First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Andrius Serpenskas: We are doing quite well, thank you. This time, however, brings uncertainty for many people. Whether you are employed or a business owner, you are naturally worried about how the pandemic will impact you and those around you. But we try to remain positive. We follow the guidelines and hope for the best. On the other hand, this time also gives us an opportunity to spend quality time with our loved ones, rethink the old ways of doing things, and perhaps find new opportunities.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Baltic Startup.
Andrius Serpenskas: Well, it’s been a journey. I graduated from the International School of Law and Business with a bachelor’s in Business Law. However, I still felt a hunger for knowledge and new experiences, so I moved abroad to pursue another degree at Abertay University in Scotland. After almost two years, I finished the studies with Honors in European Business Law and decided to move back to my home country. I landed my first corporate law job here and worked in multinational companies for a number of years, but in the back of my mind, I always had the thought of starting my own business.
While working for one Norwegian company, I decided that in order to launch my own company, I need more knowledge about the business. That has led me to a master’s program at Vilnius University – International Business Economics and Management. At that time, Vilnius and Lithuania were already gaining a reputation as one of the startup hubs in Europe, so I decided to write my master thesis about Vilnius Startup Ecosystem and its influence on startup success. I graduated from my master’s program at the top of my class, and my Master’s Thesis got published in the international scientific journal “Perspectives of Innovation, Economics & Business.” When writing my thesis, I got a chance to interview a number of local startup founders and realized that there is a need for startups to have a so-called “one-stop-shop” solution that helps them to launch and expand their ventures and so this is how Baltic Startup was born where I managed to merge my diverse knowledge and expertise in multijurisdictional corporate law, international business, and startups.
How does Baltic Startup innovate?
Andrius Serpenskas: Innovation in a service sector is different from how companies innovate, in, let’s say, tech or production. By being the service company, we aim to apply the same concepts as in a startup. In my opinion, “Lean Startup” principles are one of the core concepts every business could apply. And so we keep the emphasis on the “Build-Measure-Learn” loop in everything we do. Knowing the startups’ pain-points, we are bringing diverse expertise in corporate law, international business, and finance into one place. Clients no longer need to have different agencies or professionals engaged for their ideation, validation, business model generation, legal setup, licensing, banking, accounting, and other needs. And although we are still at the early stages of our business, we shall continue to innovate in every way possible.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Andrius Serpenskas: As mentioned earlier, the pandemic has brought a lot of uncertainty for many businesses, and sadly not all were able to withstand the storm. We feel that some businesses and startup owners have postponed their plans for launching and/or expanding. But we are using the time to rethink our current business models and adjust those to the current client’s needs.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Andrius Serpenskas: Thankfully, we didn’t have to make any tough choices during this time. We took this time to rethink what we do, how we can do it better in order to keep the clients happy, and what else we can offer to the clients at this time. This gave us a chance to re-evaluate the projects – do we really need that particular project? Is it going to bring the added value to our clients? Is this the right time? Etc.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Andrius Serpenskas: Stress and anxiety is a normal part of life. Though, I know that this period has brought more stress than usual to a lot of us. However, at the same time, we can use this opportunity to devote more time to self-reflection and our mental health. If I feel anxious or stressed out, I always try to get moving. Guided meditation, breathing exercises also help to stay in the present and alleviate the stress.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Andrius Serpenskas: We do not have too many direct competitors due to our different approaches. However, there is still an indirect competition that is scattered around. There are law, accounting firms as well as individual consultants, but we are not too worried about those as long as we maintain our differentiation.
We shall continue to innovate and operate like a startup, and we need to make sure that we clearly communicate our differentiation to the clients.
Your final thoughts?
Andrius Serpenskas: Use this time as an opportunity to reflect on yourself as well as your business as it might give you some invaluable insights that will help you adjust or pivot should there be a need. And we all can come out of this even stronger than ever before.