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!

EventsInterviews

Startup Stories: Fresh Fitness Food

FoodTech is bringing the healthy eating revolution to the UK, says chef and startup CEO Caspar Rose.

The UK’s relationship with healthy food is a little sketchy to say the least. Growing up for many it was the local chippy as staple, a curry house for a night out, and a Chinese takeaways for a night in. Then, in the last ten years, Pret’s, Wasabi’s and whatever-else grab-n-go chain popped up and never seemed to go away.

Fortunately, there is a FoodTech revolution coming.

In the healthy delivery department Fresh Fitness Food are helping change the home-eating habits of the nation. In the last two months they have made the tricky leap from serving only London to twelve other cities nationwide.

We caught up with CEO Caspar Rose over a live email conversation to find out about their journey…

Hey Caspar, thanks for joining us… To kick us off, what is Fresh Fitness Food?

Fresh Fitness Food is bespoke nutrition delivered daily to your door.

Our nutritional team create bespoke meal plans depending on your lifestyle (and workout) needs. Our expert chefs create a fresh menu daily and our dedicated drivers deliver to our customer’s homes or workplace between midnight and 6am every day.

Who came up with the concept?

Jared Williams is the founder. He was inspired to make a difference after seeing how London was forcing people to eat the way London wanted them to — fast, easy and cheap ingredients. The concept was to make city workers the best version of themselves, through bespoke nutrition and ultra-convenience.

You wouldn’t believe it but in the beginning we were taking orders over the phone and hand delivering packages via the tube. Once we started to grow we took on a bike courier service and, following that, our own drivers.

We found that what we’re doing is adding a lot of value to busy people’s lives.

How about you tell us about you…

Well I grew up in Byron Bay in Australia. It’s a beautiful part of the world where time moves slowly. And people are very health conscious.

Back in Aus I was cheffing at Pier (#64 in the 100 top restaurants in the world) and Aria, a two star Michelin. I then came to London to work at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze. From cheffing, I learnt how to create a high standard product but, unfortunately, very little about staff management.

And presumably how to swear at staff?!

Haha, yeah kitchen life can tough. It’s a brutal environment, full of hierarchy and bullshit.

Luckily, I have been incredibly fortunate to be able to build the team I have today.

I used to have a rigid interview process following guidance from online sources — but that didn’t really work. For me it’s more about if you’re a team player and can add a valuable contribution to the team; personality goes a long way in the office!

Now I try asking someone what their personal values are or how they feel about certain topics that I may also have an opinion on. Other than that, I look for people with real drive and initiative. Working in a start-up environment is often intense, unstructured and, dare I say, lonely. People need to be prepared for that.

Interesting. It sounds like your doing the startup thing the right way: learning on the job and being ready to change your direction when needed.

Yes, definitely. I am a planner and strategic thinker. I have always had a five year plan and over time I have refined this to having personal, business and learning goals set for each year (which all point towards a long term goal). Each year I take some time by myself — ideally aboard — to refresh this plan.

Nice. So apart from solo “holidays”, what’s the best thing about running a fast-growing startup?

I imagine many CEO’s would say something about a big sale or an amazing customer.

But for me, I felt like we achieved some notion of success when I realised our business — the mini economy we had created — was helping our staff pay their mortgages, weddings, and kid’s school fees etc.

When we saw success financially it felt important to reward those early starters who had really grafted to get us where we are today.

What about challenges? What’s tough about starting up?

Juggling cash flow and the right tech has been an ongoing issue.

To allow us to fund multiple business verticals, we could only build a website that could meet our short term needs. It wasn’t until later that we could deliver the customer centric systems in terms of UX, customer logins or quicker check out’s — all revenue drivers — that we needed. But we got there in the end!

My advice for anyone struggling with long team or high level thinking is to surround yourself with experienced individuals and get advice off as many different people as possible.

How have you funded the business?

We had some very small seed investment to begin with and we benefited from several exceptionally good tax relief programmes. I would highly recommend looking into these when considering seed funding or even series A/B.

We have since secured larger scale investment and created a strong advisory board. Again I would recommend this — getting the right people onboard — if you are a young, fast moving business owner.

What is next for you and FFF? Do you have a 5 year plan? An exit? Or another project in the pipeline?

When I was 18 my plan was to run a business, in food industry, by the time I was 25. Amazingly, this is happened and I’m excited to commit to the next five years.

Now, we have just launched across the UK. And the next step is going international.

