9min read

Why is a ticket for Money20/20 worth its price? An interview with Clas Beese

#FinTech #Money20/20 Conference #Networking
Money20/20 in Amsterdam

Standard pass (for early birds) costs almost 3 thousand euro, to be exact €2995. That’s why I met with Clas Beese just two weeks before one of the biggest European FinTech conferences – Money20/20. We talked about the business code of conduct during the pandemic and the reasons why it’s worth spending that much money and time to be there.

Clas Beese – Founder and CEO of Fintech Week (Fintech Week is Germany’s biggest FinTech related event, taking place in Hamburg) & Finletter, leading German fintech newsletter. Published on Fridays, covering the latest news on fintech. 

Martin Konieczny – Fintech Enthusiast, Business Development Manager at j-labs software specialists. 

Martin Konieczny: The reason we are talking is to ask you as an expert about the FinTech stage. What is your current outlook on the fintech events in Europe? How have they changed during the last year? And was it for better or for worse? 

Clas Beese: Ok, there are many questions at once. So what has changed what I believe that with the COVID crisis, all events shut down at once, all over Europe and everybody went into a home office. I believe it took quite a while to realize that all the fintech events were shut down as well. And we realized last year and during 2020 that there still is a kind of need to meet people, to exchange ideas, to meet old colleagues, but also to meet new contacts.

I believe what has been done is that many fintech events have changed to online events. In my opinion, that has been a success in the way that the content delivery of such events has been put online. But we tried, and we failed as well to put the networking online because I believe that people still need to be in physical touch.

If you meet someone for the first time, you try to find out if you’re having a trustworthy partner there or not. That’s what we as humans are trained to do in a kind of physical way. It’s quite important for new leads, contacts, partnerships and of course for new innovative ideas to come up with. Co-founders, founders and investors need to meet. You can organize everything online, but sometimes you just have to bump into each other. And this is one function of fintech events, which I believe many have undervalued so far.

Martin Konieczny: I really understand what you are saying, I did take part in quite a few events online and I completely agree that the content delivery was there, but from the networking point of view, I didn’t work at all. 
The reason for it, it was not possible to have a typical, so to say, chit chat online. You either had a reason to talk to someone. And in my case, I wanted to sell someone something, or we had no reason to talk at all. In contrast to physical events where this kind of behavior happens all the time.
While getting a coffee, there’s someone standing behind you. You can always exchange a few words and then maybe have a connection or not. 
I would say for the pre-arranged meetings, online works almost the same, but for any Ad-Hoc spontaneous meetings, definitely not. 

Clas Beese: Absolutely not. If you’re speaking about physical events like the Money 20/20. People who are going to travel, taking the time to be there. So they are there to approach and be approached by other people. 

It’s quite a commitment because you’re cutting out one or two or three days of your really busy schedule to be reachable at an event. This is not happening at online events because they are happening at your home office, at your daily business. You’re trying to grasp some content there, but then you’re trying to do some work as well. And if you reach out to someone you don’t know if he or she is approachable or not. 

And this is really easy at a physical event because you see someone you know or you want to know. If you see someone queuing at the buffet you may approach. if you see someone in the middle of a lively discussion with someone else, you better wait.

This piece of information is absolutely missing at online events, so you do not know if you’re disturbing someone or cheering someone up by saying hi to that person. This is very crucial, and that’s why I am personally looking forward to being at Money 20/20 again because I’ve been missing that deeply.

Martin Konieczny: This year’s Money20/20 conference is going to be the first time for me. I booked the ticket last year, but it didn’t happen. 
Can you tell me, what do you think about it and why is it so special? Because it seems it is.

Clas Beese: I know from my personal experience that we’ve been putting great effort into our content creation at Fintech Week. 

We have been really proud of this content which we have created and now we are trying to pick up the up to date topics. With the experience over the years, we realized that our content is maybe one-third of the reason why people attend and the other third is because people want to experience the speakers and what they have to say on the topic. 

