Ivan Muts, CEO & Co-Founder of Euristiq tells us about custom end-to-end software solutions.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Ivan Muts: Thank you for asking! Luckily my family hasn’t faced the disease yet. COVID-19 has certainly disrupted our usual pace, but working from home does have some perks.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Euristiq.
Ivan Muts: We founded Euristiq in 2016 with my friend Pavlo who is currently our CTO. It seemed like the next logical step in our careers as we’ve gathered enough experience to start our own company. We wanted to create an organization that takes on technical challenges and transforms them into outstanding digital solutions.
How does Euristiq innovate?
Ivan Muts: We create industry-specific, custom end-to-end software solutions, including UI/UX design, server-side cloud development, firmware development, and development of the front-end web and mobile applications for companies from all over the world.
In 2020 we launched a CTO Office – an initiative for Euristiq engineers to take part in different out-of-project activities and gain new experience. It’s basically about the research and implementation of new technologies and strategies that yield a competitive advantage. It keeps our company in pace with technological advancements and opens a lot of new opportunities for our engineers.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Ivan Muts: The pandemic and lockdowns were major setbacks not only for our new projects, many of which were on hold for most of the last year but also for our company spirit. We are a very friendly company of young people who often have fun together and not being able to get together for office parties as we used to, is very frustrating.
As the world slowly adjusted to this new normal, the new projects started launching. We’ve shifted our focus to IoT and platform development and now can offer more to our clients.
On the other hand, we’re still learning how to cope with not being able to have teambuilding offline. Our HR is doing a great job, but Zoom fatigue is real!
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Ivan Muts: It seems that every business has made some sacrifices and we’re not an exception. We had to make a cut on salaries in Q2, but what matters the most is that by the end of the year we’ve gotten right back on track and have started growing. One of the essential lessons we’ve learned is, to be honest with the team no matter what. During difficult times you cannot always guarantee that we’ll pass the storm without shortening the team. It might be entirely out of your control. But what you can do is, to be honest with your team and share all the information you have without delay. It increased awareness, engagement and helped us keep good morale of our team. We continue being very open even when things get better. It’s now part of our culture.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Ivan Muts: I believe that good, honest and open communication is a solution to many problems in organizations. That’s what sets us apart as a company – we try to be honest and open about how our business is doing with our colleagues from the very beginning. We have our monthly All Hands meetings that moved online in 2020 where I share all company news, answer questions, and lead an open conversation. And since the majority of our company began working from home due to the lockdowns and is still on the remote, we’ve upgraded our Slack plan to ensure better and easier communication. For video calls, we are mainly using Google Meet as a part of GSuite and sometimes Zoom.
We reviewed and updated many of our HR policies during 2020 to align with new challenges and a lot of work in that direction is planned for 2021. For us, working from home is not new. We had this option before as well. So for us switching to remote work was not hard because we had the infrastructure and certain policies in place. The new challenges are the health of employees (both mental and physical) and how to keep the engagement and loyalty of employees in this new reality. Onboarding during a pandemic is also a huge challenge, especially for junior employees.
The sales approach is changing because we are not able to travel. As a result, we are investing more in marketing. Marketing is the only direction where we increased our spendings in 2020 and will continue to in 2021.
Finance-wise we adopted scenario planning for 2021. That’s something we didn’t have for 2020 and it took us an extra effort to react quickly on decreasing revenue in Q2 2020. For 2021 we planned our budget according to four scenarios – Positive, Base, Negative, and Crisis. Each scenario has a Revenue and EBITDA range that we track on a monthly and quarterly basis. Then based on how we perform we have a list of actions how we react and update our spendings. For example, we planned to upgrade our laptops in Q3 in case we finish Q1-Q2 with a Base scenario. If we finish Q1 with Positive, then we can start laptops upgrade even faster, in Q2. If we finish Q1-Q2 with a Negative scenario, we postpone the laptop upgrade to Q4 or even 2022.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Ivan Muts: There are companies that are providing similar services to ours, but there are a lot of things that differentiate us. Each company offers something unique – technical expertise, a model of collaboration with clients, different approaches.
We at Euristiq, for example, pride ourselves on our strong IoT and Cloud expertise. We know how to modernize, integrate, and build complicated IoT systems with millions of connected devices in use. We create custom high-performance end-to-end solutions, solving particular business objectives.
The IoT industry is snowballing. Because of that, there are not one or two leaders in some product or service. Big players try to establish themselves as leaders in specific directions, claim they can solve all your problems with one plug-and-play platform. Still, because IoT is a complicated technology, it’s rarely happening. For IoT projects to succeed, there should be a perfect combination of hardware, firmware, network, and application with a reasonable return on investment that, in most cases, fail. So there is still a huge market for custom IoT and Cloud platforms, ecosystems, and application layers to solve particular business problems. And that’s where we enter the game.
Your final thoughts?
Ivan Muts: 2020 was the best business school possible. We all paid some price for that. So let’s value the lessons and use them wisely. No matter what situation you are in now. You grew your business or lost everything and are thinking about a new start, found some time to reflect and understand what happened, and what you have learned from that.