How We Built Atop Feature Flag Service as a Group of Friends

Gergely Sinka ConfigCat

Gergely Sinka of ConfigCat tells us about 10 minutes trainable feature flag and configuration management service.

First of all, how are you and your family doing? 

Gergely Sinka: We’re all safely recovered from Covid. All good.

Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded ConfigCat.

Gergely Sinka: I started as a software tester working for LogMeIn, an American-Hungarian software company. Later became a scrum master leading developer teams. I was always interested in software development and coding from my early days in the 80s when my mom could get me an old used Commodore64. Later on, when the internet became more and more accessible, I was fascinated by the endless possibilities. Anyways, after 20 years when working for LogMeIn, I got a chance to learn to code and play with the developers who seemed like the big boys on the playground. Begun with C#, then JS React and Angular learning super-fast day and night. I realized that front-end development is really my thing. I like to empathize with the customers and build stuff that humans enjoy using. 

During a time when the company was facing a turbulent period, some of my close friends and teammates began to talk about starting our own company. We had a good understanding of building and maintaining a product but had no idea how to build a business. Fortunately, we didn’t know that, so we quit our jobs and started building. Created a think tank and went through all of our ideas. One of us had a working prototype of a remote configuration service. Letting companies remotely configure their own software product seemed like a promising space, and there weren’t many companies to compete with. Feature flags weren’t even a thing. Our team of 6 started to implement the service and spent most of the first few years coding day and night.

Our first paying customer came in early 2019; since then, ConfigCat as a feature flag service was growing pretty rapidly, and we knew we were doing the right thing. Some say “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” this pretty much describes our situation. Today feature flags are a growing space, with new players joining every quarter. We managed to maintain our position as one of the first few competitors.

How does ConfigCat market its product/services online? 

Gergely Sinka: We use all the “usual” marketing channels like other B2B Software as a Service (SaaS) companies like ads, content marketing, SEO, partnerships, podcasts, social, etc. I personally don’t believe in magic pills, gurus, or taking shortcuts, but in building a product that I (a developer) would love. It’s a great feeling when customers write articles or talk in podcasts about how awesome ConfigCat Feature Flags is. So at the end of the day, I think if we build a great product, developers, product managers, and site reliability engineers will spread the word by themselves.

How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how did you get through it?

Gergely Sinka: Luckily, all of our team were working from home from day 1, so at least covid didn’t really bother our everyday routine. However, we had to pay attention to each other’s mental health. The lockdowns were hard on everybody. We organized online sessions where we could just hang out outside of work. And when the rules allowed, we went on team weekends to the mountains to remote locations to talk about ConfigCat-related and personal stuff, a bit like a group therapy session. It worked so great that we keep doing it a few times a year, even after the pandemic.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?

Gergely Sinka: We are using Mindmaps to tackle the 2022 marketing strategy. Mindmaps help to visualize complex problems and to find solutions. Also super helpful on sessions when we try to forecast the feature flag market direction and categorize ideas and tasks that we could do to react to the changing market. My personal favorites for SEO are ubersuggest and SEranking. Trello is a great tool for tracking work and everyday tasks. And it might be funny as it sounds, but ConfigCat uses ConfigCat as a feature flag and A/B testing service, where we can experiment with and test new ideas on real users. We try to keep the organization as flat as possible on the management front, with no carrot and stick but collaboration and a team-focused mentality. We are also putting lots of effort into selecting the individuals we want to work with. I believe a few carefully selected people can deliver way more value than an army.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Gergely Sinka: They include:

– LaunchDarkly

– UnleashHosted

– Split

We’ll keep doing what we do best, focusing on customer needs, keeping the feature flag service developer-focused, and investing more time and effort in marketing and growth.

Your final thoughts?

Gergely Sinka: I’m optimistic about the future; I think we’re going in the right direction, and we have the right team for the job. Many obstacles await us, and we will need to grow up for the challenges ahead, which motivates me the most.

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