February, 2018
We don’t compromise, especially when hiring!
by Mateja Vrhovnik Senior Director of Technology
at Ekipa 2 d.o.o.

In my first interview with the VP of Technology at Outfit7, we figured out pretty quickly that I wasn’t actually the perfect candidate for the job. But I had extensive experience in the field, with 18 years spent in software engineering (six of which in the gaming industry). That previous experience, combined with my drive and my passion for my work, convinced the team that, while I wasn’t the perfect fit for that job, I was perfect for the company. So, they moved things around to make space for me and I joined Outfit7 Group in October 2014.

My story is no exception. Here at Outfit7, if we get a candidate who’s perfect for our company, but on paper isn’t perfect for the role they applied for – then we’ll find the right position for them. This might mean that we shuffle around our existing teams, for example, promoting internally and helping our current team members embrace new challenges.

Back in 2014, when I was on the lookout for a new job, I wanted to work for a company and be part of a culture that would fit my skills, experience, and ambitions. Outfit7 was that place. Shifting things around to make the role work for me was just one example of what the company culture here is like. The culture was one of the main reasons I wanted to join the Outfit7 Group.

I wanted to be a part of a company where there is mutual respect between the owners and the employees. I wanted the freedom of not waiting for other people to tell me how to do my job, and where everyone is personally responsible for their own work. I wanted to feel happy and healthy at work, without the constant pressure of stress. Oh, and there was one other thing I really did not want – I did not want to be a part of a company that told me I had to wear heels at work! 😉 So, for the first weeks of working here, I just wore T-shirts, jeans and flats to relax from the previous pressure.

For me, the most important part of Outfit7’s culture is the fact that my private life is respected. As a mother of four kids, the fact that I have the freedom to adjust my work time to suit the needs of my family is incredibly important. The company honors my downtime, which means I can fully recharge during the weekends and vacations. This is something everybody deserves, and it allows you to be more creative as well.

You’re more productive and efficient at work when you feel comfortable just being yourself. That’s what I kept in mind when I was given the challenge of leading three out of the seven Outfit7 co-founders just after joining the company. Talk about being thrown into the deep end! It wasn’t easy, but I knew that I had to create relationships based on trust with them. I wanted them to know that they had the freedom and autonomy to be the best at what they do, and that I was here to remove any roadblocks along the way.

During my years at the Outfit7 Group, both as a Director of Development and in my current role as a Senior Director of Technology, I’ve helped the team of Android and iOS engineers grow from 5 to 15 people. I give everyone on my team the same freedom and autonomy that I gave the cofounders back in the day. Namely, that I trust them and respect their responsibility for their own success – I won’t micromanage! After all, the best motivation to take on new challenges is the experience of seeing your own work being successful. And when it comes to personal growth and talent development at Outfit7, there really are no limits. I know a person who joined us as a Junior QA and is now, less than three years later, an experienced developer, leading several junior developers.

Part of what makes fast development like that possible, not to mention normal here, is the fact that everyone owns their own #hit. It’s actually one of our company values! And because the structure is flat, you can communicate with everyone, and get help from anyone. We also work on creating and maintaining open communication processes through workshops, boot camps, weekly team sessions and monthly company meetings. Our values are who we are here at Outfit7, and the company’s culture of respect, open communication, hard work, and fun is the reason it’s such a great place to work. Every team member is a vital component. So if we hire a bad fit, it will bring more bad than good to the team.

Many times I’ve been seated at the interview table looking across at a possible new team member and realised that, on paper and in person, they seem like the perfect business choice. But after discussing all the ins and outs of how we work, it became clear that they wouldn’t fit our culture. And that was a deal breaker. As a company, we never compromise! Especially when it comes to our company culture.

January, 2018
So Much More Than Cats and Dogs
by Larisa Perčinlić 2D Artist IV.
at Ekipa2 d.o.o. subsidiary

Right, let’s get this bit of brutal honesty out of the way – back in the day, I wasn’t sure if, as an artist, I wanted to work for a company that only drew “cats and dogs”. Now, that’s what I heard about the company anyway, and I’m glad I ultimately ignored those voices! Working for Outfit7 Group has brought together my passion for art and gaming in a way I’d never have imagined – I never thought I’d get this lucky!