Finally, any advice for the entrepreneurs and startups out there?

Get to know your customer — your product will 100% change after your fifth conversation.

That’s good advice! Anything else?

And hire a good accountant.

Lol. Brilliant. Thanks so much Caspar.

Absolute pleasure.

InterviewsStartups

Part I: How Metier Digital was born. Ahead of schedule

In this five part series we feature London-based CEO Nana Parry’s incredible story, beginning being held by Moroccan immigration.

Not many CEO stories begin with a tale of being held in custody by Moroccan immigration. But then Nana Parry’s journey doesn’t follow the standard narrative of a double tech startup founder. His story traverses a senior role working alongside the CEO of Fujitsu (Japan’s leading ICT company), raising £150,000 angel investment for his first startup (the music marketing platform, Dubzoo), business school, house parties in South London, with visits to Accra, Copenhagen and Casablanca thrown in.

“I was visiting an old university friend,” smiles Nana, as he starts to realize how unbelievable the origins-story of his latest company, Metier Digital, is.

It was to be five days of winter sun when the Moroccan immigration detained Nana on arrival.

“I don’t know why: maybe they see an African name on an British passport and they get confused.”

Alongside Nana, there was one sole other detainee: a guy from Yemen.

Nana and his cellmate bonded. The former spoke about his next business idea, a “launch studio” to turn entrepreneurs’ ideas into Minimum Viable Products (MVPs). Later, the Yemeni made a few calls and spoke to an investment banker friend who was coincidentally visiting Egypt. The banker was all too familiar with Northern African bureaucracy and had a few “connections”. In no time, the two men are released.

“We shook hands, said ‘bye’, and that was it…”

This was November 2016.

Then three months later, Nana received a call in London from the anonymous banker who bailed him out. Apparently, he had heard about Nana’s launch studio.

He asked, “Do you have a team?

Nana embellished a little and said, “yes”.

The banker then asked, “Can we meet on Monday to discuss turning my idea into a business model?”.

Nana told the truth this time, but also said, “yes”.

After the weekend, at the Hotel Eccleston in London’s plush Pimlico district, Nana’s new core team of six were meeting each other for the first time, in front of their first client.

Metier Digital was born. Ahead of schedule.

InterviewsStartups

A conversation with an international crypto nomad – Arifa Khan

https://vimeo.com/289062956
What’s the future of cryptocurrencies?

How can decentralization transform capital markets?

What impact will blockchain technology have on the developing world?

Find out what Arifa Khan, a well known distributed ledger evangelist, the India Partner of the Ethereum Foundation and CEO of Himalaya Labs had to say, when we posed these questions to her on the sidelines of the Blockchain and Crypto Champions Showcase, in London.

InterviewsStartups

Is The Fast Food Industry Too Bloated To Disrupt?

It’s the age of disruption. Fintech and cryptocurrencies are equally galvanising and polarising the financial sector, while Netflix has made it almost impossible to not binge through dramas in a way that can only be described as “unsociable”.

So, what about the food industry? Where is the disruption there?

“Deliveroo” and “Just Eat” are the obvious answers, but while they have clearly exploded, they haven’t changed one integral element:

THE FOOD.

I interviewed Dhiren Master, Founder and CEO fast food startup, Firebrand Fresh. We talked about his healthy, ethical and sustainable concept, his hard fought battle, and the sad truth that the fast food industry is simply too bloated to disrupt.

First up, what is your new fast food concept.

I love food over charcoal: it’s super tasty, healthy and quick. The trick of bringing those three USPs to market was to make cooking over charcoal idiot-proof. Obviously there’s a health hazard with flames and smoke. So I opened a development kitchen in North West London, and used my degree in engineering to build a fully automated charcoal oven.

Hold On, fully automated?

Yep — just flick a switch and an automated arm pours fresh charcoal into a completely sealed enclosure. The fire lights up and the temperature gets very hot, very quickly—but safely—and the spear of chicken or whatever else slides inside. The oven’s patent is still pending.

And what is it about your chicken (or whatever else) that makes it so “revolutionary” in the fast-food arena?

Many things:

First, this chicken takes 6 minutes to cook. Not only is it fast, it’s nutritious too. The two methods employed by traditional fast food chains to get their “food” out so quick is by deep frying it — meaning lots of rank oil — or by using processed foods: packed with preservatives, salt and E numbers. Both methods are extremely unhealthy.

