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For this month's partner spotlight, we caught up with Remie Bolte from Collabsoft! Collabsoft makes apps to help customers bring tools together for more efficient teamwork.
Atlassian: How was your company started?
Remie: Like many other company origin stories, ours is also one of those situations in which a side-hustle accidentally became a business. The apps were developed during nights, weekends, and vacations to automate dull repetitive tasks that were part of a day job. The actual company itself was incorporated in 2016, but we’ve started selling apps on the Atlassian Marketplace right after its inception in 2012.
A: What's your role at your company?
R: I founded the company and created the first apps. With over 10 years of experience working with the Atlassian products and Atlassian Marketplace, I’m currently responsible for the technical architecture of our apps and sharing my knowledge with the other developers in our team.
A: What's your favorite thing about working at Collabsoft? What’s your favorite team ritual?
R: We try really hard to create a company culture in which we combine our long-term ambitions and goals with a radical no-stress work environment. We try hard to avoid any overtime, weekend shifts, "work-ations", or other work-related disruptions.
Apart from customer support requests, we recognize that any deadline is artificial. If our self-imposed goals are a cause of stress, we adjust our expectations and alter the deadlines. This is a part of our culture that I’m really proud of because it allows us to be very flexible in these uncertain times.
The key driver behind our culture is that the company was never founded to pursue unlimited (financial) growth. This is also reflected in my favorite team ritual: our quarterly roadmap meetings. During these meetings we discuss what we want to do in the next 3 months: which apps do we want to develop, which features do we wish to deliver, and what are our personal goals. We decide as a team, and those decisions are not always focused on revenue or delivering value to our customers but also cater to our own goals in terms of personal growth and overall joy. That might also result in building an app that will never get any traction on the Atlassian Marketplace, but what we still considered fun to make.
A: How does your team come up with ideas for new apps?
R: We have a Slack channel in which everyone can pitch an idea for a new app. We gather these ideas and discuss them during our quarterly roadmap meetings. They often come from either personal “annoyances” with Atlassian products or suggestions made by family, friends, or past colleagues. Our products are also often focused on integrations between 3rd party apps and Atlassian tools: if we use a new tool ourselves, we often also check if we can make an integration for it with Jira or Confluence.
A: Think back to when you were developing your flagship app - did you see yourself here now? What do you think has been the secret to your success so far?
R: When I created my first apps I never expected this to become a business, let alone a business that would include more people than myself. And to be honest, I don’t think there is a “secret”. I’m not particularly fond of the glorification of startup culture and founders. There has been a lot of luck involved in getting where we are today, including the enormous success of Atlassian and the Atlassian Marketplace.
A: Tell us about your most popular app. Why do customers love it?
R: Our most popular apps are the Figma integrations for Jira and Confluence. Like many of our apps, these were built to solve a problem that we faced ourselves. Confluence is a great solution for internal documentation, but it can be cumbersome when trying to create a “living” document with assets from other systems. Having to export or make screenshots of designs and including them as attachments in Confluence can be really time-consuming. It can also be frustrating when having to do that frequently because of small tweaks to designs.
Our Figma for Confluence app solves that problem by allowing users to integrate the designs and have them automatically updated with the latest version. If you’re using both Figma and Confluence, you can use our app to turn Confluence into a real design system.
The Figma for Jira app is particularly helpful for developers, as it allows designers to attach the designs for specific components directly to the Jira issue that is used for implementation. You can quickly see what you’re supposed to be building!
A: Do you have any new apps or projects you want us to know about?
R: We’re actually pretty close to launching a new app called Dynamic Modules, which will be our first foray into the no-code / low-code space.
The idea of the app is simple: we want to turn Atlassian Jira and Atlassian Confluence administrators into app builders without having to know the technical details of Atlassian Connect or Forge.
The first iteration of the app will focus on creating small customizations to the Jira and Confluence user interface. Users will be able to add navigation items such as links and sections. There are so many tools available that you use on a daily basis that don’t necessarily need a full integration, but for which it would be handy to have a link within the context of your Jira or Confluence work.
To give an example: the app will allow you to add a link to your HR program in the user avatar dropdown menu. Or a link to your AWS console from a project sidebar navigation. Or links to proprietary in-house development projects that many companies deploy for which there won’t be an official integration on the Atlassian Marketplace.
Further along, the way we are also planning to add the ability to dynamically create custom Issue panels, a Confluence macro, or even configure webhooks using a simple user interface.
We’d love to make this app available to early adopters, so if there is any interest from the Atlassian Community we encourage them to reach out to us!