In our new VentureStories series, we’ll be chatting with VentureDevs employees from across the company and in various roles to learn more about what they do, how they got started, and why they’re excited to be a part of the VentureSquad.
Today, we’re sitting down with Tomasz Kuczmarski, our AI and Data Science Advisor based in Poznan, Poland. Tomasz is an expert Python developer with an academic background in linguistics and professional training from Samsung’s Research and Development Center in AI.
Let’s get started!
Q: How long have you been at VentureDevs?
TK: I first started at VentureDevs in 2016, but I’ve actually been “at” VentureDevs longer than it’s existed. I had been working with our co-founders Joe and Wojtek on their previous projects. When they offered me the opportunity to join VentureDevs, I got on board immediately.
Q: What made you want to join the VentureSquad?
TK: Well, it seemed too good to be true at first. Up until then, I had a traditional 9-5 job in an office with work that wasn’t that interesting. It was stable and nice, but I was excited about working in a startup. Now I know it’s not too good to be true because it is true. But it’s still very fun to be here and it’s been great to see every stage that the company has gone through. It feels like my place.
Q: What do you do at VentureDevs?
TK: I’ve done everything. I trained as a developer, then I progressed through all of the tech positions and management roles we had. I even served as our CTO at one point, but that made me realize that what excited me most was working with tech. That’s what makes me happy and keeps me having fun.
I also work as our main AI and ML guy. When we do get projects in that space, we get cool ones like TrueFace. That project was really enjoyable.
Q: What do you love about what you do?
TK: I really love the AI work, especially from the perspective of language. That’s always been exciting to me because I’m trained as a linguist. It feels like we’re working with a non-human buddy, like a Tamogotchi that you can teach. I really enjoy the fact that, when you build an AI system, most of the time it’s actually learning on its own. You never know what’s going to come out of it and what kind of stuff it’s going to learn.
I’d also say that I love building stuff that people actually use. You get to see the stuff you coded being deployed and enjoyed by real users. I also really like the projects we work on where we get to take part in building and designing the whole product and application from the ground up. We get to work on some really interesting projects.
Q: How did you get started in development?
TK: I started out studying linguistics. There were a lot of diverse specializations — the history of languages, anthropology, computational linguistics, etc. I took a class in natural language processing and loved it. It was magical to input a sentence — something that was really human and difficult for computers to traditionally interpret — and see programs and algorithms kind of understand what was being said.
From there, I started joining more linguistics projects, but I realized they required a lot of computer knowledge. The more natural language processing I covered, the more computer science I had to know. When I started working with speech synthesizers, I could feel that lack of software engineering knowledge was holding me back. So I decided that I should join a software house to learn more.
I found an opening in a program at the Samsung Research and Development Center designed for people who were studying computer science and looking to improve their skills, so I really built out my development skills there. After that, I accepted a role as a developer in Samsung’s R&D department working with AI.
Q: How do you make WFH work for you?
TK: WFH was one of the things that drew me to VentureDevs. I always dreamt about having the chance to work remotely. However, after doing it for so long, now I know why it’s so important to have a proper setup. I invested in a desk chair, a standing desk, and a meditation pillow that I kneel on sometimes. It’s a lot better than just slouching on the couch with your laptop on your lap, which I used to do at the beginning and which can mess up your back.
Here are my tips: get up and walk around every half hour and have well-defined start and stop points for your workday so you don’t end up working all day and night.
Overall, though, I love that we can work from anywhere. If I want to drive to the beach and work from a cafe, I totally can.
Q: What do you like doing outside of work?
TK: I’m currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Linguistics. I’ve been working on it for over ten years and I think this might finally be the year when I complete it, so I’m excited about that. I also enjoy anything in nature — hiking, traveling, rock climbing, and surfing. And I speak fluent Mandarin and am interested in Chinese culture.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about working at VentureDevs?
TK: Maybe it’s because I’ve been here for so long, but VentureDevs feels like home. And after all of it, I still want to be here, so that’s the coolest thing.
This interview has been edited for clarity.