Many will remember 2020 as the year that got wiped out by the virus. The pandemic brought unprecedented changes. For good or for bad, the world will never be the same again. For innovative businesses this meant new possibilities. As John Lennon famously said: “There are no problems, only solutions.”
In these last days of the year of the pandemic, we’re looking back, trying to decipher the meaning of it all and the first two things that come to mind are — resilience and adaptability. At HTEC, we proved that it’s possible to be both resilient and adaptable on the path to becoming one of the world’s top consulting and technology development service providers.
Amidst the sad stories of businesses closing down forever, we are confident that ours is here to stay. What is more, HTEC is on a mission to help other organizations survive this crisis and emerge as winners through technology.
Technology is the pillar upon which resilience and adaptability can be built. Digitalization and product innovation have long been among our clients’ top concerns and during the 12 years of its existence, HTEC has been supporting their acceleration with tech excellence.
Our broad expertise in the domain of digital transformation and technological innovation has been much sought after by organizations that need to implement innovative strategies for technology development.
The pandemic-driven disruption has only accelerated the already existing need for digital dimension. With expanded team, domain expertise and market presence, HTEC will be equipped and more than ever ready to support the most demanding corporate customers in their search for sophisticated digital solutions backed by deep engineering.
Here is why we think that 2020 was our best year so far and what we expect the new year to bring.
What makes a business resilient?
The people. The support they give each other and the way they lead through crisis, the decisions they make to offset the impact of it.
The technology. Which ensures safety, predictability, and empowers connections between people (especially when work is remote).
The decisions our leadership made were brave and noble. As the people-first company, the first crisis decision made by our CEO, Aleksandar Cabrilo, in his own words, was: “If we go down, we all go down together. Nobody will get laid off during the pandemic.”
How many times this year did we hear that the CEOs were willing to sacrifice business for people?
This action made an important impact on our team. As the news of people getting laid off all around the world kept coming, HTEC felt like a pool of possibility and a stronghold of hope. We kept our composure, waited for the first hit of panic to recede and we went back to our normal work. The only difference was that we were now working from home but the company made sure that we had the necessary equipment.
There are people among us who felt that working from home just isn’t an option for them, so the HTEC offices remained open for them with increased safety measures.
Thanks to the strong team connections, established processes and working tools in place, the transition to remote work went fairly smoothly for our teams.
Rapid team expansion
Then came another decision, which, like many brilliant decisions, sounded a bit crazy at the time. It was to double down on growth. Not only did we keep the current team, but we started hiring talent like never before. Those that were laid off in other companies found a new beginning at HTEC.
The decision to hire at the time of pandemic paid off. We were growing our customer base, and our team followed suit. There were days when we hired 10 people in a single day across all four HTEC development centers, which renewed our faith in the company’s vision.
This year alone, HTEC was able to organically grow its team by 230 people, in all areas of expertise and across geographies. For a comparison, this is almost half of all employees that HTEC had until 2020.
HTEC Banja Luka opening
At the beginning of the year, we founded HTEC Banja Luka development center which today counts 31 team members who understand the ambitious roadmap and the vision that HTEC Group wishes to pursue in the nearest future.
My colleague, Milana, offers a sneak peak into the life and work of our Banja Luka colleagues and the culture they built in the first year of their office: “There is a genuine bond between us, and that is something that we are all proud of.”
HTEC comradeship and passion for solving complex engineering challenges is in the DNA of all our teams around Eastern Europe. With four operational development centers in Belgrade, Nis, Novi Sad and Banja Luka, HTEC has positioned itself among the top employers and tech service providers in a very competitive regional landscape with global clientele.
Forces joined with Execom
When the pandemic hit, HTEC was already negotiating with EBRD to support its ambitious expansion plans, knowing that our teams can deliver tech excellence to the most demanding global clients.
With the financial support and the trust that EBRD and Enterprise Expansion Fund (ENEF) invested in us, we were able to dream bigger and for the first time in the company’s history, the time had come for HTEC to scale through an acquisition.