The third reason is that people want to meet each other for networking. When I’m thinking of Money20/20, I’ve been there only once, which was in 2019, just before the crisis. I was not that impressed by the content, but by who was there – everybody relevant from the European FinTech scene has been attending this conference.

I believe this is the very own network effect of the organizers of Money 20/20. In essence, Money 20/20 is special because everybody is there. 

It’s a way to meet business partners in a very efficient way. You can travel Europe for three, four weeks or even longer doing a lot of meetings all over the place or you just spend three days in Amsterdam. To defend the content creator team of Money 20/20, in my opinion, the content of this year in 2021 is looking very promising. 

Martin Konieczny: Would you say it is definitely worth it because it is expensive at the same time, right?

Clas Beese: Absolutely. It’s expensive. But then again, compare it to three or four weeks of doing business trips across Europe. Then it’s cheap. 

Of course, it is probably the most expensive FinTech event in Europe, I absolutely agree, but the value is high. But, if you’re only up for content and not for meeting people, it is too expensive. 

Martin Konieczny: We will move shortly to the FinTech Week itself. I’m curious, what are your personal goals for Money20/20?

Clas Beese: I’m really fond of the content this year because some topics are really at the cutting edge. I’m interested in seeing those topics, which are relevant to my content-related work at Finletter, and for my very own event, Fintech Week. 

I’m looking for inspiration because I’m a person who gets very creative when sitting on a chair and listening to someone else speaking. I tend to drift off the topic then. I usually enjoy having ideas, which I do not have during my daily business weekdays. That’s the second thing.

And thirdly, of course, I’m really happy to meet people in person again, which I haven’t seen for one and a half years. Just this week I’ve looked at this networking app, which Money20/20 is providing and see who’s attending. It was just a very peak, and I was pleasantly surprised to be already registered there and who I would love to meet again.

In my experience, I know to schedule this way, less hectic than the last time I was there. I was approached by many FinTech companies and PR agencies, and I was contacted by many FinTech CEOs who were doing background conversations with me, which were interesting.

But, to be honest, I was in some cases forgetting my next meeting because I had to run from one point to another in a rush. I have to change that a little bit, but of course, I’m also meeting people to talk about Fintech Week as well. It’s not a secret.

Martin Konieczny: That seems like it’s going to be a busy three days, and I guess, you know this advice. I have learned it from my experience of how you see someone who goes often to conferences and someone who is there for the first time – the shoes they are wearing!

Clas Beese: Yes, I know. They know it’s going to be a lot of kilometres and don’t even laugh. But I got a new pair of sneakers two weeks ago, especially for that.

Martin Konieczny: It makes all the difference. Can you then tell me more about the FinTech week itself? Because I did see that it is happening this year, right? And what is the plan? How can you describe it through what is going to be special and interesting about it?

Clas Beese: Since we were going to be back, we paused last year to year due to COVID, and this summer we decided to run it again. What we’re doing differently this time is that, you know, we’ve run a kind of decentralized concept last time. The venues and the events of the FinTech week were spread all over Hamburg in one week. That’s a part of the concept because we are not running the events ourselves, but our partners do.

Content-wise, our partners are going to run the events, but the venue will be centralized this year. So we have one venue where all the events are happening, and we’re doing this to make it easier for us to register the people. Because we are running under the so-called 2G rule, hence people need to be vaccinated or recovered from COVID to attend. We’re going to check not only the tickets but also the IDs, and the vaccination certificates. We’re also making sure that participants are using the tracing app when they’re attending. 

It requires a huge effort in getting people into the building. Much more than we had in the past. That’s why we’re doing it at a central location, hoping for the benefit that more people are at the same time and place to use lounges in between events, hang out there and accidentally bump into each other.

Martin Konieczny: When it comes to the size, I would guess it’s too early to say because it’s growing. But when it comes to content, how big do you expect?

Clas Beese: I expect it to be smaller than the last time because we and our partners have less time to plan everything. We have to act more quickly this year. I can hardly say how much smaller, but I believe it will be smaller in the dimension of a number of events, as well as participants. I can’t really say more at the moment because we are in the middle of curating the content and we have not started the ticket sales for participants yet.

