2020 in a Flashback

Looking back on our 2020. It’s been a ride.

Wrapping up 2019 with the first 5th-year milestone, many ideas popped up for the next steps. Heading to a new decade means we get to wrap up the old and in with the new. For us, the utmost target is to focus on territory expansion and team bootstrapping. Reinvest on the current foundation. Make it stable and make it impactful.

It handed us the chance to come up with more cool stuff. Something to recognize each other among the crowd. A black zip hoodie and symbolic totem of the Dwarves.

Scaling from a few craftsmen, we reached 50s with a firm foundation from different places. Within the year, people come and go, but their spirit stays. Each of them contributes a small puzzle for a bigger picture.

We were ready for a borderless software firm

With the Dwarves located from many countries (Toronto, Vancouver, Düsseldorf, Indonesia, and Vietnam), we headed for a borderless software firm, where we collaborate and make things work despite the distance. Running a team remotely has its downside since we hardly have physical meetups. Everything's conducted online; every communication gets turned into thread-based messages.

But

Starting from March, the world began to lockdown. Companies get hit. Businesses around the world are expected to close down and wait until the pandemic is over. Everyone will try to save their penny, and no one would love to build software or start something new. We might be affected. We haven't known yet. The best we can do is tweaking our plan to prepare for any scenarios.

The Adaptation Begins

Dwarves Foundation is always the place the weirdest things could happen. While other teams begin their first pick on remote working, we literally just increase our work from home day. In fact, we keep #DFstaythefhome goes active.

Things remain in survival mode. We only hire when it hurts. No lay off on the ground. We keep the team with those who have the same belief, lifestyle, and the urge to move along with the tech industry. In short terms, a team where people are proud to work with. It's where their outcome matters.

Level up the tech quality

We dive deep into tech, continuously improve our knowledge base through tech radar, team memo, and other activities. We optimize the workflow, simplify the process to make our work more enjoyable.

team-built testing framework

Starting from a team of two, our QC Team has now reached the number of five, which later came up with an internal testing framework that makes test cases in format and removes rework.

Real time status page

This adoption enables us to constantly receiving the latest updates on project and website status. Other than tracking them directly on stt.daf.ug, we get to log them on the currently running projects and ensure the deliverable's quality.

and got them on team Discord

A Radar Ring for Tech Adoption

The day to day work won't get us as far as we could. Finding the new and step out of the safe zone is a great resolution to move with the industry.

We input the discoveries and assessment of the latest tech trends on Radar Ring. We define them in Rings & Quadrants. Every two months, we gather the team's research output and conduct webinars on sharing, guidelines & lesson-learned. The knowledge recap is stored as RFC on Github and team Memo for later reference.

Bootstrap Startup Idea, Conveniently

Portray ourselves as a technical partner for startups; it's our mission to deliver the optimized solution. That comes with a smooth process in bootstrapping their ideas and promptly turn those into products.

Metric Dashboard

We aggregated a set of events and data from the application and displayed them in dashboards for better analytics. Each domain requires a specific metric set. That helps makers easily locate the focus point and allocate their resources accurately.

Upgrade CI/CD culture

Having experience in project setup, we're proud to bring the best practice in helping startup ideas take off easier. Picking Earthly as an approach to reduce the risk from local environment testing is how we help lift your project off the ground.

All Practice in One Place

New researches must be put into practice; otherwise, it's a waste of time. From every piece of collect knowledge, we take the first step putting them in a trial period long enough to grab the pros & cons. These practices get applied to the team, ensure the knowledge base and put our work into one format.

State of the Art

Everything we do results in this internal tech-index. A hub of continuous evolving expertise.

The Internal

We figure it wasn't the right time to scale. It's the time to maintain and make the best out of what we have. Keep the company safe through the pandemic and build a team that people love to work with are the primary goals.

So. new plan. Restructure, strengthen the core and focus on what we do best.

Build a place people love to work in

Where people can develop themselves and as a team

The urge to grow lies within us. Outside of work, we encourage the Dwarves to improve their knowledge and skills. We support this with an Education Allowance, an English Camp every Tue & Thu, and a weekly 101 training - where the team discusses and collects the point of view on different topics toward soft skills, product design, startups & engineering.

Where the efforts are tributed

Dwarves Foundation is where we value even the tiniest contribution, by all means. It's not all about making the client happy; it's about feeling proud of what we produce. We launch Dwarves of The Year as a highlight to select the outstanding Dwarves. By letting people taking votes on four criteria: Influencing, Hardworking, Impactful, and Self-Development.

