First of all, how are you and your Family doing in these COVID-19 Times?
Igor Debatur: We were lucky enough to go through the pandemic without any big concerns or losses. None of our closest relatives and friends got seriously ill. But of course, as for anyone, I guess, COVID-19 interfered with many plans. For instance, my family got stuck in the middle of moving out from Russia to Canada. We were already on the verge of leaving, making the very last arrangements with tickets at hand, but due to lockdown, we had to lay all these plans aside. It was a bit frustrating, but we are trying to get the best out of the situation instead of worrying about it. So we enjoy staying with our old friends and relatives, going out to nature for weekends and just spending some relaxed time together in a familiar background that helps to cope with stress.
Tell us about you, your Career, how you founded Uploadcare
Igor Debatur: I started off as a developer in a software company, but big companies are not best-suited for innovations since they tend to rule out all the possible risks and take safer ways. So in 2007, I met my future friend and business partner, Anatoly Chernyakov, and a year later, we founded a web-design agency called Whitescape. Once the agency started growing up, we were trying to launch some side projects, and Uploadcare was one of them at the very beginning. After several tough years of trying to run both the agency and startup, looking for investors, team members, and new offices, we put the agency on hold, and I became Uploadcare’s CEO, which I remain to this day.
How does Uploadcare innovate?
Igor Debatur: At the dawn of Uploadcare, I realized that most of the visual content is still delivered as-it-is, even by the most advanced tech companies in the world. Changing this approach would enable us to deliver visual content 4x faster. We found a way to quickly convert and upload images and audio to the site. This is a pain for all the developers, so we tried to ease that pain by writing a program that could do it automatically. That is how Uploadcare disrupted the traditional CDN market and converted visual content into revenue for L’Oreal, Mozilla, 2U Inc, Universe and Prezly, and another 1,000 companies. In 2019, Uploadcare raised $1.7M, and we continue investing in R&D and growing the business
How the Coronavirus Pandemic affects your Business, and how are you coping?
Igor Debatur: Running quite a flexible digital business, I can’t say that we felt a serious threat when the pandemic started. Since the traffic was mainly growing during the lockdown, the need for our services was growing along with it. We constantly analyze the industries with which we work and track how they are affected by the pandemic to see what’s the best way to help. For instance, recently, we researched e-learning in times of the pandemic and ran a webinar for educational platform owners to show them ways to cope with recent challenges.
At some point, we decided to provide free access to our technology for non-profit organizations to support them during hard times. Since many schools, universities and non-profits need a reliable file management system, they are guaranteed easy access to our solution. If companies work on making a real impact in the world, we are definitely in the same boat.
Did you have to make Difficult Choices, and what are the Lessons Learned?
Igor Debatur: When Uploadcare was launched, we already had two other projects: Whitescape and RIDERS. Lack of time and resources provoked conflicts and fails, and we simply observed how our businesses began to crumble in front of us. It was obvious that we had to choose and opt for one of the projects leaving all the others. And the choice was the tough one. Now I know how wrong I was in thinking that if the startup did not take off, we would still have our agency. And I’m really glad that in the end, after sunsetting our other projects, we focused entirely on Uploadcare.
The most important lesson was that you need to focus and do your best at something only one at the time, no matter how insecure this makes you feel. I still meet entrepreneurs who are in doubt like we were eight years ago, and I tell them that focusing is the best thing you can do for your business.
How do you deal with Stress and Anxiety? How do you Project yourself and Uploadcare in the Future?
Igor Debatur: Once I felt growing pressure with the team growing and a newborn baby in my family, I realized that my schedule needs restructuring. Time management and transparency really helped me to cope with all that stress. I always remind myself that everyone has only 24 hours per day, so if you manage to take one big task with the highest priority and commit to completing it by the end of the day, you are doing great. Other tasks should not bother you, leaving the space for other things in your life: exercise, books, family, or anything else you like.
When I think about the future, I want to see developers knowing how to deliver visual content optimized for every end-user, with proper format, size, and quality. I want the paradigm to shift from building bicycles to using optimal solutions. By making our technology the market standard, we will influence the global challenge of sustainable development on a high level and bring to the world a new way of working with visual content that’s accessible to everybody.
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the Game?
Igor Debatur: Since we provide a media pipeline, a complete solution with a unique and flexible configuration, we, on the one hand, do not have many competitors in the niche. But on the other hand, we have to compete with in-house built infrastructures.
While the most infrastructure solutions on the market require tens and hundreds of moving parts and then a CDN and top to accelerate the content delivery, we take a different approach that secures our advantage. Uploadcare is just one API that handles files, so you don’t have to worry about anything. We provide superior meta-CDN cloud infrastructure, cutting-edge algorithms, and top performance. Our dedicated DevOps team secures enterprise-grade SLA and in-depth monitoring. We do our best for instant integration and deployment, support the customers all the way through and listen closely to their feedback to improve our work through the studies, and evidence-based innovation.
Your Final Thoughts
Igor Debatur: I believe that nowadays, it’s really important to keep the right balance and give yourself and your team a chance to focus, keep calm, and take care of yourself and the closest ones. To my mind, it’s essential to find your ways to cope with stress and anxiety if you want to stay sane and keep your business running.
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