First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Vitaliy Dyachenko: As long as everybody’s healthy, no need to get sad about the times. COVID-19 is what is already happening, so we would better move on rather than stuck and cry over the spilled milk.
I’m lucky to have my family with me. My little daughter motivates me to move on every day. I want to see her happy, no matter the circumstances.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded UppLabs.
Vitaliy Dyachenko: Long story short. I created UppLabs in 2014. I gained my first development experience in 2009, where I organized a small team of university group mates to develop a commercial project for a distribution company to keep records and reports of mobile cards and vouchers for mobile phones. At first, the project was difficult to implement because the software had to handle large amounts of data and statistics from official mobile providers.
A few years later, I started developing my own product with my own team. And we successfully completed the MVP of a SaaS startup and had our first paid corporate client.
I was trying to find new clients. That was my first experience in business development, which unfortunately did not go well. But fortunately, it encouraged me to create UppLabs.
Since that time, we have received a lot of experience in FinTech – we worked with many banks (including one of the TOP-10 banks in the US), audit companies (including one of the TOP-4 best audit companies in the USA), SimilarWeb, etc.
A project needed rescuing as it went off-track, and the development team did not manage to finish it. So the client came to me and asked for help. By that time, I already had a great technical background and the team. The challenges of the project were: large amounts of data, dynamic data structure, and speed optimization. We managed it in 8 months, but this client still works with us.
As a business owner, I went through several phases, and each time I had certain thoughts and knowledge that seemed important at the time. I always believe that you definitely need to have the right team that can help you develop and show the best results. As for my part, I’m the one who has to manage all risks.
How does UppLabs innovate?
Vitaliy Dyachenko: my team and I are trying to stay ahead of the competition by constant learning and searching for better ways to complete the given tasks. There is always room for improvement. We try to talk with industry experts and find out what trends we should take into account. I managed to work in well-known product startups and 3 of the 5 largest outsourcing companies in Ukraine during my career. Google Product School and Facebook Developer Circle as well helped me to gain a lot of knowledge and experience to build innovations in UppLabs.
We try to build a company where not only I am responsible for implementing innovations. This is UppLabs’ company culture that encourages every team member to uncover the potential within the Flat Company model.
Also, we always participate in conferences and take lessons when it is possible.
As for me, I try to encourage every team member to grow professionally.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Vitaliy Dyachenko: Can’t say that coronavirus really affected UppLabs. We had some fears that it might, but luckily, our strategy, hard work, and activities gave us a certain advantage.
We had the experience of working remotely, even before the COVID-19. So our processes were properly settled, and each of us perfectly knew how to work effectively from home. Coronavirus didn’t affect our productivity.
Of course, there were a couple of months when the business didn’t show growth, but in 2-3 months, our potential clients were active again, and we started to grow again as well. We had an outstanding experience in Fintech, HealthTech, and PropTech, online video, and communication platform development, and we adapted our business to market needs.
Moreover, at the beginning of the quarantine, we offered businesses some help with remote team management.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Vitaliy Dyachenko: The most difficult choices are not usually connected with quarantine or external factors. The most difficult choices come when you have to say goodbye to a team member, especially if you have worked with this person for quite a long time. It’s always a pity, but we have to move on.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and UppLabs in the future?
Vitaliy Dyachenko: When you have a lot of work, there’s always some stress and anxiety. But there is no silver bullet. If you like your work, something should motivate you and cheer you up.
Doing sports and spending time with your family might help to cope with stress as well.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Vitaliy Dyachenko: Our competitors are other software development companies that are equally professional and experienced as we are. Of course, there are a lot of them, but our advantage is that we are always ready to go the extra mile for our clients.
We have strong skills and outstanding industries experience, which give us an opportunity to grow. During the crisis, small companies are given a chance to grow and get the TOP position in the market. This is our primary goal to become a leader in the niche of our primary experience.
Darwin wrote that ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change‘.
We try to adapt.
Your final thoughts?
Vitaliy Dyachenko: The key to success is the desire to improve yourself. The key to a company’s success is to find a team of like-minded people who want to develop the company and grow along with it. The Flat Company approach may be the answer.