Second, our food is fresh. We achieve that by implementing tech into the customer experience. So when you decide that your going to eat with us, you tap our app and order. We can see from the integrated maps how far away you are and your estimated time of arrival. We start the cooking when you’re 6 minutes away, meaning you get freshly cooked, healthy food on arrival. In the same 6 minutes we prepare the sides and salad.

It begs the question, how do Maccy D’s and KFC getaway with burgers and fries sitting for ages on a hot plate?

Indeed, the traditional fast food industry has been remarkably robust in it’s decisions not to change its processes. In truth, it hasn’t changed since the 1980s.

OK your food philosophy sounds genuine, what else is going on there?

Well, my intention was for Firebrand Fresh to be a social movement: a movement for change.

I have developed a business model that gives shares to managers and makes working in a fast food joint actually worthwhile and exciting.

I educate people through my marketing. Nutritional content of every dish is clearly viewable and when multiple items are combined (say, main, side and drink) the carbs, fats and calories were calculated, so people can make a more informed decision about their food choices.

I use packaging that was completed sustainable, including compostable cutlery.

Wow, this is an impressive project. So what happened?

We were unlucky. Despite being a finalist for the London food and drink business of year (Jan 2018), and receiving 100% (90/90) 5 star reviews on our social media pages, the bottom fell out of the UK restaurant industry.

Five years ago when the food industry was booming, every man and his dog was investing in new restaurants and food concepts: street food trucks etc. Many of those investors are now regretting those rash decisions. Smallish brands (eg: Byron Burger and Wahaca) expanded nationwide, while longer-established eateries such as Carluccio’s and Nando’s — who’s hot sauce is not fresh or healthy at all! — cannibalized the food market for the little guys.

Then came Deliveroo and Just Eat…

Exactly. And the whole foodworld rhetoric was that tech has reinvigorated the UK food scene. When in fact these app and delivery services have a stranglehold on independent businesses.

These apps simply eating up the profits of the actual kitchens who make the food we eat. They are wildly successful, yet they haven’t increased the size of the pie at all. Rather, they gobble up 16.5% of restaurants’ sales.

Additionally, they have made it very hard for small and new businesses to drive traffic to their own website. People search and order their food through the Deliveroo app, not a restaurant’s websites or social media.

Since, the market has bombed.

And the hope for a healthy revolution in fast food has gone?

Well, for now. There’s no investment in it at the moment. At least, not for startups who are concerned with the nations’ health, plastic straws clogging up our oceans, and corporations running the world.

Oh man, it’s a sad story.

It’s not over yet.

InterviewsStartups

A Tech Startup CEO: The Rulebook

Joel Burgess is the CEO and Founder of Nutrifix: the app that puts healthy on the map.

Since inception back in September 2016, Joel and Nutrifix had an initial twelve month rollercoaster which included a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign where they raised nearly £200,000 from 375 investors. In the same year, Joel entered the Just Eat Accelerator program, but he was “never really happy with the tech”.

In year two, Joel raised a further £250k from a private US investor and Calcey Technologies were invited onboard to strengthen and amplify the tech. Now, armed with a handsome new app, a fresh deal with Deliveroo, and a growing customer base, Nutrifix are looking to go nationwide in UK and beyond.

Clearly, it is the perfect time to catch with Joel in his favourite London coffee shop and find out about his startup CEO rulebook.

Rule #1: Know Your Market
Joel’s love of all things healthy is born from his background in sport and competition. Back in the day, he was on track to be a professional rugby player before a serious injury—and two neck operations—sidelined his dreams of playing for England.
Regardless, his commitment to health and fitness didn’t stop. In the subsequent years, he becomes a personal trainer, competed in boxing competitions, and is now studying to be a nutritionist.

It is this constant self development in the industry that he is disrupting, that means Joel truly knows his market.
“In the beginning I just chatted to friends in the gym. I kept hearing that between working out and working full-time, eating healthy was a daily challenge for many people…”
“I realised that my mission is to take away the stress of healthy eating”

Rule #2: An Early MVP Is King
Amazingly, Nutrifix’s first MVP was a simple spreadsheet made for Joel’s personal consumption. His weekly eating plan outlined all the healthiest options out of London’s ubiquitous lunch scene: Pret, EAT, Wasabi etc. His gym buddies were so impressed with it they all wanted one too. He started selling spreadsheets for £75 each.

