This post is a part of a new series on this blog, called How I Work. It will feature interviews from engineers at top tech companies and startups, describing what a typical day is like. For this post, we interviewed Andrei Soroker, Co-Founder and CEO of Sameroom.io.
In our last “How I Work” post, we featured Erwan Lent, whom I met at the Launch Festival. This week we have another founder I met at Launch, Andrei Soroker.Andrei runs Sameroom.io, which is a pivot from Kato.im (see below). There are tons of different chat tools on the market, like HipChat, Skype, and Flowdock. Now, with the explosion of Slack, there are communities being built on top of Slack. This has given people more reasons to be using multiple chat clients for different purposes. Instead of having to hop from chat-to-chat, Sameroom.io is making it easier to connect all of your chat clients.Below is a very candid interview with a venture-backed founder who has three children. Andrei offers great insights about his work life that anyone can learn from. I recommend you take a look at Sameroom.io as well.
Jixee: What’s your current position and how many years of experience do you have?
CEO at LeChat, Inc. We make Kato.im and Sameroom.io—Sameroom is a soft pivot (soft because Kato is still up and running)
I started writing code for money in 2001. CEO since early 2013, when we started LeChat.
Jixee: Tell me about your company and the work you’re doing?
We focus on real-time collaboration software. In late 2012, we saw a huge void in the team chat market and built a company around it. Unfortunately, that void was filled by Slack. I’m happy that we were 100% spot on with what had to be done though.
We got tired of ‘also running’ and built Sameroom in early 2015 as a pivot. Sameroom is a meta on team chat: it connects chatrooms between different teams, no matter which platform they use.
We’re 8 people at the moment: 4 in the US, 3 in Russia, one in Poland. The engineering team is 6, with me and our marketing guy doing everything else. We also work with contractors (design).
Jixee: What’s your work setup like? What hardware/software do you use?
I’m a huge fan of ThinkPads, but I switched to Macs—better monitors and battery life, plus I do too much business-y stuff for Linux.
I try to use cloud tools, so I’m not dependent on any given computer. Exceptions: Sketch 3, Skitch, 1Password (synced with Dropbox). I use Chrome, Safari, and Firefox at the same time.
Google Docs are amazing. Google Calendar is not fully amazing, but it works. I use calendly.com to help people schedule meetings with me.
The company wouldn’t be able to run without Kato—we’re 100% distributed, and Kato is designed for this hard-core user.
I use GMail tasks, which is kind of lame, but it works.
I gravitate toward tools that support Vim shortcuts—I used Vim bindings in Bash, GMail bindings are Vim-ish, and obviously Kato shortcuts are heavily based on Vim.
I use Boomerang for GMail and feel really bad about not paying them any money.
iPhone 5s, 64G. I have kids, so the Gs are for photos. I’ve had an iPhone since 2007—along with my $65/month unlimited data plan from AT&T. Not an Apple fanboy though, not even close.
Jixee: Can you describe your typical day from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed?
I pretty much work all the time when I’m not asleep. Even when I’m suppose to be spending time with my family, I’m completely absent. This isn’t because I’m a founder though—I did the same thing when I had a regular job.
I don’t sleep very much these days, about 6 hours on average. I’ll get up around 6:30/7 and will immediately start working—on the phone. This is how I test the Kato mobile alpha apps.
We have three kids, so during the day I often take time to go somewhere with them. It’s extremely important to me to not have a typical “office life”—I never want to spend a second socializing with coworkers as a part of normal routine: it just makes no sense when you have a family, and I don’t believe it has any positive effect on the company output. Everyone who works at Kato/Sameroom has to have a very strong support network outside of work.
I minimize meetings; these days they are almost all related to sales. We don’t have any internal meetings—if you need anything, just ask in Kato.
I’m working on multiple projects at the same time. These projects typically involves everything except writing code.
Company culture: close to 100% remote, no ping-pong, no drinks. Every Friday morning my co-founder Peter and I go on a long bike ride (we’ve been climbing Mount Diablo lately). Friday is the only day we’ll see each other—we work from our small office and finish up the day with a BBQ.
Most of the people who work at the company have never met each other. We don’t want to spend any money on offsites until we’re swimming in cash.
It’s a “hard” culture: we want to stay lean and do what we have to in order to survive. The only “perk” we care about is health insurance: company pays 100% premium for employee and family.
I usually stop working around 8:30. After the kids are asleep, I’ll work for another couple of hours, usually going to bed around 12:30.
I check email / Kato non-stop. It’s completely unhealthy. Getting better though!