Thorgate Culture Book

Page 1

A snapsho

ore value c s d

f the Thorg to

Thorgate culture a n ate


Thorgate at a glance We think people, not products Vision

2009

Offices

Tallin Oslo London

People

30+

2


2011 Founded

Assembled

2014

Thorgate is a group of companies aiming to change the world with technology


Who we are With 10 years, more than 20 awards and 150+ projects under our belt, we're a dedicated team of product analysts, developers and designers changing the world with technology. We help best-in-class companies build digital products to automate processes, minimize costs, boost sales and increase customer engagement. We support our partners not only with product development but also with end-to-end service including help with business strategy, change management and product design. Today, we’re one of the finest product companies in the Nordics and the Baltics leading with quality Python development.


Our Brand Personality ic n a is Thorganic. #BeThorg

What is Thorganic? It’s a mindset! If you’re capable of ‘thinking people before products’ and showing Great Ambition through Teamwork and Effort, then you’re Thorganic.

What the Thorgate Group looks like

Thorgate Group Thorgate has grown into an investment and innovation group. We aim to change the world with technology.

Thorgate Digital Our product development team supports our fields of science and innovation, and also the companies we invest in. We deliver quality digital products built with Python, Django, Node.js, React.js and React Native.

Thorgate Ventures We invest our know-how and capital in innovative startups and help them succeed. We are a boutique incubator with hand-picked projects and people that we really want to work with.

NGO Python Estonia We are empowering the Python community with initiatives like Code Club and PyCon Estonia that have helped many Python enthusiasts improve their skills.

Thorgate Labs Our own startup factory coming soon...


t a h W we do

Our Golden C irc le

Why

on

What

Si ne k

how im yS b pt ce n o C

We specialise in making processes efficient and smart with technology. We believe, in this fast paced world, it is too expensive to NOT work with us. We love our partners and our goal is to help them achieve their goals by increasing efficiency.


We have committed to do the following: Moving Helping our clients succeed forward with industry trends We see it as our responsibility to steer with vision and integrity. Through our clearly defined process we always give honest feedback to our clients about their ideas. We usually start the process of feedback through MVP workshops. Together with the client we create lean product requirements, S.M.A.R.T goals and an efficient plan. Not a line of code gets written before that. Time spent on getting to know what would or won’t work - and why - is not time wasted. We believe in knowledge transfer and that ideas alone cost nothing. Hence, we openly share learnings about previous projects with existing and potential customers. We also ask ourselves whether one or the other project is ethical. All in all, we only take on work that we believe in - so the client can trust us.

We embrace change and new knowledge. Our primary tech stack is Python, Django and React with the very new addition of Node.js to keep up with the industry. We keep our eyes on the latest trends in technology (ReactJS, React Native, Kubernetes, Docker) and new paradigms (big data, ML, AI). We are constantly testing innovative solutions and taking the best ones into practice. We aim at new business segments (health-tech, Industry 4.0, E-commerce) and export markets (US, UK, Europe). We have a vision beyond the next economic cycle and our actions are aligned with our long-term goals.


Giving back to the community We have enough knowledge, skills and resources to give back to the community. Our mission is to educate people about Python - the fastest growing programming language in the world. We are running a series of events and tools to popularize it in the tech community via our NGO Python Estonia. Here’s what we offer:

PySpace

Python CodeClub

learners to accomplish much more

Since 2015 we organise Python

compared

CodeClub

environments.

to

build

a

friendly

community for Python programmers in Estonia. It’s for everyone who is interested in Python programming. Every event includes challenges for different levels of expertise. Tutors are

provided

by

Thorgate

but

everyone is allowed to present their own ideas and challenges.

PySpace - a simple and powerful Python eLearning platform. With PySpace everyone can create their own Python learning community, with courses, lessons, challenges and weekly quizzes. We believe that it’s the best way to motivate Python to

traditional

learning

PyCon Estonia PyCon is the biggest annual Python conference

in

Northern

Europe,

aimed at promoting and educating people

about

the

Python

programming language. With the conference, we want to reach an even bigger audience and invite all Python programmers to share their

We think people, not products

experience

and

gain

additional

knowledge. It’s a great event to empower developers.

and

celebrate

Python


WE take others with us We have gone through what startup hassle is all about and built business models that actually work (GateMe, Waybiller and Thorgate). Now we invest the extra capital in teams whose spirit and execution power is similar to ours. Our mission is to use technology to make the world a better place.