Martin Konieczny: So it’s still time to acquire early birds tickets?

Clas Beese: Not even that.

Martin Konieczny: From my point of view, we just don’t know what’s going to happen in two weeks. We are almost expecting another lockdown at some point and it is difficult to plan ahead. Of course, I’m vaccinated with two doses and everyone around is as well. But still, if the lockdown happens, we have to shut down everything.

Clas Beese: Absolutely true, we’re operating under uncertain circumstances.

Martin Konieczny: Considering that actually, I also think that conferences can be more special than usual. For me personally when I want to meet with someone then I want to meet in person. It was always my standard. People still might be afraid to do that during the conferences. But I would guess that they should expect to be approached and those should be the people that are open to meetings.

Clas Beese: Of course, and getting back to your question about what’s different this year and fintech events in Europe. I believe that a physical event is having another benefit, value for the participant because the people are being checked first. While being there, you can be sure that everybody else is also safe. It’s not affecting you. That’s why I’m expecting a kind of relaxed atmosphere. 

Besides conferences, when I’m going to one on one meeting and it’s in a restaurant or we meet in a business environment you do not check your vaccination status. Nobody is saying: “Could I please see your certificate?” it’s not a custom. So you might have this slightly dodgy feeling of uncertainty. 

I believe that’s quite a new kind of value proposition by the event saying, OK, we’ve checked everyone. Giving back this kind of normal life, which we enjoyed before the pandemic. Which we didn’t appreciate then. 

We definitely have a proper check at Fintech Week at the entrance. And I hope and I’m expecting that for Money20/20, too.

Martin Konieczny: Let’s carry on with the overall safety. How do you feel? How is it in Germany, especially when it comes to trust and in general meetings face to face? Do you know if it’s already happening as it used to be? 

Clas Beese: I think you can observe everything in Germany at the moment. Many people are still at home office and they like it that way. Many meetings are still happening online. People are also doing physical meetings and all kinds of stages, like doing tests before, even when being fully vaccinated. People are wearing masks, some others do not. So it’s always a kind of negotiation on who’s feeling comfortable with what.

For example, in Germany, the rules are different depending on the Lander. There are different rules in Hamburg than in the neighbouring Schleswig-Holstein. It makes it really difficult to know who’s used to what. 

Martin Konieczny: The last question that I have planned for you is related to your personal interests. What are your favourite top three FinTech events in Europe? 

Clas Beese: I’m feeling that I haven’t been to many of them or hardly enough, so I personally would love to travel way more and attend more events, which I couldn’t afford in the past. Money20/20 is now obviously the number one, which is because they’re coming up again. And we have hardly had any FinTech events in the last one and a half years. And before that, we had just way too many to attend them all. I can not really answer that question. I’m looking for my very own fintech week, but I’m biased there, so I can’t mention that. 

Martin Konieczny: Of course you can!

Clas Beese: I mean, I can hardly answer the question of what’s a good fintech event because it always depends on what I’m trying to do there. If I want to be inspired, meet people, catch the latest content, get to know the speakers. I’ve been to two very small events I really liked, and two big events which didn’t have a benefit for me. It always depends on my motivation in what I’m up for.

Martin Konieczny: Fair enough, but I was hoping for a name. Maybe we can catch up again after Money20/20. Thank you for your time.

Clas Beese: Of course, thank you very much for your interest.


7min read

What to watch out for when hiring specialists with an IT outsourcing company? Outsourcing and the law

#Outsourcing IT #Intellectual property #Data security
IT outsourcing companies in Poland

Outsourcing a team of programmers can be challenging. There are issues regarding liability, finances, and taxes. How can you manage all this? We decided to answer these questions with Tomasz Wiese, a specialist in labor law and intellectual property law.

From this article, you will learn:

· why it is not profitable to hire a freelancer from abroad on your own
· about the risks associated with this type of employment in an international environment
· about the responsibilities of a company providing IT outsourcing services, and the issues that remain the responsibility of a client
· what clients should pay special attention to before signing an IT outsourcing contract

Many CTOs ask these questions, so we have decided to answer them with our legal counsel. We want to share the experience we have built over the years in the IT outsourcing market.