“From that moment I knew I was on to something. If people were buying my dog-eared Excel spreadsheets, I knew there was a bigger market to explore. I did a few tests on facebook: statuses questioning my active network what would make their life easier. An app that guides you around town to healthy eating options was the answer.”

Rule #3: You Don’t Have To Be A Techie
After completing an MSC in mechanical engineering which provided him with the ability to “problem solve”, Joel had stints in the Dubai, Jakarta and Singapore property markets, before returning to the London and the restaurant development scene. He categorically states, he is not a techie and cannot build software.

Regardless, he took plunge into the startup app space:
“In the beginning I made every mistake under the sun! I passed the app production to a UK developer and we just rushed it out. By time we won a place in the Just Eat Startup Accelerator I realised the tech was awful. But I knew we had a ‘half’ an app, a decent pitch and cool idea… I wasn’t going to give up.”

Rule #4 – Be Open To Change
The app-build continued with a different developer but this didn’t work out as planned either.

And that’s when a friend with solid business connections put the feelers out for high quality software engineers and introduced Joel to Calcey Technologies.

Calcey stepped in and pitched and from the first moment I knew I was in safe hands, despite them being based 4,000 miles away in Sri Lanka!”

Joel employed a consultant CTO to oversee Calcey’s early development projects and he was very impressed from the off set.
“What I liked from Calcey was that they asked the right questions. They were determined to completely understand my business and what drives me.”

That meant Nutrifix could suddenly grow from an app that helps users find healthy meals near their location, to something with much richer technical scope:

“This now applies an algorithm to score every meal according to a user’s fitness goals, dietary preferences and their physical information—height, weight, age etc. The algorithm then recommends meal plans that according to the user’s daily targets, considering numerous technical variables including sugar, fibre and saturated fat contents.”

At present, the Nutrifix is supplying meal recommendations for approximately 5,000 regular users and there are over 90 vendors in 9,000 locations. The recent Deliveroo add on however—which conveniently enables healthy eating to user’s door—should fast track Nutrifix user user base into the stratosphere.

Rule #5: No Regrets
“If I did all again, I’d have bought Calcey in from the start”.

But Joel also knows all too well that the ups and downs of Nutrifix’s first year—and it’s stuttering tech development—made them more robust for the challenges ahead. It all also granted them extra time to fundraise which was vital in not only raising financial investment, but also for realising that lots of people were really behind his idea.

Leading a startup business in the mobile age requires confidence, courage, patience, the ability to problem solve… and?
A great team of agile software engineers that buy into your idea”.

InterviewsStartupsTrendsUX

How To Grow Your Digital Agency Without Hiring Anyone

Ten years ago the tech industry was aggressive. Everyone wanted to own everything. If your company was involved in a project, that was it: it was your project. Your client, your pitch, your tech, your invoice, your fee.
Now, we are slowly starting to see that change.
For starters, tech has got so big. Not many agencies can truthfully say they can excel at everything. Yes, they can deliver exceptional website design, but can they build complex backend functionality? If one organisation’s tour-du-force is UX design, can their development skills really be that good too?
The smart agencies realise this. They know it’s better to really focus on their core offering. And then look for collaborating partners.
Or wait until they find you…

Meeting Of Minds
In 2017 a new London-based foodie startup wins seed capital. For their UX design they engaged locally renowned Profound. The startup’s CEO also recruits Calcey Technologies from Colombo, Sri Lanka, who have a great reputation for building platforms for Silicon Valley startups. He invites the South Asian techies over to the Profound’s Basingstoke office for a month of workshops.
Ten years ago this kind of organised chaos was unheard of.
But that’s when the magic happened.
“What surprised us most was how in sync we all were”, Matt Quinn, CTO of Profound, told me over a lunchtime lemonade during last week’s heatwave.
“Asela [Calcey’s Director of Product Engineering] was challenging the same assumptions that I was. I could see that the guys from Sri Lanka thought exactly same as I did!”
Clearly, being a tech enthusiast has a distinctly homogenising effect on the brain.

Calcey’s team with a client at Profound’s office in Basingstoke, UK. Photo credits: Matt Quinn (CTO, Profound)

The Breadth Of Tech
Profound are a specialised niche consultancy; the merging of one creative agency and another tech consultancy. Founding Director, Tim McMillen, has pedigree in the early 2000’s enterprise omni channel e-commerce revolution. To this day, Profound’s sweet-spot is Enterprise website design and build for international retailers and manufacturers.
Similar to many other agencies, they have a core proposition that demands deep focus: UX design and CMS implementation.
Increasingly, however, the breath of technologies required by their clients is proliferating so fast that to routinely diversify into new tech—then hire (and probably fire)—is costly, and too high risk.
It could derail their core proposition.

