INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Creative Software Development in the Post-Pandemic Time: Diversify, Solve Existing Problems, Act Efficiently
We talked to Bogdan Koretski, founder of YSBM Group about software development and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Bogdan Koretski: COVID-19 became challenging in two ways: good and bad for me, my family, and my friends. As for the negative side of this situation, I must say that no one likes to live under tight restrictions imposed on all of us. The most challenging task is to travel less. Not to forget about the real risk of getting sick. Yet there is a positive side. As far as our software development company YSBM Group delivers its services to tech startups and businesses remotely in almost 85%, we feel confident in the new business communication reality.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded YSBM Group.
Bogdan Koretski: I became the second person in the YSBM Group’s team and co-founded this software development company in 2014. We started by creating web sites for different purposes, like corporate sites, simple e-commerce solutions, cataloguers. In a couple of years, we grew to a team of about 30 software engineers. Today we provide web development and mobile development services and build applications for such niches as e-learning, booking platforms, bespoke social networks, laboratory management systems, open banking solutions, and many others. This result is related to multiple market opportunities backed by the personal and professional growth of YSBM Group team members. Our software engineers and product managers help others build software products and build in-house solutions that operate in ‘startup’ mode.
How does YSBM Group innovate?
Bogdan Koretski: In continuation of my previous answer: one of the innovative approaches became making our own digital SaaS product. It is a gamified application to improve employees’ engagement and retention called Teammy (teammy.app). We always wanted to launch a software product to understand the whole life cycle better and help our clients with their applications at every stage from ideation and up to effective marketing.
As for tech innovations, we recommend analyzing trends and exploring how to utilize each for business needs. I believe that innovations at their early stages should be examined more carefully and used only if the benefit is clear and of high ROI. As a good example, I would like to mention machine learning technology, which has existed for decades, but its value has become more evident just recently. Its business value increased because of other technological enhancements, like improved computational power, evolved data transfer and storage resources, and new software tools in general. Another example of applicable innovation that we already help our clients with is open banking. In the era of increased online operations, it will disrupt many niches and probably change how many tech startups operate, revealing even more potential of using financial data to provide better services.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Bogdan Koretski: The main challenge for us was finding out how to help clients whose businesses pandemic influenced much.
One of the solutions we offered to them was extending our services from software development to complex product support, including product management, SEO, and marketing.
Clients who did not have in-house specialists for these tasks started investing money in their applications’ strategic growth. When the pandemic is over, they will have a competitive advantage over rivals.
In general, the pandemic exposed many hidden problems in digital startups like cashflow importance, product-market fit, and the necessity of proper digital marketing and sales. Some niches benefited, and yet not to the fullest. Businesses that neglected their e-commerce tools before coronavirus felt how painful it is to experience missed opportunities by relying only on traditional sales channels.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Bogdan Koretski: Never put all your eggs in one basket. Coronavirus affected some of the business niches we specialized in, like aviation or education, transportation, and logistics. It was tough to predict that several businesses’ niches might someday decrease their activity simultaneously. Using the correct classification( all of them used online technology to support core offline operations), we could foresee these risks. We had to pause and even stop some of our projects and say ‘goodbye’ to some clients, which was tough as we worked quite closely. The main lesson is that you need to think of diversification options for your business even when you can not see risks.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Bogdan Koretski: We have been working remotely for seven years. We worked with freelancers, and we worked with subcontracting companies, we set a couple of divisions in different countries. That allowed us to form reliable and straightforward planning, communication, and production processes that became our primary ‘weapon’ during the pandemic.
My main tools are common sense, transparency, and specificity. If you use them regardless of software or methodologies, you will succeed.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Bogdan Koretski: After several months of experiments, we finally started seeing how to make an organic presence on the web grow and work for business. Our main context was to do it more efficiently than our competitors with bigger budgets do.
I do not see other software development companies as our competitors because
- the market is enormous, and it is growing all the time;
- every software development team is unique, and people in the company mainly drive this uniqueness;
- every company has different business goals, plans, resources, and all that puts us in a specific decision making context and leads us to different results.
In fact, when working on innovative solutions, we should remember that our real competitors might be unobvious. In some podcasts, they discussed how Zoom became so popular during the CoVid. And a guy who is a product manager said an exciting thought, that Zoom’s real competitors were not Skype or Hangouts but traditional tools that support meetings, e.g. coworking spaces, or public transport. These businesses ‘lost’ their clients when Zoom provided reliable online conference meetings to all corporate teams by solving real pain: it allowed people to get more personal time instead of commuting. So to stay in the game solve real problems, not fight with your competitors.
Your final thoughts?
Bogdan Koretski: The pandemic has shown us the weaknesses of the old economy and the possibilities of an emerging one. It has changed the business game forever, and it is crucial to accept this fact and think about how the future economy might look like and where your business will be in it.
Old approaches will be less effective over time. Every startup founder, business owner, and corporate professional should use his full creative and intellectual potential to drive his company’s changes and results. I wish everyone much success, feel free to reach out for a meaningful conversation.
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