Andrey Konoplenko of Brocoders tells us about web development and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on his business.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Andrey Konoplenko: Here in Ukraine, we didn’t have a lot of restrictions during the spring’s coronavirus crisis. However, this new reality wasn’t easy for my family. In 2020 my baby was born, we thought that he would spend his first year walking on the streets, parks, and gardens, but we had to be at home most of the time. It was safe, of course, but definitely not what we hoped for.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Brocoders.
Andrey Konoplenko: My partner Rodion and I founded Brocoders. We are geeks who are passionate about technologies and development. We founded several startups by ourselves and then decided to help other founders in building their products. I participated in startup accelerator French Tech Ticket, and Rodion participated in SWG (Startup Wise guys). It helped us to understand the founders’ needs and problems. We’ve built our services based on this knowledge.
How does Brocoders innovate?
Andrey Konoplenko: We always keep an eye on trends and adapt new technologies and approaches in product development.
Our main stack is Node.js and React. Also, we are using blockchain for building supply chain products.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Andrey Konoplenko: From March till May 2020, we experienced a client crisis. Many of them rejected to work further, and we lost some deals in the pipeline due to the coronavirus crisis. During this time, we participated in the hackathons and building products that could help the world struggle against coronavirus.
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Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Andrey Konoplenko: We didn’t fire anyone during hard times; however, we had to cut salaries by 30% for those who were on the bench. Also, we announced that salary could be delayed.
There were some challenges we would like to mention.
Due to remote work, we felt that it became difficult to maintain corporate culture among employees.
Now compensation became more important than other non-material values such as office working atmosphere, lunches, team activities.
The other thing is that we had to compete not only with local companies but large world companies that proposed remote opportunities for developers. This caused reviewing our internal processes and provoked company strategy changes.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Andrey Konoplenko: We had started using CRM before the crisis, and during the crisis, we continued improving our relations with our current customers. Many of them left feedback and reviews for our services, which helped us get new requests. Due to the lack of new requests we had to strengthen partnership with local companies. And it was effective.
A new thing that we added was ABM – such type of lead generation was effective for us.
Our advantage compared to other companies is that we always propose Business Analysis as a primary step before development. Our main clients are VC-backed startups and mid-size enterprises, which helps them prioritize new features and build an effective product for their users. One company we are working with even got investments during coronavirus. So they started to hire new developers.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Andrey Konoplenko: There are no grants for IT entrepreneurs in Ukraine, and we didn’t get any.
Your final thoughts?
Andrey Konoplenko: Frankly speaking, the coronavirus crisis pushed our company to changes that we hadn’t dared to do before. Now the process has started, and we are happy to announce that the company strategy is getting finally shaped and will be presented to all employees soon.
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