Interview: Jüri Tarkpea, the VP of Platform Engineering at Fleet Complete

Interview: Jüri Tarkpea, the VP of Platform Engineering at Fleet Complete

Just 20 years ago Jüri Tarkpea, now the VP of Platform Engineering at Fleet Complete, had a software company in a small Estonian town called Tartu. Their one-of-a-kind GPS tracker first caught the eye of Skype founder Toivo Annus and just 3 years ago the whole business was acquired by a huge global player Fleet Complete. Talk about a success story! 📈

Fleet Complete is the global leader in providing IoT solutions with the goal to reduce waste around anything that involves vehicles 🚚.. As their product falls on the B2B side, the wider audience might not be aware of all the Fleet Complete devices that surround us. But be well assured, they make our daily life a lot easier. 

According to Jüri, Fleet Complete is like a fox 🦊  agile and adaptive to every situation. Small enough to be flexible and fast. Big enough to serve huge global partners.

Read the interview to find out how the team gets stuff done and how they work with influential clients like Ford, AT&T and many more.

 

Interview

 

No mission statement is better than an insider giving us the overview of the company. Please tell us what does Fleet Complete do? Where could one find your product?

Essentially, we have two core values that we provide to our customers. 

Firstly, reducing waste around everything that involves vehicles and other assets of a company. In addition to that, we also try to maximize the benefits that come out of these assets. Usually, it involves location tracking. 

Location visibility is the cornerstone of our service, because once you get to the location, you can do business calculations, maintenance reminders and all sorts of reporting about anything related to the vehicles and assets. So, what we really do is help fleets thrive. 

 

What exactly do you mean by “fleets”?

In our case they are bicycles, cars, heavy trucks, helicopters, boats and everything in between. If one knew where to look, this is exactly where our products are to be found — attached to all sorts of vehicles. Of course, in reality there are few who know where to search. 

In fact, as we operate on the B2B side of the business world, the knowledge about us in general public is not high at all so that sometimes even the employees of the companies that use our products don’t know about all the systems we are providing them. They might know that some devices are being used but not if they are provided by Fleet Complete or somebody else. 

We look at it as a good thing, after all, one of our ideals is that we take away the problems, not replace them with new ones. In that sense, being unknown is a really good thing — because everybody remembers troublemakers.

 

What is your career story in the company? How did you find Fleet Complete or how did Fleet Complete find you? 

My career started almost 20 years ago as a developer with two friends. At the time we had a little software company in Tartu with a few map applications. There was one specific app that allowed one to see one’s location on an old soviet military map, using GPS trackers. At that time, it was a unique offering. 

What is maybe interesting to mention is that Toivo Annus, the founder of Skype and one of the first business leaders in technology, used to have a hobby for off-road vehicles’ orientation back in 2004-2005. People who drove those vehicles started buying the software to know where the bogs and trenches are and this is how Toivo found out about us. 

One of the companies he had invested in was Oskando which was focusing on GPS trackers´ hardware, so at one point it was only natural that he came to us and made an offer to merge.

Following that, we expanded to Baltics and found the first resellers in Eastern Europe and Nordics. Then we merged with a Danish company and we started growing bigger than just a Baltics’ company. 

Three years ago, this whole thing was acquired by Fleet Complete and today I serve as the Global VP of Engineering. I think that most of the people working in the Estonian office today are on the same trajectory of one day contributing to this company and team at the highest possible level. 

 

Wow, that’s one interesting journey you had! What is the common value that connects different international experts in the team? 

“Getting stuff done”. In the corporate environment it can be really hard to maintain our own face and the personal style of communication. 

Luckily, I believe that we have managed to do that. We are not afraid to express our opinions and we all bring our best to the table for the mutual goal of getting stuff done. So, I guess it is the common mindset that most connects us. 

 

During these unprecedented times, how are things going with Fleet Complete?

When the first wave of COVID hit, very soon after, we started breaking many monthly records in sales. Our products and services proved to be extra valuable during these unprecedented times when life needed to become more digitalized in order to minimize physical contact between people. 

So, the year has turned out quite well. In fact, so well that we have started a new hiring cycle to keep up with the customer demands. 

At the same time internally, we switched to remote work mode from day 1 without any impact on the business. So, we are very flexible and allow everyone to decide what is the best working setup for them. Also, during that time we were offering virtual workout sessions with coaches on wellbeing as well as physical exercise. 

While the company’s headquarter is in Toronto, Fleet Complete has 12 offices all around the world. Picture from Tartu office opening.

 

The company is rapidly expanding and Fleet Complete just opened a new office in Tallinn. Congratulations! Who are you looking for to join the team?

Indeed, thank you! 

As I mentioned earlier, “getting stuff done” mindset plays a big role in our company. Therefore, we are first and foremost looking for people who align with that mindset. 

In addition to that I want to say that we have seen too many success stories over the years of people who on the paper should have not been hired but aligned with the mindset, had grit and have now achieved great things. 

Working in a company that is growing that fast is not always easy. It means that we also look for people who are searching for professional challenges. We do not have the luxury to decide everything for our employees, on the contrary, we are counting on them to make up their own mind and in case of urgency have the confidence to make the decision on their own.

If you are looking for professional challenges, share the “getting stuff done” mindset and are ready to take the lead when needed, we are a perfect match.

Specifically, we are looking at the moment: mobile developers, QA engineers, full-stack developers, UX lead and many more. Feel free to join the team:

 

 

You said that switching to remote work happened rather smoothly. Do you have any secrets on how you did that?

We support productivity. You should work where you are the most productive, be it the office, home or remote office — it doesn’t matter. 

In addition to that I believe we are a supportive bunch that want to achieve great things and to have fun along the way. 

Also, the self-development aspect is worth mentioning. During a short period of time you can see the strengths of each employee and we try to play on their strengths, we try to encourage their personal growth. From a materialistic perspective, our employees can choose their work equipment. We don’t offer golden laptops, but we’ll do as much as possible to help our employees to be more productive.

 

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! To end the interview, we’ve got 5 rapid-fire questions to you.

 

If Fleet Complete would be an animal, what animal would it be? 

A fox, because of agility and ability to find solutions. Adaptive to every situation. 

 

What is the best thing that happened to the whole team this month? 

Excellent question! We just launched our next generation web platform product for retail customers of AT&T of US.  

 

Who is Fleet Complete’s biggest client in the world, in Estonia?

AT&T globally and Eesti Energia in Estonia.

 

What’s your favourite part of your current job? 

Never had a boring day.

 

What do you believe is the biggest strength of your company right now? 

Small enough to be agile and be able to execute rapidly. We are also big enough that we serve as partners for world’s biggest car manufacturers (Ford, General Motors, Daimler, Mitsubishi) and telecom companies.