Q&A with Jakub Kubrynski, CEO & Co-Founder of DevSkiller

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Having recently raised one million euros of funding, DevSkiller is charging forward with their expansion into the staffing and recruiting market. Since their launch in 2013, they’ve already amassed more than 250 clients, including marquee names like EY, PayPal, Cisco, and Deloitte, and tested over 310,000 applicants.

The developer screening platform allows recruiters to shorten time-to-hire by 60% and reduces the number of unnecessary interviews by more than half. Behind the scenes, the online interview platform is powered by DevSkiller’s proprietary, in-house RealLifeTesting, a methodology that includes features like work sample testing and coding sessions that precisely assess the skills of each candidate.

It’s unbiased and as close as it gets to the real-life problems a developer might face in their actual work. It also helps recruiters who don’t necessarily have extensive technical knowledge to test real developer skills across 57 technologies. The end result is a seamless experience for both recruiters and candidates.

“We’re a hard-working group of developers and free thinkers who love coming together to solve meaningful challenges,” says co-founder & CEO Jakub Kubrynski.

The company is developing support tools to offer a complete end-to-end experience for sourcing, screening, interviewing, and hiring, as well as talent analytics. They recently launched a Talent Boost platform that analyzes and maps a developer’s skills to help managers plan out how to best use that new hire across different projects and departments.

This week, we had the chance to virtually sit down with Jakub to ask him some questions about scaling his team, his a-ha moment, and his experiences at an NYC accelerator.

How were developers traditionally being tested? And, how does DevSkiller change things?

The traditional approach was to review the resume and based on that invite someone for an onsite interview. Some companies were trying to use algorithmic testing, but these tests have so little in common with real skills that it’s just a waste of time for both the candidates and recruiters. What’s more, experienced developers simply refuse to take such tests. Finally, due to the poor predictive validity of CV screening, the interviews were conducted with the majority of candidates, which resulted in a low-quality, long recruitment process.

DevSkiller allows candidates to be filtered based on their real skills, which are assessed with our quick, highly predictive work-sample tests. In fact, just the top few percent of candidates are interviewed, and a hire can be made in days — not weeks.

Jakub speaking at GeeCON conference about modern software architecture

Was there an “a-ha” moment that gave you the insight to start DevSkiller?

There was! While working for Allegro Group [a Polish e-commerce platform with over 21 million users in 2020], I was dealing with huge amounts of candidates. Without a good solution to filter them out, at one point I was spending 10+ hours a day on interviews and around 80% of those were just a waste of time. The frustration was so deep I couldn’t sleep and kept thinking about how to do it better. Much better.

You’ve grown to a team of 22 now. Were there any growing pains going from 5 to 10 to 20+?

As we speak, we’re already a team of 27! We have 5 founders, so the biggest challenge at the very beginning when we were hiring someone was to prove that the company would still exist in a few months. The people who joined us believed in the product and the founders. Growing to 20+ people showed us how important information circulation, communication, and instant feedback are important to run a company in a smooth and effective way.

DevSkiller’s five founders (l-r): Marek Kaluzny, Mariusz Smykula, Katarzyna Kandefer, Jakub Kubrynski, and Tom Winter

Did you go through an accelerator to launch in NYC? If so, what was that experience like?

We attended the Ellis Accelerator in NYC in the fall of 2019. It was an important transition and introduction to the US business mindset. The impact they have when it comes to scaling a business is tremendous.

If I can suggest something to the founders building global businesses: Spend some time in NYC and SF to soak with their entrepreneurial spirit.

— Jakub Kubrynski

The number of meetups and events related to startups, fundraising, and general business is unbeatable. Last but not least, having access to hundreds of highly-skilled mentors helped us tremendously in answering some tricky questions that we’ve been facing on a daily basis.

Thousands of companies worldwide are now using DevSkiller. Can you tell us how you went about trying to get your first 3 clients?

The crucial thing is to start thinking about building a global business from day one. Focusing on the local market distorts the perspective. The requirements and the product quality expectations on a global market are of course more demanding. Building brand awareness simultaneously in many different markets takes time, but the earlier you start, the sooner you will see the results.

Has the success of Codility helped or impacted DevSkiller in any way?

It’s a hard question. Of course, in terms of building the market, the more entities are educating the customers, the better. However, the approach to technical hiring (based on algorithmic tests) adopted by our main competitors is totally different from our own. It’s simply not aligned with the current market needs. In fact, a lot of people we talk to are skeptical of such tools in general, and it takes some time to convince them we’re not over-promising the results they can achieve with DevSkiller.

DevSkiller stand at Cloud Expo London

How have you seen COVID-19 affect the market? Have you had to make any changes to your tests as a result?

Our product is a perfect fit for the online/remote recruitment. It allows you to verify the real skills of software engineers without the need to sit in the same room with them.

However, we see that many companies have frozen their recruitment processes. Also, more companies are starting to think about redistributing people across projects instead of hiring new people. That is in fact an opportunity for us, as we’re now launching a new product, which supports skills mapping and talent management across the existing employees.


Lightning Round

  1. Dream business trip buddy: Ray Dalio
  2. App you use most: Slack
  3. Best book you’ve read: Every startup/scaleup founder should read Principles by Ray Dalio
  4. Short advice for recruiters: “Learn! Good developers appreciate if a technical recruiter is aware of the difference between Java & JavaScript. Otherwise, they’ll just troll you.”
  5. Favorite drink: Coffee! But only good coffee – preferably drip or Chemex made with specialty beans.


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