First of all, how are you and your Family doing in these COVID-19 Times?
Dmitry Odintsov: I’m definitely not a big fan of the COVID-19 lockdown, but I don’t think it has taken any toll on me. As every IT person, I’m a little bit of an introvert; so, staying at home even for a long time isn’t very hard for me. My wife and kids have also been able to cope with this whole situation, more or less. Of course, there are some minor issues; for example, my kids don’t particularly enjoy online learning; still, I’m glad they are able to keep in touch with their friends using video chats.
Tell us about you, your Career, how you Joined TrueConf
Dmitry Odintsov: To give you an idea of my career, I have to go back to the mid-nineties, the time when the Internet, as we know, was only beginning to take shape. There was no WWW, and people inspired by the Hackers movie were using FidoNet. Back then, the Russian IT community (and business) was only emerging, and everyone was trying to come up with ideas that could change the world. I was also thrilled by the opportunities opened up by information technologies. Plus, it was quite natural for me to carve out a career in the IT industry, given my graduate degrees in electronics and management. I began as an IT manager and later a CIO in a food factory. This job was undoubtedly well-paid, but it lacked the element of excitement. It didn’t give me the feeling that I could make a real difference.
When I was offered the position of Sales Director at TrueConf in 2008, I felt that it could be a lifetime opportunity. I believed that video conferencing could be the next big thing in the IT world. In many ways, I was inspired by the incredible potential of TrueConf technologies to change the way people communicate. It was fascinating for me to see how our solutions enabled businesses to build better workplaces. I guess this feeling is one thing that helped me make all the way from a sales director to CEO. Having seen the progress made by the TrueConf team, I am convinced that we can set a new standard of enterprise video collaboration. However, I am also aware of how much effort will go into this task.
How does TrueConf Innovate?
Dmitry Odintsov: We intended to build a corporate Unified Communications hub that combines all the necessary tools for effective collaboration in the workplace or remotely. This solution also had to operate in LAN/VPN, ensure the security of customers’ communications, and give them full control over their data. In addition, we always have to be on par with the high-end technologies offered by our competitors. To a great extent, we have been able to achieve this goal. Now when cloud-based tools are in their heyday, TrueConf provides an alternative that gives users high-quality video (Ultra HD) and allows them to take their communications under control. The fact that TrueConf has been recognized by Gartner and IDC confirms our quality, security, and innovation.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic affects your Business, and how are you coping?
Dmitry Odintsov: The pandemic has certainly had an enormous impact on TrueConf since it has dramatically raised the demand for video collaboration tools. The shift towards remote work was a persisting trend long before this crisis; now, it is becoming a gold standard for many organizations. However, we don’t believe it is right for us to take advantage of the challenges faced by people at this difficult time. We want to help businesses embrace remote collaboration without sacrificing their productivity or security.
To do it, we provide organizations with free licenses (for up to 1000 users) to TrueConf Server, our self-hosted video collaboration system. This initiative enabled us to become the most recognized video conferencing vendor in Russia and CIS countries. On a global scale, we have also increased the number of TrueConf users by giving free licenses to educational institutions. Overall, we have given more than 3.5 million user licences since the outbreak of this pandemic. I hope that in this way, we can make it easier for people to make valuable connections and get their work done – remotely.
Did you have to make Difficult Choices, and what are the Lessons Learned?
Dmitry Odintsov: Life is full of difficult choices. If you think about it, what you will eat for breakfast might also be a difficult choice for someone. The key point is that you don’t need to focus on how complicated your decisions are. Instead, you need to think of how you managed to cope with the situation and what lessons you took away from it. When thinking about choices, there is no need to be afraid of failure. Whatever the outcome is, you have to think of your strategies and learn from your own mistakes. The same goes for team performance. Your co-workers may get bumps and bruises when making difficult choices. What’s important is for every team member to examine the challenges they’ve faced and be prepared next time. As Elbert Hubbard once said, the greatest mistake you can make in life is continually fearing that you’ll make one.
How do you deal with Stress and Anxiety? How do you project yourself and TrueConf in the Future?
Dmitry Odintsov: I can’t say that I’ve ever been overwhelmed with stress and anxiety. Guess the main reason for that is that I’ve never ceased enjoying what I am doing. However, I would also recommend long walks and physical exercises as arguably the best ways of coping with stress.
Plus, if you ask me how I project myself and TrueConf into the future, I would speak only of success. “Why do you think I came all this way,” as Bran the Broken said. This philosophy is one of the things that keeps me ticking.
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the Game?
Dmitry Odintsov: We are essentially different from our competitors because, unlike them, we are focusing on premises-based solutions that provide all the tools and features needed for corporate communications. For example, TrueConf supports integration with conference rooms and corporate IT infrastructure. Plus, we provide compatibility with third-party video conferencing solutions such as Zoom or Cisco Webex. Our major competitor is Microsoft Teams that offer similar solutions but operate on a cloud-based platform.
Your Final Thoughts
Dmitry Odintsov: It seems to me there is no sure recipe for becoming a successful entrepreneur or a leader; however, there is a good rule of thumb one might find helpful. Before starting or joining a company, you should ask yourself if money is the only thing that motivates you. If the answer is yes, then entrepreneurship is probably not something you should consider. To succeed, you need to look for something that can give you the feeling of achievement, growth, and opportunity to make a difference.
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