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August 4, 2013

Inviqa CEO Yair Spitzer on the app dev firm’s growth strategy

PHP specialist believes attracting the best staff is the key.

By Amy-Jo Crowley

Yair Spitzer

Israeli Yair Spitzer is no stranger to software engineering. After a degree in economics, he was an engineering developer at Sapients for 23 years, where he left as CEO.

But it was his time at world wide web infrastructure software company, Zend Technologies, in 2005 that gave him his entry to the world of the scripting language PHP. "They introduced to me this language called PHP and this concept of open source and I was completely gobsmacked," he tells CBR.

His passion for the language is evident. "PhP is a much faster language to build systems with. So if something takes you let’s say five days in Java, it might take you one day in PHP. It’s because the language itself is very easy to use and you can build things very quickly with it."

Spitzer says that when he was a partner of Zend he was struck by the number of customers who wanted other services related to PHP, such as training, consultancy and application development.

From there he and his co-partner, Paul Wander, created their own company from Spitzer’s loft in 2007.

Since then Inviqa has grown its work force to 100 across four offices in London, Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool.

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Much of this has been driven by its single focus on PHP services and online strategy, which Sptizer attributes to his employees.

"Because PHP has been growing at a phenomenal pace, the demand for our services has doubled every year. It’s like a tsunami. And we’re just sitting on top of this tsunami which is carrying us to unbelievable places."

Spitzer, whose clients include Vodafone, Ladbrokes, Virgin and the BBC, prides himself on his recruitment strategy, hiring computer science graduates with at least five years of experience in enterprise PHP, not just, "21-year-old kids who can write PHP."

The application process is rigorous and includes a test where candidates have to build an application, as well as three rounds of technical and personal interviews.

"Really, to get a job here you need to be very good. I would say one out of a hundred CVs gets a job here."

The company has also started to deliver services in behaviour driven development (BDD).

Behat, a free tool, is used in BDD which is an approach to software development that allows users to write human readable stories to test against applications. It was created by Konstantin Kudryashov, a former web developer at KnpLabs.

"We came across a guy who developed using a virtual community and he built this lovely product, which is completely open source and completely free," Spitzer explains. "So I came to him and said why don’t we take your project under our wings, you can join us and we will build services around the product that we will take to market."

Added to this are plans to release an improved framework for B2B services. Spitzer believes within five years B2B will be bigger than B2C for the firm.

Expansion will also come from hiring new staff and targeting new services, such as helping European companies that increasingly want to sell their products internationally.

"We believe in order to become the biggest European PHP company we need to be about 300 people. We’re looking at Scandinavia, Spain, France and Germany and we’re looking to have Inviqa in each one of these countries," he says. "We’re recruiting like mad."


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