We are looking for teams that have a balance of good culture, passion, rationality, and execution power. We believe that the right people can build great businesses, so we invest money and know-how in teams we would like to work together with.


How we do it We are successful because “We think people, not products”. At Thorgate no project is B2B or B2C, it's all H2H Human to Human!

Human to Human

H2H

We do work that matters We build products that matter to us, and start initiatives that make a difference. Therefore, we are brave enough to say no to muffin projects* and choose to create products that

are in line with our vision of changing the world with technology. * Muffin projects are those that don’t challenge us, or don’t create a positive impact.


We learn daily We are constantly learning and pushing ourselves forward. We expect all projects we do to develop our skill-set. We do pair programming, monitor smart working, have weekly knowledge sharing sessions and monthly Work-Free Learning Days.

We work smart We work by the pareto Principle works: 20% of the activities bring 80% of the results. We have procedures to assure quality in our products (e.g. code reviews and customer satisfaction surveys). Our team is smart enough to not reinvent the wheel by using existing code and packages. We are not afraid to ask for help from smarter people - we have skillful teammates, great Q&A partners and global partners for business development collaborations.

We underpromise and overdeliver We don’t commit things we may not be able to deliver, but we always try to deliver more than we’ve promised in terms of time and quality. We don’t accept crappy code - so things get done well. Also, we aim to be strict with deadlines which means

‘‘ 5 minutes early is on time, on time is already late, being late is unacceptable

’’


y h W we do it Who can tell the story of our ‘Why’ better than the person who envisioned Thorgate? Raido Pikkar CEO Thorgate

I envisioned Thorgate in 2009 after a successful career in the hospitality industry and creating two startups, teaching me key lessons from both the corporate and the startup world. I then became very engaged in the Estonian startup ecosystem, and contributed to the birth of many great initiatives such as Latitude59 conference, Summer of Startups, Startup Incubator, and Startup Wise Guys Accelerator. I also pioneered in bridging the gap between Estonia and Silicon Valley when there was none.

‘‘ This is why I created Thorgate. I wanted to combine the best of corporations, startups and accelerators to change the world with technology.

’’ In 2011, while mentoring startups I met my future business partners, the founders of GateMe.


I was impressed with their attitude and potential, and we ended up starting Thorgate together. The initial idea was to share our expertise that we had gained from creating the software for GateMe with other companies. However, after building a few excellent products, we could see ourselves at the forefront of the digital revolution in Estonia.

‘‘ We created Thorgate as a product development company with a venture capital arm, to eventually transform into a venture capital with a product development arm!

’’

We now also have a venture capital arm at Thorgate, which is in line with our vision of changing the world with technology. We have gone through the startup hassle at Thorgate and built something great, so we are now making seed investments in teams that have similar passion for technology and much-needed grit. As of March 2021, we have 14+ companies in our portfolio and four new companies joining each year!

While I take pride in the products we have delivered in the past, I attribute most of that success to the team and the great culture at Thorgate. Since the birth of Thorgate, we have been very focused on creating a culture where we think of people, not products. We have engineered our processes and culture based on our values of trustworthiness, resourcefulness and open-mindedness. The ambitiousness of ourteam as well as our partners has helped us grow in every way. We have been able to carefully balance our hunger for growth with the happiness of our team. Today, my bigger aim is to give back to the community. We started the Python developer’s community in Estonia by setting up Python Estonia NGO and helping young developers learn Python and share ideas through Python CodeClub, the PySpace platform, and PyCon Estonia conference. We are planning to take this a notch up by creating Thorgate Labs, our very own lab to create world-changing startups. I believe that in the near future Thorgate will become a major driving force and enabler of AI and Data revolution in our region, as a product company, a venture fund, and a dedicated partner to all the forward-thinkers.