Execom was the love at first sight. Our cultures aligned and our expertise matched but also extended in new directions. Founded in 1995, Execom were the veterans of Serbian IT scene with the 25-year long tradition, profound expertise in a variety of domains and a rich portfolio of customers around Europe. Our forces joined. Engineering and creativity on both sides.
Not only did our expertise in a variety of domains, technologies and industries aligned but we also found that we share a strong passion for solving the most complex business and technology challenges, in which both our companies are chasing excellence in delivery and strong lasting partnerships. Read more about the acquisition of Execom.
With Execom acquisition and the organic growth we mentioned earlier, our team now counts more than 700 people, skilled in product development, UX, software, hardware and firmware engineering, data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning and scalable cloud platforms. We deliver fully integrated solutions from product discovery, to design, though delivery to support and continuous development.
Leadership team extension
Success of a company depends on the capability of its leaders. With such rapid growth of our teams, our offices and our client base across Europe and North America, HTEC needed to fortify and expand its leadership and business development efforts.
The rapid expansion process revealed the need for a couple of positions that hadn’t existed in HTEC before, so we got down to finding the right experts to fill in the gaps.
When looking for senior executives to lead and support our ambitious growth plans, HTEC leadership has relied on personal connections, the people from their network whose expertise was tried and tested globally across various domain-relevant business initiatives and scale-ups. The people we hired are the people we knew and trusted, which has been our practice since the inception of the company.
David Schoch, the COO, responsible for building and managing HTEC’s corporate functions and business delivery.
Niko Slavnic, the Director of Growth, responsible for growth, marketing and positioning, as well as for managing affiliate and business development partner networks. He is also managing the HTEC office in his native Slovenia.
Miroslav Virijevic, the Director of Finance, responsible for M&A activities, corporate finance, investor relations, planning, analytics and reporting.
Katarina Urosevic, the Chief of Staff and Portfolio Manager, ensuring the company’s smooth operations, people expectations and managing our account portfolio.
Niklas Johnsson, our Business Development Manager in Sweden, with 20 years of business development experience focusing on technology and digital industries. Also responsible for managing our office in Sweden.
Andrew McGee, our Business Development Specialist in Minnesota, where he is establishing HTEC’s brand presence and building client relationships with leading organizations in the area.
Sasha Ostojic, our Technology Strategy and VC Partnerships Advisor, currently active as an Operations Partner at Playground Global VC. At HTEC, Sasha helps our leadership navigate through the technology demands and latest practices.
Milan Milenkovic, our IOT and Technology Strategy Advisor, a founder of IoTsense LLC, an IoT technology and strategy consultancy in the San Francisco Bay Area. Milan is a leading expert in IoT, on which topic he published several textbooks, including Internet of Things: Concepts and Systems Design (Springer 2020).
In addition to introducing new leadership team members and positions, we have brought some of our long-standing internal superstars to the spotlight, promoting their efforts and supporting their career growth through new positions and greater responsibilities.
With this crew on board, backed by 700 engineers, HTEC is running a tight ship, ready to take on new technology innovation and digitalization projects of any size and scale potential.
Expansion to new markets, industries and geographies
The acquisition of Execom, coupled with the opening of Banja Luka development center, the organic hiring and leadership team expansion, enables us to provide a unique combination of industry-specific and deep tech expertise gained through different project experience in the most challenging areas.
HighTech & Software
Expertise in technological segments such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, computer vision, firmware and hardware modules, embedded software, and cloud platforms.
MedTech & HealthTech
Our solutions span from the development of custom devices, medical software and digital platforms, to data engineering and data analytics, as well as security, compliance and regulatory verification.
Transport Tech & Smart Mobility
Enterprise-grade software for shipping, tracking, routing, navigation technology, and large-scale public transportation systems.
RetailTech & Distribution
Solutions for customer experience, logistics, supply chain management, warehouse automation, touchless payments, and security, with the implementations of cloud, AI, and IoT technologies.
FinTech & Banking
Large-scale enterprise systems in the areas of finance and banking, investment planning, safe transactions, data analysis, and AI-powered innovation.
