Pratyush founded the company in 2013, which belongs to the e-commerce sector. There are currently two branches, in Jena/ Germany and in Bangalore/ India with currently 28 employees in total.
Customer demand is high, which is why the goal is to grow to 50 employees by the end of the year.
About his role, Pratyush says, "I do pretty much everything that's involved, like strategy, sales, administration; but mainly I focus on product-market fit - developing the optimum of our products and services."
Clemens, since 2019 Project and Product Manager, is mainly responsible for communication and planning. Mostly connected with customers online via video and quite relaxed about the time zone issue, which is not one at all, because it can easily be coordinated well with customers.
Originally Clemens is a biologist and worked as a project manager in the field of diagnostics and development of medical tests for pathogens. Changed to automation of laboratory management systems and finally works as an IT project manager.
Elisabeth is team leader of project and service in PHP plugin development, been with the company for 7 years and previously worked in other companies.
All 3 of you have worked for other companies before. Among others Pratyush for Demandware, now Salesforce - who also have multiple locations. Why move to Jena?
Pratyush: It was a very personal decision. I was about to become a father and my girlfriend is from Jena - so we decided to move to a family-friendly environment. Without being able to speak German, which wasn't necessary with Intershop as a customer, because I mainly looked after the Asian region and America. By the way, we had raised a startup together before - in the same constellation as we founded Ideatamarc.
That was a very innovative concept at the time, delivering freshly prepared food. We had about 1000 orders a day, just no one who could really cook well. We learned from that and decided to only do things we were good at. Amazing to others that we are still friends and tried a second time. For us normal, because we just know each other pretty well and appreciate the trustful interaction.
What was helpful for you when you founded the company here in Jena?
Pratyush: In retrospect, staying in Jena and founding a company here was a very good decision. First of all, there are many good employees in the university town and it is the short distances and quickly established contacts that were very valuable for me - for example, I learned German with my tax advisor, who did not speak English. Besides that, he guided us with a lot of patience through the whole start-up process, which was quite a complex and nerve-wracking process, especially regarding tax matters. We were able to start small in a coworking space at low cost and grow in it until we moved into our own office, besides meeting many people who supported us.
And what were more challenges for you?
Pratyush: Finding initial collaborators was a bit difficult. We tried different channels, searched in forums. Setting up sales was also difficult at the beginning - as a foreigner, not speaking German, trying to convince people of your products and gaining trust. Then came the tip to hire at least 1-2 German employees for sales. You need them to understand the context of language and culture. Speaking of culture, bringing a German team and an Indian team together is still challenging, especially communication - what you speak and how you speak.
There are huge differences there. To bring an example: Don't expect a response when an Indian team is asked to speak to the group and make suggestions. You have to directly call on someone to answer exactly this and that. There were great learning periods on both sides that help us today to understand customers and our own teams of different cultures. I see my role as building bridges - understanding what people need in each case.
Have you worked in international teams before? What was the potential transition phase like for you and what kind of work culture do you experience today?
Elisabeth: For me, it is the first experience in an international work context. I simply found Ideatarmac as a 2nd Google result, applied spontaneously and directly experienced an open working environment. I wanted to stay there. My biggest hurdle was to speak English - I had to last in school. Pratyush then said I'd learn that at work. So did he. (Laughs) Overall, communication is the most important and at the same time the most difficult thing. I had to learn to express myself very simply and make my thoughts understandable for everyone. I really developed and was given the time I needed to do that.
Clemens: Well, I was already used to working in international teams, and before that I was responsible for even larger, more long-term projects, both as a project manager in diagnostics and in IT. The projects I manage today are smaller, but often run in parallel and faster. The environment in biology was in stark contrast to IT, simply because there are fewer jobs and more applicants, and thus more exploitation of employees. I had similar experiences in previous companies in IT as I have today, the teams worked well. However, I have observed that the working atmosphere for the individual is decisively determined by the head of the company, and if the relationship level is not right there, this has an effect on morale. No matter how well the team gets along.
Pratyush: We have designed our work culture in such a way that we and our employees enjoy the friendliest and most accommodating atmosphere possible, with plenty of freedom. Just as we would have liked as employees: To have time to learn. To give and receive trust in order to become a good team. So we decided against having our employees document every minute of what they do, because we think that sends the wrong signals. We believe that a good relationship makes working much more pleasant, the team is better motivated for independent and responsible action.
How do you select employees? How do you assess who is a good fit for you?
Pratyush: In fact, our most successful recruiting channel is the recommendation of our employees. After all, this is the mindset most likely to be identified among friends and acquaintances. If a CV doesn't match the job one hundred percent, but the applicant's personality fits the team and he or she is committed, then he or she is welcome. By the way, in all this time there has never been a perfect match, from either side. Gut feeling has the last word. That's how we put the team together in India, too. The fact is that people can't do a good job if they don't feel comfortable in their environment.
You said you will probably double the number of employees by the end of the year - how are you shaping this organizational process and what makes you optimistic?
Pratyush: That's a question that's on our minds a lot right now. I definitely want to maintain our work style, our culture, and I'm counting on the network effect in personnel selection that I mentioned above - if employees understand your work culture, they will bring people with a similar work culture into the company or take this into account during hiring interviews. Now the market in Jena is limited, there are many companies looking for employees with the skills we need - there is a lot of competition.
Who are you looking for right now and where? And how do you go about the search?
Pratyush: As I said, there are 10-15 big companies in Jena that may offer bigger incentives to convince the few applicants. We are currently looking for someone for project management and programming/development. In the process, we have expanded our search to other states and countries. We had high hopes to find in Ukrainie or the Philippines. At the moment it is difficult in Germany as well as in India due to economic upheavals.
We are working with the universities in Leipzig and Halle, which have good contacts in Ukraine or Egypt and established processes with the IT networks there. There are models there to start with freelancers to test if the collaboration works. Alternatively, the University of Leipzig also has access to corresponding networks in Bulgaria. If this is of interest to you, we would be happy to establish contact.
Pratyush: Yes, it would definitely be interesting and relevant for us. We currently have more requests than we can handle with our current staff. Bulgaria is also already on our list.
Indian and Pakistani students are increasingly coming to Jena. Do you already have access to the university's computer science or physics and biology departments? The Chinese students, for example, often pass jobs on to each other, and that would then also fit in with your strategy, that the network effect could set in here.
Pratyush: We are quite open to any kind of support in filling our two positions. We are already working with student trainees. However, we are currently looking for more experienced senior people in the areas of project management and development. An important hiring criterion for these types of positions is that the employees speak German and ideally come from a European cultural background. This is required by our clients here in the German speaking area.
For junior positions, however, English is ok. We have had good experiences with people from Asia and South America, who often already have work experience in their Master's degree. So let's keep talking and see if we can find something through the university.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out and wants to start up?
Pratyush: Find your favorite tax advisor and people to support you! Ideally, find a good mentor who will share their own experience with you. For foreign founders, I recommend focusing less on processes and more on understanding the culture. That's the bottom line - knowing what your customers expect and your employees need.
You want to know more about Ideatarmac?
Find out here: https://ideatarmac.com/careers/