Yuriy Humenchuk, co-founder of WINSTARS Technology about developing intelligent hardware products and complex software solutions powered by AI.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Yuriy Humenchuk: I am blessed not to have any severe cases within my family and close relatives, but I hear of many tragic cases around. I am glad vaccination has been started already, so hopefully, everything will be back to normal soon enough.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded WINSTARS Technology.
Yuriy Humenchuk: My father is an engineer, and throughout my childhood, we were always building things together, and I guess that desire to create has stayed within me till the current day.
Though I did my studies in the economy and worked in top management positions in pharmaceutical companies, I stayed loyal to my passion for making real things)
The first business I founded was a construction company. I wanted to build something that stays. It is truly a great feeling seeing an object emerge from the flat ground!
After some time, though, I felt that I want to create things, which will impact the world on a global scale. And that is how I became a part of an R&D center, developing intelligent hardware products and complex software solutions powered by AI.
How does WINSTARS Technology innovate?
Yuriy Humenchuk: Well, we are an R&D facility, so innovation is basically what we do the whole time.
Recently, we took part in one survey, which had to analyze our level of “innovativeness,” and one of the questions was to estimate the percentage of innovative projects we were engaged in, and it turned out to be very close to 100%. We were rated pretty high by that study)
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Yuriy Humenchuk: We mostly have corporate clients, and, indeed, some projects were delayed due to uncertainty brought about by the pandemic. Nevertheless, the vast majority of our projects continue to move forward.
As many other companies did, we introduced more flexible schedules for our employees with the possibility of working remotely. We try to keep a reasonable distance when communicating face to face and take other measures in order to minimize the risks of getting infected. Even though several of our employees reported positive test results, the virus did not spread to other teammates.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Yuriy Humenchuk: WINSTARS Technology is a relatively small company with around 50, mostly young (at least in their minds) and highly enthusiastic employees passionate about what they do. With such a great team, no challenge is difficult.
What is important, though, is to stay flexible, be open for new opportunities, and, whatever you do – keep your big goal in mind – the way will reveal itself.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Yuriy Humenchuk: Working remotely has been a standard in our industry for a long time already. So we basically use the same management and project management tools as before (Monday, GitHub, GSuite).
The only thing worth mentioning is that we started using remote much more than before and for some of us it was necessary to organize our workplaces at home and manage time much better in order to maintain efficiency and withstand the distraction powers)
We also emphasize the importance of finding new ways to exercise on a regular basis in times when fitness studios are closed. This also helps to maintain a good mood and stay energetic.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Yuriy Humenchuk: In principle, there are not so many companies that work with the development of hardware products, especially with their own software and data science teams.
Despite the fact that our region is well known for its engineering culture (formed during soviet times), the vast majority of companies work either purely with machinery and hardware or purely with software. Our main strength lies in the ability to combine those technologies together with AI in order to create intelligent devices.
Your final thoughts?
Yuriy Humenchuk: Current pandemic has brought lots of pain into our world, but it also taught us many things.
Stay strong, keep focus, be optimistic about the future – life goes on.