.

Our certification as a great workplace comes on the back of a series of in-depth and completely anonymised surveys conducted among all our employees. The surveys are designed to evaluate us as a company on a wide range of attributes including credibility, respect, fairness, pride, and camaraderie—all of which are extremely important for a happy, high-performing workplace. 

According to the surveys, 92 percent of employees said that they are proud to work for Calcey, and 94 percent affirmed that Calcey is a great place to work. We also found that we ranked much higher on most metrics compared to last year’s top 40 participating workplaces, who themselves had done a very good job at setting the bar for what a great workplace should be.

We see this accolade as yet another feather in our cap and it rounds out a phenomenal twelve months for us during which we posted our best performance ever. As a knowledge and people-driven company, our employees and customers are the two most important stakeholders with the power to drive our success and we are proud of being able to delight them both during the 2020/21 financial year. Our customer satisfaction scores (as measured by our Net Promoter Score) reached world-class levels in 2020, pandemic notwithstanding, and a whopping 96% of employees told us through an internal survey that they would recommend us as a potential employer to their close friends! Upon hearing this, our CEO Mangala Karunaratne and our HR Manager Ishara Walpola felt like doing a few cartwheels around their home offices, but quickly realised they lacked the athletic ability to do so. But it’s the thought that counts, right?

Of course, this doesn’t mean that we are going to rest on our laurels. In keeping with our indomitable Calcey spirit, we will continue to strive to be better. Not because it’s fashionable to say so, but simply because it is a duty we owe our customers, employees, and the next generation of IT professionals in Sri Lanka.

AnnouncementsNews

Agile Guru Pete Deemer Joins Calcey as Advisor

We’re excited to announce that Pete Deemer has joined us at Calcey Technologies as Advisor. A familiar face within the Agile software community, Pete has spent many years in Silicon Valley building products and leading teams. He played a pivotal role as VP of product development at Yahoo! after serving as SVP at c|net Networks. Oh, and he also co-founded the award-winning website GameSpot.

In recent years, Pete has dedicated himself to promote Scrum and Agile development. He is the founder and CEO of GoodAgile, which has offices in Sri Lanka, Singapore, and India, and is the lead author of The Scrum Primer, one of the most widely read introductory texts on Agile development. Pete was Chairman of the Scrum Alliance in 2016 and served on its Board of Directors from 2012-2017.

“We are delighted to welcome Pete into the Calcey family. The standards set in the Valley are regarded THE benchmark for software development. Pete’s appointment will help us keep our processes and engineering practices world-class through the next phase of our growth” said Mangala Karunaratne, founder and CEO of Calcey Technologies.

A proud alumnus of Harvard University, Pete also studied computer science at Stanford University and neuroscience at King’s College London. Pete has spent a number of years as adjunct faculty at the University of California Berkeley, most recently at the Haas School of Business, and has been a visiting lecturer at the Institute of Systems Science at the National University of Singapore since 2010.

“Having seen what Calcey has accomplished over the last 18 years, I’m very excited to help Mangala and the team grow and evolve the business even further. Moreover, Calcey’s ability to stick to its refreshingly honest principles and deliver world-class software from its beautiful innovation park in Colombo, is a testament to both Calcey’s future potential as well as that of Sri Lanka!”, Pete added.

Ayubowan Pete!

AnnouncementsHow toTech

London’s leading precision nutrition service goes Mobile! Here’s how Calcey made it happen

The backstory 

Over a year ago, Fresh Fitness Food (FFF), introduced its web platform to the market. Now, FFF is kicking off 2021 with a brand new mobile app, live and ready to download!

For those unfamiliar with the brand, FFF Fresh Fitness Food (FFF) combines precision nutrition with convenience, by offering individualized meals, cooked, and delivered to your door, daily. In a market brimming with generic healthy meal providers, what sets FFF apart is its ability to individually tailor meals to every customer, taking into account their nutritional needs, health goals, allergies, and food preferences. Selecting appropriate meals per customer, then preparing and sizing them to suit individual nutritional requirements is daunting enough – but to do this at scale, particularly at the scale at which FFF operates at, is extremely complex. Currently, FFF delivers more than 70,000 meals per month in London and the suburbs. 

This is largely made possible through the end-to-end web-platform that Calcey developed for FFF to manage its entire business. This mini-ERP manages FFF’s complete workflow from customer sign-up and automates meal planning to ensure that users receive the exact nutrition they need each day. It even helps FFF manage cooking manifests and deliveries. Upon launching the solution FFF realized an immediate 14% improvement in gross margins. 

The FFF mobile app

FFF’s mobile app is not a simple extension of this web solution, providing another interface for busy customers to reschedule their deliveries. Of course, it offers these capabilities to current FFF customers, but it also offers a whole lot more, essentially a ‘complete fitness center in your pocket’ for any user. If improving your fitness is on your new year resolution list this is the app you can’t do without. It offers;

Calorie tracking 

Understanding the exact nutrients in a broad range of food items is the foundation of FFF’s business model. The mobile app is integrated with the leading food databases in the world – cataloging nutritional data for millions of food items and FFF’s team of nutrition experts are constantly validating and increasing the accuracy of these measurements. 

Activity tracking 

The app can be connected with Apple Health and Fitbits to seamlessly track daily activity levels.

Meal plan and recipes 

As the app knows the exact calories you’ve had so far in the day, how active you’ve been, plus your health goals (e.g.: gaining muscle, losing fat) it’s better placed than anyone to recommend what’s optimal for your next meal. It does exactly this and provides recipes as well! 

Guided workouts 

The app has a complete section dedicated to guided workouts by top trainers. As a bonus, on the days you workout, the app will adjust your daily caloric expenditure accordingly and perhaps let you fit in that sweet treat, without letting you get derailed from your overall plan. 

The holy grail of nutrition 

What does all this mean for current FFF customers? In a nutshell, now they have access to the holy grail of nutrition. Imagine, you had a personal chef (and nutritionist) that tracked all your snacks and your activity level on a daily basis and adjusted your main meals in real-time to still keep you on track with your health goals? With the new mobile app, this is what the FFF’s customers now experience. 

Changing the game and going international 

If you’ve read so far you would have understood how this mobile app dramatically increases the value of FFF’s service to its existing customers. But what’s more, it will attract a completely new set of users drawn by its calorie and activity tracking capabilities, guided workouts and healthy meal plans. In short, exactly the type of folk who will find FFF’s service quite valuable. Attracting your target audience by providing them great value – we can get behind that marketing strategy! 

Scaling any business worldwide is tough. Tech businesses find it easier because releasing an app for a new market is less risky and requires less investment than putting up physical infrastructure, creating delivery fleets etc. This mobile app marks FFF’s transition from a click and mortar operation to a tech business. Today it can launch its app in any city and assess the interest level around its core ethos of healthy living and directly engage the people with this mindset. The core IP it’s created by its digital properties, is scalable and franchisable worldwide. 

Want to plan out a similarly transformative journey for your business? Get in touch and we’d be happy to help.