Where the team structure gets flatten

Wearing many hats used to be our option. We do have roles, but we haven't sat down and put them in place until earlier this year. The latest team structure lies at https://bit.ly/df-org-chart. But unlike others, we want to keep things public as much as we could. We do our best to make sure they get access to every piece of information, and despite the titles, everyone is welcomed to raise a question.

Where the engagement ain't just around the work

Every member should feel as a part of the team. We issued Employee Stock Option Plan as a aprt of our benefit package, where members can be the significant contributors instead of tenured employees. This gives them the right to buy a certain amount of company shares at a predetermined price.

A Data-driven Company

Everything revolves around data. Taking data as the core allows us to set realistic business goals, pinpoint what makes us outstanding, which aspect we should stay focused on based on real analytics metrics.

Workflow update - Data first

With the concept that Program = Data + Algorithm, we weave the data culture in every workpiece. Things start with data format at first; the rest will come later.

How we gather data

How that helps us on making decision

Data prevents us from making biased decisions. No favoritism on the table. Data sort out the real number from the real work, where we get to analyze and evaluate objectives effectively. Keeping all data in one place enables us to set measurable goals that align with the company's vision, predict what works and what doesn't, and, therefore, actively turn data into real action.

We seek for Solid Partnership

To go further, seeking partnerships to co-create the future is a must. We managed to expand the connection by searching for business partners globally. Anyone who wishes to join our partner network can see if they have the same belief in meeting business goals through innovative high-tech solutions.

We've prepared them a collaboration process on commission-based. We welcome the ones with the urge to grow new business opportunities by technology and innovation.

Effective Operation

Running a company doesn't just about process and policy. It's more on minimizing the minor disruptions that reduce the company’s ability to grow and prosper. Cleaning up the roadblocks. Eliminate the waste, and keep people aligned. And mostly, how to do more with less effort?

Going Automation

On the way to run the team effortlessly, we figure not everything requires human's involvement. Fortress - our internal operation system, remove the redundancies by automating the operation work, from accounting to newbies onboarding.

Transparency in Information

Running a remote team means the communication relies mostly on thread-based messages. Unless we go transparent in what we are working on, losing track and feel distant from the team is predictable.

We keep the communication channels open, from Basecamp checkin questions to Discord sharing hub. More than telling people about the work, throwing the latest news into the chatroom can also help us stay tuned to what's going on out there.

Dashboard & Valuation KPI

Company valuation always a subtle issue to mention. Not many companies onboard with this. But we do.

Bringing the number to the public gives us the privilege to stay proud of what we've accomplished. We issue ESOP every year, and visualizing how our business strategy was turned into profit allows stakeholders to keep track of its potential growth. Dashboard valuation also reflects our predicted strategy's accuracy, emphasizes the key goal, and portrays our ability to develop.

Hiring

We value the unconventional

Once Covid started to invade, our goal changed accordingly. Instead of adding more people, we choose to fill the team with more culture. We picked out the value that makes us who we are and wrapped them in Culture book.

We look for those with the same DNA. This small book provides insight into what it's like to work with us, how the day may transpire, what to expect, and what to prepare to become a real Dwarves.

Work where you feel best

After five years, we evolved as a team that works and communicates from anywhere. Some of us choose to work from coffee shops, others feel better in their PJs and start a virtual meeting, while the rest spend their day at our Saigon office.

We exposed, clearer

We started first with the Website upgrade. We fill up the blank with Case Studies and the tech stacks, completing a Service section with precise detail on each type of work.

Next, the Memo. Our crafting space for lesson learnt, perspectives, and the occasional webinar recaps.

We design for the Resilient future

Dwarves Design contains our practices and methods for product design at Dwarves Foundation. Backed by talented and unique wizards, we express the Dwarvish magic in the cultivated crafts through aesthetic and intelligent design solutions.

featured

We level up

Applying the top-selected technologies, we end up expanding the business. With more than 10 new deals with technical service development and venture projects, we could step up the game and set our foot into different industries.

The year in Industries

Going Details

Stretch the Venture Arms

Positioning ourselves as technical distributors means to deliver that through a variety of activities, including creating business opportunities.

