We talked to Georg Tubalev of Exaud, a software solution provider specializing in designing and developing custom solutions for Embedded, Mobile, IoT, and Wearable devices. This is what he said:
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Georg Tubalev: As everyone else, I guess, there’re challenges to adapt to the new socially distant lifestyle; nevertheless, everyone’s healthy; thus, I think I’m doing well.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Exaud.
Georg Tubalev: I’ve got a strong background in software engineering, having written my first Basic Program at the age of 9. Thereafter I held various roles of increasing responsibility in management and engineering since 2003.
I founded Exaud back in 2012 to create products for mobile devices. The mobile market was still in infancy but growing quickly – that was the company’s initial focus, later we diversified and started to offer IoT, Embedded, and Cloud solutions as well.
How does Exaud innovate?
Georg Tubalev: Being a boutique-style software development company, we create innovative solutions for our clients across different verticals. In many cases, the products we develop for them are unique and don’t exist on the market yet. Thus, we’re often on the bleeding edge of technology, turning ideas into software products used by hundreds of thousands of people.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Georg Tubalev: That changed quite drastically during the course of the pandemic – we lost a few accounts in the spring of 2020 during times of great uncertainty, also some of our clients were part of the hospitality industry which was among the worst affected when the first lockdowns started. Consequently, our turnover during the summer months fell significantly; thus, the results for Q2 and Q3 2020 were disappointing, when autumn commenced though we started to recover from that slump and largely returned to the pre-COVID numbers by the end of it. In the beginning of 2021, we witnessed a large demand for our services driven by increasing digitalization trends and rebouncing the world’s economy, thus we resumed the growth in the Q1 2021.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Georg Tubalev: We had to cut general expenses and slash some benefits and bonuses when the first lockdown started, all salary raises due were put on hold temporarily. As we had sufficient reserves, we didn’t have to let anyone go, but we did stop the hiring process for 6 months. The main lesson is that our practices to have lean operations, strong liquidity, and adequate cash reserves paid out fully, allowing us to navigate the crisis while preserving the team intact.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Georg Tubalev: We grew closer to our customers, making sure that we help them to go through these complicated times together, for instance, we offered some payment plans to allow them to manage the drying cash flow better. We use multiple tools to communicate with our customers and track the satisfaction, starting from video conference software such as Zoom to Mailchimp for our regular newsletter and Trello for CRM.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Georg Tubalev: Not much up to this point, we did utilize the temporarily “lay-off” scheme the government offered for one month in the summer when we didn’t have enough volume to keep the whole team busy. That had a rather minor impact on our finances, but any aid is appreciated.
Your final thoughts?
Georg Tubalev: In addition to staggering costs and massive suffering across the globe, this pandemic has proven to be a driver of massive changes that accelerated digitalization, which in the end will be of benefit for all businesses and customers they serve. During the pandemic, we helped multiple customers embrace digital transformation and contributed to fighting it as we participated in several projects focused on COVID tracing and recovery.
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