AWS Startups Blog

Be Water, My Friend: Spectrm CTO on Building a Culture of Resilience and Flexibility

Guest post by Peyman Pouryekta, CTO, Spectrm

As a startup, it’s vital to act dynamically, quickly adjusting to the market’s and customer’s requirements. If compared to red tape-ridden corporations, which can be more like steamboats, startups have the advantage of working with the speed and agility of a speedboat. However, the potential and often exciting innovativeness of a startup can easily incur longer periods of trial and error, ultimately generating debt for young companies working on a shoestring budget.

In a startup’s fast-paced environment, the pressure of constant product and business decisions, architectural choices, customizations, bottlenecks, and high dependencies within a team can have a daunting effect, slowing down the team or the product development. In the end, the whole company, on all levels, will in some way have to pay for the accumulated expenses.

Build a mindset

While corporations are prepared to deal with summer breezes and light wind, the market nowadays behaves more like a typhoon. Whether it is a financial crisis, new consumer’s needs, or simply a switch in desire, companies need to be prepared for the unknown and uphold a certain level of flexibility during their period of growth.

In the current weather, companies should avoid big-ship syndrome, where innovation is just a word in buzzy titles and unfilled positions. Instead, they should invest in a flexible and innovative mindset at the very foundation of the company’s culture. Implementing this can be challenging. Before discussing small adjustments, make sure the company’s environment is set up and ready for the future. Ask yourself:

  • Is the organization prepared to hire several new employees?
  • Can we onboard them?
  • Are workflows in place?
  • Do we have a vision defined and a clear product roadmap?
  • Are there any risky bottlenecks?

Implement a mindset

Navigating the turbulent waters of foundational changes can be stressful, especially when those changes are sudden. Employees often struggle to adjust, so communication and trust are key. Creating an environment of trust is essential to make team members feel safe enough to invest their valuable time. Besides that, it should be clear that the company is building a future for all people involved.

In this process, keep an eye out for red flags. If you realize you need to double-check the work of colleagues and employees, it’s not a good sign. If you need to have the last say in every detail, and if you’re making decisions reactively rather than proactively, then it’s time to make some changes. If you see highly qualified team members as simple workers, they will not stay long. Give them the freedom to take responsibility and help them to be successful in their field. One last tip: You should not artificially try to motivate your team. Your job is to avoid demotivation – be a good host.

Strategy and organization

The concept of Objective and Key Results (OKRs) with quarterly goals helps to organize a team and gives direction. If people know where they are going, they can contribute to achieving the goals. Spotify’s concept of squads, chapters, and tribes (with a maximum of 8 people in a squad focusing on a specific topic, where everyone is fully empowered to get the job done) is something much appreciated by mature teams. From a growth perspective, this concept can help scale the product with the possibility of setting up a new squad, and later tribes with new scopes. Bear in mind that this strategy might not work with younger teams as they need the time to figure out if they can and want to work like that.


On team level there are several concepts you can use to organize internal processes. We use Scrum and Kanban, which are more or less standard, especially in agile software development. It is likely that a variation of these concepts are already in use on your side. The concept of Holacracy is based on the idea of eliminating hierarchical structures and organizing a company in a decentralized way. The delineation of roles and responsibilities in the Holacracy is very helpful in identifying and optimizing of:

  • ongoing activities
  • missing roles
  • overload of team member
  • bored and unchallenged team member
  • bottlenecks

Modern cloud services

Change within companies also often means a move into new technologies. Implementing new concepts and technologies might create the fear of failure. Modern cloud computing services like AWS can be a solution for the technology part. These tools offer an easy and flexible way to try out new technologies. By using these tools, you can gain time to see what works and to update tech stack, step-by-step, without big investments. It also enables the tech department to deliver new business’ requests and stay dynamic.

In our case, the move to Kubernetes (K8s) and especially to Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) helped us with scalability, monitoring, and system automation. The security aspect is very important for Spectrm, which is why we moved from DevOps towards DevSecOps practices. Gitlab is a good tool to that.  We use it as our code-repository and continuous integration/deployment tool and especially the Gold Version supports us for the ISO certification process.

Finally, don’t forget that each team has its own idiosyncrasies. If something works for one team that does not mean it will work for another, or even for the same team in the future. Assuming that the future is untold, you should stay flexible, have a plan B, and be prepared for the unknown.


The future is rocky, perhaps, like never before. Whether it’s changing work conditions, like home-office, economic crisis, or technological novelties, it’s crucial for companies to invest in agility and openness. Embracing a good company culture, new technologies, and innovative concepts like OKRs, Spotify’s team structure concept, Scrum or Kanban, Holacracy with its use of Roles & Accountabilities, as well as modern cloud computing services like AWS are essential to support agility within companies.


demo of a woman using spectrm

Spectrm is an ai-powered conversational marketing platform. It’s the one-stop-shop for marketers to launch chatbots that generate insights and revenue on the world’s biggest messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger and Google AdLingo. With conversational intelligence tools that make every datapoint actionable. Without needing any engineering resources. Spectrm helps automate faster customer acquisition with conversational ads that engage every customer personally. It also helps automate customer experience by enabling personalized one to one conversations at scale.

Gartner labeled Spectrm as a Cool Vendor in the Natural Language Processing space, recognizing the proprietary NLP technology that enables brands with limited conversational data to quickly develop their own domain-specific conversational AI. Our platform is a high-tech solution with self-developed AI/NLP engine and integrations into 3rd party systems.

Author: Peyman Pouryekta, CTO