Working In Tandem
So when a client asked at the beginning of the year for a creative UX refresh on their website, plus the development of a mobile app, Profound thought let’s ask our pals in Sri Lanka to manage the tricky conversion to mobile .
“What impressed us most was their relentless pursuit of MVP’s (minimal viable product),” Quinn said about Calcey’s sprint performance philosophy.
“Their approach is to build the leanest product possible—day on day, week on week—so there is always something to continuously test in it’s real world context. It means the speed of progress is non-stop.”
“Another key driver for us was Calcey’s experience with React Native [app building software]. Calcey have quality developers building cross-platform mobile apps [on IOS and Android] with one code base. That allowed us to accelerate delivery, so the app was demo-stable before the client’s major international conference in June”.

Collaboration: Rebranded
Being an agency offering bespoke tech solutions, Profound were, like most out there, profoundly anti-outsourcing. After all, doesn’t it undermine your client needs, and devalue your own workforce? “Outsourcing” is like a swear word to many.
In our modern tech bubble, however, this somewhat outdated word needs a rebrand. Who works in an agency that can genuinely say they are experts across the technical-mix? Furthermore, who wants to give their clients less than anything other than the sharpest service possible?
So, as of today, let’s rebrand small-scale outsourcing.
How about “collaborating”?
Collaborating is when their is meeting of minds. And when two external parties, be it individuals or organisations, work in tandem.
Let’s keep collaborating.
It’s so much nicer.

Interviews

Interview with Susan Feland from Stanford Graduate School of Education

Calcey Technologies developed and maintain www.leadershipinfocus.net for the Stanford Graduate School of Business Leadership In Focus program, which is a video case collection of leaders talking about significant challenges they have faced, decisions they have made, and lessons they have learned from the experience.  Today, this content is used by academics, corporations and alumni who access this content from around the world through a controlled membership access portal. Below are excerpts from an interview with Susan Feland, the Leadership in Focus Director, about the program’s unique approach to teaching tomorrow’s business leaders.

Q: What inspired the Leadership in Focus portal?  
A: This program is inspired by Charles O’Reilly, a Stanford GSB professor and thought leader in leadership education who was frustrated by the limitations of traditional written cases and leadership frameworks.

As part of this program, the Stanford GSB has produced hundreds of video case vignettes over the past several years as a meaningful way to spark discussion and teach leadership best practices

Q: How does the portal support Stanford’s goals to bridge the gap between academia and real world corporate situations?
A: The content in Leadership In Focus is used to teach leadership and management in both academic and corporate environments.  All of this content can be easily accessed from the website and portal by users around the world.  Accompanying teaching notes may be downloaded along with the videos to help facilitate teaching and learning from the video case vignettes and capstone perspectives in the collection.

Q: What does the portal aim to achieve from a learning perspective? Is it meant to provide experiential learning and brainstorming of solutions that can be applied immediately by the students?  How are the videos meant to be used for corporate training?
A: The video cases allow us to capture the emotional side of leadership and promote an expert approach to difficult problems. Through stories, the content captures real challenges and insights to create engagement by sparking reflection and discussion, leveraging Socratic learning methods.

When coupled with suggested role-plays, stimulating discussion questions, and teaching notes, videos offer a more experiential way to teach leadership in both academic classrooms and corporate environments. 

The Stanford GSB video case vignettes drive learning around the key principles and learning objectives for leadership.  The goal for every discussion is to equip individuals with the necessary decision making skills and awareness needed to be as effective as possible. The Stanford video case vignettes are 15 minutes long and consist of 3 segments, designed to challenge viewers and stimulate thinking about leadership, values, culture, and decision-making.

In order to make the learning as rich as possible for individuals who may interact with the video cases in remote locations, the Leadership in Focus portal seamlessly links to another platform where the cases are delivered to enable individual reflection, idea sharing and a summary of insights. This design is called Crowd Accelerated Individual Learning (CAIL). These modules compose the section of Learning Modules.

Q: Who are the prominent personalities and Stanford alums featured among the videos? 
A: Our portfolio of leaders includes current and former CEOs of large organizations such as Bill Campbell (Intuit), Gordon Bethune (Continental Airlines), Anne Mulcahy (Xerox), and Herb Kelleher (Southwest), CEOs of small organizations, as well as military officers.

