There’s an African proverb that says, “if you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a closed room with a mosquito”. Thorgate is a tech company with 40+ team members and 3 offices in London, Oslo and Tallinn. However, in the last 8 years, we have been able to include in our ecosystem and impact over 10,000 Python enthusiasts, tech entrepreneurs and professionals through our many ‘giving-back’ activities. The difference is huge, we’ve created a strong Python community where there was none, our team members and alumni are leading with their expertise gained via the many personal development opportunities at Thorgate and we have made access to a rich knowledge base easier for everyone acquainted with us.
We have done this through various initiatives such a code clubs, PyCon, sharing knowledge within and outside of our organisation, creating innovative ways for people development within Thorgate and laying great emphasis on ‘giving back’ through our many CSR activities. In this article, I have put together what we have achieved so far in Thorgate in terms of making a difference.
Building the Python Community
We believe the best aid to give to a community is intellectual aid, as it is often said that the best gift is the gift of knowledge. Therefore, we formally started Python Code Club in 2013 with the motive to strengthen the Python community in Estonia. We created an opportunity for beginners to be able to learn the language, and for advanced level Pythonistas, to share ideas, get inspired by each other and help us give back to the community by helping others learn from us. Six years later, what started as the small Python meetup with pizza and drinks, is now a recurring bi-monthly event where many important ideas were born and an engaged community of 1100 Python Enthusiasts in Tallinn was created.
Code Club further led us to actualise our vision and create NGO Python Estonia initially supported by Thorgate itself. Python Estonia has gathered support from other IT companies around the world to organise PyCon Estonia for the last two years consecutively. PyCon Estonia has been a great success, and has seen great response in terms of participation by Python enthusiasts and entrepreneurs each year. It is not only a platform for speakers to deliver valuable insights to participants, but also a way for IT startups and corporations like Oracle, Microsoft, and KPMG to become involved with the community. We always welcome other companies to join hands with us and help us make a difference with Code Club and PyCon both in Estonia and internationally.
Imparting the Knowledge
With Thorgate Ventures, we are already mentoring startups, helping them grow and expand. We also support the tech startup community with seed-stage investments through our boutique venture fund. However, Thorgate management takes imparting the knowledge we’ve gathered beyond our ecosystem. I have been travelling across the world delivering impactful talks on how to build products, and how to grow a team of technical people to do that. I have travelled to several international events in Tashkent, Kiev, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Brussels, educating my audience on the pain points to familiarise with before they even start development or hiring. This has led to us creating a wide network beyond borders for Thorgate, where our contacts truly value our input and advice on diverse topics such as organisational management and product development.
Making work great again
When we say ‘we think people, not products’, we mean both people inside our organisation and outside. While code clubs, PyCon, mentoring startups and other such activities have helped us benefit people outside of Thorgate, we go to great lengths for our own people as well.
Personal Development of our team members is always in focus at Thorgate. We use tools like Clanbeat to track moods and goals, regular 1-on-1s to talk about current performance, team retrospective meeting to discuss weekly achievements and setbacks, monthly performance overviews by teams to maintain transparency, work free work days to help the team take a day off and focus on something different, monthly eNPS to track of employee engagement and satisfaction and a lot more. Read the details by our Thorgate culture officer on how our innovative personal development techniques help people thrive here.
We openly talk about the elements of our culture to motivate other tech companies to make work cultures productive like ours. We often have visitors from academic institutions or other organisations, and we welcome anyone in our office to see and learn how we have engineered our great culture and how we manage people development. This also reflects one of our main values at Thorgate: Open-mindedness. We are hungry to continuously learn and open-minded enough to explore how our learning can also help others.
Corporate Social Responsibility
We understand that our role is an important one, and we try to make a difference in our community through many ways. While our intellectual aid is something we are extremely proud of, that does not mean we don’t do more. As an environmentally friendly company, we prioritise ecological sustainability. We are part of the Tech Green Pledge helping companies to be climate neutral by 2030. We also signed the Estonian diversity charter which is a voluntary agreement with the Estonian human rights center promising that we maintain a discrimination free and respectful work environment.
At Thorgate, we’ve never considered ourselves too small to make a difference. We’ve believed that alone we can take initiatives to impact our community, make a difference, and then see others join us. We’ve covered many milestones in the last 8 years, but this is a long road and we see ourselves doing a lot more!
Read related articles:
How Thorgate Built a Culture that Makes People Thrive
What did I learn from PyCon Estonia 2019?