First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Dr. Ani Atanasova: Family and company are doing well; with regards to all that happens with Covid, we cannot change, but we can adapt. Also, the UAE government is doing great with disease management, hospital, tests, etc.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Pixelhunters.
Dr. Ani Atanasova: I am a Ph.D. in Quantum & Optoelectronics, and for many years I have been working in the science, R&D, engineering field, and the latest years a lot in management and business side. My husband, with whom we studied together master’s degree in Telecommunications, he started being interested in the field of 3D at its very beginning, when there was the first 3D studio max, and there was not even such industry. He pursued his passion for art, and he is one of the well known worldwide lighting and rendering artist. He has over 22 years of experience as an artist and CTO. In 2009, he got a job proposal in a competitive company in Dubai; one year later, he involved me in working together, and thus Pixelhunters was born.
Pixelhunters is now 11.5 years on the market, with 1000+ projects worldwide and 100+ industry awards. We deal with content creation (2D, 3D, games, gamified content), technology implementations (VR/AR/MR), and knowledge-based applications (educational platforms, simulators, training simulations, game-based learning).
The majority of our clients are governments, large corporates, and many companies that need training, gamification, and content creation and strategy for content use.
How does Pixelhunters innovate?
Dr. Ani Atanasova: The majority of our team members we are engineers, so we always look for something new. Every year of our existence, we add something new to our portfolio of services. We self-educate ourselves a lot; we experiment, collaborate, and always pop up with great innovative things.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Dr. Ani Atanasova: The Covid 19 affected almost everyone in the world badly. Work processes changed, previous business demands changed focus, plenty of disruption in all fields. But we didn’t stop working at all; it doesn’t matter locked, not locked; actually, we used this slow down pace to accelerate our growth. We invested a lot in R&D while many companies were firing. Even before the crisis, we had started working on a game-based learning platform; with Covid, we accelerated its development, and now the platform is fully ready and operational today. It’s called Multiplayer Team Training Platform (https://multiplayerteamtraining.com )
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Dr. Ani Atanasova: Yes, we had to make a few difficult choices to deal with affected business income. We had to work much more than before, reorganize work processes, and a lot to deal with processes optimization and restructuring to meet new demands of business and environment. In busy times, managers are very busy to get the business going, and many things can be neglected in the company like how much of work can go sometimes wasted in the rush of people from the team are enough motivated if the team member grows their skills or stay at the same level. A crisis like this make re-thinking everything – like values, skills, do we do things right, etc.
I believe that we need crisis from time to time to slow down, re-evaluate priorities, stand up, and continue stronger.
This is not the first crisis we had in our company, as we are old on the market, we knew we had to adapt super-fast and use this time for innovations.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Dr. Ani Atanasova: Stress is something that presents in our lives constantly. We can’t avoid it; this is part of every manager’s daily life; it will always be there, especially if we work with tight deadlines and tight budgets; dealing with people can be stressful. Stress is so much in our routine that if all is calm, I will feel weird.
The most important is to know our strengths and weaknesses, focus on the strengths, and learn how to control the stress and how to react to things that go out of control.
My recipe towards anxiety is to take a deep breath and just focus well on working and producing results. If you sit and just wonder what to do and allow the anxiety to control you, it will only worsen. There is an exit in every bad situation; there is always a solution; we just need to dig and find it. Also, when one door closes, another opens. So focus, focus, and good work with good results. Then you are the master of your life and your success.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Dr. Ani Atanasova: Something I can tell is that no one ever has someone that is a 100 % competitor, as every company can’t have the same products, services, approach to clients, and everything. Every company has to find its core values, match them with good organization, great team, and there is no need to worry about competition. If you deliver good work, you will always be busy. We don’t focus on our competitors; we research them on the market, we know them well, but we try to be better than them and always innovate. We always add new services, new products, so our competitors’ list grows constantly but does not demotivate us, quite the opposite, the demand to become better increases. It all depends on us, we know it, and we are not afraid to fail, stand up, work hard. Also, some of our competitors in one of our services are a client to us for other services. If you are loyal to your clients and your competitors, there will always be a business for you.
Your final thoughts?
Dr. Ani Atanasova: Learning is the essence of our success. And we need to learn very fast, efficiently, and being able to adapt fast. If you believe learning is boring, then find something fun to add to it that can help you achieve your goals.
FUN LEARNING IS SERIOUS BUSINESS.
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