Vanessa has recently steered her career in communication towards graphic, UX/UI design and Mischa is a Software Engineer and Founder of his own company, Valudio. Besides having closely related fields of expertise, they also share a life together.
Mischa; what do you do and what brought you to it?
Currently I’m running Valudio which is a software development company. We plan, build, and operate software solutions for businesses. It can be a mobile app, or web platforms, mainly for companies. So when a company doesn’t have an internal software developer team, they seek to externalise the service and give us the project.
When did you start your career?
About 8 years ago. I studied computer science in Belgium and then I did my Bachelor’s thesis in Barcelona. After a 4-month internship, I moved back to Belgium to work for a company for about one year where I had been travelling between Belgium, Switzerland and Spain until I decided to stay in Barcelona, and I’ve been here ever since. After two or three years of working as a Software Developer, I started Valudio. It has been an exciting journey with a lot of learning so far, and Barcelona is such a great place, because there are so many interesting startups in the tech industry.
When was Valudio born?
4th July 2016, so soon it’ll be 5 years already. We are two shareholders, my partner is my former boss, but I’m the only one operating the business, as he has another company. In the beginning, our projects came from contacts, and were mainly developing software for other companies, so it was a safe place to start.
What are some of the tasks in your job?
The first touch base with the customer is a meeting to understand their needs, to understand their requirements, the technical complexities, then we give them a proposal with a time and cost estimate. Once the project starts, I’m in touch with the customer, planning the work with the development team, follow-up and handling any contingencies that may come up. Usually the customers stay with us for a long time after the project has finished because they normally keep adding new features after the software is released. In other words, I do everything except software development.
Do you work with a team?
Currently we are four full-time developers and depending on the needs we collaborate with some freelancers for short-term assignments. Since our work is based on projects, we need to be flexible with the workforce based on that.
Vanessa, your turn! What is your field of expertise?
I’m a UX designer, but I also do UI design, like graphics and interfaces. I studied communication in Belgium, and then decided to do my masters in Barcelona: Advertising Design and Strategic Communication. While finishing the masters, I started an internship in graphic design in an advertising agency and at the same time I did a student job in an insurance company based in Switzerland, where I worked in customer care. Right after finishing the graphic design internship, I landed my first job as a graphic designer in the same insurance company. It was really the best case for me, to kick off my career as a graphic designer like that.
After a year, I was able to transition into the UX area, since I did the AllWomen bootcamp in user experience design. Last month I switched to another company called Starmind where I now work as a UX Designer. After the bootcamp I realised that I liked digital more than print, and that UX aligns better with the communication background I have, which is what I like to do.
Do you ever imagine the two of you working together on the same team?
Mischa: At Valudio we often collaborate with a UX/UI designer to help us with some parts of projects. So when Vanessa started getting into this field I was giving her a few smaller parts so she could gain some experience. Vanessa: For the moment, I think it’s very good that I work in other companies with bigger teams with other people. So, no, right now I don’t imagine myself working with him full-time but maybe in the future. Mischa: The thing is that we already share a lot because we live together, work next to each other here at MOB, so getting that space in the work area is good for us. It makes things easier!
Do you talk about work when you get home?
Vanessa: Like a normal couple do, I guess. We comment on how our day went at work. Since in the MOB space we don’t really talk much. Also, I’m not that experienced yet, so for me it’s very useful to be able to get insight from a developer’s point of view. To know if what I’m designing is doable, make sure it’s not too crazy! Mischa: When you are a UX/UI designer or product manager, it is not strictly necessary to understand all the details of the coding part, but it can be quite helpful in many ways.
When you are a UX/UI designer or product manager, it is not strictly necessary to understand all the details of the coding part, but it can be quite helpful in many ways.
How is working remotely from your team?
Vanessa: When I recently started with the new company, it was a little bit weird because for the first two days I was in the phone booth all day, having meetings back-to-back. My boss pretty much told me, here’s a list of 10 people you need to meet, then my next assignment was to create some user personas, which was good practice to get to know the colleagues’ expectations and work habits. It felt so nice to meet my coworkers, even if it was all virtual! There’s one colleague who lives in Barcelona, so she’s the only person in the company whom I ever met in person.
I’m dying of curiosity to know how the two of you met! Unless it’s confidential of course…
*Chuckles* Mischa: It’s funny because we are from the same German speaking region in Belgium. We knew we had some friends in common but we had never talked to each other. When she came here to check out the city, a friend told her “You should ask Mischa to show you around, he can recommend you some nice restaurants”. Vanessa: First I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to do this masters, so I visited Barcelona for two weeks, to see what it was like (then I met Mischa), and of course six months later I was back. It didn’t take us long to realise we wanted to be together. It’s been a bit more than four years now. Mischa: It’s always a bit strange when we go back home, people ask me “Oh you come from Spain with your girlfriend; is she Spanish?” When I tell them she’s from the town next door they’re always very surprised. Vanessa: It makes it easier to have the same roots when it comes to planning the future together.
When did you join MOB, by the way?
Mischa: I joined in October 2020 and Vanessa started to come sporadically a couple of months after. Valudio used to have an office, but during the lockdown we were all working remotely, and after summer we decided to leave the office. The option to work remotely had always been there, Covid was just the little push we needed, and I’m glad I found MOB. The atmosphere here is very good, everything is always organised and nicely set-up, people are interesting… I think we both feel at home here.
The option to work remotely had always been there, Covid was just the little push we needed, and I’m glad I found MOB.