Alumni Q&A: Erko, Producement co-founder and CTO

EngineeringTallinn

Myself and two other engineers from TransferWise, Jordan and Maido, left at the same time to start our business Producement. It offers Product Engineering as a service so we provide customer-focused software engineering services to build the right product for our customers. We do it through constant user testing, rapid prototyping and ruthless prioritisation of tasks. We’ve had a few iterations of our services and are now working hard on scaling them to grow our customer base.

Current role: CTO at Producement

When did you join TransferWise and how long did you work here?

I joined TransferWise in 2014 when there were only about 150 of us and stayed for just under 3 years.

Why did you join TransferWise?

I have a strong background in Finance and IT and I’d been building FinTech products before I joined TransferWise but rather than jumping aboard a large corporation, I was looking for a startup – something new, exciting and fast-paced. 

The job advert sparked my curiosity straight away. I was interested in the way Engineering works at TransferWise and wanted to see what it was all about.

What did you do at TransferWise?

I was a Product Engineer. Soon after joining, I realised it wasn’t a traditional Software Engineering environment as the role was very product-focused. What surprised me was the freedom you’re given – there’s no limit to what you can do, you’re held accountable for your decisions and you’ll get lots of feedback along the way. It was an environment where you can tackle interesting problems and have end-to-end ownership and accountability for your projects.

What did you like the most about working here?

It was a steep learning curve. I learnt so much about engineering, product and being customer driven. It’s rare to be so close to your customers and having a non-stop feedback loop with them you’re constantly considering how every decision will impact their customer experience and journey. I loved the product and how you can see the impact on customers. 

Thoughts on being an entrepreneur?

I’ve always known I wanted to be an entrepreneur. However, it never felt like a good time as I was wondering if I had the right skills and connections and I wanted to learn about engineering, hiring, product and marketing to understand the full picture. Eventually I realised, it’d never be the ‘right time’ and you have to take a leap of faith at some point. Learning loads at TransferWise, seeing a gap in the market to tackle and having met my current business partners there, it felt like a good time to take that leap. 

Did TransferWise play any part in your journey to becoming an entrepreneur?

Me and the other founders met at TransferWise, but also a lot of the processes and ways of working we now use in our business we learnt at TransferWise. From setting up engineers in autonomous teams to staying close to our customers, we use lots of the best practices and processes we saw working at TransferWise in our business. I gained so many skills that helped me set up the business like customer-centricity, hiring top talent and setting and working towards KPIs. 

It was really the flexibility at TransferWise that allowed us to kickstart our business. We all took small breaks from work to do sprints with our customers and test the idea and market out. It was a way for us to get initial validation for the business before going full steam ahead so we were already operating and had customers when we left TransferWise. It was a very smooth transition that way. 

Any tips for those thinking about starting their own business?

Surround yourself with smart people. Get networking as soon as you can and get to know as many people as possible.

Always try to get yourself out of your comfort zone. If you’re feeling too comfortable, you’re probably not learning anymore.

Learn from people who’ve already done it. When building a product, learn from those who’ve gone through the journey before. Use your connections, pick their brains and ask lots of questions – how did they get started? What challenges did they face and how did they overcome it? Absorb as much info as you can.