‘‘

Cooperation with Thorgate and specifically Raido as a mentor has been really good for Eziil. He has helped me and my co-founder solve complicated issues and worked as a third party to get us aligned. I admire his ability to prioritize and give us a quick roadmap on how to get things done. For anyone who is coachable and likes intense Q&A sessions, Raido is the right mentor, and he can definitely guide one to a real, investable idea. His capabilities reflect those of Thorgate! Maido Janke CEO Eziil

’’



A walk down memory lane Thorgate Ventures was born

2014

Thorgate Group came into being with a bigger vision

Thorgate Digital became official and found first client

2011

2015

2013

Thorgate team met via GateMe Project

Thorgate as a group was envisioned

2009


IN PROGRESS

2021

Thorgate has a 30 person team and going strong!

We shift to hybrid mode of working

2019

Thorgate Ventures now has 3 evergreen funds

Python Estonia NGO was born along with first PyCon event

2017

2020

2018

Thorgate now in Tallinn, London, Oslo

Thorgate doubled its revenue to 1M EUR

2016


e r e Wh we are today Today, Thorgate has an international team of 30+ people. We have three offices in Europe (Tallinn, Oslo and London), and our clients from around the world love us.

2021 has been a year of moving forward at Thorgate, and as most companies were forced to go remote during the pandemic, we did too. This helped us evolve into a hybrid working company.

Today, our people work in the way most suited to their needs and happiness. We have some fully remote people, some who use our office space regularly and others who do a little bit of both.


‘‘ Thorgate really helped us structure our needs

Michael Motskin Head of Digital Strategy at Healx

’’


Our Culture Why is culture important at Thorgate? Well, sh*t happens - great culture doesn’t. Every company has a culture, whether they know it or not. Therefore, we chose to observe and steer ours. Thorgate culture is the perfect balance of young energy and strong stability. We recognize that building successful companies and great culture is a team effort. Therefore, at Thorgate we are driving our culture together as the collective personality of our organisation.


Our culture is the underlying structure, the core values that influence our everyday work life.


t a h W is Thorgate culture like? Our culture is built on our values of being trustworthy, hungry, open-minded, resourceful and demonstrating great, ambitious team effort.


T H O R

T RUST W O R T HY

G A T E G R EAT

HUNGRY

AMBI TI OUS

O PE N - M IN DE D

TEAM

RE S OU R C E F UL

EFFOR T


We don’t micromanage

We stay rich in knowledge

If you are a part of Thorgate, no one is going to hold your hand and walk you through every step. We hire smart people, not to tell them what to do, but so they can tell us what is best. Therefore, we never micromanage anyone at Thorgate.

When it comes to product development, we’ve most probably ‘been there, done that’. We have worked on an array of complex projects and experience is our strength. In fact, we also have access to information that no one else does. We are part of communities like the Tehnopol Science Park, and we work on a diverse range of products making sure we are abundant in knowledge and information.

We think it's okay to fail Failing is part of the process! We want to fail fast so we can learn from our mistakes and start over again. The secret to our success is not repeating our mistakes.

‘‘Thorgate has helped us to bring our marketing tools to a whole new level Dave Lowe CTO of Croud

’’

We act on diversity We don’t just believe in the strength of diversity, we act on it. We have a diverse team from around the world, from different age groups, different educational backgrounds and different life experiences. Together we are a mesh of creativity, fresh perspectives, and great ideas.


We are bold, brave, and execution oriented

We build and maintain a great community

We don’t just come up with ideas, we are bold and brave enough to actually execute them. At Thorgate we have regular sessions where we come up with smart product ideas, some of them are sustainable businesses today. We were also bold enough to create a Country OS, a country-as-a-service software, as an April Fool's prank, that happened to get featured on multiple news outlets for the great idea and product in 2016. While it was just a bold prank, it seems to be the reality of tomorrow.

Thorgate is a community of forward thinkers, that include the tech-driven teams we invest in, the smart and efficient companies we build the products for and the many Python enthusiasts that join us for regular Code Club sessions and annual PyCon conferences. This is a community that is building the future brick by brick, and we are the proud pioneers and the glue of this community.


People Development at Thorgate One-on-one (Management by Objective)

Clanbeat

PPP Reporting

Standups

Team Overviews

Agile methodologies

Quarterly Meetings

Year-on-year reviews

And along with all that, we use our 3 C’s: Communication, Communication and Communication!

