An Interview with Phil Alves, Founder of Devsquad

by Jerome Knyszewski
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Phil Alves, founder of Devsquad

Phil Alves founded Devsquad to help your company build and implement your SaaS ideas to fit the marketplace. The company hires a team of software developers, who takes their extensive skills to extend your business. With Devsquad, you don’t hire software developers; you collaborate with them.

With Devsquad, Phil Alves proudly notes that his team is composed of self-starters. Aside from following instructions, they can consult with you in building customized solutions and software systems to help your business achieve its desired business outcomes. Phil Alves’ team of expert software developers stay with you throughout the whole process, “from product prototyping through regression testing.

If you get with Devsquad, you don’t need to waste time hiring new development teams or waiting for your new teams to start getting in gear. Phil Alves knows that not all businesses have experience in managing high-performance dev teams. With Devsquad, you don’t have to worry about a thing. The company employs plug-and-play teams that can implement your vision right away without need for extensive training or waiting for new hires to pan out.

Phil Alves wants you to save time and money. He knows that your projects are products that need to be guided to completion. For your company, Devsquad brings a well-managed team of software developers that helps you skip the process of assembling a new team from scratch. You don’t have time to do all that, to begin with.

Through running such a well-oiled machine, Phil Alves understands the importance of delegation. Read more to know his tips in effective delegation to achieve your business goals.

Check out more in-depth interviews with business leaders here.

Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Phil Alves: Of course! Currently I’m the CEO of DevSquad and to date we’ve helped to build more than 100 software products. I’m a self-taught software developer originally from Brazil. I first started software development when I was 16 and built my first software product when I was 18 when I founded my first company. After growing and selling that first company, I moved to the US to study and today with DevSquad I work with some big name clients like ADP and Box. Many of DevSquad’s startup clients have gone on to raise $10 million USD after building their MVP with DevSquad.

Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

Phil Alves: The start of my journey and my first time building a company actually went pretty smoothly and growth happened very quickly, I guess I was quite lucky in that sense. My early experience in entrepreneurship at a young age set me in good stead for employment after graduating from college so years later after moving to the US, I found myself in a really well paying job. I then decided to leave that stable, high earning position to start my own business again. However, things didn’t go as smoothly as the first time around and on top of the usual difficulties of starting your own business, I found myself earning just a quarter of what I had been at my previous job. I definitely had moments of wanting my secure, 6 figure salary job back, to have a better work/life balance and only work a few hours a day rather than every minute of the week!

I found it difficult to justify making 4 times less than in my previous role and that played on my mind a lot. However, I decided to persevere and was lucky to have the support of my wife who encouraged me to keep going and was earning enough for the both of us. I’m grateful to her for pushing me to continue pursuing my entrepreneurial dream.

Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

Phil Alves: We were once building some software for a client and were at the stage of customization. There was a report that the client wanted us to do but which wasn’t really possible on our side. I asked our developers to carry out a simple hack to get the job done quickly for the client but the developers said that the hack wouldn’t provide a long term solution and could cause problems later down the line. When writing the code, my developers included a comment saying something like “The hack Phil told us to do is going to cause problems and we’ll have to change the code later.” Of course, the client saw the comment and asked what it was about! Luckily, I was able to explain this to the client and keep them on board but I definitely learned my lesson: Keep communications with your team very clear and open. I should’ve explained in better detail what they were doing and why I wanted them to do it. It’s also a lesson for me (and many!) to always review code or any document in detail before sending it to the client!

Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Phil Alves: At DevSquad, we’re very good at building products. Lots of companies do this but only really provide developers. We’re not just about finding excellent developers but we’re also about getting things done. Our mentality isn’t just about the hours put in but also the output of what we’re doing. We really think about how the product is going to impact people’s lives and who’s going to be using the product. We always have the bigger picture in mind and I believe that’s what makes us stand out.

Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Phil Alves: To avoid burnout, you have to be able to delegate and to say “no”. I remember a former client of DevSquad, a guy who was Head of Acquisition at a large company who’d always tell me the reason why he got paid a 7 figure salary was simple: He said “no” to people. Saying “no” is definitely how you avoid getting overwhelmed. When you’re good at what you do, everyone wants to give you tasks but you have to learn how to say “no”, delegate and avoid working 24 hours per day. I think this is really important.

Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Phil Alves: Too many people to name! The main person who comes to mind is my father. He had a small woodwork business while I was growing up and I learned a lot about management and entrepreneurship from him. He showed me that entrepreneurship pushes you to do more and offers you the freedom of doing what you want and choosing who you work with.

Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Delegating effectively is a challenge for many leaders. Let’s put first things first. Can you help articulate to our readers a few reasons why delegating is such an important skill for a leader or a business owner to develop?

Phil Alves: I think the key is to not get overwhelmed. No one can do anything alone, no matter who they are. Even entrepreneurial superstars like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates had help in building what they did. I think that the only way to build something worthwhile is to build it as part of a team. Essentially, humans are made for teamwork. Back in our hunter-gatherer days, when we were just trying to survive, we had to remain as a pack and a team. I think that’s true today; we only survive in groups and so if you want to be an effective leader, you better know how to delegate otherwise you won’t be doing the best for your team.

Jerome Knyszewski: Can you help articulate a few of the reasons why delegating is such a challenge for so many people?

Phil Alves: When you’re good at something, it’s hard to delegate. If a task takes you 1 hour to complete and it’s likely to take someone else 4 hours then it’s easy to take it on yourself for efficiency. But if you don’t delegate that task and let the other person take their time to figure it out and improve each time then they’ll never get the chance to learn and become as expert or efficient in that particular task as you are. That’s why delegating can be a challenge; it’s hard when you know that someone will take much longer than you on a task.

Jerome Knyszewski: In your opinion, what pivots need to be made, either in perspective or in work habits, to help alleviate some of the challenges you mentioned?

Phil Alves: If you have a culture of teaching and learning, and if people get kudos for teaching someone and not just doing the task, that really helps. It’s all about the workplace environment and nurturing future leaders. I believe that being a strong leader isn’t defined by money or how business is doing but by how many other leaders you can form. I’m a big fan of the PayPal mafia idea; as one of the first companies to offer online payments in the tech world, PayPal nurtured several future leaders. The PayPal mafia are people that worked there who then went on to start other companies like Tesla, Youtube, Yelp, and LinkedIn. I like to talk and think about the DevSquad mafia in that I want my employees to become CEOs of other companies in future. It’s all about forming future leaders.

Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?

Phil Alves: You can follow me on LinkedIn or go to the DevSquad website and have a look at our blog.

Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

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