The Hypoport group is one of the fastest growing networks in Germany and
Hypoport Sofia is it’s first international location where companies from the group can build teams. The company has been operating successfully in the IT industry for more than 20 years becoming one of the most successful FinTech companies in Germany. Currently one of the leading M-DAX companies – which means Hypoport is among the 90 biggest companies listed on the German stock market.
About the challenges, the achieved goals, and their future, we will talk with its Managing Directors – Janis Schäfer and Danny Hanke.
How would you describe 2021 for Hypoport Sofia?
Danny Hanke: 2021 was a challenging year for us, because COVID was still a factor. Especially for our main goal, to become an active member in the IT community and participate in as many events as possible, this was quite frustrating. Most events took place online and networking works best on offline events. One of our biggest tasks was actually to finish our new office building, which took a lot of energy and time. In November we finally moved in, and I am personally extremely happy how the office turned out. It is a wonderful new home for all our people.
Janis Schäfer: We considered ourselves as a start-up and last year we especially worked on setting the ground to be able to have more Hypoport product teams in Bulgaria. Building an internal team to deal with the challenges we face, was definitely part of it. We set the stage, so in 2022 we can start building more teams and work on even more projects, which will lead to grow even further – by products and employees.
What are the goals you achieved last year?
Janis Schäfer: On one hand starting with new teams like fundingport in Bulgaria and finding more developers to join our international projects.
Another considerable success that we realized last year was finishing our own building. We put a lot of effort in. Successfully moving in and creating a nice working environment for our employees and those who are joining in the future makes me very proud.
How is a company managed between two countries?
Janis, you are in Germany while Danny, you are in Bulgaria.
Janis Schäfer: Our purpose is Remote product development done right so we want to set up remote working atmosphere where the teams can work together in an international context. With the Covid situation, we got to know one more time what the challenges in working hybrid and fully remote are. It was quite a struggle not to see each other in person, but I believe we managed it very well and adapted quickly.The biggest struggle we had was virtual onboarding in some cases.
Within our company, feeling the personal touch is something we constantly thrive for and which is part of our company’s identity. We solved this challenge by setting up virtual processes and habits though, so every new colleague could feel successfully in place. We believe good onboarding and a great team spirit is key to work efficiently together on a daily basis.
Danny Hanke: Besides not being able to travel that often because of the restrictions, it is not a problem at all. I think COVID has shown the world what we already knew, working remotely works. There is of course a small communication overhead to keep both sides synced up, but we continuously improve our process and try to keep it as efficient as possible. In that regard online meetings with MS Teams even help to have them in a more structured manner.
The biggest problem is when the team here in Sofia goes out for a drink or dinner and Janis cannot physically join. To our Christmas gathering we added him remotely, which worked surprisingly well, but is not the same.
We are still in a pandemic. How does this affect the company?
Danny Hanke: The IT market definitely has adapted to this situation, meaning that developers are more open to the idea of working remotely and explicitly are looking for such positions. We feel that people are more hesitant to change positions, which makes recruiting harder for us. Also, only 15% of our employees are currently in the new office, because of the pandemic. Keeping a culture and team spirit got more challenging, since everybody is already tired of hanging out online together. Especially in the colder months of the year it is harder to organize gatherings where people feel safe.
Janis Schäfer: People can work from home, fully remote, and most of them are still looking forward to spending more time at the office and team building events again.
Our teams are already connected and can work remotely for a certain time without meeting each other in person, so we are prepared for either case.
How would you define the market at the moment?
Danny Hanke: Closed! More and more companies are coming to Sofia and the market cannot deliver enough qualified developers.
Companies are fighting to get ahead by implementing new benefits like, no trial period, signing bonus for employees, referrals, increased salaries.
Developers can freely choose where they want to go in a market with more than 6.000 open positions at the moment.
Janis Schäfer: We always see some aspects where we can get more talents. It is getting more interesting.
Our brand is becoming more recognizable as a loyal and competitive employer.
Developers would like to work for us because they see what the working environment is like and why Hypoport Sofia is reliable to work for. Developing long-term products instead of having project business all the time is a big plus in such a competitive market.
What do you think makes a company a successful employer?
Danny Hanke: Listening to the employees, in my opinion, is the most important quality. Understanding the needs of your team and trying to constantly improve is key. People are not just resources that deliver work. Everybody is human and has their own package to carry. Accepting that and even accounting for that makes employees valued and results in a high identification with the company.
It is a tradition to have resolutions at the beginning of each year. What are the resolutions for Hypoport Sofia?
Danny Hanke: Hire people! We have a new office and a lot of space to grow. There are also plenty of new products developed in the Hypoport group, which is interesting for potential candidates. After two years of setting up the basics and finishing the office it is time to find the right talents! We believe that we can be one of the top employers here in Sofia. We already are in Germany for the 4th year in a row.
Janis Schäfer: What is important for 2022 is to find the best talents for the products that will be developed in Sofia. When we talk about talents, we do not mean only senior applicants, but junior specialists with no experience, as well.
We are open to developing such talents and give them the opportunity to grow not only out of a professional perspective, but also out of a personal one.
We like the idea that development and personal growth should happen within the company. This year we want to provide even more of such opportunities. The other resolution relates to the companies we work with.
Currently we are showing with the right set up the work can be easily split between the countries. We want to bring more German companies to set up teams in Bulgaria.
We are planning to add two new members to our portfolio, which will provide even more new opportunities.
*If you want to take new career opportunities and work on interesting products with modern technologies, check the open roles or contact our team for more information here .
by Iza Mladenova
Iza Mladenova is Technical Recruiter with over 3 years of professional experience. A graduate of Sofia University, she is responsible for finding specialists in the IT field.