We use multiple tools and meeting formats to do this smartly, to track our growth, what we do and share this efficiently. Here are some tools we use:

‘‘

Raido as a mentor can be best described as concrete and concise. He gets straight to the point, never wastes time on less necessary or unimportant things. Raido and his team at Thorgate are driven by value, execution and growth. Seeing how well Raido is experienced in business strategies, reflects back from the whole Thorgate organization and its culture Henri Klemmer CEO Hepta

’’


At Thorgate, we learn together, inspire each other and take people's development very seriously.

Quantity of information determines the quality of decision at Thorgate, so we love to equip our team with information and knowledge. Here’s how we do it:

Knowledge Sharing We have 30-minute knowledge sharings, bi-weekly, where we talk about everything from new trends in tech to mental health. We encourage one of us to be doing these knowledge sharing events, but we often invite external partners to deliver presentations on specialized topics.

Work Free Learning Day Every month, we have one Work Free Work Day, where everyone can work on something that helps them develop personal and technical skills. They can read a book, take a class, or work on a personal project - anything that helps them learn.

Team Trainings We host regular team training events including training on company foundations, culture and values, personal goal setting, communication training and future trends in innovation.

Personal Mentorship Every new member at Thorgate is greeted by a personal mentor who is happy to guide you along the way helping them grow to their best self.

Every second Tuesday

First Monday of the month

Every Quarter

You choose how often!


Eva-Maria talks about the culture at Thorgate ‘‘A good culture is where problems get solved quickly and we have a support network within the company to help keep happiness levels high, and this is what we prioritise at Thorgate! I joined Thorgate in 2018 with a sole focus on managing and documenting the culture at the company as well as, measuring the overall happiness. In my time at Thorgate I have found the values of open-mindedness, teamwork and resourcefulness carefully engineered within the culture. You start experiencing what Thorgate culture is all about from the very start when you apply for an open position.

’’

The hiring process is built on the idea of open communication and transparency. When hiring we are focused on the value a person offers more than vanity metrics on the resume. We’re trying to find a culture-fit from the get go, which is why our interview process is more of a series of discussions where we tell the candidates honestly what the role and the company culture is about while getting to know them better.


Once someone is a part of the company they get to do what they like, acquire resources they need to excel in their role and personal mentorship to help them grow. I have seen personal growth of so many people within the team going from developers to engineering manager in a matter of a few years. My role is to enable this growth. I actually don’t change anything in the company myself, instead I listen to people, and help them solve problems. I often help bridge the communication gap within the team to resolve any problems. For example, when we went completely remote in 2020, we got some hiccups. However, Thorgate has a strong culture and eventually with some effort we were able to reinstate it in our remote work. Our entire work communication has shifted online. In fact, now we even hang out together virtually during a grill & chill, or just while having tea together remotely. We’ve been thriving as a hybrid working team. We still have the daily standups, retros, work-free learning days, knowledge sharings and the teams’ overview events - only difference is that now they’re all virtual.

We’ve also been growing in number and the hybrid office has given us the opportunity to hire completely remote and talented people from around the world, showing how open-minded and flexible we are. I believe at Thorgate we understand that good company culture isn’t one where everyone is always happy. A good culture is where problems get solved quickly and we have a support network within the company to help keep happiness levels high, and this is what we prioritise at Thorgate!


Perks of working at Thorgate Working at Thorgate, we are already a part of the most talented, passionate and diverse group of individuals there is. Here are some additional benefits that come with being part of the Thorgate family.

The hiring process is built on the idea of open communication and transparency. When hiring we are focused on the value a person offers more than vanity metrics on the resume. We’re trying to find a culture-fit from the get go, which is why our interview process is more of a series of discussions where we tell the candidates honestly what the role and the company culture is about while getting to know them better.


Unlimited career paths Thorgate has a horizontal structure, allowing us to choose how we grow as specialists, in leadership or even with a career change within Thorgate.

Wellbeing and health We regularly plan activities to take care of our mental and physical health.

Awesome team events From ice skating to summer days, we do something fun all the time so no one gets burnt out.

Family-friendly office When needed, we bring children, pets or anyone we care about to work. We also have free parking to make commuting easy.

