It all started at a small round table in a small rented room in Krakow in 2008. We were all still in the middle of our studies, but we were united by the need to act on our own and create. It didn't even occur to us that we could wait until the end of our studies. We had to act.
Together with Wiktor Mijal, Mateusz Berkowicz and Maciej Młynek, we were brainstorming a name for our agency, which was to take on a more formal shape (we had already been doing small jobs together for some time). The ambitions were great and there were so many ideas... that we settled on the name 1000ideas.
Founded in 2009, our company initially embarked on a journey as a full-service marketing agency with the ambition to deliver comprehensive 360-degree marketing solutions. This all-encompassing approach encompassed everything from creative concepts through design to implementing all the elements needed for an advertising campaign, including events. This also entailed the creation of software solutions for marketing purposes and beyond.
One of our notable early projects was a comprehensive university management system for managing internal processes at the University of Szczecin, which we have been developing and supporting since 2014.
I still remember standing on a raised platform in front of a distinguished group of top university officials. My hands are trembling from caffeine and stress, and sweat stains appear on my inappropriate orange shirt. I'm presenting a system that I wrote myself as one of the programmers and was still uploading patches to the server a few minutes earlier....
As a company of a few people, we were supposed to provide a solution for one of the larger universities in Poland.
It worked. The system worked and the next version is still in operation today.
It was a very important test showing that we can create and maintain complex software. Empowering us as a custom software development company. I am still grateful to the authorities of the University of Szczecin for this opportunity and the trust placed in us.
For next ten years or so, we thrived in the 360 marketing sphere, employing a diverse in-house team that spanned strategists, designers, creative personnel, copywriters, programmers, project managers, account managers, salespeople, among others. However, this diversity led to a complex structure with conflicting priorities, challenging to manage and sustain.
Costs become overgrown, its structure very rigid, and it kept the break-even-bar high. Projects in the creative and marketing world are very dynamic (sinusoidal), yet our cost were stable and elevated. It became difficult to adapt to changing market demands and technological advancements. We realised that in order to stay competitive and continue growing, we needed to make a strategic shift.
Transformation onset - shaping software development company
Transitioning around the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020, we realised the difficulty of maintaining and scaling such a business model. It became clear that our strongest suit was production, which our clients highly valued us for. This revelation led us to redefine our focus towards two main pillars: digital and software, with custom software solutions taking a prime spot in our operations within the Software Developers Association (SoDA), nonetheless our branch responsible for digital solutions is still vibrant and active and delivering digital products every day to our marketing clients (mainly big network marketing agencies).
The onset of the pandemic accelerated our transformation, prompting us to shift from handling every client need as a separate, fixed-price project to embracing the Time & Materials (T&M) model. This move, largely inspired by conversations with other companies and facilitated by the trust of our long-term clients, allowed us to manage budgets more effectively and stabilise our business.
Selecting the right business model for our IT services
Since our inception, we have worked exclusively with a fixed price and fixed scope model. This was a proven solution in the marketing world, but it did not always work well for IT projects. Especially when you don't sell shelf software, but custom solutions.
The nature of building bespoke software solutions is such that we almost never know the full specification at the start of a project. If the project is longer then we also cannot predict what will happen along the way. And this makes a model in which the price is predetermined at the same time jeopardise the contractor's margins and make the implementation more rigid, thus blocking responsiveness to change and making final software products worse.
Building on this experience, along with our transformation we also introduced a T&M billing model. This has allowed us to take on other projects and helped us secure margins. The world of IT is changing so fast that the business model also needs to be flexible enough to allow us to respond to business requirements that will 100% change in the future.
With the shift to the T&M billing model, we had to reevaluate our cost structure and resource allocation. We recognised that a key aspect of successful software development lies in having a highly skilled and adaptable development teams. Therefore, we focused on having an elastic talent pool, ensuring that we had the right mix of expertise and experience to tackle diverse projects on demand.
Helping hand of SoDA
Our association with SoDA played a crucial role in this transformative journey. Through SoDA, we ventured confidently into the body leasing model, found potential collaborations with other software companies, benefited from knowledge sharing within the SoDA Academy, and fostered a sense of security and community. All of these factors influenced out business goals and contributed significantly to our strategic shift and ongoing success.
