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Fireside chat with Katrin Shechtman, Founder Noka Software and Creative Inc

Who is Katrin Shechtman?

I would say technologist and businesswoman; probably in that order, though I’m working on it. I’m a software engineer by training and after many years in industry my passion for creating software is still the same as in day 1, perhaps even stronger as nowadays with all the experience that I’ve gained over the last 16 years, I can focus on projects with highest value and impact.

What’s the story behind Noka Software and Creative Inc?

If the question is about the name, I can’t disclose where the word ‘Noka’ comes from – it is a trade secret, but I can safely say it is abstract with no equivalent in the physical world. The rest of the name is kind of self-explanatory and as such is usually omitted, so our team and clients call it simply ‘Noka’. The story behind the company is rather simple. In the last 6-8 years I had a chance to work on interesting projects meeting great people. We stayed in touch, they and their companies needed help, it made me think, I decided to take on the challenge to help them achieve their goals, the rest is history.

What was the most difficult part of your experience in the early beginnings?

Maybe we should change the word ‘was’ to ‘is’ – Noka is a super young company. Juggling multiple equally important tasks such as the need to find new clients vs providing an exceptional service to existing ones. In our profession we call it ‘context switch’  – the situation when you need to put your current task on hold to handle something more important. Planning helps but can’t solve it completely, it is a startup after all and it is past 2:30am at the time of writing.

What are you most proud of regarding your business?

Undoubtedly, the team. Personally, I’ve learnt to dislike the tech industry’s longing for labeling people as ‘rock stars’ and ‘ninjas’. Noka’s team doesn’t have unicorns, only smart, intelligent, passionate professionals who care about what they do and the company’s clients. The perk of running your own company is shaping its culture and I’m proud of Noka’s.

What is your vision for the future of Noka Software and Creative Inc?

Become a brand that clients associate with quality. We change people’s perspective on what it means to hire a consultancy company, which in many cases is not a super positive one. I’m a big opponent to body shopping practice as you could’ve imagined and it is not because of the cost pressure it puts on Noka and companies like ours. We provide more than just a headcount. Everyone who works with us, gets a team, who is most passionate about their success as it was our own. Working with Noka is a pretty unique experience, so the vision is to be able to grow and help many different clients without losing our identity.

What’s your advice for the businesses that are trying to adapt to this economic climate?

I think the current economic climate is tougher on businesses more than usual, especially for smaller ones. There is a lot of talk about how recent events (aka Corona) changed the world and created new opportunities but it also undoubtedly created a lot of uncertainty and for small or young businesses it might make it only harder. My advice would be to be strategic about how to not only survive but actually grow. Technology can help, it is extremely powerful, easy, inexpensive and it might be the leverage you are looking for. From 3D printers to knowing who visited your website, you should constantly explore how it can help you grow. Having said that, don’t forget to celebrate each day, week and month you stay in business as it was a billion dollar exit – in my books it is as precious, it should be the same in yours too!

Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business.

Hmm, tricky question. Technologies that we use or technologies that we build with? Our toolset (technologies that we build with) is pretty extensive as we try to use the right tool for the right job, some examples would be Scala/Akka, Typescript, React, Ansible, Kubernetes. As to technologies that had an impact on us as a company, I’d say Clockify. It is a great tool for time tracking, which even software developers can tolerate.

What books do you have on your nightstand?

‘Deep Thinking’ by Garry Kasparov and ‘The Mom Test’ by Rob Fitzpatrick. ‘The Mom Test’ is a must read for any newly minted entrepreneur, especially techie who is trying to validate a product idea. Good laugh and golden advice. ‘Deep thinking’ is a profound book, a rare opportunity to peek into the mind of the rare individual; it will make you stop and think… As you can see I’m catching up with the 2014-2017 period now, but I find ageless books are the only ones worth your time anyway.

Because of the current economic climate our publication has started a series of discussions with professional individuals meant to engage our readers with relevant companies and their representatives in order to discuss their involvement, what challenges they have had in the past and what they are looking forward to in the future. This sequence aims to present a series of experiences, recent developments, changes and downsides in terms of their business areas, as well as their goals, values, career history, the high-impact success outcomes and achievements.

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