I’ve always been a passionate gamer. When I was little, I remember playing Super Mario and Donkey Kong until I couldn’t move my fingers. Later, it was Age of Conan and Borderlands. Whenever I’d play, my biorhythms would get totally reversed – I’d play until 7 in the morning and sleep during the day. My parents were totally losing hope! After all, none of us thought it would actually be beneficial for my career later on. I mean, who’s going to employ someone to play games for a living? 😉

I have to say, I didn’t just ignore those “cats and dogs” naysayers on my own steam. A few of my old colleagues joined Outfit7 and I started getting the real picture about Outfit7 and its games. I got a sense of the sheer scale of work that went on there and I started to realise just how much thought and effort goes into every detail and every product. So I joined in 2015, and I haven’t looked back.

Today, as a user interface designer, I work to make the apps look and feel great for the user, designing everything from how the screen is laid out to what the buttons look like. My art becomes like visual communication. My favourite part of my job is probably when my art gets approved, cut into pieces, and handed over to our developers. I love working with the developers – especially a guy called Mubi! I think it has something to do with our common obsession with Star Wars… But it’s great – I get to sit down with them, do art checks and (drumroll) watch my user interface art come to life. For me, it’s still mind-blowing that billions of users, quite literally, touch my buttons! You know what I mean… 🙂

Outfit7 is a great place for a junior like me to grow and develop professionally. You can progress fast if you want to. Personally, I noticed that my professional skills and knowledge started to develop particularly fast after Eran joined the company. He is one of the best “character developing” artists I’ve ever met – he can take an ordinary elephant, for example, emphasize a few details, lure out the animal’s personality, and totally transform it. It’s amazing. His mentorship – even though it’s not official or anything – has helped me a lot. I’ll come to him with a product and he can usually show me in two moves or less how to make it 10 times better. Mentorships, both official and unofficial ones, are a very important part of Outfit7’s culture.

Working here, I’ve found my tribe. Everyone jokes around. It’s fun and relaxed. And we know each other really well – both in the office and out. I’ve been doing Brazilian Jui-Jitsu for four years now and my friends at work know about it. I mean, it wasn’t a subtle hobby – they had to get use to my “killing” hugs (when I fake a hug but then sneak behind their backs and get them in a choke hold), after all. We’re there for each other. We kid around. And I can practice my skills – in art and Brazilian martial arts. I love that!

The rumors about artists only drawing “cats and dogs” at Outfit7 were just that – rumors. They couldn’t be further from the truth at the heart of the company. I’m so glad I took a chance and took a job here because I get to work in the gaming industry, which I love. Because of the relaxed atmosphere here. Because of friends I’ve made, like Eran and Mubi. Because here I can live a life I didn’t even think was possible back when I was a nocturnal little gamer. And it’s great.

Larisa

November, 2017
Living in One of Europe’s Smallest Capitals, Creating Art for the World
by Helder Lopes VP of Design and Animation
at Outfit7 Group

The art we produce at Outfit7 is seen by over 348 million people on a monthly basis. For me, that’s a huge motivation – not to mention a big responsibility.

For a lot of artists, the reality is that you can do great work, but it might never get beyond your hard drive, it may never get the recognition it deserves. I’m constantly humbled and thankful that my team is able to create art that has a global impact. And we stand behind the end products – after all, we polish and perfect every detail. That’s part of the reason I love working at Outfit7 Group; here, quality always comes before quantity.

It’s a crazy contrast when you think about it – millions of people around the world see the art that we produce in Ljubljana, one of Europe’s smallest capital cities! Only around 300,000 people live here. But Ljubljana is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. And you’ve gotta take my word for it – I say that as a Portuguese guy. I’ve got no horse in this race!

I actually lived in Sheffield before moving to Ljubljana back in 2014. To be honest, I got tired of the UK. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great place and I still have good friends there, but I wanted a change from the weather and the stress of my commute, which was filled with loads of other stressed out, exhausted people. I was looking for a new adventure. I’d never been to Ljubljana before, but it seemed pretty cool to me, right from that first visit. There are no cars in the city center, instead there are loads of green areas and great cafes and restaurants. I love the everyday vibe of it. And I love that it takes me no more than 15 minutes to get to work every day.

