CODING "SANS" THE BORE
Máté Wohlmuth Talks Tech in Budapest
Máté Wohlmuth Talks Tech in Budapest
“Everybody’s moving to the cloud,”Máté Wohlmuth, Founder and CEO of Coding Sans, tells me as we sit in a comfy side room where his programmers can hang out or discuss a project. They can also take a breather in one of the room’s oversized bean bags and admire Budapest’s skyline. But despite the chill atmosphere, there is a busy energy running through the place.
Coding Sans’ website states clearly on its homepage:
Máté had once told me his company was focused solely on coding—no marketing, UX design, or other peripheral services. That was three years ago, just a few months after he started the company. He assures me this is still the case. Then, Máté employed some three people; today he has 18 coders working for him on projects for clients all over the world: New York, South Africa, London, Austria, and, yes, Hungary as well. The cloud has been good for business, and the group’s reputation for no-nonsense, no-frills coding has created a sweet spot for steady growth. “”Projects find us,” Máté tells me with a grin.
A number of clients and their project details can be seen on the company website. But Máté tells me that the list is incomplete. Top names cannot be displayed per contract, but some of their best work is done for the Big Four right here in Budapest.
At one point, he had increased his staff due to demand but found that this was in fact counterproductive. “I made the mistake of assuming that people were inherently good at what they said they could do. I was wrong.” Máté has learned that his business works most efficiently when he focuses on the quality, not the quantity, of people working for him.
Coding Sans definitely doesn’t seem like a bad place to work. Clients are plenty, pay is far above Hungary’s average, and the atmosphere is laid back. Of course, employees are expected to work hard, meet deadlines, and make sure the customer is always happy. As the Vanilla Ice lyrics say—placed prominently on the wall as you enter Coding Sans’ main room: “Anything less than the best is a felony.”
So, with a solid workforce busy keeping clients happy, what does Máté do in his free time? He in fact has taken up two projects he is excited about these days. One is an innovative way for teams to learn how to collaborate and work faster and more efficiently. It’s called Lean Poker, a one-day workshop for companies with eight or more developers, where they break up into groups and write competing code to win at poker. The idea is to discover barriers to effective collaboration and how improvements can be made in real time to ultimately win the game. These lessons are then transferred over to developers’ projects back in the office for better results there as well.
Máté’s second project is a very cool idea: a collection of tech Meetup videos from around the world. He has created a portal called MeetupFeed where people can sign up and access playbacks of whatever topics they are interested in.
Despite his new-found free time, Máté’s still a busy guy who doesn’t want to waste a minute. “I love efficient meetings,” he states happily as we finish up in under 20 minutes. I wander back through the hallway to catch a couple photos and do manage to get him to stay still for one quick shot (seen in the intro).
I had also asked Máté about the constant murmur of talent leaving Hungary. He shrugged his shoulders and shook it off. “Coders are happier than the general population here.” He then also added for Hungarians in general: “The people who wanted to leave are already gone.”
As to those who have decided to stay, they all would probably agree with the other wall quote at Coding Sans: “Hustle & heart set us apart.”(Alisa Jacobs) Staff are also reminded of this “code” whenever they come and go with the words “code” and “hustle” painted in massive letters along the hallway walls (above). The image at the end is in fact the door to the ladies’ restroom. Hustle, heart, and a sense of humor. Who said coders were boring? :)
Copyright Liz Frommer