We also arrange medical insurance, regular vaccines, and check-ups for the team

Additional Vacation days We focus on work-life balance and so we get additional vacation days

Company events with family We also organise fun events where our partners and children are welcomed such as summer days and christmas dinner

Be and Stay Active We get gym, massage and other activities with SportID

Flexible schedule We work with a schedule we like and we even work remotely when needed. We're very flexible about our work schedules and where we work from


Thorgate’s hybrid work culture Thorgate is a hybrid working company where the comfort of our people comes first. This is why we let our people choose how they’d like to work. Some of us work from the office, others work from home (which could be anywhere in the world) and many of us do a little bit of both.

Also this means a lot of our meetings look like this:


Since we work from anywhere in the world, here’s how that shapes our remote work culture: We believe work is what we do, not where we do it

We are open to hiring from anywhere in the world, as long as things get done well

Effectiveness at Thorgate can not be measured by the number of hours we spend in office. It is measured by the input we make to ‘changing the world with technology’

A hybrid working environment pushes us to communicate more effectively to collaborate on processes, practices and tools.


Our People We mean it when we say “We think people, not products”. People always come first at Thorgate.

The people in our team The people we invest in The people we build great products for


We’re small in number and we’ll keep it that way - it helps us think big and act fast. Thorgate brings together passionate people who want to create value with their work and evolve in the process.

Our values are not just words to us. The Thorgate values that shaped the culture were actually brainstormed together by our entire team to create an acronym of the company name - so this is what Thorgate means to us.


Our team narrates what a certain value means to them in practice:

T

rustworthy

“In everything we do, we try to be dependable, somebody who can be relied on for support, to offer ideas, to be on time, to go the extra mile if and when needed, to have the courage to say when things aren’t right - not only when it is convenient, not only when there is something to gain but because this is the right thing to do. This applies to the relationships not just within the company but also with our clients, partners and affiliates.” Karl Õkva, Key Account Manager

H

ungry

“We have awesome projects and awesome people, and anyone who joins Thorgate learns new things they never did before. How we make this happen is by having a no-bullshit approach: people are doing meaningful, inspiring work instead of following processes. Questions are always welcomed and answered in a meaningful way. As a result, the best minds work here in the company with a hunger to get better.” Sergey Kovalskiy, Tech Lead


O

pen minded

“Of course open-mindedness is a two way street. Thorgate, having a flat organizational structure, not only accepts but encourages everyone to make suggestions, lead initiatives and ask CEO challenging questions. Only that way - being open-minded - we can ensure that the bright people & their ideas have the opportunity to shine.” Madis Petersoo, Engineering Manager

R

esourceful

“My sole reason to join Thorgate was the immense emphasis on personal growth and learning at first. Thorgate has been providing me with mentorship and resources to help me grow in my own role. Being resourceful is a priority at Thorgate which is obvious from our regular knowledge sharing, work free learning days and team training events.” Amna Ahsan, Marketing Manager


G

reat

“At Thorgate, everyone feels valued. Every decision and the wisdom behind it is shared with the team. We are often consulted before a decision such as hiring someone new is taken. This combined with the fun culture that we have here, makes it a great place to work. I am proud of how great the team is and how stories from all over the world meet here!” Yuriy Shatrov, Senior Developer

A

mbitious

“While working in Thorgate ambitiousness is a must have value. With every project we always aim to change the world with technology and bring as much value as possible to clients. In Thorgate we thrive to be the best and we aren’ t focused on problems, but solutions and that’s in my opinion shows how ambitious people work here.” Kert Kaspar, Country Manager


T

eam

“Team at Thorgate means something similar to family, even if each person working on different project and some people don't get along what makes a random number of people a team here is the understanding of the higher goal, ability to lend a hand in a difficult situation, work together even if the opinions on the subject are different, and most importantly - being kind to each other.” Anton Alekseev, Tech Lead

E

ffort

“We always try to put an extra effort in terms of the code quality and future maintainability in every project we do. This reflects in our work culture where we underpromise and overdeliver” Ivar Merilo, Strategic Projects


Our team WE are all different and focus on common ground If we want to hear our own thoughts echoing back at us, we can just go scream in the void. In Thorgate we believe that to launch a great company, to create an awesome product, to really change something, you need diversity in skill-set and mindset. We hire people from all over the world with all kinds of backgrounds. We hire attitude and values, not necessarily specific skills.

