How to build an IT outsourcing company with almost 400 developers? The story of j-labs software specialists
Every great company had its humble beginnings. How did a company with no external funding manage to achieve revenue of over €20,000,000 in 2020?
The history of j-labs dates back to 2008 when Piotr Bucki and Jan Orzechowski started a company that currently employs over 370 engineers. Despite our young age, we have been distinguished for our achievements and recognized as one of the fastest-growing technology companies. We have been listed in the prestigious Financial Times, Statista, Forbes, FT1000, and Business Gazelle rankings.
In this article you will learn:
- how j-labs has become one of the fastest-growing IT outsourcing companies in Poland
- how we have changed over the years – we will explore the milestones in j-labs development and tour success story
- about our fundamental values and initiatives that make us stand out in the market
What is j-labs and what do we do?
We are a Polish technology company offering services in the field of outsourcing IT specialists and entire programming teams to work on-site or from j-labs office, and IT projects outsourcing. With over 370 highly qualified engineers on board, we support businesses by building dedicated software development teams or joint teams with client’s employees.
j-labs engineers have an average of 8 years of experience, which is our differentiator. We attract top programmers who want to work with advanced teams and clients who look for specialized and verified companies. Our clients attest to the quality of j-labs services on the Clutch website.
Over the years, we have worked with more than 44 clients worldwide. Each of the three j-labs divisions supports renowned Polish, German, Scandinavian and American clients, ranging from small businesses to large corporations such as InPost, Akamai, Samsung, ABB, Comarch, or PwC.
j-labs has three offices. Two of them are in Poland. The oldest division located in Krakow conducts projects for Polish and international clients from sectors such as aviation, banking, telecommunications, and e-commerce. The Krakow team consists of programmers, team leaders, software architects, quality engineers, and analysts.
The office in Warsaw was established in 2015 as a milestone in the expansion in Poland. With experienced engineers willing to share their knowledge, we have opened the Center of Excellence to improve the competencies of our employees.
The third office is located in Munich, Germany. It is the fastest-growing j-labs business unit. It is mainly dedicated to foreign markets and provides services all over the world.
“Leaders have the courage to make unpopular decisions”
j-labs was founded in 2008 by two partners – Piotr Bucki and Jan Orzechowski – who recognized the potential in offering outsourced IT services. Thirteen years ago, when they were working together on their first large freelance project, Jan Orzechowski was responsible for the management and business analysis, and Piotr Bucki was programming in Java. When the several-month-long project came to an end, they realized that the number of clients willing to use their services would only grow. In addition, by creating a company that offers IT outsourcing, they wanted to provide stable employment for programmers after completing the client project.
This is how j-labs, a company specializing in IT body leasing, i.e. hiring programmers for specific projects, came to be. The initial business model assumed that j-labs would lease programmers for projects in Java and only in Krakow.
j-labs CTO, Piotr Bucki, graduated from AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow and has worked in the IT industry since 2000. He started as a Java programmer and wrote over a million lines of code.
He has been developing the company for over ten years. Since 2018, he has run a podcast called “Biznes w IT” where he talks about business from the perspective of a company founder and shares knowledge.
Jan Orzechowski, CEO and co-founder of j-labs, graduated from the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow. In 1998 he entered the e-commerce industry. He worked as a business analyst, project manager, and a member of the executive staff.
Currently, he is responsible for operations, sales and finances at j-labs.
How j-labs became one of the fastest-growing IT outsourcing companies in Poland
From the very beginning, j-labs’ business model was based upon the verification of applicants’ technical skills conducted by Piotr and Jan, who had experience in software development. From the clients’ point of view, being informed about the technical and soft skills of the team members was a big advantage.
In one of his podcast episodes, Piotr mentions that while working as a contractor he would code all day and then drive to the j-labs office eating his lunch on the way and would usually finish work at 7 or 8 p.m. Together with his business partner, he was also involved in recruitment. He was responsible for the part related to the technical verification of future employees.
