When the going gets tough, our Head of Delivery gets going. This is the story of Vaclav's six-year career at Apify. Find out about the Delivery Team and what to expect if you join them.
I love it when people say that something can’t be done. That’s when I really get motivated; I like to prove them wrong.
― Arnold Schwarzenegger, Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story
A couple of years ago, I created the website arnoldum.com, your one-stop shop for Arnold Schwarzenegger quotes. Arnie is an inspirational figure for me. Whatever he puts his mind to, he achieves, from becoming Mr. Universe and one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood to the Governor of California.
I have something in common with many of the characters he plays: an interest in guns and motorcycles. I’m the proud owner of a BMW motorbike, and I love taking part in Motocross. But I have a couple of things in common with the man, too: a passion for weight training and my love of challenges, especially when people tell me something can’t be done. Like Arnie, that’s when I’m most motivated.
The famous five
Speaking of motivation, I became interested in IT early on in life, and I was highly motivated to improve my coding skills when I was an IT student at the University of Economics and Business, Prague. That’s where I became friends with Kuba Drobník, the first developer at Apify. When I told him I wanted to learn to code more, Kuba suggested I join a new start-up called Apifier at the time. Back then, there were only four staff – Jan Čurn (co-founder and CEO), Jakub Balada (co-founder), Kuba, and Marek Trunkát (CTO). They were working out of a co-working space in Anděl provided by Impact Hub. Apify had lots of projects in the pipeline and they really needed a web automation developer. It was a great opportunity to dive into some serious coding work, so I joined them part-time and became the fifth Apifier.
Going all in
When I started at Apify, I was also working elsewhere as a part-time project manager. It wasn’t long before I had to transfer that role's management and soft skills to my work at Apify. As much as I love coding, project management is what I do best. One thing I love about this company is no one is boxed into a job description. Managers are great at recognizing your skills and experience and letting you do what you do best to reach your potential.
After a little more than a year at Apify working on pre-sales and price estimations for clients, it had become clear that Apify was the company for me. The CEO seems more like a friend than a boss. There is no hierarchical approach – everyone is equal – and, unlike previous companies I worked for, I’m not afraid to admit to mistakes. So, after a year and a half, I finally accepted a full-time position working on custom solutions and managing freelancers working on the Apify platform.
Kicking off Marketplace
Jan, our CEO, had a clear vision of a marketplace where demand and supply for automation are united and hosted on the Apify platform. We first realized we could deliver more projects using Trello. It was a really handy tool, but there were issues. There was a Trello card for each project that was up for grabs. To make more money, developers would take on more cards than they could handle. As a result, deadlines were not being met, and projects were left unfinished. We found a way to solve this issue and process more work in-house by creating a custom “Trello” for Apify that included automation. Files for price estimations and issued invoices would be automatically appended to cards. So, for example, once an invoice was paid, the card would be moved automatically.
This was great, but it wasn’t enough. Apify was becoming a bottleneck, a middle-man between the developer and the client. So we decided to create Apify Marketplace, subsequently called Apify Freelancers. The idea, which worked brilliantly, was to implement direct communication between developers and clients. There was a fear that developers would bypass Apify and steal clients, but that has never happened. Apify Marketplace really helped to build trust and established us as a reliable and efficient platform. That’s something I’m very proud of.
Another thing we did was introduce a proposal feature whereby the customer comes to us to discuss and clarify their specifications. Developers choose a project and send a proposal to the client who then decides which developer to go for. Around that time, we also began to develop Apify Enterprise to handle larger clients.
With the release of the proposal feature and direct communication, we were able to go from delivering around 10 projects per month to more than 40! With this increase in supply and demand, we began onboarding developers to work in-house, and I went from Freelancers’ Manager to Head of Actor Delivery.
Life as Head of Delivery
In January this year, I went from Head of Actor Delivery to Head of Delivery. Delivery is like a software house within Apify, a company within a company. I’m responsible for 30 people – web automation developers, consultants, and the SDK and AI teams. I look after the whole life cycle of a project from inception to completion, and I make sure everyone cooperates to deliver the product to the client. That means I’m in a role where I can do what I do best and what I love most: making customers happy, learning new things, and continually improving efficiency and outcomes.
Want to join me on the Delivery team?
Life in delivery isn’t easy. Dealing with customers, meeting tight deadlines, and constantly engaging with demanding projects that will test the limits of your skills are the norm at Apify. But what would Arnie do in the face of overwhelming odds? 😉
I’m looking for a talented and experienced senior Node.js engineer to help the delivery team. (If you're a junior, don't hesitate to share your CV with us, too!) Are you up to the challenge? From day one you’ll be contributing with your ideas. We love to experiment and try new things at Apify. We offer rewarding work and flexible conditions, and we welcome people from all sorts of backgrounds. Want some examples? Read the career story of Kuba the globetrotter, Lukáš Křivka’s journey from philosopher to developer, or the story of our COO, Ondra Urban, and his journey from law to programming. So whatever your background, don’t hesitate to send us what you've got - we read every application. Join the Apify team! 💪