What's it like to be a Technology Leader at a start-up? It's like being the Jack of all trades but also a master in one

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What's it like to be a Technology Leader at a start-up? It's like being the Jack of all trades but also a master in one



August 20, 2021

Jakub Andrzejewski is still ahead of his Master's degree, but - which is pretty typical in the industry - he is by no means a newbie in the IT world. He switched companies four times, worked as a front-end and back-end developer, was a leader at the Storefront UI project, and… he is just getting started. How did it all begin?

What was your path to IT? Do you think technical education is necessary to enter the IT world?

Jakub Andrzejewski, Alokai Technology Leader: My journey started almost 5 years ago. I had to make a decision about what studies I should choose and partly where I see myself in a few years. It was then when I joined the Wrocław University of Economy and started studying Business Informatics. Business Informatics is a mix of everything from IT and business (from management to programming and economy). Before the first semester, I already had some experience in Java and C++ programming, so I decided to join the scientific club of web design (today known as CodersCrew association). I have gathered some knowledge about web development, and after a month, I started teaching it as a mentor. I got really into it 😉

I have been spending all available time on learning and sharing the knowledge I gathered with students, so  - in my particular case - tech studies were not essential. Considering that all knowledge is available for free on the internet I decided to go with the flow, and start learning on my own. 


What is your previous experience? What major project have you already worked with?

Previously I was working in Tim SA, developing an eCommerce store, then in Accenture, developing set-top box software, later in Bowee, developing a website builder, and after that in IBM, working as a trainee in Project Management. In TIM I was developing new features for www.tim.pl, and it was quite a typical work with Vue.js technology, but in Accenture, I was developing software for set-top boxes (TV decoders) with Vue.js. Maintaining a website builder was also an interesting challenge, especially considering that I was partly working in IBM and managing a project. 

With what technology did you work previously?  What's your favorite tech stack currently?

I am constantly working with Vue.js, Nuxt.js, Nest.js, TypeScript, and GraphQL, so I would call myself a full-stack developer. I also have a little experience in DevOps tools like Docker, Kubernetes, and Cloud IaaS. My favorite stack is basically what we are currently using in Alokai, which is Nuxt.js, TypeScript, GraphQL, and Nest.js. 


Was the frontend area always in your main interest?

I am not exclusively front-end or back-end oriented... Recently, I have been focusing mostly on backend aspects like Nest.js, Microservice Architecture, Databases, and so on. I could say, I am a problem-solver: no matter where the problem is, I will do my best to solve it 😃

Why did you get interested in Alokai specifically?

I was following Alokai from the very beginning. I even created an open-source project based on VSF because I liked the idea of Open Source Software. I always wanted the code to be available for free and developed by people worldwide. Also, a few of my friends were working here already (Tom Anioł, I am talking about you!)

You are in the leader’s position now. What challenges are involved in it?

The position of a leader in a startup is much more complex than anywhere else. You have to be able to switch contexts very quickly as you will be doing many different things simultaneously. You start your day by developing a new feature for a core product, before lunch, you are helping the community with solving problems and then you are doing consulting for clients.

Of course, somewhere between these tasks, you have to do project planning, workshops, code review, releasing software, and sharing knowledge. It is a lot for one person. In other companies,  there are several people accountable for all these things. But this is exactly why I enjoy it: I don't have time to procrastinate as so much is constantly happening and there are so many exciting things to do.

In a startup company like Alokai, you don’t need a project to be a leader. Your responsibilities and things that you are involved in define whether you are an expert in some specific area, or whether you are a true leader that can be a true addition to the team and adapt to the constantly changing circumstances of startup work. We have a few leaders already, but for sure there are more coming… 😉


How and where do you learn new things about web development?

It will sound rather boring but I would say that I learn new things mostly from technical documentation and youtube. When you are developing a project in a certain technology, you have to understand it quite well. When I started my open source project, I had really little knowledge about Nest.js framework.

I knew from the very beginning that it would be an iterative process. How does it work? You learn something and you implement it in some projects. Then, you go to the next topic of the technical documentation, and you try to implement it. And you repeat this process until you reach the end of the documentation. It will take some time, but everything valuable takes time. Big and ambitious projects need time and so do you.

What do you do after work?

My biggest hobby for almost 9 years now is recreational and technical diving. When I was 18 years old, I finished my first technical diving certification ART (Advanced Recreational Trimix). At the same age, I was working in Malta as a recreational dive guide. I also got certified as a Divemaster there. That’s quite an achievement for someone who recently got his ID and could drink beer legally. Apart from that, I also like to do via ferrata, mountain climbing, and trekking.


Taking a walk in the forest or mountains lets me do a proper mental reset, basically to switch off from everyday problems. Via Ferrata and climbing is a physical challenge that I am doing less frequently but still enjoying quite a lot. Once or twice a week, I am playing with my friends from the previous project. We really like games like Rocket League, Diablo 3, or The Forest. However, my all-time favorite is The Witcher 3 (masterpiece *). I am also a huge fan of Lego and Transformers (but only the real ones from 1984-86).




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