This was not only the beginning of branding activities but also rapid scaling and opening to new technologies and programming languages. For both Peter and Jan, it was a period of many sacrifices. Do you know that beautiful building in the center of Krakow with a huge j-labs logo? It hasn’t always been the headquarters. In the beginning, Piotr and Jan worked from home and didn’t take their salaries for 16 months to be able to pay their employees. They still remember the first payout for Christmas in 2011. Why are we writing about this? To show you that great companies are born in pain, with many sacrifices and doubts. But it is worth it!
The founders’ determination and employees’ commitment meant that j-labs grew rapidly year on year, increasing headcount, client base, and revenue.
How has j-labs changed over the years?
Part of j-labs’ success is that we have grown organically without external investors. The speed of our business expansion and the high level of specialization has been recognized and awarded on numerous occasions. Thanks to the value-driven actions and strong commitment of all employees, we have been improving financial results and increasing headcount year by year.
How has j-labs changed over the years, and what milestones can be distinguished?
The milestones in j-labs history:
2008 – founding of the company by Piotr Bucki and Jan Orzechowski
2009 – increased employment to 20 programmers
2010 – creation of j-labs name – “j” as in Java accompanied by the word “labs”
2012 – new .NET specialization, creating a recruitment department
2013 – employment increased to 50 engineers and a recruiter on board
2014 – establishment of the IT Academy where experienced professionals share technical and business knowledge with the IT community; creation of an independent recruitment and administration department
2015 – establishment of a branch office in Warsaw – the first step in the expansion of j-labs operations in Poland
2016 – establishment of Software Development Center in Munich that offers services mainly to foreign markets; increased employment to 100 engineers
2017 – distinction in Forbes’ Diamonds 2017 list for performance results
2018 – employment increased to 260 engineers; projects for more than 40 clients; distinction in the 2018 Business Gazelles ranking by Puls Biznesu magazine
2019 – employment increased to 280 engineers; another distinction in the 2019 Business Gazelles ranking and the FT1000 ranking, which highlights the 1000 fastest growing companies in Europe
2020 – Financial Times and Statista distinctions for being listed in the 1000 fastest growing companies in Europe; distinction in Forbes Diamonds 2020 list, and the third appearance in the Business Gazelles 2020 ranking by Puls Biznesu
2021 – a distinction in Forbes Diamonds 2020 list
j-labs core values and initiatives
We take pride in the values that have guided us since the beginning. We try to emphasize them while cooperating with clients. We base our operations on three main pillars: technology, substance, and reliability.
Technology means that j-labs engineers demonstrate a high level of technical knowledge, have an average of 8 years experience, and approach all projects with ambition and commitment.
Substance means that we rely on facts and solid knowledge. We know how to provide comprehensive solutions to problems. We continuously develop our competencies through many internal initiatives.
Reliability means keeping promises and being trustworthy. We leverage the knowledge, experience, and skills of our engineers and approach assigned tasks with the utmost commitment. Reliability is the basis of our actions and relations with clients.
Our motto is “we do good IT, or not at all” which is a perfect representation of j-labs’ approach to work. We are widely recognized in the market and hire more world-class programmers every year to work for the most demanding clients.
We firmly believe that the foundation of the company is the people who build it. We invest in employees and offer participation in internal projects aimed at increasing knowledge and improving skills. Engineers benefit from the focus on continuous development by taking part in multiple educational programs the company offers. As they say themselves, j-labs was created “by engineers, for engineers”.
In the “Biznes w IT” podcast, Piotr Bucki said that many people supported j-labs in its development. In addition to employees, they were people who simply wished us success. “j-labs is our collective work. We have built this company. As management and owners, we also have a part in it, but without all those people around us, we couldn’t have achieved this much,” says Piotr.
For us, collective successes or failures are natural elements of learning and growing. The entire j-labs team is proud to have created a workplace where everyone wants to work.