Tomasz Wiese is an attorney-at-law, partner at JWMS law firm specializing in areas such as intellectual property law, personal data protection, labor law, and contracts. j-labs has been cooperating with Tomasz for years, and he has never disappointed us.

j-labs team: Why is it not profitable to hire a freelancer from abroad on your own? In theory, the elimination of a middleman should be a viable option.

Tomasz Wiese: It’s all about legal and practical issues. If a foreign company wanted to hire IT specialists without intermediaries, it would (more often than not) have to set up a company in Poland. Moreover, it could be a tax-inefficient solution that additionally raises doubts of the tax office due to the pricing of intellectual property.

Transfer pricing concerns assets that are difficult to evaluate, such as intellectual property (IP) rights. Transferring IP abroad might make the tax office suspicious because it can look like moving income out of Poland, which would mean tax evasion. To avoid such risks, a company must prepare transfer pricing documentation.

They also need to be familiar with Polish law or hire a law firm specialized in this domain. It is also necessary to have a local HR department responsible for the recruitment process.

Companies looking for employees prefer to use the services of professional IT outsourcing companies, such as j-labs, because if they were to hire people on their own, they would need to build an HR department and train the staff, which entails extra costs.

j-labs offers know-how that companies do not need to acquire on their own. Thanks to a team of experienced lawyers, a client gets legal assistance. Additionally, a dedicated HR team is trained to recruit IT specialists. 

Hiring on your own is relatively easy only when a company needs a small number of professionals for a short period. If they need to hire a whole team of specialists, they prefer to use professional IT outsourcing services. It saves valuable time and money, and allows companies to focus on their businesses.

j-labs team: The pandemic has forced many companies to adapt to remote working conditions. What are the legal risks associated with such a work model in an international environment?

Tomasz Wiese: It depends on the contract.

An employment contract when working remotely is associated with certain risks. A company needs to be aware that in the event of an accident, Polish regulations will apply. It is quite burdensome because the labor law in Poland is not adapted to the current realities of remote working.

If an employee works for a company with a branch in Poland but resides outside the European Union, they need to obtain a work permit. If an employee works only from their country, they do not need a visa. However, if they have occasional meetings in the company’s branch in Poland, both documents become necessary.

That is why most programmers sign B2B contracts. Most legal issues become the employee’s responsibility. Then they pay taxes and social security contributions. In such a case, the labor law does not apply. This solution has many advantages for developers as it gives them more flexibility.

However, if a company wants to hire people on a B2B basis on their own, they still need an HR team to talk to the IT specialists. The team should speak fluent Polish and know the market rates. 

j-labs team: What does hiring through an IT outsourcing company look like? What issues remain a client’s responsibility?

Tomasz Wiese: Companies like j-labs provide their developers with a working space, a sense of belonging, and entire company culture. It is important, especially with regard to mental health. They also provide the opportunity to work in a hybrid model. Integration with co-workers helps create social bonds and meet friends, which makes new recruitment easier as it can be done through a system of internal recommendations, something a client can’t do on their own. 

For example, j-labs manages and supervises programmers and draws up contracts. It ensures competitive advantage. j-labs cooperates with companies mainly from the DACH market. Additionally, German and Austrian legal systems are similar to Polish, so companies seeking employees know what to expect. 

j-labs team: What legal obligations related to outsourcing are assumed by j-labs? What should a client pay special attention to before signing an IT outsourcing contract? 

Tomasz Wiese: A client can be sure that j-labs will take care of the intellectual property and acquire rights from programmers. j-labs provides warranties and is responsible for the confidentiality and data security where innovative products are discussed, and a client’s know-how is used. 

However, there are differences in warranties when a client designs a product “from scratch”, and when a product is only improved by hired programmers. j-labs precisely describes a project scope and includes it in a contract. Additionally, j-labs has liability insurance policies and guarantees full solvency.

j-labs team: What distinguishes j-labs offer from other IT outsourcing companies in Poland?

