A Pink Floyd fan, a math geek and a tech enthusiast, George TUDOR is a man of few words but with a high level of understanding regarding of what his employees need. Without his knowledge, he applies the maieutics of Socrates everyday to help his staff become better and reach a higher level of truthfulness to themselves. Because of this, he can make sure that each project has the right people working on it and vice-versa, thus hitting two birds with one stone – keeping his employees happy, while delivering amazing projects.
Tell us a few words about how your company started
The core team of IT Teams has been established 7 years ago, so we know each other and have worked together for quite a while. With my previous company we have built a SaaS for the US market and several years later we made a spin-off and decided to continue the outsourcing services under a new brand – IT Teams. IT Teams has been created out of the need to offer software solutions to both startups and established companies. To a certain extent, this vision combines our appetite for helping startups take off and our expertise in building and operating remote development teams.
What drives you each day?
I am starting each day thinking about how I can find the right opportunities for people I work with, regardless if they are employees, clients or partners.
Equally important is my desire to do technology related experiments. I always stayed close to technology so whenever I can afford the time, I read software development articles or watch my developers as they work in a specific development environment.
Yet the most important driver is to inspire my colleagues to learn, to become better at what they do. Coaching gives me the best satisfaction at the end of the day. I had the chance to meet incredible people that inspired me to challenge myself, to aim higher and to do my best to help others. It was funny (he smiles) that none of these people intended to help me in this direction, they were actually guiding me to become more efficient. I was lucky to meet them, right at the moment when I decided to start IT Teams, so coaching is an essential ingredient of my definition for success. I believe that a day without a take away of how to become better is a lost day.
What do you believe are the 3 main accomplishments that brought you here today?
I will mention several achievements that are not providing immediate value and yet are tremendously important in the long run.
The first one is my ability to on board valuable team members. I think that nurtured our ability as a team to on board engineers on the right projects for them. This is how we differentiate from our competition.
The second accomplishment is based on honesty and trust, some of the core values of IT Teams, pillars of our relationship with clients and employees. Most of our clients are key partners for us, we have been working together for a long time and we understand their business quite well.
The third one is perseverance. Perhaps years ago we would have given up facing some of the challenges we now overcome. This is combination of maintaining focus, being determined and willing to work hard.
What do you believe are the 3 main failures that brought you here today?
Partnerships that didn’t work out. Would events have lined up differently, IT Teams would not have been born, so obviously things turned out for the best for everybody, including my current team.
Second, since I mentioned hard work previously, there’s also a downside to it. Too much work kept us away from innovation. But I believe this is a constant challenge for the outsourcing industry in general, where no consistent innovation has been noticed for quite a while.
And the third one? (Tudor pauses and gazes through the window of his office) I could have realized the importance of personal development earlier. That might have helped me to make important business related decisions sooner.
Do you ever disconnect from the office? How?
There’s a secret island of pleasure and comfort I visit each day – my family. It recharges my batteries and gives me purpose for what I do. The noisy evenings with my family give me a sense of peace and tranquility after a day of work.
I play guitar or play with my kids. I was a Pink Floyd fan but now, between playing Pink Floyd tunes on my guitar and rattling Melc Melc Codobelc, my big fans at home, urge for the latter. (he laughs)
Do you have any books you wish you could forget just so you can read it again?
Simon Sinek “Start with why” which helped me understand the importance of core values and beliefs behind our actions, behind how we speak and what we sell. I got many insights from this book and I think it helped me better understand why I started IT Teams and how we can continue to attract talent and grow our team.
Education – classic or alternative? Both?
I am a product of the classic approach and I feel I was not taught but rather let free to learn, to behave as I wish and to be part of various competitions. I participated in Math Olympics Contests, I came up with my own schedule for studying, I was rather independent.
So to respond to your question, I would say both; classic because it brings pure knowledge and nurtures our basic abilities to follow rules and patterns, and alternative to ensure we are able to break patterns and think out-the-box when needed.
Now tells us more about the business you are running. Let’s start with the clients you currently work on
There are four services delivered under the umbrella of IT Teams, each designed to respond to specific client needs.
Our main model is building and managing teams of IT engineers for our clients. Usually, these companies are IT companies maintaining or improving their web and mobile products. We create dedicated teams that ensure the development and QA capacity for our clients in Europe, USA and Australia.
We also provide software services for Startups. Even though this is not our largest revenue stream, it is definitely an attractive direction for us. We meet entrepreneurs that have a business idea and we commit to be fully responsible for all technical aspects of their business. We provide guidance about technology to be employed, innovation trends, we help them develop their budget estimations so we really help them in various stages of their business. We advise them on how to reach the maximum business result in the shortest term possible with reasonable budgets. Last year we helped two Amsterdam-based startups creating their web and mobile platforms. They were targeting in fashion / e-commerce and recruitment industries.
IT Teams is able to provide tailor-made solutions and on a needed basis maintenance services to its clients. A few examples of applications we have built lately are an enterprise solution for manufacturing plants, an HR solution, a Point Of Sale software. Such solutions are used by SME’s in Romania, Europe and USA from various industries such as manufacturing and retail.
Last but not least, there is onsite or remote maintenance. We have both short and long-term commitments with employees that go over to the client and work at their premises in an integrated manner. Again, the typical clients here are large IT providers in Romania and Europe.
Name a few of the biggest clients you work for (if possible)
To respect the confidentiality clauses I will mention only some of our clients such as Tandarts, Baloonr, Robosoft, KiTS. In addition, 6 Romanian mid-large IT providers have been helped by our engineers to deliver their projects on time. We have completed various projects for end clients, represented by well known Romanian banks and one of the big four consultancy houses.