Today, I live in the city center and Cafetino, my favorite coffee place in town, is right next to my apartment. That means that on the weekends, I just have to roll out of bed and head downstairs, where they whip up my “regular”. Before I know it, I’m back home enjoying a little Playstation time before lunch. It’s the perfect start to the weekend!

But as awesome as my weekends are, what’s great about this job is that I don’t live for them – my weeks are pretty amazing too. I recently became a VP in the Art and Animation department at Outfit7 (Ekipa2 subsidiary). And what I liked the most was that our team dynamic didn’t change much. I still go to Magda (a cool place in the center of Ljubljana) for our usual Friday night beers and everyone still shares their ideas in the same way because at Outfit7, a great idea wins out over job titles any day of the week. We also continue to share our talents and knowledge with each other at our internal workshops.

Teamwork and responsibility are two of our core values. It sounds great on paper, but it’s even better in reality. It means that the office is relaxed; we can be friends and mess around, and it never impacts the quality of our work. In fact, I think it makes it better. This is exactly what I need at this stage of my life – a place where I feel good on a personal level, and evolve on a professional one.

helder2

August, 2017
Welcome to Nerdland
by Stiliyan Ivanov Junior Quality Engineer
at Ekipa2 d.o.o. subsidiary

I remember my first coffee in the jungle. Not the literal jungle, of course, but rather the jungle-themed coffee place in Outfit7’s Ljubljana office. I went there with Ines, our HR manager. As we walked in together, one of the guys asked if I was her new victim. As everyone LOLed, Ines just gave me this look, as if to say, “Oh, that kind of joking around is totally normal here!” Right then, I knew this would be an awesome place to work.

But how did I get to Slovenia, Ljubljana and Outfit7 Group? Well, that story got started about four years ago. I’d been visiting my mate Allan in Ljubljana for his birthday three years in a row and fallen in love with the city. It wasn’t just the super friendly people who lived there (and spoke English!) or the beautiful views of the surrounding countryside or even Metelkova City (the ultimate alternative party place) – it was for all of those reasons and more.

At the time, my mate Allan was working as a Director of QA at Outfit7 (Ekipa2 subsidiary) so I’d been hearing positive stories about the company for years. I asked him to let me know if there were any open positions at Outfit7 Group and then, one day, there was one in QA! “You’ll fit like a glove here,” he said, “it’s basically a company full of your clones!” I applied, joined Ekipa2 in October 2016, and the rest, as they say, is history.

What still fascinates me about Outfit7’s culture is how relaxed the atmosphere in the office is, but how seriously the work is taken at the same time. We all work like crazy, but we’re encouraged to be silly and relaxed while we do it. And it’s really rewarding to see that your ideas are taken seriously and that you’re never dismissed – no matter who you talk to. Outfit7’s structure is flat, which I really like. An outsider looking around the office wouldn’t be able to tell the CEO from a junior developer – not from the usual office clues, like what we wear, where we sit, or even how we act around and talk to each other.

The culture at Outfit7 is great. I feel like I can grow professionally and personally here, while at the same time I’m completely free to be me. That’s the best motivation and reward. And I love living in Ljubljana. Even on a junior salary, I was able to rent my own flat, buy a PS4 Pro, and have way more disposable income than I had back in the UK. I have to say, life here is great!

August, 2017
Why I Have the Best Job in the World
by Allan Stowe Director of Quality Assurance
at Ekipa2 d.o.o. subsidiary

I have the best job in the world. There, I said it. But what else would you call a job where you get paid to play games every day? For me, working in the gaming industry is a dream come true. I’m one of those “digital gaming babies.“ Games have always been my passion. But I didn’t know working in the industry could be like this; when I got started, the values and the culture at Outfit7 were unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Everyone worked towards a common goal – to create the best gaming apps. The energy around that was mind blowing.

I joined Outfit7 Group back in 2014, when the company was still small. It was the best decision I ever made – and my biggest professional and personal challenge by far. It was just after the release of My Talking Tom, which skyrocketed Outfit7 into stratospheric levels of success. The company was fast becoming one of the leading casual game creators.

