As glamorous as it may seem, getting a startup up off the ground is no easy task. Many sacrifices need to be made before any glimmer of success. Today, we chat with Kent, our IT Manager who also happens to be our longest-serving staff, to learn more about the challenges that this company has gone through.
What do you think has been the lowest point for 1010Life?
It would probably be the time where there was a huge conflict among some of the key stakeholders that eventually led to drastic changes in management. It was sad to see how the breakdown of relationships threatened the stability of the company.
Nonetheless, this episode did teach me a couple of lessons on leadership. Firstly, good leaders will always prioritize the welfare and interest of those under their charge, and contain the dispute within the parties involved as much as possible. Secondly, leaders should strive to be role models who have good character, stand by sound values, and walk the talk. If these fundamentals are overlooked, the team will naturally crumble when the leader is under high pressure and intense stress.
At the same time, just like how these crazy episodes have made our current 1010Life team as strong and as inspiring as it is today, it is only after being placed in the furnace that the strongest teams are forged.
So, what keeps you going today?
I joined 1010Life because I wanted to make lives better, especially through the use of technology. 1010Life has enabled me to gain access to many resources and opportunities, particularly in the fields of management and leadership.
Growing up, I was taught to stay on the sidelines and I never wanted to take up a leadership role. However, being in 1010Life has encouraged me to build confidence, take on responsibilities and grow as a leader. I have always believed that change starts within ourselves, and 1010Life reinforces this same belief that we, the staff, first need to be transformed so that we in turn can transform others too.
I look forward to the day where other companies or organizations will look to us as a role model for being a company that does not require complicated policies in order to boost productivity. Instead, we focus on empowering our employees.
I’ve seen how the company’s core values and strong management team has created a culture where our employees are self-driven and self-motivated to give of their best and exceed expectations. We perform not because we have been tasked to, but because we take ownership of the company’s success, and want to make sure that our clients will always feel valued and assured working with us.
How is it like running all the office operations at such a young age?
I think that one’s ability to manage an office is not determined by age but rather by experience and self-confidence. I had some experience in school and college with leadership roles and project management, but when I came to 1010Life, I still had to overcome my shy personality and build my interpersonal skills. To be honest, it took a lot of effort to step out of my comfort to network and maintain conversations with clients – without getting stressed.
As a manager, I also have to learn both upward and downstream management. I have to learn to give clear instructions and be firm with directives, while maintaining a balance of being a motivating friend and co-worker. Keeping up with our CEO, Michelle, is also a challenge as she is constantly “up in the air”, but eventually, we learnt to develop our own rhythm of communications and management reporting systems.
What are you and your team currently busy with?
Currently, apart from conducting IT Trainings, my team is working on Menuver – an iOS- and Android-friendly mobile application that enables its users to have all the restaurant information within their fingertips. Menuver has a robust list of features, for instance, it can show you all the restaurants in your proximity based on certain filters, as well as a search page for more specific needs (or cravings). Currently, we have at least 100 Iloilo City restaurants within the app. In fact, it has just recently gone out of the beta phase and is now available for download in the Play Store and App Store, so feel free to check it out!
You can also download the app from www.menuver.com!
Beyond the app, we have also developed a web system as the interface for the restaurant owners. Through this, they will be able to ensure that the information and menu data on Menuver are kept up to date.
Last but not least, the app has been shortlisted for America’s fastest growing tech startup conference, Collision Conference, and it is happening right this week in New Orleans, Louisiana! Apart from being exhibited alongside all the up-and-coming, innovative and world-changing tech startups in the States, as well as meeting investors and fellow techies, it would be a totally awesome if the conference propels us into the next stage of development. Regardless, this exposure will definitely give us more insights and ideas on how Menuver can grow and expand in the future. I’m not exactly sure what to hope for or expect, but I’m really looking forward to what’s in store for us!
Being able to build a working mobile app is really neat, but I’m sure that the team goes through a lot of pains and risk-taking as well. What are your thoughts?
One of the main issues in pursuing app development is deciding on the kind of framework or language to be used, especially since there are so many tools available out there today, all with their respective pros and cons. One could go with the native route of using Xcode and Android Studio, but that would mean managing two apps at the same time. We eventually decided to try out Hybrid App Development, which allows us to develop the same code for both iOS and Android platforms. However, this method is still very young as compared to the most established development tools. As a team, we needed to invest a lot more time to fully grasps the technicalities of the platform before we could even start work.
And yes, there is a lot of risk-taking when it comes to building apps. Both the Apple App Store and Android Play Store are highly saturated with applications. This makes it even more challenging to make a new app stand out from the rest. Moreover, building the app successfully is only part of the battle won. A lot of investments need to go into proper marketing and branding in order to ensure that the app does not disappear into the abyss without even having a chance to prove itself. This is coupled with the fact that most apps are dependent on advertisements and sponsors for income. The good news is, if the app reaches this stage, chances are that the profit margin will be high. The bad news is, most apps usually don’t make it to that stage, essentially rendering all the time, effort and investments futile, and perhaps even incurring debt. Indeed, the stakes are extremely high when it comes to producing an app that caters to the community. It is a leap of faith.
What are your hopes for the Iloilo community?
As Gabe Newell once said, “The programmers of tomorrow are the wizards of the future”. Publishing websites and app systems are impressive, but being able to inspire someone to do the same brings an even greater sense of fulfilment. I have always dreamed of a day where everyone realizes the power behind programming and technology. I believe that the power is already there, waiting for us to claim it.
Computing and programming are increasingly popular courses here in the Philippines (in fact, all over the world!). However, it is equally important to know where to find the right resources, and keep up to date with the latest technologies. Working on live projects gives my team and I constant exposure to the world of programming. By going one step further to train others, we hope to create a ripple effect that will inspire budding computers and programmers to make this world a better place through technology.
IT Manager by day, gamer by night. Kent loves his video games, anime and movies, and he can even double as your professional photographer! He secretly wishes to be Iron Man because of how the superhero uses innovative technology to help mankind. Kent is truly a techie (geek) through and through.
Kent also leads the 1010Talents team, a subsidiary of 1010Life that specialises in Web and App Development training modules.
THIS IS THE SECOND OF AN INTERVIEW SERIES WITH THE PEOPLE BEHIND 1010LIFE. STAY TUNED FOR OUR NEXT INTERVIEW WITH EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT, JESALEM MEDINA, OUR NANAY, TITA & LOLA 😉
Image source: wallpapercave.com