TechUkraine: What are the most influential insights of the international entrepreneurs’ communities you mentioned? Are the Founders from different continents have the same approach to running a startup ? Key lessons of integration and internationalization.
Igor: I guess it’s a well-known truth to experienced readers of TechUkraine medium that internationalization isn’t only about product localization but also about developing a deep understanding and factoring in a local culture into your business processes. Also, I didn’t notice a dramatic difference in developing products but witnessed a huge difference in business culture.
For example, in Latin America, it is helpful to have a proper introduction to business contact; otherwise, it is quite difficult to gain attention. Also, meeting appointment times is frequently understood as something liquid that needs multiple confirmations, whereas, in South Korea, your meeting attendees will be very punctual without needing a reminder. Understanding a local business culture is crucial to enter the market effectively.
TechUkraine: You are a founder of andcards software for coworking spaces. Could you pitch your project? Why do you think your solution is relevant and successful in Kyiv, Santiago de Chile, and Seoul?
Igor: andcards is the first coworking software designed for members. We focus on tenant experience so they can get the most out of their workspace. We know it’s relevant because companies increasingly optimize their businesses to focus on what they do best. Non-core assets (office, printers, furniture) are replaced by subscription services to amazing shared office spaces.
andcards is successful because it lets shared office operators focus on what they do best — serve amazing workspaces. Unlike competitors, our product bolsters ease of use and results in skyrocketing activation rates. Unlike in-house software, andcards is subscription-based (read — affordable), updated weekly with cutting-edge features, and offers a superior UX because it’s used by thousands of people around the world.
Currently, we serve some of the best workspaces in over 17 countries, including South Korea, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, Switzerland, Norway, and others. In Ukraine, you can enjoy andcards technology at breathtaking Creative States or Kooperativ workspaces.
TechUkraine: COVID 19 and the global crisis: did you change the strategy or pivot your business goals during a pandemic? How do you manage your company in these uncertain times?
Igor: andcards business did face a slight decrease in customer activity at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, but that quickly turned into double-digit growth due to the appearance of new workspaces to keep up with the demand of a growing remote workforce. COVID-19 only accelerated a transformation in the workspace industry. More companies adopted remote work and realized that investing in non-core assets was a mistake. Instead, companies should focus on their core business and leave office management to professionals. One great thing about flex workspace is its proximity to home, saving hours of commute time.
TechUkraine: What choices will make the most significant impact on your startup story – and whether you look back on that story with regrets?
Igor: Like any other entrepreneurs, my co-founder Rostyslav Khanas and I made choices that turned out to be a mistake but nevertheless yielded a great deal of experience. Going to market without checking demand, relying too much on hired employees, or losing focus with the product — everything happened before andcards finally landed in the coworking industry and found a product-market fit. It’s virtually impossible to build a startup and make no mistakes. But it’s possible to be blind to mistakes and suffer from them repeatedly before correcting the course of action. I believe it’s all about your ability to look back, admit the mistakes rapidly and honestly, and find a better solution.
TechUkraine: According to your International experience, what would you recommend Ukrainian startupers who dream of global business and have the ambition to scale their products and services on the global stage?
Igor: Conquer the Ukrainian market, making it your revenue fortress. Then adopt a lean startup methodology to rapidly discover the markets to develop. Preferably with minimum cost and time, like setting up a $1 ad campaign to get clicks per country. Then, instead of dispersing efforts and resources, I recommend taking countries one-by-one by storm. Equity-free start-up accelerators could be a great launchpad for overseas commercialization, but their administration is often distracting and time-consuming. While getting the most out of the opportunities, startup programs offer, stay focused on your own goals, and never give up.
I think it’s kind of a good reminder to us why innovation is necessary.