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A spotlight on the faces behind Pandas

In this blog, we have turned our spotlight many times into the inner workings of our technological innovations and services: how we created the super-powerful Pandas ATM and its smaller counterpart, the Pandas Flex — our 2 state-of-art phone-buying machines, able to complete a trade-in in just 3 minutes. Or the truly unique Pandas Web App, for remote, fully autonomous trade-in at your fingertips. Transforming the smartphone trade-in market is what we’re after and we’re so very glad to see how beneficial our products have been for our end users, other businesses (and the environment!) offering them the most complete, quick, and safe trade-in experience.

Yet, we couldn’t have achieved any of this without the precious work of all the people working behind the scenes. Thanks to their talents, skills, and tireless quest to design outstanding products that make a difference, Pandas is able to make such advancements in product and engineering. And we’re immensely proud of the work culture in our company! That’s why we’re bringing the focus on 3 faces from the Pandas team, to share their experience working here and speak in more detail about how a week goes by in our offices.

With us, we have Lamprini Mentza, Product Manager for Hardware, Catherine Karali, Junior Full Stack Developer, and John Chaniotis, Senior UI/UX Designer.

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1. What drew you to join Pandas?

Lamprini Mentza: Initially, I was really drawn to Pandas by its story and how it began as an idea – why should a smartphone end up inactive in our drawers after 2 years of use? It was a company with a very specific purpose, to save the environment from more toxic e-waste and extend the life of our tech. What sealed the deal was when I understood that this was also a group of people with a youthful spirit, pioneers in their domain and really respectful of each other. An overall, great working environment and with a purpose! The cherry on top was that even during the interview process, everyone was really friendly and approachable.

John Chaniotis: For me, it was the values the company has. It was evident that Pandas has a design-driven and innovative spirit, which is something very important for me, as a UI/UX Designer. Seeing a company with a penchant for originality, gave me a clear sign that it also has an atmosphere of excitement and creativity – something I experienced first-hand too after joining. During my interviews, another value that I realized was paramount is transparency. You could clearly understand how every team member was kept in the loop, making everyone feel included. And may I add how fun everything looked and actually is! The people I spoke with were clearly pumped for working with Pandas. I want to show up to work each day with a smile on my face and I knew I could find it here.

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2. What’s it like working at Pandas?

Lamprini Mentza: Every day is so different. We’re in an industry that changes rapidly by the day so as you can imagine, a gazillion things can happen. That’s also what makes it exciting! We are a team treating each other with respect, openness and honesty. We appreciate each other’s work and are rewarded for it with real productivity and innovation! I’m free to take initiatives, express my opinion or ideas and ask for help and I know it will be given to me. I’m really glad to be part of this team and to be able to evolve as a professional.

Catherine Karali: Things are moving fast at Pandas! We joke about how we should count each year in dog years. As much as that’s challenging sometimes, it’s also pretty exciting because we don’t get stuck in dull or repetitive projects. And I find myself in a great team, all working together, always ready to jump in if there’s ever a problem.

John Chaniotis: Working in a start-up like ours, every day is an adventure, and the team often faces unique challenges. What I’ve found to be the key to overcoming any challenge is open communication and a spirit of mutual understanding. It’s crucial that everyone is on the same page, so we make it a point to have regular check-ins and updates. This keeps us all in sync and ensures that we’re moving in the same direction. Working in a start-up can be unpredictable but our approach helps us stay on top of our game and ready for whatever comes our way.

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3. What’s something you’ve learned while working here?

Catherine Karali: I feel like I’m learning something new every day. Being in a team of experts in design engineering really inspires you to bring your best self forward. Our projects involve firmware, RF systems, infrastructure and we work on anything from remote, wireless kiosks and microservices to mobile apps. Especially on the front of software web applications, we’re constantly researching for new technologies and developing our apps accordingly. I appreciate so much how I can have such a variety in my day-to-day work.

Lamprini Mentza: 3D printing is a new and super exciting field that I’ve been working on while at Pandas – whatever crazy idea the team of Research & Development puts into mind, we can bring it to life within the same day. We have a dedicated lab with 3D printers and laser cutters that work 24/7. I can really just let the printer work overnight and, next day, I’ll have it ready to work on!

John Chaniotis: Over the course of my 15-year career, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a diverse array of companies, be it startups or big corporations. But what truly sets my experience with Pandas apart is the sense of impact I feel on a daily basis. I can see designs I crafted mere weeks ago now up and running in production, and being used by our customers. What’s more, our team is breaking new ground by developing cutting-edge products that simply didn’t exist before. Without any established references or tried-and-true practices to follow, we’re blazing our own trail and forging new paths forward. And that’s so exciting!

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4. What challenges do you face and how do you deal with them?

Catherine Karali: As a tech startup, by default, our team needs to be lean in how we work and keep an agile state of mind. Sometimes we have to change priorities or there are unexpected developments in the industry so we need to be able to adapt to them. And with every new project, it’s important to us not only to get it finished but also examine the process we followed to get there. How can we make it more efficient? What was great and what can be improved? What did we learn from the issues we faced?

John Chaniotis: In our department, we take a systematic approach. First, we identify the problem and dive deep into its root cause. It’s really important not just to know what’s not working as it should be but also to understand why. Once we’re sure we’re there, we brainstorm all possible solutions together. And after landing on the best one, we divide tasks and responsibilities to tackle the challenge and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Lamprini Mentza: We bump into all kinds of challenges and issues during the process. What’s really positive is that our team isn’t in a bubble. We work closely with our manufacturers, getting feedback from them so there’s a very valuable back & forth that feeds our daily work. Of course, what’s most important is that we maintain a great working environment; when everyone is happy and can bring their best self to work, the whole team benefits and we get to have better end results and solutions!

At Pandas, we are very very proud of the innovative products and services we offer to transform the smartphone trade-in market. These advancements would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of our talented team. We are grateful to have such a strong company culture that values diversity and encourages individual growth and development. We look forward to continuing to make a positive impact on our end users, other businesses, and the environment and we’d be more than glad to hear from you, if you want to join Pandas! Check our openings here.

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