Never stop learning. Become an expert at several things. Realize that there are always people smarter than you and actively look for and surround yourself with those people.

 

Vlad Enache is Founder and CEO of Enovational, a Website and App Development company based in Washington, D.C. Enovational pushes the boundaries between technology, user experience, and design by building beautiful, user-friendly products that have achieved international recognition and acclaim.

Enache is also the creator of popular mobile applications, including Ignite and the Webby-nominated trivia app: 3via. Enache’s work has been featured in the App Store numerous times, in over 25 countries, as well as on the Discovery Channel.

Where did the idea for Enovational come from?

The idea for Enovational originally came to me after I graduated from college and wanted to start my own product development and consulting company. At the time I was on a variety of visas and juggling work permits. At some point I had to stop operations since I couldn’t work any more due to a status change. I later re-registered the company in 2011, initially as a consulting company and later refocusing it on product development.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Each day is multifaceted. We’ve grown about 500% in the past 4 months, and we all have to play many different roles as we try to deliver products, onboard new staff, recruit more staff, and maintain the company’s momentum. On a typical day I could be writing code, reviewing designs, planning a product roadmap, jumping on a call with a client, creating tasks and stories to delegate, interviewing new candidates, reviewing legal documents, or running payroll. My day is productive if I feel like the company is in a better place than it was yesterday.

How do you bring ideas to life?

We have a bi-weekly ideation meeting focused on generating ideas by involving everyone in the company—you never know where the next great idea will come from. These meetings are typically moderated by a UX (user-experience) designer leveraging exercises to help get those creative juices flowing. Once we have an idea in mind, we build a MVP (minimum viable product) and explore from there. Sometimes (read: usually) it takes a few (read: many) iterations to get to the core of the idea itself, by removing all the distractions and loosely related ideas we may have had.

What’s one trend that excites you?

We deal with many government agencies, and it’s exciting to see how much things have changed in the last few years. Many agencies are more progressive than private sector companies. They embrace new and open source technologies, emphasize great design and UX, and leverage lean and agile methodologies. We’ve built numerous MVPs for various agencies where we were able to iterate and turn them into fully fledged products.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I try to read about, understand, and contribute to every aspect of product development. My background is in development, but I work closely with a designer from the inception phase to final polish. I manage many of our internal products but am also very involved in the UX of those products. I also contribute to the tone and branding of the products and love marketing as well. It helps me understand what we do and what we’re capable of, what we should strive for, and who we should hire to help us best achieve our goals.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Never stop learning. Become an expert at several things. Realize that there are always people smarter than you and actively look for and surround yourself with those people.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

In the consulting business it seems that the general solution to building software or taking on a contract is to hire as much as possible, as fast as possible and throw bodies at a problem. I often hear complaints that there’s not enough talent. My advice would be the opposite — hire less and be very picky. The more picky we are, the more exceptional our team is, and the more other exceptional people are interested in working with us.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

While I’m a very hands-off manager, I like to stay hands on when it comes to our products, even as we grow. I still code for all kinds of platforms from mobile to web to TVs and watches. I also stay hands on with all other aspects of product development because it helps me to understand what’s going on, make better decisions, and hire better people.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

At Enovational, we balance product development and consulting. By focusing on products and consumers, we keep pushing the boundaries on design, interactions, and user experience, and then we apply similar patterns to our consulting projects. By focusing on consulting, we gain insight into what organizations need and the possible solutions. In turn, that helps us build better products of our own.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I failed to raise funds for our consumer products, so I returned to consulting. Initially it was supposed to be more typical consulting by helping to integrate various solutions. I wanted to stick with what we excelled at most, product development. Within two weeks of returning to consulting, we were building a product and never looked back. Now we’re self-funded, we fund our own product development, and build products for other organizations as well.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I’m a workaholic. I work very long hours and weekends, but I also want to do stuff for fun. I love to go to seasonal events, concerts, art shows and try out new restaurants and jazz bars, read poetry aloud, etc. Researching all this stuff uses up a lot of time I don’t have. It’d be great if someone could build a concierge service that could learn my likes and dislikes and give me killer suggestions and schedule it all for me, purchase the necessary tickets, etc.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I’m sure it’s got to be a book, but what comes to mind is tickets to the Blue Man Group. I guess my point is, do something fun and creative…something that makes you passionate and excited. There’s no telling what amazing thing might inspire you.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

About half a year we started using Zeplin, which is a tool to share designs, generate assets, create style guides, and comment on work. It really improved communication between product manager, designers, and front end developers.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The book I typically recommend to everyone working on some kind of software product (web or mobile) is “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug. It’s a very light read, but a great introduction to usability.

What is your favorite quote?

Life was a funny thing that happened to me on the way to the grave” by Quentin Crisp
Don’t take things too seriously. Don’t be afraid to take risks or fail. Realize you can always get another job and get back on your feet. And since you’ll probably spend a huge portion of your life working, might as well enjoy it and have some fun. Do the things you’d really like to do. Work with the people you’d really like to work with.

Key learnings:

  • Incorporate ideation and brainstorming sessions into your weekly workflow and involve everyone in your company—you never know where the next great idea will come from.
  • Learn all the aspects of your business, it’ll help you make better decisions about your company and products, and help you identify and hire a better team.
  • Never stop learning. Become an expert at several things. Realize that there are always people smarter than you. Actively look for and surround yourself with those people.
  • Hire less; be very picky. Build an exceptional team that other exceptional people would want to join.
  • Do something fun, creative, and that gets you passionate and excited. There’s no telling what amazing thing it might inspire you to do.
  • Don’t take things too seriously. Don’t be afraid to take risks or fail. Realize you can always get another job and get back on your feet.
  • Do the things you really like to do. Work with the people you really like to work with.

Connect:

https://enovational.com/
Enovational on Twitter: https://twitter.com/enovational
Vlad Enache on Twitter: https://twitter.com/VladEnache
Enovational on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/enovational/
Enovational on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/enovational/
Enovational on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/enovational-corp/