As Architech ramps up for the opening of our Kraków office in November, we invited two members of our new Polish team to join us for a month at our Toronto HQ. Dawid Krawczyk, one of our first developers in our Kraków office, chats about what it’s like to work at Architech from a European perspective. He also offers some fascinating insight into why Poland is poised to become one of the hottest new spots on the global tech scene.
This is your first time in Toronto, and that must leave room for some interesting first impressions.
My first impressions of Toronto have been great. I was struck by the American architecture, American cars. We took a Lincoln car (taxi) from the airport, which made us feel like bosses in the old TV series. Then we were told our flat was in the Distillery District, which is the Old Town of Toronto so we thought, “Great, we’re going to be in the Old Town” but Toronto’s old town isn’t really old for us. For us old is Kazimierz (a part of Kraków that’s now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.) But we love the area. From our flat we have a beautiful view of skyscrapers that you don’t get in Europe.
What were you doing before you took the job at Architech?
I worked for IBM for three years, then for Sollan France and later for Infusion, but I was open to change and the time was right – even auspicious: My daughter was born July 28, three hours before I got the job offer from Architech. I went to my wife and I said, “I have good news for you!” We knew I’d be traveling to come to Toronto soon after, but at the same time, I knew an opportunity like this might not happen again in my career, so I had to be there when they were making their decisions. I want to form part of the core of the company. She said, “Go.”
How did you first hear about Architech?
I was recommended by one of the employees at the Toronto office. Initially we worked together in Dublin at what was then a small startup called Mobile Travel Technologies. I loved the company, but I had to go back to Poland after a year and a half because my girlfriend at the time told me I could either stay there and be single or come back and marry her, so I had to go back. Now she’s my wife.
What are your particular interests as a developer?
Where do you see yourself growing with the company?
I’m planning to do a project management post-graduate course in Poland. I see a lot of opportunities at Architech. I know in the future, when the company explodes, maybe we’ll bring on some European clients so it will be an opportunity for me to move into a management role.
What’s the tech scene like in Kraków now?
It’s an exciting time to be in Kraków. The startup scene is on fire, more active even than in Warsaw where the market is bigger. Even Google decided to move from Dublin to Warsaw. I think the Irish are not happy with that.
Why do you think people are flocking to Kraków?
The talent pool is amazing. We’re well educated and if you look at the rankings in any global programming competitions or hackathons, Polish people are consistently at the top. I think it’s because the universities in Kraków are great and there’s a strong focus on mathematics. Polish people are really good at math, which teaches you the kind of abstract thinking you need for programming.
Was there a pivotal moment when things really started to heat up?
The scene really started to take off in 2011. You could see businesses coming to Kraków. I remember one day when a Russian company came to town, they started to hire people so intensively that one of the major global companies lost 15% of its entire workforce in one month. There are so many companies opening up now I can’t even keep track, but I notice when companies are successful because they usually start in Kraków and the next step is to open another office in another Polish city.
Why has it taken so long for the rest of world to discover this goldmine of hidden talent?
Things started to transform for us when we became part of the European Union and started to shake off the Russian influence. Now, if you want to go to the UK and find work as a developer it’s easy because the borders are open and you don’t need to apply for a work visa. As a result, we’re getting more famous because people are working with us and our reputation is growing.
What are you most looking forward to when you start at Architech’s new Kraków office?
It’s different when you are the first employee and when you are employee number 100. This is a great opportunity for me to have a strong influence on what the Kraków office will look like. That’s why I wanted to experience how you guys work in Toronto, what the culture is like, how you solve problems. I want to bring the spirit from the Toronto office to the Kraków office. My hope is to recreate what feels to me like a big family.