First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Kirill Grigorchuk: Certainly, it’s a new experience for us, just like for everyone else. On the one hand, it’s a plus; you get to spend more time with your family since you all are locked in the same space, and you probably get to know yourself and your loved ones better. On the other hand, there are more stressful situations since we are always together, and sometimes you just want some privacy.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Digital Forest.
Kirill Grigorchuk: As for now, it has been quite a long journey:
- Job as a specialist in an insurance company
- Print advertisement designer
- Web designer / programmer
- Head of design and development department
- Head of the development department
- Founder of several companies in the sphere of software development and internet marketing
- Head of the Research and Development department,
- and finally co-founder of Digital Forest, a development company of blockchain and web solutions.
How does Digital Forest innovate?
Kirill Grigorchuk: Step by step! Pretty often, people tend to choose the most convenient way they know to solve problems: they use ready-made approaches (technologies) or recklessly try to integrate cutting-edge technologies, despite the lack of understanding of the need for such innovations.
In our approaches, we always try to act rationally:
- If there is a reliable, trusted solution to solve our current problems, we will use it
- If our problem is pretty challenging, we will make a set of research before using new technology and decide after we try implementing it in some kind of small research project.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Kirill Grigorchuk: Certainly, the coronavirus pandemic has left a mark on our business. Several active projects were frozen until better times. Several promising projects that were about to start never actually started. Nevertheless, several projects continued, and a few new, very interesting and promising projects appeared in our company. And probably some of these projects would not have happened without the pandemic.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Kirill Grigorchuk: Regardless of the pandemic, you often have to make difficult choices in your business and life. As before, I had to make a choice between keeping part of the team or losing the whole team, and fortunately, most of the employees stayed. Sometimes you have to grit your teeth, believe, keep working, and not give up. It is very important to invest in the team. Team members should have similar values. And I don’t mean imposing my values on employees, but rather initially hire people who have similar views.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Kirill Grigorchuk: During the pandemic, I discovered a skill that calms me down; I started cooking for my family. So far, my family and I enjoy it. From time to time, my children ask me: Dad, make us meat you’ve cooked before or make us some pancakes.
For the past several years, I have been living by the principle of the aphorism attributed to the ancient Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius “Do what you must, come what may.” It really helps me a lot both in life and in business, and most importantly, it works!
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Kirill Grigorchuk: We are a small service company, and we have a lot of competitors. I think the difference between our competitors and us is that we don’t want just to make money; we want to work closely together with our clients so that our clients know what we are doing and what we’re doing it for. We will never undertake a project if we do not understand its goals or we realize that our client will not solve his problems with our services.
Your final thoughts?
Kirill Grigorchuk: I think it would be best to end this short interview with the words of Winston Churchill “Don’t waste of good crisis.” Don’t look at the crisis as a failure; look for new opportunities that come with it, and don’t give up.
And since we are in Belarus right now and besides the pandemic, we had to face a serious political crisis in our country this year, I want to add: Žyvie Biełaruś!
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