Q: What are the well-known business schools and corporates who use/have used this portal for training?
A: Currently there are 1550+ different universities and colleges, the top 50 Business Schools, Fortune 500 companies, the U.S. Military, Government Agencies, and organizations in 85 countries using the Stanford content in the Leadership in Focus program.

Q: Could you tell us about future plans for the portal?
A:We plan to continue to serve a wide range of users and audiences in different ways to drive engagement and learning opportunities.

Interviews

Interview with Andy Miller, Silicon Valley CTO working with Calcey

Digit IT Magazine recently met up with Andy Miller, the Chief Technology Officer of CompareNetworks, at Calcey premises in Colombo, Sri Lanka. They asked Andy for details about CompareNetwork’s relationship with Calcey, as well as his general opinion about offshoring with a Sri Lankan IT company.

Digit IT Magazine: Thank you for giving us this opportunity to speak with you, Andy. What is it that CompareNetworks focus on?

Andy Miller: Our business is a collection of websites and mobile applications that focus on highly technical market places like Life Science, Dental, and Ophthalmology. These are our marketplaces where websites bring buyers and sellers together. We also produce mobile applications that serve a variety of purposes from sales productivity, all the way to end-user training in the same marketplaces that our websites serve.

Digit IT Magazine: Why have you selected Calcey? How did the partnership begin with them?

Andy Miller: Oh, I guess, partially by chance, CompareNetworks, one of our other co-founders knew the founder of Calcey technologies, Mangala. We started with some very small projects with Calcey back in 2005, and it just grew from there, we found great success in our early projects that were very much focused on content and developing content for our websites. And we moved from that into engineering, and slowly over a period of time transitioned our engineering firm in-house to fully here at Calcey.

Digit IT Magazine: What were the reasons for not hiring talent from Silicon Valley itself to execute the projects?

Andy Miller: So right now it’s actually very difficult to hire engineering talent in silicon valley, we are competing with companies like Apple and Google for top engineering talent, and for a small company like ours, it’s very time consuming and expensive to find and retain engineering talent.

Digit IT Magazine: How has the partnership with Calcey been? How effective are they?

Andy Miller: Our partnership has been great with Calcey. We started off with content development and moved into engineering very quickly, and one of the strengths that we recognized very early in working with Calcey was Calce’s ability to not only follow the instructions that we were providing but to also understand our business and make day-to-day decisions based on their deep understanding of our business needs.

Digit IT Magazine: Your “ImSmart” app has been named as the fastest-growing product in CompareNetworks history. Tell us about it.

Andy Miller: So the “ImSmart” app started actually as an internal concept, an app that we were going to use for our own sales team, that was a productivity tool for them to manage their marketing assets. So, we developed it for our sales team to use for their own productivity, to store PDF files or any other materials that they might use in the field.

We quickly realized that a tool like this could easily be used for any of our customers as well, our existing customers for our websites. So we began to develop a pilot project for one of our customers, again a sales productivity tool to manage marketing assets for their sales team, and it took off from there.

Digit IT Magazine: Traveling from the US to Sri Lanka, how are you finding it, enjoy the time spent here?

Andy Miller: I love coming here; I love seeing Colombo and eating spicy food and it’s a treat to visit and also to work with this great team of people. I’ve really come to build relationships with the people here at Calcey and I really enjoy working with them.

Digit IT Magazine: Any words for other Tech companies in Silicon Valley to work with companies in Sri Lanka?

Andy Miller: I would encourage anybody to work with a company like Calcey here in Colombo. We’ve had great success, it’s been very efficient for us to get work done that we need to get done, and I’ve no regrets at all its been a great experience.

InterviewsLife at Calcey

Careers at Calcey, an engineer’s story

Rajitha Egodaarachchi is a software engineer working for Calcey Technologies; a Colombo based offshore software development facility catering to clients in the San Francisco bay area. Rajitha has been a fast track performer and was recently nominated by his managers for a promotion as a senior software engineer, in recognition of his abilities and dedication. I caught up with Rajitha during his afternoon tea break on Friday, 02-Nov, to learn more about his work experiences and interests.

Sanduni: Welcome to the interview, Rajitha, and congrats on your upcoming promotion. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Rajitha: Thanks Sanduni. Well, I’m a software developer working presently for Calcey Technologies. I’m 24 years old, and a graduate in IT. I’ve been working at Calcey for the past two years.

