Interview with Roma Timoshpolski the CEO of Yozma.Tech
The CEO of Yozma.Tech Roma Timoshpolski on how the company started, the differences between IT recruiting in Israel and Ukraine, why outstaffing is a perfect model for startups, the unique approach to consulting through circles of hi-tech leaders, the culture of mutual support, and his personal vision of business success.
How did it all start with Yozma.Tech?
The company was created 12 years ago. I majored in international relations at university. During my studies, I developed an interest in stock markets and decided to exploit the opportunity to share knowledge with people and make money.
So I founded a financial academy. With time, our graduates wanted to find a job, so we helped them with employment. This is how Yozma.Tech started. At first, we did job placement in the financial sphere, then marketing, and then technical. Also, at this time, we began to develop software for our own needs.
At the end of 2015, I came to Lviv with my colleague. Initially, we worked remotely, but later, when we saw that the business was going well, we created our own product for the financial market. And, consequently, we had to build a team around it. Then the market situation changed, and we decided to sell the product.
The client who purchased it told us: look, you are great at recruiting, you have formed a great team, keep it up. And this is how we entered a new stage: we saw the market, its potential, the demand, we did it well, so we decided to go deeper.
Later, I got familiar with the Ukrainian IT sphere and understood that there were many intelligent and interesting people who want to grow professionally and learn how to work with foreign clients. And in general, the level of service there is very high. So we started to get first clients – CTOs, who later recommended us to their friends. In Israel, it takes 4-5 months to hire a software engineer, and in Lviv, we can do it for a month.
Why is the process so lengthy? Is it because of the notice period?
No, it is related to the market specifics in Israel. There are more interview stages, strict requirements, fewer candidates. And the demand is higher than the supply. Step by step, even without advertising, we got new clients and started to provide top quality service to them. All we do, we do in the best way possible.
We specialize in specializing. The most important thing is the right communication with the clients. That is why many of them have been with us for a long time. At first, it was only recruiting, and now we build whole teams from scratch for them.
How do you see the company in the future?
We plan to move further in all the three directions we are working on now.
The first one is recruiting in Ukraine. We see that many companies open offices here. But not always they can organize recruiting processes in the right way. They say, Lviv is a big village, and everybody knows each other despite the fact that there are around twenty thousand software developers in the city. It takes time for a company to build a reputation. You can see the industry growth even with office rent ads. A lot of new business premises are being built, not just old factories and structures that undergo renovation.
The second direction is outstaffing. Companies want to control the development process and have full transparency. This model, when the client has their own CTO, is perfect for startups, it is the so-called lean agile approach. This way they can move forward quickly, and build their team without the unnecessary bureaucracy.
And the third direction is consulting. These are our Yozma circles – hi-tech industry leaders who have reached such a high level of professionalism to provide consulting services.
How do these tech leaders circles work?
Let’s say we have a client who needs to make a decision on the website architecture with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month. They need the right structure to process everything quickly, the right technology that they will not have to change in 2 years. And we recommend an expert that can provide consulting to them, identify their needs and give advice that can save a lot of money.
Or, for instance, a startup interested in entering the US market.
The founders need to know what steps to take to be successful. We have cool marketing experts in our circles who can build the right strategy, and help with business development.
The thing is that these people from our circles have been down this road a thousand times, but it might be something new for the founder or CEO, and they make typical mistakes that can be prevented.
It is common knowledge that 93% of startups do not even manage to put their product on the market because of the wrong analysis or lack of financing.
The objective of Yozma.Tech circles is to increase the probability that these startups will come onto the market.
Our priority is quality, not quantity. I hope we will preserve the family-like atmosphere in our company and be the bridge between the Ukrainian development community and the Israeli startup ecosystem.
In Israel, they say, you throw a stone and you hit a startup founder, and in Ukraine, you hit a software developer. These are people hungry for knowledge, with a good education, high achievers. Besides, we can see that there are not only outsourcing companies in Ukraine but an emerging startup scene.
There are top-rank professionals who have great ideas. So we hope we can build the same system of competence circles in Ukraine. This way we will be able to help new Ukrainian entrepreneurs with the experience we have accumulated in Israel. Here, startups gather billions of dollars in investment annually. There is a new generation of people in Ukraine who specialize in cybersecurity, Big Data, etc. And we would like to support the development of these areas in our company as we want to provide boutique service to our clients.
How do you think the IT industry will develop?
In Ukraine, the startup ecosystem will continue to grow. You can estimate the business potential even with the office construction boom in Lviv, say, compared to 3 years ago. Also, the educational system will transform to correspond to market demand. In Israel, there are 16-17 thousand open vacancies. With time, the trust will grow, and Israeli entrepreneurs will see the level of professionalism in Ukraine, reliable partners, with whom they can cooperate, and skilled programmers that can create value for their business.
You have interviewed so many candidates. What are the most important soft skills for a developer?
The most important thing is you radiate positivity and understand how to build communication in the right way, how Israeli clients think. Besides, never be afraid to ask questions and demonstrate a desire to constantly improve.
What are your main business principles that are reflected in the company culture?
People are our most valuable resource. And we are looking for those who are ready to lend a shoulder to their colleagues. If your workload is too big, you can come up to other developers and ask for help. It is like in the army, your survival depends on your fellow soldier. How you treat other people is crucial.
If a project is closed, and somebody is on the bench, we will not fire the person whose human qualities correspond to our corporate culture. This way we create internal stability, the spirit of fellowship, which is also about the responsibility for other people. This is what we believe in: treat others how you want to be treated. Help others without expecting a reward.
Another cornerstone is patience. We don’t compete with anyone, only with ourselves. Big things are achieved step by step. It is critical not to stop walking. We gradually improve all the processes and truly enjoy this road. The people in the office feel happy and smile, and it is the best measurement of success, as important as the company’s profit.
We want to attract interesting partners, clients, but also become their friends, and it is a totally different level of relationship. This is what we will be implementing here, in Lviv.
What can you recommend to new entrepreneurs?
Surround yourself with top professionals. Don’t make mistakes that can be prevented, find competent people to guide you, and not always you have to pay for this. Sometimes, you help someone, and they return the favor. A mentor, who already has a few successful startups behind his or her back, will support you. Like in professional sport, it is one of the key winning factors.
Do you have an internal mentorship program?
Sure, we have programmers who work directly with CTOs, and we are preparing them for leadership. If they ask the right questions, the CTO always shows the direction for self-improvement. It is an open line and I recommend everyone to use it.
What is the secret of your personal productivity?
First of all, it is prioritizing and trusting other people. I devote one hour per week to strategic planning. As for the tactics, you should always be very flexible, and do things step by step, avoid running too fast.