25 May The Interview: Dav Yaginuma, CEO of Unchained Logistics, on working with BDIT for over 10 years
We’re starting a series of interviews with some of our clients. Our goal is to show you their thoughts and experience working with us. Raw, unfiltered. No fake testimonials. We believe this is the best way for you to truly get a good idea of what it’s like working with BDIT.
We started with one of BDIT’s long-lasting clients, Dav Yaginuma.
Dav is a CEO of Unchained Logistics, with many startups under his belt. He is a highly-creative engineer, who met Siniša and BDIT while working at Lumosity.
Dav was a wonderful conversationalist, and he gave us a lot of interesting information about his work with BDIT, which we’d like to share in full.
The Interviewer: How would you describe your work with the BDIT team?
Dav: I’ve worked with them through several different companies over time. I’ve worked with, I would have to guess, maybe eight or nine different BDIT engineers over all that time. So at first, I didn’t work with them directly, but they worked with a company I was at, called Lumosity, back in 2008. I mean, it was over a decade ago.
And that worked out great. We worked with some other offshore companies at Shyp, and I definitely think BDIT stood out as the most reliable out of the ones that we work with there, which didn’t surprise me at all because I’ve known them for a while at that point. And so, we worked with them and Shyp for a couple of years, and then Shyp went out of business.
The Interviewer: This sparked another question in my mind. You are an engineer, and as an engineer, how would you value their work? From an engineering perspective?
Dav: Yeah, no, it’s consistently high quality. We’ve never gotten a bad apple from BDIT. As I said, there’s been a number of different engineers that we’ve worked with, and every single one of them has been able to hold their weight. In Silicon Valley, there’s a thing called 10x. It’s an engineering kind of an agency.
We’ve hired a few here and there, and we got bad apples with 10x but I’ve never gotten one with BDIT. They’ve been fantastic and I’ve worked with a lot of offshore companies in my career over the last 10 years – it’s been less than that because I just basically stick with BDIT as much as I can. But prior to that, I’ve worked with a number of engineers, and almost every single one turned out to be… there have only been two offshore teams ever, out of maybe a dozen that I’ve worked with, that weren’t a mistake in retrospect. And that’s BDIT. And then there was one in France called Sofia.com that was really good as well. But we only did one project with them. But, everything else, the other 10, I would say, in the end, we ended up regretting it. We’d be, like, “ This offshore relationship, it did not pan out.” But BDIT pans out every time.
The Interviewer: Great. What makes BDIT stand out from the crowd? You said it, real-life reliability. But aside from that, maybe something more?
Dav: I would say part of what stands out is the reliability, definitely. The other part of it is flexibility. I come to them with lots of different requests. “I need somebody like this, I need somebody like that”, and they always manage to find someone – they might take a few weeks or something like that – but they can usually find the person with the skills available, that they can provide. They were able to broaden their quiver of engineers available to cover a lot more ground. And so any kind of engineering that I would need whatsoever – my first thought would be to ask BDIT, see if they have somebody because they probably do.
The Interviewer: Great! And maybe something about communication. How does that part work?
Dav: Yeah, so that stands out as well. I saw that there was one question on there “What do you think companies in the Valley value the most in teams like these?”, and obviously, engineering quality is super important, right? And it has to, more or less match what we consider the local levels in the Bay Area of quality, and they do that. The other part is, low project friction, right? Like, the communication has to be frictionless. It has to feel like you’re dealing with an American team, and that they absolutely feel like that. They are available for enough hours during the West Coast workday to overlap and have real-time communication. They’re super flexible about it, you know, obviously, it’s late at night, for their time in Europe. But, they’re still able to meet us in the morning here and have real-time communication. And also, English has never been a problem, like ever with anybody in BDIT. Everybody’s English has been fantastic. And that’s definitely not true with a lot of other offshore companies I’ve worked with where, you know, they might actually be quality engineers, but it’s so hard to get any work done. Because communication is difficult. that’s never been an issue with BDIT. And then obviously, you know, the other thing that people here value is the cost savings. It’s like having a local team. But you’re not paying the local prices, obviously.
The Interviewer: All right. So, you said that their engineering is great. So speaking of that, since you never met BDIT, how would you assess their engineering quality based on the website? Or their communication? Would you look at the tech stack or…
Dav: You really can’t. This is why word of mouth and reputation matters a lot. Anybody could put up a website that is impressive. And then it’s not backed up by engineers that can really do that work. And you can’t really know the quality of an engineer until you’ve worked with them for you know, weeks. It takes some time to really assess whether or not this person is reliable. And that’s why reputation matters so much. That’s the key. There are really no shortcuts there. You have to work with people for a while to really understand their capabilities.
