Executive InterviewsLatest

Meet Piotr Nowak – Nopio, Websites For Humans, By Humans

Today we have selected Piotr Nowak to take his interview. He is Managing Partner and CEO of Nopio.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

It’s better than we could have hoped. When the pandemic started, it was a tough time for us, as we lost some clients. Still, it quickly became evident that this is a perfect time for any team that is good at converting offline brands into ones that feel comfortable in the online environment.

I must say that this time was eye-opening. The forced remote work proved that we’re better off when not constrained to the office location—this was truly eye-opening, and I’d never go back. It’s also worth mentioning that the pandemic drove the point for our clients that it’s super important that their websites are possible to manage (content-wise) by non-technical staff, as it’s sometimes hard to drop by someone’s desk to ask for help. Coincidentally, that’s what our websites offer to the internal teams.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?

I’m deeply rooted in technology, programming, and web development in general. I was always very gifted in problem-solving and the ability to “see” a solution where others just wandered. For the first ten years of my career, I was happily working for others, but it slowly became apparent that I wanted the technology to be more approachable for a casual Joe (an) and less stressful when used. As time progressed, I spent more time managing client relationships and seeing their frustrations with how complex some operations are, even though they seem pretty basic.

After some time, I just needed to go my way, and the Idea of Nopio as an independent studio took shape. Initially, it was a niche software house, but with time it moved from writing custom software to places where it can impact people’s lives—marketing websites.

For some people, it’s evident that marketing teams are responsible for “just” updating content on the company websites. Still, many people don’t see how stressful and complex this process can be. Nopio aims at making it easy, stress-free, and purposeful. And, I dare to say, we’re succeeding at this, as there are no complaints so far about our products and customer support!

How does your company innovate?

We’re using WordPress, which does not sound like something innovative, but it’s not about the tool; it’s about how you use it. We’ve spent countless hours perfecting our design and development processes to work seamlessly with most of our customers. The goal is to create websites that ANYONE, from the CMO to interns, can edit in their entirety. The approach removes the hassle around broken pages, content not looking its best on mobile devices, website performance suffering, or just bringing the whole thing down by doing something stupid.

Our innovation is a perfect marriage of tech that is safely sitting in the background, making sure the website gets good Page Speed Insight scores while being super-friendly for the content team and looking fabulous at the same time.
We pride ourselves on the claim that many agencies have great design, and also, there’s plenty of ones that have good technology, but there’s very few, if any, that have both these in-house and deliver them at our prices and timelines.

How the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

The most important thing that the pandemic showed us is the real niche we should be operating. Previously we’ve been sharing our main focus between creating custom software and creating marketing websites. When the pandemic hit, it became apparent that there’s nothing as important as a well-designed and executed website for the time being. Many businesses just started to see that truth beyond this claim.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

We significantly reduced the numbers in the custom software department, which was painful as we’ve grown close as a team. That said, we’ve regained the headcount since then, and are still growing, just in a slightly different direction. The lesson for our business was that it’s hard to be a small software house, as you’re too small to take on more significant projects and not big enough to keep a team capable of delivering a more substantial project.

It’s precisely the opposite when creating marketing websites. It’s essential to have a competent and tight team around the business, and since you don’t need to build from scratch, you can move mountains quickly.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

We’ve experimented a lot but ended up with a relatively straightforward setup where we use Asana to manage our tasks and maintenance tickets. Alongside this, we use our custom, house-build time tracking solution that allows us to track time and bill our customers.

That said, the cherry on the cake is not software but the process and the team. We’re religious about daily meetings, but the main ones should not take more than 10 minutes as more is a waste of time. Then individual projects can converse and update accordingly. We’ve also set aside people and time to push our clients to keep up with the schedules we’ve worked out together. In general, the team is happy, and the clients appreciate keeping them on schedule.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

We think of any agency that delivers branding, design, and web development as our competitors, period. Unfortunately, it’s hard to give individual examples, as the market is very tight, and there are players from all over the world in the game for a piece of this cake.

For the time being, we’re doing what works for us so far, which is perfecting our processes, making every project our own, delivering design and tech that works for the client and end-users.

The plan for the future is to optimize the design and build processes so the cost becomes more approachable and continues to look for ways to enhance the abilities of the content editors further to work with the content. So far, we’re staying way ahead of the competition!

Your final thoughts

I think I’ll risk being a bit cocky; it’s a Polish trait and says we’re proud to be our client’s favorite partner. Being a managing partner, I like to chase the clients for their thoughts after we complete an assignment, and I have yet to see someone who was expecting more or has any lingering regrets.

I’d be happy to talk with anyone that wonders how it’s possible.

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