2023 at Mews: Our R&D community year in review

Sport, history and geography geek helping the tech geeks of Mews be seen and heard around the world.

Another year has begun, another summary of the previous one. This is the exercise I am doing for the second year in a row (see the 2022 review). I wonder if I’ll do the same next year, too, given the humungous amount of content our engineers, product managers, designers, and everyone in the R&D team produce. 

Yes, it’s not just the engineers but the year 2023 that brought a big change to our community. From MewsDevs, we became Mews R&D as we incorporated product and design under our wings. That means that our community team, as of January 2024, is now servicing approximately 350 people.  

You get what you give 

I would like to begin this post by saying THANK YOU. No, community work isn’t hardcoded into anyone’s job description. When we started being active in the engineering community space about five years ago, we really needed to be relevant as a tech employer. I’m not afraid to say we’ve achieved that, especially in the Czech Republic, where Mews originated and still has the biggest team (mainly consisting of engineers). And thanks to the numerous recordings of our talks, blog posts and documentation, once someone starts googling us after hearing about us for the first time, they can get a solid idea of what we do here and what kind of people are behind all this. 

But I think we’ve turned this into something more meaningful. Yes, of course, we still need to attract talented people, so for that purpose, we need to keep producing R&D content. However, people often join us now (or those who have been with us for a while realize) because they know they would get the chance and space to grow by contributing to the various communities.

Do you want to be part of the community?

Let’s take one step at a time…

And this is where I’d like to call on all the established tech companies and their community managers and others. Please support local communities and don’t just try to “harvest” talent. Community building is a long-term process that’s hard to put hard (hiring) data behind. It’s great when we organize our own meetups to showcase our offices and feed the engineers, hoping they will apply the minute they leave our premises. But please sponsor (and cooperate with) communities run by volunteers, communities where you found your colleagues, those that have a real impact, and those that are local to your area. That’s what community is all about. 

How was the year 2023? 

TL;DR 

  • 46 speakers 
  • 34 volunteers at our conference booths 
  • 29 mentors
  • 27 blog posts 
  • MewsDevs -> Mews R&D 

Disclaimer: When there is a 🍺 icon, it indicates that the piece was done in the Czech language.   

January  

Blogs  

Talks 

Misc 

  • We were year-long partners with the following communities: 

February  

Blogs  

Talks  

Misc 

March  

Blogs  

Talks  

Misc  

  • Our biggest project to date: R&D Con. Internal gathering of 250+ members of the R&D team in Prague. 
    • 2 days 
    • 20+ internal talks 
    • 3 keynote external speakers 
    • Venue, hotel, food & beverage, team building activity (recommending Show Must Go On

April  

Blogs  

Talks  

Misc  

  • Job Fair at Matfyz with Vojta Kopal, Martin Mazač, Petr Bambušek, David Nápravník, Michal Vacek, and Václav Kučera. 
  • Nastia Lebedeva, Stanislav Kuřík, Jana Kalfařová, Daria Doronina, Jakub Šalmík, Dominic Blythe, Víťa Samek, Pavla Zaoralová, Václav Kučera, Pavel Kalandra, Richard Schafer, Kirill Bubochkin, Vladimír Ogurčák, Jitka Čurdová, and Natalija Bubochkina at the Webexpo booth. 
  • Vladimír Ogurčák mentoring at Webexpo

May  

Blogs 

Talks  

Misc  

June  

Blogs  

Talks  

Misc  

  • Linh Le, Jana Kalfařová, Daria Doronina, and Aleksander Ratman mentored (and Lucie Olmrová made a presentation to the students) at the semester-long Czechitas Digital Academy: Web. 
  • Jan Čuma 🍺 mentored at ReactGirls. 

July  

Blogs 

Talks  

August  

Blogs  

Talks 

  • Storing datetime information @ Summer with Backend by Marek Třešnák 
  • Identifikace témat z dat zákaznické podpory (NLP) 🍺 @ DATA mesh by Jiří Vinárek 

Misc 

  • Even this year, the Mechanical Keyboard Meetup had to be organized in our Prague office, since Václav Kučera still produces many of those for his colleagues. 

