Michal Šimon tells us about developing for developers: Codeac Success Story.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Codeac.
Michal Šimon: After graduating from university in Europe, I booked a one-way ticket to San Francisco and began looking for work there. I ended up working as a developer for a dating startup after around 25 interviews in a week.
I realized one key thing during my year there: there was a Golden rush in the nineteenth century, and since then, not much has changed, but developers have replaced the gold miners.
However, the most fortunate ones were not those seeking gold but those selling shovels and strainers. As a result, we decided to create a gold strainer for developers, which we named Codeac. This cloud-based service functions as a spell-check for programmers, reducing code defects. Also known as technical debt, these issues are problems that every IT project faces. And we help teams fight these issues, increasing teams’ productivity and reducing vulnerabilities in their applications.
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Michal Šimon: I have come across many challenges in life and business. Feeling stuck and overwhelmed, I typically employ the rubber duck technique – a small trick making your thinking process more effective and makes you a bit happier.
Software development is a complex process, sometimes making you feel lost and helpless, spending hours trying to figure out how to solve the problem or even what is the problem itself. We advise junior programmers coming across challenges to start with googling answers and seeking for someone already solving their problems, then asking on forums and then opting for a rubber duck technique – just imagine your duck-mate as someone who has no clue about the problem and try to explain the issue to it one sentence at a time.
This is rubber duck Frank in the picture below. Frank heard many problems of mine, helping formulate issues and figuring out where to look for solutions. Trying to explain the problem to somebody would usually force you to look at the problem from a different perspective. That’s where the ducks come in and help you find a new direction or come up with a breakthrough.
How does Codeac market its product/services online?
Michal Šimon: Codeac is an online service dedicated to a very specific customer’s niche – developers. And these guys (and girls) are not the easiest group to target. Developers are resistant to advertising, and they bounce the moment they sense you bullshit them.
That is why we have chosen the most organic marketing strategy, driving the real value to our target audience – content and community. We employed the combination of content about best practices in software development and team management and efficiency, educating the community about code quality and technical debt issues, and organizing webinars. We have identified communication channels where our potential customers hang out, like GitHub or Linkedin. We tried to engage with developers there, making them notice us, learn about Codeac and see the real benefits they can get using our service.
However, we engage with our offline community even more – lecturing in boot camps and conferences, networking in tech meetups, and communicating in groups and chats.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Michal Šimon: We love open-source software that has the source code available for anyone to examine, edit, and improve so that we can access teams working on the code and contribute to many projects through Pull Requests. Basically, we search projects on GitHub, examine them, pinpoint issues teams have and help them fix i. We then let them know that Codeac will enable them to automatically analyze these issues and drastically reduce the time they spend on code cleaning. Sometimes we also show teams the risks their codes are exposed to and provide know-how on how our software helps reduce security vulnerabilities.
We also grow our LinkedIn network, searching for development teams’ decision-makers and telling them what Codeac can do for their team. This first-hand interaction with the target
segment is crucial for any startup – so we make sure we have enough feedback and validation from the market.
In addition, we have recently launched our Slack community. We have started it with two intentions – to get closer to our current users and meet new developers. We share with our members code-quality know-how and provide support with Codeac and network.
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?
Michal Šimon: Our team is amazing. We are a group of smart, passionate, and ambitious individuals who care deeply about what they do.
Somebody gave me some advice once to always hire smarter people than yourself, and we all are always trying to strive for that. We are always looking for talented people that are eager to learn and grow and carefully onboard them to the company’s culture. We value team players with a positive attitude who have what it takes to thrive in a fast-paced environment while delivering results.
How are you funding your growth?
Michal Šimon: Firstly, Software as a Service (SaaS). We have more than 3000 developers repeatedly using Codeac and driving value out of it. We provide different subscription plans, depending on teams’ needs and sizes. And we always had and will have free Codeac for open-source projects.
Secondly, some of our clients want to be closer to our expert team and ensure code quality. We are helping them fight technical debt on top of their Codeac licenses as consultants. This closer cooperation not only helps us bring incredible value to clients but also identifies more opportunities for making Codeac’s toolkit even better.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Michal Šimon: The market for developer tools is always changing, and it’s hard to say which direction it will move. Currently, our competitors can be defined as any automatic code review tool that is cloud-based, and the most well-known are SonarQube, CodeClimate, and Codacy. The industry’s main pain is not the competitors; there is enough space for all of us, but rather technical debt awareness and its consequences on the overall industry. So although we are competitors, all of us are doing a great job in educating the market about this problem.
Our goal at Codeac is not only to pinpoint issues developers have in their codebases but also to provide actionable advice on how to fix them and not to be a barrier to the team’s efficiency. We strongly believe in the importance of outstanding developer experience and invest a lot in its quality, constantly improving our user interface and data usability.
Furthermore, we see that focusing solely on the quality of application code, as well as Infrastructure one, provides a more holistic assessment of code quality, which is well appreciated among our customers.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Michal Šimon: Our cooperation with uLekare.cz (which means “at the doctor”) is one of the cases we are extremely proud of. uLekare.cz helps people stay healthy and navigate them through the health care system. They rely on technologies, expertise, and a human approach.
During the pandemic, the workload grew exponentially. That was a suitable opportunity to modernize the way we talk to doctors.
Soon they faced several challenges with the scalability of their system. There were many new issues after every release. Then, fixing problems, they realized there was no actionable and relevant data for the team and the management to improve. Technical debt did not allow them to deliver good software fast or work: release new features or fix issues.
They leveraged Codeac and reduced their technical debt significantly. The team was then able to deliver superior and cleaner code, improve habits to design better software architecture, put in place better unit test coverage, and learn to adopt best practices fast and effectively.
We helped the team on top of that and improved their architecture to make the uLekare system even more secure and reliable than before.
Your final thoughts?
Michal Šimon: During the pandemic, health care workers become real heroes working restlessly to help us all. However, developers had a big game to win at the same time. Many companies found themselves in situations when they needed to move their whole operations online. And their digital transformation was under much tighter deadlines than ever before. Despite developers not being visible, they worked hard to turn the impossible into reality almost overnight.
They had to cut many corners and take several shortcuts to deliver what they’d been asked for. Such pressure, however, comes with its price. The backfire of this rush is called technical debt and has a huge negative impact in the long term. Luckily, Codeac is always ready to help bring such software back in shape and achieve even more ambitious goals.