Talkin’ Tech is a series where the Douglas Development team chat with some of the movers and shakers of Buffalo’s tech and start-up scene to get their insight into how the city has evolved and is continuing to evolve in those spaces.
Check out our chat with Nick Kosinski, Director of East Coast operations at Odoo.
Describe Odoo in 1-2 sentences:
Odoo is an integrated suite of business management applications.
What do you do for Odoo?
I oversee Odoo’s East Coast operations, so that includes everything from Sales, Professional Services, Support, Technical, etc.
How did you end up in (or back in) Buffalo?
I started at Odoo in 2015 in New York City. I was selling for Odoo there, and I got pretty involved and interested in the technical side of the product and branched out. While selling, I continued to learn more and more, and I got involved in some of the different areas of the business. That passion and underlying interest has allowed me to seek out an opportunity to grow with the company and ultimately establish an East Coast office.
We have an office of about 550 in Belgium today, and 250 in San Francisco. When establishing an East Coast office, the company wasn’t interested in having it in New York City, primarily due to saturation of the market. In New York City, there are thousands of technology companies we would have had to compete with from an employment standpoint, a compensation standpoint, relevance standpoint. We saw that there were some more interesting tier two cities that possessed the resources we would need to be successful, such as student population, general cost of doing business, culture, geographical location. For those reasons, we decided to go against the grain, think outside the New York City box, and we found Buffalo and moved into Seneca One. I jumped on the opportunity to come back here.
After growing up in Buffalo, moving away, and then coming back here, what has surprised you the most about the tech/start-up scene in Buffalo?
I think it’s both surprising and unsurprising. Everyone kind of has an idea of Buffalo being a city of good neighbors, a city that has a lot of camaraderie. Buffalo is full of people that see themselves as a community. A sort of underdog mentality blankets all of that. I knew that growing up here, of course. When I worked in tech in New York for some time it was very much a competitive space. When I came back here to Buffalo, it was kind of the opposite of that. It was an environment where the person standing next to you, the one standing behind you, the one in front of you, are all interested in seeing you grow, and you are interested in seeing them grow. I think that mentality is rooted in the theory that a rising tide lifts all boats. I think that is the most compelling and interesting facet of the tech scene here in Buffalo. It’s amazing to see how people work together and to see how people know that they need to come together to make a shift as a community. People work towards a common objective. They collaborate. They cooperate. It’s not just surprising, but it really reminds me to be proud of where I am from and to work that much harder to make a shift happen.
Obviously it is a unique year, and we are starting to see a lot of companies rethink their operations. How do you think COVID has impacted how companies will choose where to be located and set-up their offices?
Obviously COVID is a nightmare, and we all look forward to the day when it’s behind us. When it comes to long-term impacts, a lot of people are looking through the lens of the individual employee, like this is an opportunity for employees to work remotely, to never go into an office again, to work from the beach. While that is obviously true and the right move for some companies, it definitely won’t be the case for most. Big companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook are buying up commercial real estate and betting against the idea of remote-only moving forward.
Looking through the lens of the employer and the ability to scale a team and deliver services remotely provides a different perspective. I think that the long-term impact will be that companies no longer need to be in cities like New York, Seattle, or San Francisco in order to deliver quality services across the continent or even the globe. For that reason, they will look elsewhere for their offices and headquarters I suspect. Obviously there are other factors, like access to resources, that need to be considered, but companies will definitely be looking for ways to save where they can. The simple reason that remote-only work isn’t here to stay is that the collaborative impact of being in the office, especially in the tech space where oftentimes the products are complex and there are steep learning curves, cannot be optimized with work-from-home. Remote work can create huge costs of both money and time for companies trying to rapidly create a culture, scale up operations, and more. We don’t yet have the technology to fully replicate in-office collaboration for remote work, in my opinion.
What’s the best thing about working in Seneca One?
We’ve been in Seneca One since early September. The best thing is the collaboration, being able to buzz down the elevator and see familiar faces who work at different companies like M&T Bank and 43North. Being able to see people, chat with them, exchange ideas with them, learn from them, and having them be able to learn things from us has a tremendous impact on the evolution of what we’re trying to create both here at Seneca One and in the Buffalo community more broadly.
What Greg Baker, Sean Heidinger, Sam Soltis, and the Douglas Development team are doing is really working. It’s really a long-term plan. It’s incredible to watch them show up day in and day out to realize this great Seneca One vision . It’s an incredible project and everyone is really involved in the community. It’s more than just a building.
Is Odoo currently hiring?
Odoo is absolutely hiring. We are hiring for Account Executives at the moment. If you are someone who is interested in technology and helping businesses operate more efficiently, then by all means reach out.
What Buffalo food did you miss the most when you were living in New York City?
LaNova pizza with blue cheese, specifically from the one on Main. With charred pepperonis for sure.