We talked to Vlad Terekhov, co-Founder and CEO, and Ivan Mashey, co-Founder and CTO of Attract Group, a long-term web and mobile app development partner and here is what they said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Vlad Terekhov: Overall, we are doing fine here in Odesa, Ukraine. The only thing that changed a lot is that I get to spend more time at home with my family because I am working from home now.
Ivan Mashey: We are doing quite OK in Amsterdam. The restrictions are quite heavy, and we have to stay at home most of the time. But I am quite used to that because I have been working from home for quite a while.
Tell us about you, your career, how you both founded Attract Group.
Vlad Terekhov: Well, it is quite a long story. Actually, I have a tech background – my Master’s Degree in Computer Sciences and Networks as well as Innovations Management. I started practicing my managerial and IT skills back in 2008 as an IT Coordinator at AIESEC back in 2007. Then I worked as a Network and Software engineer for 5 years to gain real-world experience. This knowledge has helped me a lot while starting this company.
Ivan and I have been fellow students and friends since University times. Back then, we realized that we want to do something more than just write code – at that time, we didn’t have a clear vision, but we knew we wanted to solve business problems and help companies on the way of becoming more modern digitally.
Currently, I am responsible for financial aspects as well as personnel making sure we are moving in the right direction and share the same vision, values, and mission.
Our mission is to accelerate global business digitalization and help new types of businesses emerge faster.
Ivan Mashey: Indeed, our shared technical background, along with another degree in Cloud and Grid Computing received in Amsterdam, is helping us manage Attract Group – Awarded Web & Mobile Development Company successfully for a decade now. Before that, I was successfully helping other companies as a DevOps Engineer.
We came up with the idea of creating a small IT company back in 2011 and had a handful of developers to help us start. Over the 10 years, we have grown from 5 people to a company of about 50 staff and are actively growing.
I am mainly responsible for the technological side of our company – finding the right tech focus for future development and scaling our business.
How does Attract Group innovate?
Vlad Terekhov: Our main goal is to help startups and established businesses solve their business needs. So, we have recently hired a few business analysts that help our clients identify their bottlenecks/needs so we could provide the most optimal solutions for everyone individually.
We also encourage education and constantly provide access to different professional courses for our staff.
Ivan Mashey: From the tech side of the matter, I can say that we are keeping up with the current IT trends and adopting the latest best practices and development languages/frameworks. For instance, we used to only focus on native iOS and Android app development. However, we have seen the growth in demand for Cross-platform mobile apps and started creating efficient mobile applications with Flutter.
Moreover, we have noticed an upward trend in React framework over the Angular one and have switched our focus in that direction. Because our ultimate goal is to help our clients achieve their business goals most efficiently – and have an easily-maintainable and scalable custom solution.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Vlad Terekhov: To be honest, the most drastic change we have experienced is starting to work from home. We used to hire only in-house specialists. However, now we can hire anyone around the world, which has widened our horizons and allows us to have access to a bigger talent pool.
However, we haven’t experienced any financial difficulties because most businesses are starting to realize how important online presence and digital solutions are during the quarantine. Overall, I can say that we have gained more complex and interesting projects in the last year, which allows us to constantly grow and gain more expertise in different niches like on-demand services, healthcare solutions, CRM system development, delivery and booking apps, etc.
Ivan Mashey: I can say that we were quite proactive without knowing that we have a custom in-house developed Jira-like CRM/ERP/HRM system that allows us to work from anywhere and still preserve transparency and efficiency that are our key values.
I can also back up Vlad’s words by saying that we were able to hire very highly-qualified staff in the last year.
Our 5’ reviews from our clients on Clutch and other platforms are inspiring us to conquer new markets and help many businesses overcome this COVID-19 crisis. We even launched a Digitalization Program during the quarantine and provided startups and essential businesses with discounts.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Vlad Terekhov: We were quite lucky that we didn’t have to take drastic measures such as laying over people. On the contrary, we focused on keeping our staff occupied and expanding our sales department to ensure every team had a project to work on.
Moreover, we are planning to expand our company by about 50% this year because we see how many businesses are in need of a digital transformation.
Our main lesson, I believe, is setting specific, measurable goals and moving towards them at any cost.
Ivan Mashey: I believe one of the main lessons is the importance of a team and the power of delegation. Hiring the people you can trust eliminates the need for micromanagement. We are currently focused on building strong and independent teams. That is why we carry out performance and salary reviews every 6 months to keep the staff motivated and goal-oriented.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Ivan Mashey: Well, as I have already mentioned, we have our own flexible CRM system that helps us manage projects effectively and efficiently by assigning tasks to the right people, tracking time, reserving shared staff, automating everything that can be automated, etc.
We have had to cancel in-person meetings, but we arrange Zoom-team building events like quizzes and other forms of entertainment to keep the team spirit high.
Moreover, we are actively using Slack as an internal communication channel.
Vlad Terekhov: Moreover, our Project Managers are trained to arrange the remote working process. We adopt the best practices and arrange chapter meetings with each department to identify any difficulties and help them navigate through them.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Ivan Mashey: Well, we do have competitors, but we mostly focus on building our own social media presence and awareness. Our goal is to have a strong positive image based on trust and reviews from our clients.
We are currently entering Eastern and Dutch countries. Previously we were mainly focused on the USA and Canada. However, it is time to grow and expand our horizons.
Vlad Terekhov: We do maintain long-term relationships with our clients, Our most loyal US-client has been with us for over 9 years now. So, we care about the quality of our work and our reputation to both keep our old clients and acquire new ones.
Your final thoughts?
Ivan Mashey: Last year, as well as the beginning of the current one, has been quite challenging for many people and their businesses. Lucky are those that have taken risks and started investing in their online presence. We hope that life will get back to normal soon, but the digitalization trend will only keep growing.
Vlad Terekhov: Right, software development services help many businesses boost our economy. So, I hope the government will keep supporting the IT industry, and our life will become easier due to the modern IT solutions that help us live and manage our businesses from the comforts oа our own homes. We hope we can help many more businesses start and scale in the years to come.
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