MediaTech & Entertainment
Fully customized platforms and marketplaces powered by Big Data, IoT, and complete cross-platform integrations.
GreenTech & Energy
End-to-end solutions with any combination of hardware, firmware, and software with extensive experience in application software, home & building automation, IoT, data processing, signal analysis, and energy management.
LabTech & ScienceTech
With more than 20 years of experience working on some of the most demanding projects, Execom has built a strong reputation in LabTech and ScienceTech, which now gets assimilated under the joint expertise of HTEC Group.
The next most important step in our expansion plans is establishing our presence in new geographies. In addition to vertical expansion, HTEC has gained access to new markets through its business development centers in the UK, the Netherlands, the Nordics, Slovenia, and the U.S. Midwest.
The opening of HTEC Minneapolis
Minneapolis was identified as the perfect hotspot for our expansion to the U.S. Midwest. With a high concentration of businesses operating in the verticals where HTEC has the most relevant expertise, as well as the growing startup community, Minneapolis presented itself as the most logical choice.
Moreover, HTEC already has a few clients in the MedTech industry located there, as well as the network of personal connections of our director, Dusan Kosic, who was a student and a Board Member of St. John’s University.
One of these connections is Andrew McGee, our man in charge of HTEC’s Minnesota center.
“HTEC’s line of thinking, as it relates to our approach to the Minnesota market, is this: you may not know who we are, but you should. We have an A-list client portfolio and some of the best engineers in Europe, we’ve done amazing things across different industries and we come at a competitive price point. On the back-end, everything is perfectly set up for other companies to be interested in working with us. We now need to work on the front-end to get in front of the companies and show them what we can do for them. My role is to help the executive leadership build a brand presence, as well as curate client relationships with leaders in each of the indicated target industries.”
— Taken from our interview with AndrewMcGee —
Future Forward: 10X growth in the next five years
HTEC’s organizational culture enables the continued growth of each individual according to their own talents and affinities, while also encouraging them to actively participate in the company’s evolution.
HTEC’s overall growth strategy is multifold — on one side, our plan is to keep growing our capacities and knowledge with the focus on hiring the best talent and acquiring like-minded tech companies from Eastern Europe. As a people-first company, our strength lies in our deep tech expertise and our company culture which we seek to infuse into each and every project we work on.
On the client side, we have seen an exponential growth in the demand for our services, which leads to more partnerships with organizations that are interested in specific deep tech services, strategies, scaling capacities, and digital transformation.
Our goal is to grow both our internal delivery capacities as well as our client base by 10 times in the next five years, thus positioning HTEC among the top-tier technology service providers globally.
Currently, HTEC provides services to a number of international clients ranging from blue chip companies to high tech start-ups and unicorns in sectors such as retail, healthcare, transportation, logistics, green energy, digital media, telecoms, fintech and banking where top-notch technology solutions disrupt entire marketplaces, especially in the post-pandemic digital world.
Delight, not just deliver. — is our motto. Keeping the constant excellence of our service throughout our transformational journey from a startup to a 700-engineer powerhouse has been the biggest challenge so far.
We are aware that rapid growth must be accompanied by constant optimization of internal processes and strategies that will enable not only that the strong company’s DNA be preserved, but ensure that the quality of our service and the unique value we provide to our partners remain at the highest level.
We are on the track to build a globally recognized technology consulting, digitalization and technology development powerhouse, a center of excellence that combines deep tech engineering with bursting creativity to build products and enterprises of the future.
At the end of the last year, we spoke about 10x growth within the next 5 years with the ambition to take the company public on NYSE. In 2020 alone, we’ve more than doubled, but we’ll continue thinking, planning and working towards 10x. I’m very proud of the growth mindset we’ve been able to sparkle among our people and we’ll continue to think in terms of 10x, even making it a mantra, a part of our culture, because when we get there, it will be our joint success and there is always 10x more growth beyond.
— Aleksandar Cabrilo, HTEC Group CEO —