Tomasz Wiese: j-labs is a company with enormous know-how, a great pool of programmers, a recommendation program, and an extensive and experienced HR department. It has offices in Krakow, Warsaw, and Munich. Compared to other IT outsourcing companies in Poland, thanks to reliable legal support, j-labs can afford greater flexibility in contracts and quickly negotiate agreements tailored to clients’ needs. It has a separate department specializing in personal data protection. The contracts j-labs creates reflect the facts, so clients can be confident that the company will comply with the agreements.

j-labs team: Thank you for the interview and a recommendation.

5min read

Delivery Manager roles and responsibilities in a software company

#Delivery Manager #Delivery Management #Outsourcing IT
Roles of Delivery Manager

By definition, a Delivery Manager is a person who is in direct contact with a client.

His role is to explore and understand customer needs, propose the best solutions and implement them.

In this article, we will describe the Delivery Manager’s responsibilities at j-labs and explain why it is almost impossible to run IT projects without one.

We took a close look at the everyday duties of one of our employees – Damian Tworzydło, who works with customers from the DACH market, Scandinavia, and the United States.

Damian has over 9 years of experience in the IT market. He is a certified Scrum Master and speaks Polish, English, and German.


What is Delivery Management at j-labs?

First of all, the Delivery Manager is indispensable in the escalation process for both clients and developers. He is the client’s ambassador at j-labs who oversees the day-to-day work of developers. His contribution to the project starts with planning the work and recruiting specialists, however, his involvement is most significant during the actual project. He acts as a liaison between the development team and a client, ensuring the quality and timeliness of all tasks.

DM’s contribution to the project can be divided into 4 stages:

1. Technical dialogue.
2. Building a team.
3. Project kick-off.
4. Daily basis.


Who is Delivery Manager

At j-labs, all Delivery Managers are technical people with usually senior experience. Strong technological background allows them to understand the specifics of projects and significantly facilitates communication with both clients and the team.

As Damian Tworzydło describes:

“At j-labs, a Delivery Manager is a person with a strategic thinking worthy of a champion chess player, with planning skills equivalent to a parent of a dozen children, and budgeting ability desired by many CTOs.”


Who does a Delivery Manager work with?

In our company, the Delivery Manager is involved in many areas of the organization.

He works with Business Development Managers.

 to find out what a customer needs in terms of products and cooperates with the HR Recruitment department in the hiring process.

He develops a candidate profile in terms of technical and soft skills, participates in the first and last stages of the recruitment process, and focuses on candidates’ compatibility with the team and clients’ needs. 

Additionally, due to j-labs agile operations and relatively flat organizational structure for such a large company, the Delivery Manager supports all processes in the organization. His feedback is heard. He has a real impact on shaping the organization, and thus can quickly implement improvements needed by clients.


You will definitely feel the lack of a Delivery Manager in your project

From the client’s point of view, a Delivery Manager may not be crucial. However, we guarantee that his absence will be strongly felt. Without it, the product is not complete, difficult to use, and the entry threshold increases dramatically, which results in a lower retention rate.

As Damian says:

“A good Delivery Manager influences the culture of the organization. He takes care of the engineers development and keeps employee turnover low. He has a direct impact on product quality and is in charge of risk mitigation.”


Pros and cons of a Delivery Manager in a project

From the customer’s point of view, the obvious disadvantage is the cost. However, its share in the total cost of an IT project is only a few percent.

There are many more advantages, for instance, improved communication, greater understanding of the needs, solid strategies and logistics, and finally complementary products.

At j-labs, we make sure that every project is supervised by a Delivery Manager.

We can provide a sufficient number of experienced communication-oriented professionals. 

They allow us to carry out projects without involving a client, which requires constant reporting on the work status. In such cases, Delivery Manager enables smooth and quick contact.

5min read

How to effectively recruit software developers?

