First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID19 times?
Veselin Stoilov : Thank you for asking! We are doing well, both myself, my family and the team. Due to the nature of our careers, we are able to work from home, helping us to manage our exposure outdoors and stay safe during these uncertain times. We have found that working from home has actually had a strong positive impact on the productivity and happiness of the VEVS team, as they are able to skip the commuting time to and from the office, spend more time with their family and have a bit more personal control over the environment they work from. We think the main benefit is more time spent with family, as that makes us all happy!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined StivaSoft
Veselin Stoilov : Hi, my name is Veselin Stoilov and I have a long history of building web apps. I co-founded PHPJabbers.com 17 years ago, and since then, together with my team, we have sold our apps and software to more than 40,000 clients from all over the world.
The ‘web’ and ‘digital space’ is my passion and my life. I started as a freelancer, and soon after created my very first website, which provided PHP scripts, web development tutorials and free resources. A lot of which have become very popular among the web development community. All this has morphed into multiple companies providing web based services for a range of clients, all over the world. I feel very blessed to be able to do what I do and I am extremely proud of what my companies have achieved.
More recently, I have been working on VEVS.com – an e-commerce website builder designed to serve companies from key vertical markets. VEVS sites are designed and developed to meet the needs of multiple industry niches and are equipped with relevant software for doing business online, such as rental software, appointment systems, classified listings and more.
Myself and others founded VEVS in the summer of 2016 and we were able to launch Version 1.0 of our service and first products by December of the same year. Due to VEVS being part of the parent company “Stivasoft” (of which I founded in 2009), we already had a brilliant and experienced team of experts to help deliver the services offered by VEVS. This was a big driving factor in why we were able to launch Version 1.0 of our services and products so quickly.
How does StivaSoft innovate?
Veselin Stoilov : VEVS operates in a very competitive market, meaning innovation is something we have to implement without question, when it comes to our services. Not only is the market competitive, but it is constantly evolving and can change quite fast.
We are constantly innovating and improvising our products to meet the current standards of web technology and service delivery and stay on top, pushing through our competition. We had to pin point one thing that is of huge importance for us when it comes to our services, it would be our monastic obsession with understanding what our clients want, their needs, ther capabilities, what matters most for them and what helps their businesses most. You see, when we improve our products, we make sure to meet the current web standards, but we also make sure to reach our clients current standards. We recognise that sometimes there is a gap between what the “web” wants and what our customers want, which is why we optimise for both.
Now, sometimes the market can take fast changes like we mentioned earlier. An example of such is the global impact of Covid-19. Recognising the impact this had on our customers, we needed to make sure that we could facilitate the global changes that took place. The Covid-19 pandemic is a great example as to why businesses need to make more of a shift online, and invest in their online presence. During this period, we analysed what our customers needed the most, and found that one of those things was an online food ordering system for clients using our Restaurant Websites. In less than 2 months, we had this new website template designed, coded, tested and published for use.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Veselin Stoilov : For the most part, we have not been too heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately that has not been the case for a lot of our customers within the travel and hospitality industry as the pandemic has affected them pretty heavily. Luckily, the majority of them are still in business and hanging in there and still need our service solutions. One of the things we have been doing is offering discounts to help soften the blow on their expenses. This is a win-win for both parties as our clients can still keep their online presence active and alive, and we can still keep our clients. This has worked for most of our clients experiencing difficulties.
Now, of course, some of our clients’ businesses needed to close down, but at the same time, we have managed to acquire new clients. We believe this to be down to business owners having more time to spend finding new channels for sales and marketing.
As we mentioned earlier, we have also started developing products that are in high demand because of the pandemic, like our restaurant website solution with the built-in online food ordering system. This has opened up possibilities for current clients using our restaurant website solutions to carry on fulfilling orders for customers and offering home delivery as a new option. We are also working extensively on an online store solution too, so clients that wish to sell their services or products online, can do so.
In general, our business growth has slowed down, but this was expected. Despite the global circumstances, we have still been able to keep our revenue close to that of the previous year, which has given us the ability to still provide work for our team and further develop and launch new products and services, making sure we are taking advantage of this “rest” in the market and staying competitive.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Veselin Stoilov : I have to make many choices every single day, both personally and professionally. It is these choices that I make that determine whether the day is going to be good or bad, or whether the business is going to move forward or not. I am fortunate to have been in the entrepreneurial space for a long time now and have developed a good eye when it comes to decision making. Saying that, there were difficult choices to make due to the crisis, however, I am happy that as of right now, my worries about how the business will pull through the crisis caused by Covid-19 are bigger than the effect of the crisis itself.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and StivaSoft in the future?
Veselin Stoilov : Stress and anxiety are often looked at as “two peas in a pod”. Anxiety causes stress, stress causes anxiety and the vicious circle continues on until you can break yourself free from it. Running multiple businesses, constantly thinking about moving them forward, all whilst creating a worklife balance does come with its fair share of stress and anxiety. I would be kidding if I said it didn’t! But, for me, what helps me deal with this can really be summed up in a few points:
- I implement an effective daily routine that allows me a good worklife balance making sure I never overindulge in business activities, resulting in unnecessary stresses.
- I make sure to take vacations as and when it fits my schedule in order to “deload” and allow myself time away from work in order to come back fresh and clear minded. This really helps when it comes to further developing myself and my business because a clear mind allows for new thoughts and ideas.
- I always make sure to never look at a problem head on, as more often than not, a problem can be dissected into constituent parts that can be tackled individually. Think of it is not biting off more than you can chew! You break the problem up into easier solvable pieces, in order to solve the whole problem.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Veselin Stoilov : We have a lot of competitors due to the area that we operate in. Our main service is business website solutions, meaning that our competitors range from big website builder brands such as Squarespace or Wix, all the way to industry-specific web providers, website development and design studios and freelancers.
However, over the years we have been able to perfect our craft and online a niche and unique service providing the best aspects of all of the above examples. At VEVS, we offer a ready-made DIY website builder, all-in-one service and custom development. Plus, in order to best offer these services, we have carefully selected the industries in which we offer our services to. With all that being said, this gives our clients the ability to start a website that fits their unique business processes and needs, at an affordable price, with the comfort of having a professional team available to answer any questions they may have, and fulfill their requests.
Our plan of action currently is to continue to improve our current products and services as per the feedback we received from our existing clients and current web trends. We also plan to add new services, such as our recently launched Digital Marketing services and launch new products that are in high demand.