Currently, our focus is primarily on expanding into the international EdTech sector in Europe, leveraging our long-standing expertise and newly formed connections in the community. Our portfolio largely comprises educational institutions, marketing solutions (MarTech), and body leasing services, with a strategic emphasis on EdTech.
We pride ourselves on key initiatives and partnerships, including strategic collaborations in digitalisation efforts, developing management information systems (MIS) for academic institutions, and maintaining a consistent leadership since our inception through various market changes and crises, always maintaining a stellar reputation among our clients.
Navigating through a tech crisis of 2023
Like any other company in the tech industry, we have faced our fair share of tech crises throughout our journey. These crises have tested our resilience and ability to adapt quickly in order to mitigate any negative impacts on our operations and reputation.
A huge change was to come in 2022/2023. The IT market was hit hard by the financial crisis. Everyone was waiting for a recession, which refused to come, and funding for startups was definitely running out. Huge waves of layoffs in technology companies, shook up the IT outsourcing market and the labour market for technical specialists. This affected us as well, but thanks to our previously chosen strategy and our focus on the education industry and regular clients - we were able to maintain our size.
2023 was also the year in which we came together with a number of other developers to form the Digital Business Alliance. As a result, we are in constant contact with the software development and IT consulting industry. We talk to competitors and build partnerships. Together we shape the industry, together it is easier to respond to crises and to surf the high waves of success.
First principles stays the same
At the core of 1000ideas are values such as quality, creativity, honesty, relationships, continuous development, and commitment. They stayed the same through all the ebbs and flows.
Continuing on our journey, we have stayed true to our first principles and values. Quality remains at the forefront of everything we do, ensuring that we deliver exceptional software solutions and best customer experience to our clients. Creativity is a driving force within our dedicated team, allowing us to think outside the box and bring innovative ideas to life.
Honesty is a fundamental aspect of our business, as we believe in transparent communication with our clients and partners. Building strong relationships is a key component of our success, as we prioritise long-term partnerships based on trust and mutual growth.
Continuous development is ingrained in our culture, as we constantly strive to improve our skills, knowledge, and business processes. This commitment to learning allows us to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of technology and deliver cutting-edge solutions.
While our journey from a creative agency to a software development company has been challenging, it has also been rewarding. We have embraced change, leveraged our strengths, and formed valuable partnerships to position ourselves for success in the digital and software industries.
As we continue on this path, we remain committed to our core values and principles. They serve as our guiding light, ensuring that we stay true to who we are and what we believe in.
Last year we started a strategic cooperation with AGH University of Kraków and began to work together on the digital transformation in higher education sector, we stay positively charged and optimistic about the future.
Together we embarked on a product development road and were able to develop a platform for universities to revolutionise their digital transformation process. Other universities have created similar tools, but they have faced challenges in gaining adoption because they are not universal. These tools often encounter issues because they are not tailored to each organisation's unique requirements. This requires a rigorous process of requirements engineering and custom software solutions. However, this time is different because our platform was not built with only our own interests in mind.
DSI.Portal is a platform that facilitates the connection between various existing systems and serves as a cooperative tool. It utilises a REST API (API-Platform) for communication between different modules and systems. Additionally, it offers a user-friendly interface for interacting with other dispersed systems, serving as their frontend.
Looking forward, our primary goal for the next year and beyond is to strengthen our position in the European EdTech sector, with a particular focus on building relationships in countries like United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and Denmark. Mainly in the higher education management information systems. Moreover, we aim to increase our engagement in body leasing model and IT consulting, enhancing our ability to offer long-term specialist employment opportunities.
We are using the well-versed technologies like e.g. PHP, but also incorporate what is expected by the current market needs. Moreover our solutions for businesses include also all the cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence. Besides that we offer services of IT consultants and business analysts for whatever clients custom software development process requires.
Our journey from a full-service marketing agency to a focused software house, deeply involved in the software developers associations and committed to growth in the EdTech sector, encapsulates a tale of evolution, resilience, and strategic foresight. Our experiences, guided by enduring values and ambitious goals, continue to propel us forward in the ever-changing tech landscape.