#outsourcing #recruitment #candidate verification
effective software developers recruitment

As a large company specializing in software developers outsourcing, we have created an effective recruitment process. With over 350 software engineers on board, we feel competent to share our know-how on the effective recruitment of software developers.

During the recruitment, we have three levels of candidate verification. The first level is the verification of competencies. The positive thing about competencies is that they can be increased, but there is a requirement for a certain minimum level of competencies in a particular position.

The second area of candidate validation is team fit. The third area is the verification of values – ensuring that the candidate’s values match the organizational culture.

What is the purpose of verifying competencies in the recruitment process? 

Quite obviously, it is to check the candidate’s competencies and see if they fit the vacancy. In other words, it’s to make sure the candidate has the necessary knowledge and experience. 

But that’s not the only reason. If an applicant is not a good fit for a given position, or there are better candidates, perhaps they are a perfect match for another job. You might return to this person in six or twelve months if you open recruitment for a similar job. A careful observer learns a lot about a candidate during the interview, e.g. about their motivation. You can get to know them and see if they match the team.

Moving on to the process of competence verification, before you design the materials and the process itself, it is helpful to identify the assumptions. I have seven assumptions that determine the materials and the competence verification process.

1. Measurability, comparability and repeatability

No matter the day, month, or even year, no matter who is conducting the process (there can be several people), it should be possible to compare the candidates and check the correlation between competencies and finances in one recruitment process or in a certain time frame, for example, six months.

Without comparability, repeatability, and measurability, there is no way to do this. The idea is that candidates with similar competencies should have similar competency assessment scores, regardless of a recruiter and their mood, regardless of the day, month, year, etc. Of course, this is the Holy Grail of measurability, comparability, and repeatability. It’s never perfect, but that’s one of the assumptions and something to strive for.

2. Flexibility of time management during the recruitment

If a candidate doesn’t meet the requirements and it is impossible to hire them, there is no point in continuing the recruitment process as it is a waste of time for both parties. It is worth designing the recruitment process in a way that ensures flexibility in time management.

3. Realistic measurement of competencies

It is important to avoid hasty conclusions based on several answers to some difficult questions. You need the right approach to verify competencies, and to map a candidate out and see if they are average, good, or very good in particular areas. It is worth presenting the findings in numbers to reflect the level of knowledge and experience. Of course, you need common sense. Every person is different, and you do not want to label people, but figures provide great insight.

 4. Possibility to review results after a certain period

You may use software such as ATS systems. You can also use tools like Dropbox, OneDrive, Excel, Word, Google Drive or a notepad, however such approach might prove too general.

You can’t go back to it, it’s vague, there are no details. I also warn against perfunctory notes kept on a computer or (even worse) in a notebook. Some people think it is inappropriate to come with a computer, they perceive it as ignorant and distancing behaviour. It’s 2021! No one should be offended if a recruiter comes to an interview with a computer. We sometimes meet a candidate again after a considerable period of time and it is useful to have access to information about their skills and experience, check the questions they were asked, and their recruitment score.

5. Additional information

You can extract a lot of additional information during the interview with a candidate. An experienced interviewer can see certain things, such as motivation, development potential, fit to the organizational culture. It is worth including this in the recruitment process, so that at some stage there is a possibility of obtaining such information.

6. The Pareto principle in recruitment

A good process should be advanced enough to minimize the number of mismatched recruitments, and at the same time, easy to induce a positive candidate experience. However, when improving the recruitment process, you may get to the point when it gets too complicated. There’s no denying it – wrong hiring decisions simply happen, but they should be avoided.

7. Identification of key areas of knowledge to review for the position

Verify what a candidate should know, which factors are crucial (“must-haves”) for this position.

Software specialists recruitment 

In this article, we focused on one aspect that successful recruitment would not be possible without. While every company should customize their processes, it’s a good idea to look for benchmarks and select suitable elements.

A documented process and dissecting repetitive tasks is key. You can test it and implement improvements as your business grows. A structured process enables measuring the progress and scaling. 

You don’t have to deal with it by yourself, though. Outsourcing can be a much more efficient option, and we can help you with that. 

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