Interview with Igor Dzhebyan, co-founder and CEO of andcards

We have started a series of interviews with Ukrainian tech professionals, which put a light on the specific fields of the tech sphere in Ukraine, share experience and advice to the startups, and explore the opportunities Ukraine has to offer in the global economy.

The third person we talk to is Igor Dzhebyan, a co-founder and CEO of andcards — member-first software for flexible offices and coworking spaces. As of June 2020, workspace tenants across 70 office centers in 17 countries book rooms, communicate, apply for benefits and services, and get support through andcards products.

TechUkraine: You participated in acceleration programs in South Korea, Chile, Poland. Very different countries, cultures, and environments. Please, give our readers a short Intro about the programs. How did you find it out?


  • K-Startup Grand Challenge is a 3-month accelerator program in Pangyo, South Korea, run by National IT Promotion Agency. It covers living expenses up to $15,490 and offers a chance to win up to $120,000 in demo day prize — all equity-free. In my opinion, the program is good for mature startups that look to enter South Korea’s 50 million people market or seek partnerships with Samsung Electronics, LG, Naver, Hyundai, Kakao, or other Korean conglomerates.
  • Poland Prize is a 4-month accelerator program in Poland run by PARP (Polish Agency of Entrepreneurship Development). It offers an equity-free grant of up to $62,500 (some part is allocated to mentoring and program-related expenses). I think the program is ideal for promising small and medium-tech startups that wish to access the Polish and EU markets. Poland offers an attractive business environment, relatively low taxes, and access to fully-featured world-class infrastructure services like Stripe, Revolut, Transferwise, and PayPal.
  • Start-Up Chile is a 6-month accelerator program in Santiago-de-Chile run by CORFO. It includes an equity-free grant of around $80,000 and invaluable connections to some of the most powerful and well-known Latin American corporations. I am sure the program is great not only for mature startups wishing to enter Latin American markets but also for starting entrepreneurs who need support and high-quality mentoring to find a product-market fit. “This is the greatest program I’ve seen of this type in the world. I’m going to recommend it to my kids”, — said Steve Wozniak about Start-Up Chile.
andcards team at the final Start-Up Chile — Start-Up Vertex Demo Day, together with managing director Sebastian Diaz

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.

andcards meeting room display mode and mobile app for Android

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.

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