Name a few of the projects that made you a force to be reckon on the market
I learned a lot from developing UnifiedPractice, it was really challenging at both technical and business level, and I got a lot of satisfaction seeing the platform going live. It was a huge opportunity to see how hard it is to attract users on a web & mobile platform, and even more difficult to keep them satisfied. It was once again an opportunity to build and retain strong engineering teams inspired by an innovative idea, committed to transform it into a software that ultimately improves the lives of end-users.
Such experience has been used lately to build a platform that connects individuals from different locations around the world to resolve problems by communicating in various languages.
We have also built and maintained the biggest Netherlands dentists portal.
What is your most beloved project you worked on?
My most beloved project is a recent web solution we have developed for a world class manufacturing company using Microsoft and Oracle technologies. We helped the client increase its production efficiency through a continuous data collection process supported by our solution to gather information and provide statistics related to production failures and scraps.
A consistent part of the system revolves around providing a diverse set of statistics and data reporting, both drill down as well as graphical, that help provide an in depth analysis of quality and stability of the production cycle. Not only have we been able to provide the counting of scraps but have also integrated legacy data (SAP) to clearly indicate the financial cost of the occurring defects.
What project forced you to be creative and innovative?
UnifiedPractice definitely required us to be creative and innovative – together with my US business partners we put tremendous efforts to create a slick product for Chinese medicine practitioners that need to take notes on a mobile device while consulting the patient.
What was the biggest struggle?
Understanding the psychology and behaviour of end users was the biggest struggle. This is a constant challenge in all projects. To create a perfect solution, you have to know not only how the user tends to use a software or hardware artefact but also to learn about, if not directly experience the environment in which the end-user uses the solution.
What makes your company different from others in your field of expertise?
What makes us unique is our ability to provide the right engineers for the right project. This is what guides us in what we do. It is the reason for which we are not looking for growth at all costs overlooking the quality of the collaboration between our employees and our clients. We aim to have 100% matching between IT talent and the opportunities brought by our clients.
How are your products innovative?
We are quite close to deliver a platform to support our services. This tool will be used by our clients to get better visibility over the results offered by our teams. Right now our internal tool features recruitment capabilities, project management and activity tracking. Invoicing and objective tracking will be soon implemented before going live, so we will be able to ensure 100% transparency for our clients over the results provided by an outsourced team.
Who is the biggest innovator for you?
I like Google as a company and how they are able to transform the ideas they focus on.
I also like them because they have knowledge and use the technology at its top level combining network hardware, devices, data and services to provide a unique user experience. I also like that they are able to get value out of open source offerings.
I closely followed the evolution of the Google Drive platform and its related cloud space development tools. And whenever we got the chance, we experimented by integrating google drive in our applications to create outstanding features that can be replicated in real life products. One such feature, for instance, is extracting pieces of data (like the phone number or email address) from various types of documents stored in the cloud where various people can collaborate to edit and maintain the information. We used this feature for our internal tool I mentioned earlier. Imagine the money you saved using current tools compared to how you would have solved this request 5 years ago or even more.
What advice do you have for a young entrepreneur?
To have the courage to speak about his or her own ideas and discover the people that are able to help him or her along their entrepreneurial journey. And never overlook the fact that technology is only a part of the solution and most of the time, the actual execution is 10 times more important. So get a mentor, and validate your business plan before spending crazy money and time on original ideas.
What do you want to accomplish in the next year?
Our main goal is sustainable growth. We did big steps towards this goal, we got 4 new clients in the last month and the year ahead of us will definitely bring more projects and more opportunities.
The key is going to be the ability to deliver talent in a challenging market where big IT companies will continue to create more and more opportunities for Romanian IT engineers.
There are several new directions we are looking to expand into such as a new creative & online division, a recruitment service, perhaps some collaboration for GDPR compliance.
What would you like to achieve in the next 5 years?
Since I started IT Teams I always imagined our services being provided from multiple locations across Europe. So opening offices in additional cities in Romania as well as other countries is one goal.
The second goal is to provide higher value for our customers, so offering domain or industry expertise and technology as a packages is a must for coming years.
Why did you join Smart Alliance – Innovation Technology Cluster?
Valentin, Managing Partner Digi Soft introduced us to the concept of Smart Alliance at the right time, when we needed to discover innovative techniques that we can adopt in what we do and how we do it.
Though it may be difficult, there is always room for innovation and I believe we can learn from other cluster members, from their experiences and what went well for them. Innovation comes with risks and changes, it’s like crossing the same river in a way no one has tried before. So having partners help you along the way really makes sense.
How does it benefit you?
In several ways. Firstly, we would like to integrate our cluster presence with our marketing activities to sustain our development. Secondly, it’s very useful to have a discussion group that includes executives that know your business as well as share similar challenges with you.
And of course, I cannot overlook the social part of this experience, our regular meetings outside office, without business or cluster objectives, all being replaced by a dinner with enjoyable people.
How do you see your company as being part of the cluster?
Definitely we can help to deliver large, complex projects together with other members.
And since my goal is to integrate innovation with our services, I will share the progress with others so they can learn and suggest in return what we can do better.
How do you see the evolution of the cluster?
I see the cluster growing and we need better funding for this.The next level for Smart Alliance would be to have one or more ambassadors to promote the cluster across Europe. At that point we would be able to access and deliver considerably large & complex solutions that none of the members can deliver individually.
Until then, I believe we can improve the collaboration between cluster members by identifying additional interests that can be transformed into micro-projects, where small groups can sustain these projects and share results or progress within the cluster.