WE’re open and informed Everyone says that, we actually live it. Everything from our meeting notes to our budget is open for the whole team. We make sure everyone has the information they need to make quality decisions. We have daily stand-ups, weekly team retros and monthly company-wide retros, as well as monthly grilling the CEO. We encourage people to share positive feedback and acknowledgement with the whole team. Every week we have a knowledge-sharing event where either team members or guest lecturers cover topics ranging from practical work experience to general wellbeing, e.g. mental health.

‘‘Thorgate project managers and team understood how we work very quickly Sander Lõhmus COO of Pomemet OÜ

’’


WE bring out the best in people We give our people the freedom and autonomy to work their best. We support working in a way that suits the individual - be that remote work, flexible hours or something as simple as taking a break and returning refreshed. Our managers are there to lead and support, not manage they’re clearing the roadblocks and inspiring the team.

WE hire slow and fire fast We don’t just fill the position but take our time to make sure that both parties will have the right match. The latter part is not meant to sound intimidating or cutthroat. Some relationships don’t work out over time, and we acknowledge that. We also encourage people to speak up, if they feel stuck or not moving in the right direction.

We think people, not products WE actually like each other

WE love to celebrate

Work is not only work and we like to spend time with our team. We share and discuss much more than work and even code together for fun. That said, we also keep our work and family life balanced. We take kids and dogs to work and we thank our families for their support at our summer and Christmas events.

We celebrate projects going live, give out a monthly guru award, have birthdays with quizzes and welcome-to-the-team events with cake and sparkling wine - and of course a round of awkward questions for the newbie.


Jurno Ader talks about life at Thorgate ‘‘Currently, I am the principal

developer and partner at Thorgate and I am proud of this growth. I joined Thorgate as a Junior Developer in 2012, doing mostly front-end and javascript development. Back then I had no real Python programming background. My professional and personal growth in Thorgate over the last eight years has been intense. From the very day I joined Thorgate, I had a great impression and I really enjoyed the way things were done here. It was also my first introduction to agile methods of working. At university, I learned coding in a very theoretical manner, so I feel it is here at Thorgate that I got to dive deep into web development and actually

’’

build products. I was in university when I joined here and I started timing myself to see how I gained in terms of knowledge from my time. I quickly realised that four hours in university didn’t teach me nearly as much as I learnt in four hours at Thorgate. That’s when I finally decided to leave university and join Thorgate full time. Soon after joining Thorgate, I realised that the learning culture in Thorgate was bigger than that, for instance, we have weekly knowledge sharings which help us learn from each other as a team and then we have Work Free Work Days on the first Monday


of every month when everyone can come to work and not actually work but take the day to learn something new, read a book or work on a personal project. Given this culture, I learnt Python in a couple of months after joining. I also had a great mentor in the company, the culture facilitated quick learning and development and I could see myself growing in my role already. Back then we were smaller and the culture has evolved since then, luckily it has only gotten better. However, I noticed four paradigm shifts in my journey at Thorgate. The first major shift was when we transitioned from being a small startup called GateMe to a fully formed product company called Thorgate. The second major shift in culture happened when I realised that our team was more than fifteen employees! Soon some of the pioneering people left, which was the third shift, and it was definitely for the good. The last shift I felt was a couple of years ago when I saw how diverse our team had become with people from all around the world, from different genders, ethnicities and professional backgrounds. This journey of Thorgate has made it what it is today, and has made me what I am today.

I have grown from junior developer to a code owner of certain projects and then a senior developer as well as a tech lead. Currently, I am the principal developer and partner at Thorgate and I am proud of this growth. If I had to say one thing about Thorgate that I value the most, it’s definitely how much we emphasise on personal growth. I look around myself, a collaboration between teams, helping each other to learn from mistakes, through team retros, constructive feedback and what not. As I continue to grow within my role in terms of technical knowledge, one thing that I am particularly excited about is taking up new challenges. I have recently found the opportunity with Thorgate to be a public speaker. I am trying to focus on my growth in this direction for the future, and I love that Thorgate is able to transform its people into leaders like this.


#ThingsThat Happen AtThorgate Tip: search this on instagram





Thorgate


Millions discover their favorite reads on issuu every month.

Give your content the digital home it deserves. Get it to any device in seconds.