04 Mar 2019 Spotlight on Crafty Penguins
Describe your company and its product.
We provide Linux & DevOps consulting services to software development teams, IT managers, CTOs, ISPs, and SaaS vendors around the world.
What year did your company start?
Which city (or cities) are you located?
Describe your company culture in three words.
Pragmatic, ingenious, integrity
How do you celebrate company or employee wins?
Of course, we share them in Slack as they happen. We also start every team meeting with a Wins/Successes/Gratitudes round to kick them off with positive energy and to recognize the great things happening.
What is the problem that you are trying to solve?
The great thing about Open Source technologies like Linux is that they are super flexible, providing total control without any restrictions that many proprietary solutions have. The resulting challenge is that everyone has very unique needs, resulting in “snowflake” Linux server setups and DevOps processes, where no two systems are alike. We are solving this through standardization and automation, in a way that still allows us to custom tailor unique solutions for the need of each client.
What is your biggest milestone to date?
The biggest milestone started as a small Linux networking project consisting of some simple Bash/Perl scripts to increase ADSL internet speeds for a client. This grew into a full product which eventually grew to be its own SaaS company in the Bonded Internet / SDWAN space which we sold off.
What is your biggest challenge?
Scaling a consulting business so that services are productized and a team supports the clients and not a single engineer, while the client still feels that they are not a number and that we care for them. And like other tech companies, finding qualified talent that fits our culture is hard, especially out in the Fraser Valley.
What is your motto?
Nothing is impossible, there is always a way.
How are you making an impact?
We see a ton of entrepreneurs out there with great technology ideas who are working extremely hard to turn them into dollars. However, they often get bogged down in the mechanics of operations, deploying systems, fighting technical debt etc. We solve that by letting them focus on their customers, developing the idea, writing code, and rapidly iterating and deploying enhancements without bringing down their production websites and servers.
What is your hope for the future of tech in BC?
To build the talent pool over the long term, there definitely needs to be a great focus on the K-12 system to expose our children and youth to the benefits of the STEM field. It’s critical to hook them early so that they are more likely to become passionate about it and interested in post-secondary technology education.
Lightning Round with Wim Kerkhoff, CEO of Crafty Penguins
What excites you about your job?
I can choose what I want to do, where we are going, how much fun we have, who are our clients are and so much more. It’s like being retired 🙂
What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome?
Transitioning from a one-man-band to a real company. The first stage of that was identifying my strengths/weaknesses and bringing in people that loved doing what I was weak at. The current stage is finding and mentoring people to take on my strengths so that I’m no longer the bottleneck or required.
If you can give advice to your 20-year-old self, what would you say?
Establish daily and weekly habits. Work with mentors. Commit to ongoing personal development. Understand and develop emotional intelligence.
What are your pet peeves?
Crappy HVAC systems that leave me either too hot or cold. People that don’t pay attention to the details.
Words of wisdom to other tech CEOs or founders?
Get good advice and implement it. Understand what makes you and your company unique and focus on that – don’t get distracted trying to do everything yourself. Think BIG!
Favourite city you visited?
The Hague. That’s where I had my first date with my wife.
What is your formula for success?
Understand the problem. Research. Think. Plan. Do. Reflect.
Name one book that everyone should read.
The most popular book and all-time best-seller: the Bible.
How do you decompress?
Get a good night’s sleep. Then have an easy morning with reading and relaxed breakfast. Spend time researching and learning whatever I feel like pursuing that day.