Entrepreneur Gleb Pereyaslavsky talks outsourcing and growth
Gleb Pereyaslavsky is the founder and director of Platonic, a company that builds web and mobile applications. He discusses his career in hi-tech, starting his own company and the international market for IT services.
How it began
I fell in love with programming when I got my first PC. It was a ZX Spectrum. I joined the faculty of mathematics and cybernetics at the university and also began to study HTML and PHP. At the same time I made my first web-site and earned $100. After high school I worked in several companies, first as a PHP-programmer, and then I moved on to Ruby on Rails. Back in elementary school I acquired good English skills, which has helped me to establish good communications with customers, and then later to manage projects.
After several years as a project manager, I decided to move on and start my own business with former classmates. We hired a development team and launched our own startup. The first business experience was a failure: after half a year we faced problems with product positioning and focusing. We decided to change the line of business and started provide software development services for local markets and internationally on Elance…but after some time we only had a small number of projects.
Do not be afraid to fail
I continued to work in the company and a few years later I decided to try again to start my own business. This time it was growing rapidly. At the beginning I was trying to merge my new business on a marketplace with my full-time office job. I worked like crazy – 300 hours per month; however, I soon realized that it’s impossible to work this way for a long period of time. By the time I had ‘outgrown’ my Project Manager position, my freelance projects were coming into their own and I had no doubt that this was my time. I did not look for business partners and instead took all the responsibility on my own. I created a team and we started working on the freelance marketplace.
Customer relations always come first
I had a goal to develop the business no matter what it takes, so I took any suitable project. This time I paid attention to the key building relations with clients…at any cost. I tried solving their problems with minimal cost and maximum effort. It bore fruit and I managed to reach the top 1% on Elance.
Office work in the classic sense inhibits and reduces the effectiveness of a team
I attracted developers to the team, by offering them good conditions and remote working formats with a flexible schedule. For me it is the best solution. Customers do not care what you do during the day, as long as the work gets done. All communications in the team are based on online tools such as Slack, Skype, Google Hangouts, Trello and Bitbucket. Unlike many companies, we don’t have a clear hierarchy, the whole team is working on a project on an equal footing.
Provide reliable quality
As part of our Quality Assurance policy, we regularly provide testing results and double check that our code is running smoothly. Each team member understands that he is responsible for the results. They can’t just write a piece of code and leave it behind. Internally we represent the same mini ‘marketplace’ where I buy pieces of a final product, acting as a communication link, explaining requirements, helping in the process.
Manage the risks
With members of the team I work on hourly rates, it allows people to have a good understanding of what they are getting and grow at the same time. Besides, I reduced the risk of insufficiency that was quite significant in the first stage. I also take on all the risks of final product delivery, so if one of the team members decides to leave, I’ll have to handle it. With regard to the settlement of disputed issues with clients, there is no universal answer. I use previous experience and a sense of inner responsibility as a base. Ultimately, it is paying off, as evidenced by the extremely positive feedback from our customers.
Earn the trust of your clients
It is crucial to earn a loyal customer base, as ‘word of mouth’ recommendations are your strongest marketing tool. In some scenarios I begin work on marketplaces and maintain my client relationship there. In other scenarios, I work directly with my clients. Payoneer allows me to work in a convenient format. I can request a payment directly from the Payoneer platform, significantly minimizing my costs. In this case it’s important to clearly clarify the working conditions: what the fixed costs are and what would require an additional budget, the payment terms etc.
The most important entrepreneurial abilities are singleness of purpose and persistence
You should be prepared to work hard for a long period of time, with low profit margins. Getting ahead in this business (especially with all the international competition) requires persistence. Here’s a bit of advice to newcomers:
- First of all – pay attention to the essential issue that you have to solve for your customer
- Meet customers halfway and make compromises – work on your reputation
- Always be in touch with the customer. Report to him once you face a problem and work together to find a solution
Keep in mind that the competition on this market is very high and you have a lot of work ahead. Good luck!
CEO @ Platonic.It