We invest and provide them with technical solutions to lift their projects off the ground. But most importantly, we do things from our lessons learned and selective experience. Giving early-stage startups the necessary resources to turn their ideas into impactful products is how we help empower the next innovation's future.

We got your back

Giving back to the Community

Learning from the community gives us the privilege to explore and grow. We have been a part of it long enough to contribute back. Describing ourselves as a tech distributor, our mission is to support and widen the tech playground and create social impact using tech solutions.

Salt Cancer Initiative - Supportive backers for cancer patients

Our first move on community support. We partner with Salt Cancer Initiative to create a supportive community that provides cancer patients with knowledge and activities using high-tech solutions.

WeBuild Day - Post-Covid 19 Developers Reunion

Last December marked WeBuild Day 2020 - where we partner with Block71 Saigon for a full-day workshop on tech topics. A reunion chance with the developers after Covid-19, with the participation of other sponsors such as beGroup, Codelink, Flodesk and many more.

Golang for Beginner: Collaboration with Golang Vietnam

Since 2014, Golang Vietnam has been the playground for all beginner and experienced Go programmers in Vietnam. Normally, we support Golang Vietnam in organizing the annual GopherCon as a sharing workshop and lesson learned from Go experts.

Though the affection of Covid limits us from conducting offline meetups, we still manage to launch some essential skills seminars throughout the year.

techie.story

Having more time inside makes us realize more corners in this industry should be shined a light on. We founded techie.story, where we get them to listen to the untold story of techies from this industry, about the hidden aspects of day-to-day work.

We do Open-Source Software

Going OSS means working with multiple companies on an idea or a problem, which eventually gets us to the solution more quickly with more creativity. By sharing the foundation concept and codebase, OSS enables us to trigger innovative ideas, provide and receive insights from different people in the industry. That allows the development phase to happen smoothly, encourages the spirit of building, expanding, and evolving.

Over the years standing on shoulders of the giants, the Dwarves's OSS mainly focuses on boosting up productivity and build the differentiating value on top of cutting edge technologies.

The in-house Products

We kicked off Superbits.co earlier this year as our indie studio for team-built products.  It all came from the issue we want to resolve and the unique value we aim to support the tech industry.

By engineer, for engineers.

Newsletter: The NeXT Bytes

None of us knows what will happen in the future. The only thing we can do is predicting, starting with the question "what's next?", surrounding with the "why," and continuously sorting out the experience.

The NeXT Bytes jots down the 'next' thing we see, do, observe or conquer on the way toward the future. It's the lesson learned and the sacrifice, what we have put behind, and what's waiting for us. There will be many things to throw in along the way. The cool techniques. The ability to build a better organization. How to keep things float. The revealing aspect of the industry.

Enjoy the promising ride, join us at https://tinyletter.com/nextbytes/.

What's for 2021

We had an executive sync-up not so long ago. The operation team sat down and decided where we should head in 2021. The pandemic's impact continues to ripple across industries. It's risky to do things big. The best thing to look forward to is maintaining the current status and making sure people are motivated. Building a place people love to work in and be proud of what they produce.

The branding coverage

We are doing things right, which reflects through the financial status and the playbook we noted down. But we are still far from distributing that knowledge base. Going further on social media coverage and issuing a monthly newsletter might be a good idea to begin with.

We've been conducting Dwarves Radio Talk, a weekly talkshow where we pitch in our favorite topics on engineering, product design, startup and skills management. Knowledge sharing should really be a thing to encourage. It's the best practices we sort out after a long time working in this field, and we can't help but bringing them outside.

Anyone with the same interest, or curiosity, is welcome to join us at Discord

The product-driven mindset

Technical consultancy and venture investment will still remain its resilience, but we want to spend more effort working on what we love. Besides scaling Superbits, we level it up as an indie studio with a product-driven business orientation, making the dev community more worth experiencing.

A life outside of tech

The successful work with Salt Cancer Initiative kicked off our willingness to contribute more impact to social problems. We're lucky to know and work with many other brothers with the same vision during our path to expand the tech playground. Using tech to resolve other issues outside of work, building up a platform connects like minded people. Striving for a better world in 2021, which we believe everyone can really use.

We continue to build Dwarves Foundation the same way we do software. It works and gets bugged along the way, but the new version gets released continuously.

The door of 2021 is opening with many questions. Seeking the answers and enjoy coding along the way sounds like a good plan.

Staying Onboard

Build and grow with the same DNA

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