Which university did you study, and what subjects did you major in?
Rajitha: I got my degree from Curtin University, Australia offered offshore through SLIIT campus in Malabe, back in 2010. It was a”general degree”  in Information Technology. The subjects I studied however were focused towards software engineering.

Sanduni: Why did you pick software engineering as a career?
Rajitha: I had a passion for this subject from my school days. I got to do a lot of interesting little software projects while at the IT Club of St. Peter’s College, which ultimately paved the path for my working in the software development sector. I’s the buzzword of our time and whatever we do ends up having an information technology component in it. People literally hangout in cyberspace today, like on Facebook or Twitter, and almost every business we can think of can potentially be on the Internet. So I thought that specializing in this area would make my life interesting. The software industry is booming with new inventions every day.

Sanduni: Indeed. So why did you decide to join Calcey Technologies?
Rajitha: Well, a few companies called me for interviews. As soon as I got into the premises of Calcey I felt like it had the ideal environment for me to begin my career. I always wanted to join a “not so big” company that is well established in the trade. Calcey is a sort of boutique firm, where seniorfolks are always available for brainstorming, where there is easy access to resources, including Facebook and YouTube [laughs], and where the salary scales are good. Besides, I saw that we could play games in the evening or even shoot each other with NERF guns! I just loved the “developer-friendly” environment that I was introduced to.

Sanduni: What was the first project you worked in? Tell us what the experience was like..
Rajitha: It certainly was challenging. I landed on a C# project called Vertical Platform (later I got to know it as one of the coolest projects to work at Calcey). I was a new entrant to the industry… even though I was working at HSBC previously I had minimal development experience. So I had to work a lot harder to understand the requirements, the design concepts, and basically everything that is expected from the role of a Software Engineer. There were tons of stuff to learn, ranging from configuration management using GIT, to how to keep my cool under pressure.

Sanduni: How would you describe the work environment at Calcey?
Rajitha: Very appealing. Resources ranging from books to laptops are always available without restriction. We have an ethical, heterogeneous setup, and maintain high standards in terms of the industry practices. You can always speak to the management about issues. Plenty of stress relieving activities is available like computer games, foosball, carom or even a small in-house gym. You will find peers always giving out a helping hand as well as experienced seniors mentoring us with new concepts. Everyone’s informal and on a first name basis. The leads are also straight talking, and will point out your mistakes openly and often [laughs].

Sanduni: So Rajitha, what are your hobbies and interests? How do you make it all worth it personally?
Rajitha: I play computer games, sleep [laughs], swim, dance and work on personal R&D projects in my free time; I just hang out with friends on weekends. We do pub and club once in a while and all the latest movies are watched by us!

Sanduni: Great! Ok so do you really like your job? I mean, what improvements do you expect to see in your career in the future?
Rajitha: Yes I do like my job. The job I currently do is the profession I wanted to be, it goes without saying. Moving forward, once I grasp the engineering aspects completely, I would seek to manage projects. Thus I’m looking forward to beginning my postgraduate studies in the coming months. I think it will be helpful with my long-term career.

Sanduni: What was your learning experience like at Calcey itself?
Rajitha: Calcey practices Scrum, the most successful agile project management methodology that I know of, and I’m proud to have adjusted to an agile mindset. I also had to learn Objective-C and iOS development in double-quick time. It’s easy to switch between programming languages here, as there are experts in the domain that you can learn from. SQL, asp.net, MVC, iOS and JavaScript are a few areas of expertise that I tapped into, but I am aware that we also use other languages and frameworks like Python on AppEngine or even older technologies like ColdFusion.

Sanduni: What’s your best moment at Calcey? Is there anyone particular incident that sticks in your mind?
Rajitha: I’ve nothing in particular to single out, but the zillion birthday parties, farewell parties, trips outstation and hangouts are equally memorable for me. We are getting ready for a birthday party this evening, as you know…

Sanduni: Okay. Is there any advice you’d like to give to a newbie joining the industry?
Well, being a newbie myself just over two years back, I certainly felt the stern pressure put upon me when working towards deadlines coding complex features. Looking back after two years, the experience that one gains the hard way would be the best one could get, and would lay the foundation for a long and successful career that awaits you. Never be afraid to work hard, and play hard!

Sanduni: Thank you for your time Rajitha –  and good luck!