The Interviewer: I completely agree. So, if you could pick any story, any situation that stood out in your mind with BDIT, like a really, really good situation, do you have anything to share?
Dav: It’s hard to pick out any particular thing. They’re just kind of reliable. It’s like, you go to work, they’re your co-workers and everybody does their job. There’s no drama, which is great. That’s actually a fantastic part of it.
I guess the part that had most pleasantly surprised me is when I came to them with a need for something like, “Hey, we need somebody who can do this, and maybe some SQL thing”, or we had to, at one point, find somebody who could both be able to do iOS work, but also really good database work. Because of the nature of the project, the time required both of those skills, and it made sense that the same person did them. And those don’t always go together. But they were able to get a guy who did fantastic work. He was an older guy, he really knew what he was doing and got the job done really well. I can’t remember his name now. But that one probably stood out because we were surprised. We were like, “Oh, I don’t think they’re gonna find somebody like this, because it was a combination of two skills that don’t necessarily go together”. But they did. I can’t remember the guy’s name. Sorry.
The Interviewer: No, it’s okay. That’s great. Like an engineering unicorn. So yeah, there’s no higher level of trust than to entrust them with work for your startup. It’s like the peak of trust. So I think we covered all the questions. Everything boils down to reliability, flexibility, and trust. So there was a question that goes: “If you had to pitch them to another decision-maker, what would you say?”
Dav: The decision-maker in my own company?
The Interviewer: Yeah. Or another, a friend?
Dav: Okay, at your own company: If I’m some kind of engineering leader at a company, and the project comes up, and I’m saying, basically, my word is going to be good, right? It’s like, “Hey, I’ve worked with these people before. They’re trustworthy, they’re good value, I’ve worked with them a number of times, they’d never let me down.” That would be enough, right. So talking to somebody outside of my current company, and telling them the same thing again, and just telling people that has been enough to get a number. I have told people about BDIT. And almost every single one of them ended up reaching out and contacting them, some of them worked with them when the project made sense. That’s basically what you do. You say, like, “Hey, I know, these people, I have worked with them for years, they have never let me down once”, and that’s really meaningful because very few offshore firms can come along with that level of reputation that can get passed on. And that’s always been enough. I’m actually a great salesperson for BDIT. Not a lot of people have a firm like them that they’ve worked with long and that they can recommend, right? Like I said before, out of the dozen or so offshore companies I worked with before BDIT, almost all of them didn’t work out. It’s super common. The common thought process here in the Silicon Valley area is that every time you work with an offshore company if you don’t know them if you haven’t worked with them before, you’re just rolling the dice. And you’re likely to lose.
The only time that you really do it is if you’re a large company, you got plenty of money, and you can just go like, “Oh, we’ll just blow hundreds of 1000s of dollars on and see how this goes”. Right. But for startups, no startup is gonna do that. Do you have to have a reputation going in? Yeah, because every dollar is precious.
I’m just saying BDIT is like gold. It’s like you know where the stash of gold is. It’s like, “Oh, you need some really good value for your startup. I know the people that you need to talk to about that”. Yeah, I’ve had that conversation many times. I used to actually not tell people about BDIT, they used to be called BD, and I would not tell people about them, because I didn’t want them to not have people available when I needed somebody. I wanted to keep them to myself. You know, I stopped doing that eventually. They always find people so I can tell people about them.
The Interviewer: And also, it feels good for you when you recommend them. And they do a great job that people are thankful for.
Dav: Yeah, yeah. I have no qualms about, you know, me recommending them to somebody, and then that person coming back to me and going like, “Well, they really did not work out at all. That was terrible, right?” That’s not gonna happen. I know. That’s not gonna happen. Right. So yeah, man freely, will recommend them left and right.
The Interviewer: And having in mind that they have US-based clients, many of them, you’re just proving your words.
Dav: Yeah, totally. And it’s nice also, that they come out to visit. A lot of offshore companies, you never really meet anybody from that team. Because unless you go out to India or whatever. But I’ve seen some people from BDIT. Once every year on average, I would say. And they’re not coming out for me. Their higher-paying clients will fly them out. They’d be here in San Francisco, and they’ll stop by and talk to me as well.