In the “Meet the team” blog column, we tell stories about the ideas and people that make iCard one of the fastest-growing fintech companies in Europe. This time, you will meet our colleague Darin Nachev – Technical Director of “Digital Wallets and Electronic Money”. We asked him to share more about himself, his interests, and the delicate work-life balance between programming, sports shooting, and American cars.
Keep reading to learn more about Darin.
What are the things you consider yourself very good at?
I program and shoot very well.
How did you get hooked on action shooting?
It happened by chance – with friends, we had gone to the shooting range in the city for the first time and met the coach of the Varna dynamic shooting team. We got talking, and he invited us to go to trial practice. I’ve apparently always had a hidden desire to shoot something. Gradually I began to equip myself and now have three guns that I shoot for pleasure. Shooting is my way of unwinding at the end of the week.
The good thing is that this sport is developing increasingly in Bulgaria – there are more private shooting ranges, competitions, and teams in almost every big city.
Is the adrenaline rush the driving factor in buying a sports car?
I’ve always wanted a Camaro, but I don’t remember where that desire came from. One day I was browsing cars on the internet and came across a black Camaro. I decided to make my first significant financial mistake – entirely impulsively, I bought a one-way ticket to Sofia and drove the new car home the next day. And the fun started – the car turned out to have “small” problems for which there was no treatment in Bulgaria. I had to order auto parts from the US – it was not an easy or delightful process. I was lucky enough to have a friend into sports cars, and it all worked out. Everything ended well, and a year later, I was at my first race at the annual gathering of American car owners and fans in Bulgaria. Then I was able to enjoy with great pleasure the 500 horses under the hood.
How did you get into programming?
One of the first times you think about becoming a programmer is when you’re playing a game and thinking, “How hard would it be to make a game?”. It happened to me in 7th grade, and I got into StarCraft, Heroes and CS. Back then, there weren’t that many games yet, and you couldn’t even type “How to make a video game” into Google and find ready-made solutions. Programming technologies were much different back then.
Later I realised this dream of mine and made my first game. As a freshman at university, mobile phones were more popular, and I found time to work on them. Zombies were in fashion, and I made such a game – The Zombie Slayer. Today it is much easier – you have the engine, the graphics, everything is drag and drop, and there is no need for programming, but it was not like that ten years ago. When I was making it, I had to code everything myself. Then for the first time, I had to use the math we learned in school and thought I would never use, namely finding the coordinates of a point in space. Since drawing is not my strength, some of the pictures and graphics were done by a freelancer. The game reached over 20,000 downloads, and I still keep it on an old phone as a keepsake. Unfortunately, it didn’t become the hit I was hoping for, and I had to get a job as a real programmer, which brought me here.
Do you remember your first job?
I have been working since the 11th grade – I have assembled computers and made PVC windows. I will never forget how I started my first programming job. While we were in a lecture at the university, the lecturer selected five of our colleagues from the group and took us to the office of a banking software company. We initially had no idea where we were going and only found out when we were introduced to our future colleagues. We didn’t have to go to interviews, the professor directly recommended us, and we started working immediately.
In the fifth year, one of my colleagues left and started working at iCard. He recommended the company to me, and I couldn’t help but be impressed by the additional benefits for the employees. I began as part of the team working on developing the LeuPay product. Over time, I became the head of the team responsible for the back end of LeuPay. Now my team and I are developing the new functionalities for the iCard digital wallet.
What brings the team together?
From the initial creation of the team, there are only three people left who are still working together today. The good thing about us is that there is no strict hierarchy. We all work in one place, not separated in different offices. We always joke with each other and have established traditions in the department. Examples are get-togethers outside of work and Friday breakfasts at the office. At first, we got together once a week, but now, with the pandemic, we try to go out at least once a month. We also play board games together.
The most enduring tradition in the department turned out to be the Friday breakfast. Everyone looks forward to Friday, not because it’s the end of the week, but because there will be hot breakfasts in the office in the morning. We also stimulate the development of culinary skills in the team, and everyone is encouraged to bring something delicious for their colleagues after their vacation.
To keep the morale of our colleagues high, we have always tried to make the time spent in the workplace not feel like work. A typical example is a story from the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. A team member was returning from Italy. At that time, there was talk everywhere that the Italian borders were closed due to the many infected. My colleagues and I decided to have fun despite the sad situation – we bought nylons and plaster beams and made an improvised incubator at her workplace. Everyone had fun, and it was an excellent team-building experience.
What is the thing that makes you smile and feel proud?
It’s going to sound cliché, but I’m proud of my team. Each one of my colleagues is an irreplaceable part of the company.
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