September  

Blogs  

Talks  

Misc  

  • Booth at the WUG Days Brno with Víťa Samek, Jiří Pokorný, Vladimír Pinďura, Michael Deutscher, and Jan Vlnas. 
  • We kicked off internal monthly “Brain and Breakfast” sessions where community updates are shared, but more importantly, one member of the R&D team shares something from their life (and we have a delicious breakfast together). 

October  

Blogs 

Talks  

Misc  

  • Booth at the FrontKon with Linh le, Jakub Tkadleček, Martin Sušil, Jana Kalfařová, Daria Doronina, Honza Hrubý, and Jakub Šalmík. 
  • Clean code & design patterns online course @ Robot Dreams by Václav Ryška 

November  

Blogs 

Talks  

Misc  

  • Booth at the TechMeetup Conference in Ostrava with Aaron Barnett, Lukáš Sladký, Kirill Bubochkin, Natalia Bubochkina, Víťa Samek, Václav Ryška, and Miroslav Veis. 

December  

Blogs  

Talks  

  • Intro to community management 🍺 @ Den pro školu by Karolína Krámková 
  • Fireside Chat @ Supernova First Design System Happy Hour with Laura Fehre 

Misc  

  • Lenka Křenková, Jane Tetenova, Vojta Kopal, Monika Hyblová, and Jiří Vinárek mentored at the semester-long Czechitas Digital Academy: Data. 
  • Danijel Bešlić, Magdalena Piątek, Hoang Tran, and Aleksander Ratman mentored at the semester-long Czechitas Digital Academy: Web. 
  • Filip Pindej, Jiří Hudec, Martin Zemek, Václav Kučera, and David Le mentored and coached at the semester-long Czechitas Digital Academy: Csharp 1. 
  • Daria Doronina, Václav Ryška, Stan Prokop, Honza Hrubý, Jiří Šteidl, Linh Le, Jakub Bitman, and Jan Meissner mentored on the junior.guru platform throughout the year. 

What to expect in 2024? 

It’s nice to do such an exercise (blog post) and to reflect on the previous one, where I outlined one of the biggest goals for 2023: going international. That remains one of the main goals for 2024. I feel like in 2023, we were able to dip our toes (and for various reasons, we weren’t as fully staffed as we wanted to be), but now it’s really the time. Of course, you will find us at the Czech conferences we’ve been a part of before, with Webexpo being the flagship of such presence (new booth in the making 👀). 

Although Prague and the Czech Republic will remain our stronghold, you will also find us at the API Conference in London in April, UX Meetup in Amsterdam, ProductTank London, Ruby Meetup in Zagreb, and many more places.  

And how best to scale our presence at various international conferences? By producing many Calls for Proposals. We’ve been successful (we got three talks accepted for Webexpo) in helping our colleagues produce these CfPs, giving them feedback, organizing workshops on how to write a good one, providing them with opportunities and, most importantly, explaining the benefits for everyone involved. So, how many will we have in 2024? 👀 

User Disengagement 

As mentioned, we currently have about 350 people in our internal R&D community. By the end of the year, another 100+ new colleagues will be onboarded, bringing the team close to 500 on 1.1.2025. 

The fact that we are growing bigger and producing a lot of content isn’t why we may not have an overview (or at least in this form) again. Our founder, Richard Valtr (and the rest of the business), talks a lot about something that we call User Disengagement. It is exactly what it says and goes against what companies like Facebook or TikTok are trying to do. Our platform, hospitality software, aims to be seamless because technology and devices are not what hospitality is about. Our users need to use our product as little as possible to create remarkable experiences. And I am noticing a similar phenomenon in the community as well.  

There were occasions when someone from the team arranged a talk or a podcast all by themselves without even needing the community team. That’s perfect because that should be the end goal of every community manager: that the members become their own community managers. We will continue providing the service to those who want and need it, but the enablement and empowerment of the most active ones is the future. 

Also, I’m 100% sure I forgot to mention something or someone. I apologize in advance, but this article is always open for edits. Drop me a DM if I missed anything or you’d like to chat. 🙂 

Sport, history and geography geek helping the tech geeks of Mews be seen and heard around the world.
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