Victor Kmita, CEO of XME.digital tells us about an open-source fast-code platform fighting to increase the share of women among its employees.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Victor Kmita: Challenging and inspired. Covid-19 has changed a lot for my loved ones and me. It literally has changed our lives. We had a vacation in March last year. No one has expected things would go so dramatically. We went to Cyprus with kids and grandparents, and in 4 days, the lockdown began. We stacked in an Airbnb house with small backpacks as we always travel light. Our toddlers needed to be entertained and kept busy. My wife and I needed to work-from-home without a home, actually. We work together, so it was pretty crucial to find a way how to keep personal and working relations. We were lucky to have the best hosts and neighbors ever. They were so supportive. After the lockdown was ended, we decided to stay in Cyprus. Since that time, my wife and kids did not leave Cyprus; I travel on business to our local offices half time per year.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded XME.digital.
Victor Kmita: I have had a typical white-collar career in a corporation – a telecommunication company with 10 million customers. I started my career as a support engineer, but it was never enough. So at the end of the day, I started up my own company with my partners. We took the best practice we had and made an open-source fast-code platform on top of it. Our company was founded in 2015 when my eldest son was born. Now we have subsidiaries in Poland, Cyprus, and Canada and serve clients worldwide.
How does XME.digital innovate?
Victor Kmita: We believe that making a world a better place to live is to make life better with your own hands. So we innovate in local IT clusters and student organizations, support local communities projects like blood-donation information software system, for example. We are fighting to increase the share of women among our employees. The CEO and COO of our R&D center are women, and 37% of our colleagues are women as well.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Victor Kmita: Fingers crossed, we are fine. The pandemic situation has shown all companies worldwide whether they are really ready to treat customers digitally properly. Unfortunately, no one can put off digital transformation for later anymore. We are happy to offer an open-source fast-code platform XME.digital to make digitization faster and actually for free. It’s a matter of contribution for us – to give a powerful tool for SMEs all over the world. We also deliver digital solutions for large and medium-sized companies as they have many things to be done.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Victor Kmita: Life is difficult, and making business is always challenging, but our employees are the most precious asset we have. And it is not about the labor force; it is about family. We have many couples inside our companies. The most challenging was to support our team from the very beginning. All our employees worked from home to deliver those they need – comfortable pieces of furniture from the office, laptops, PCs, etc. We created a supportive environment – chats for small talks we had in the precious kitchen days, we send little birthday presents. Make online parties with real staff – like cooking class when everything is delivered to your door so that you could participate. Our team is like a big family with many relatives – we support each other and work on building a better product for all who need it.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Victor Kmita: Most of our clients are located in countries where we do not have delivery and R&D centers, so we have been working remotely since the beginning. But for local clients, we built relations in person through the years, so it was tricky to get used to it. I think the main thing is not about tools; it about keeping the relations. So we are working on our soft skills to build relations with digital means like a real one with a physical presence. We have sent Christmas souvenirs worldwide for our clients – tea sets for cozy evenings to show we care. Relations mean a lot to us. We use Trello, google meets, zoom, Redmine, and our own ticket system based on XME.digital to collaborate with clients the best possible.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Victor Kmita: We are happy to manage everything on our own.
Your final thoughts?
Victor Kmita: This too shall pass. Covid-19 has shown what is crucial for each of us. And it is not only business success. It’s essential to understand what is really important for you and what drives you personally. We got used to putting life on pause till the best times. But pandemic has changed this – we know almost nothing about what is going to happen tomorrow. So we can invest in today.
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