My main task was to bring new and improved processes to the QA department. Now, I grew up knowing pretty much everything about desktop games, but when it came to understanding the specifics and the scale of the mobile industry? Well, that was a challenge. I wanted to make sure that the end user got the best possible experience playing our games, so I had to figure out new ways of testing the game and handling the variety of different devices. From the very beginning, my idea was to include the QA department from day one of the development process of every product. We wanted to go beyond ‘normal’ QA, we wanted to give our users a voice, let them have a direct influence on the product. Looking back today, I think we can say we succeeded.

I encountered some personal challenges too in those early days. I had to build the team from scratch and figure out how to motivate them. Luckily for me, mentorship is strong at Outfit7. Ultimately, what helped me the most was the mentorship I received from Luka Renko, VP of Tech, and Miha Obal, the Senior Director of QA here at Ekipa2. Leading by example, they showed me how to build trust and responsibility within the team, and gave me lots of amazing advice that I was able to pass on to my team. My management style and abilities evolved and developed more than I can say at Outfit7 – it’s been quite a ride!

The first app launch I was responsible for as a QA lead was My Talking Angela. To be honest, it was hard work and we worked long hours, but we really wanted the app to be perfect for our users. And, let me tell you, the beer that we drank after that app launched tasted amazing –  no other beer had ever tasted so good. After all those long hours of work we put in, we were able to kick back and drink ice cold beer together and laugh our asses off. We were proud of what we had worked so hard to do – the app was a job well done, and one well worth raising a glass (or two) to.

I have the best job in the world. Of course, not every day is all sunshine and beer. But for me, the fact that I’m happy to come into work every morning and that I can’t imagine working with any other team is as close to perfect as it gets.

allan2

July, 2017
Talking Tom Gold Run – The Game I Always Wanted to Make
by Bojan Makuh Director of Product Management
at Ekipa2 d.o.o. subsidiary

Talking Tom Gold Run was the game I always wanted to make. Literally. But, for one reason or another, I was never able to turn my ideas into a reality with any of my previous companies. I saw that Outfit7 had launched Talking Tom Gold Run – it was such a great game, and it used a lot of the same ideas I had. I heard that the company was looking for a producer and I didn’t hesitate. I applied straightaway. I thought, “These guys think the same way I do!”

Actually, I think I must have broken some sort of record when I applied – for both the shortest application and the fastest one submitted. In my application I explained exactly what I thought was great about Talking Tom Gold Run and why I loved the way the game was made. I got a reply from Luka Renko the very next morning. Just like that! I had no idea at the time that Luka was the VP of Technology at Outfit7 (Ekipa2 subsidiary), managing a team of over 100 developers, testers and game producers. And here he was emailing with me, all friendly and open.

I answered all the questions that Luka sent me so quickly that he actually asked how I managed to do it so fast! But I didn’t want to wait. I had a really good hunch about this company. And, as I told him, I already knew all the answers – they were right there at the top of my head. Before I knew it, I had an invite for an interview with HR.

I joined Outfit7 Group in December 2016 and I realised pretty quickly that my hunch about the company was correct. Outfit7’s culture is built on trust and responsibility. Immediately, I started to appreciate the value of us all owning our own tasks. It felt great that there was no micro-management. I am trusted to be responsible for my own work and I have the freedom to choose my own leadership style and set my own timings (within reason, of course!). This really motivates me.

While there’s lots to like about the culture here, I think my favorite thing is that ideas come first, not the people proposing them. It’s always the power of argument before the argument of power. That means that it doesn’t matter where the idea comes from as long as it’s good, as long as it helps the game to be better and more fun. What matters is the quality. We always push towards the outstanding here. This is something that still fascinates me months into my job at Outfit7 Group because I’d never seen it in practice before.

It was only when I went to a workshop on internal values and personal motivations that I understood how the Outfit7 culture was built. We’re all encouraged to be ourselves because that’s the only way we can give our best. But we’re also taught to understand each other’s values and motivations. I think that’s the main reason that creative ideas can come through – they’re not held back because of personal clashes.

I came to Outfit7 thinking that people would listen to me, and that my ideas would get a chance to become reality – and I’m happy to say that I was right!

bojan2

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