Tell us a few words about how it all started?
Like everything beautiful in this world, the company started with the idea of turning my skills into money. I was 19 years old and programming was the only intellectual work that would allow me to make money. Before that I had worked as a loader, furniture collector and merchandiser, but in exactly one month it was clear to me, that it was not my thing.
When I was a schoolboy I took a great interest in programming (at that time it was still web-design rather), built my first websites and went to college with a strong desire to learn how to program. I believed that this is the future, and plus it was interesting.
As soon as I announced that I know how to make a website small orders began to arrive. And so it went. Over time I realized that if I wanted to build a company and not do freelancing, I had to learn how to sell, attract employees, etc.
Interview with Roman on Big Money:
How was the name ARTJOKER born?
It's a classic story about how it's not the name that matters, but your product. Back then I worked with a friend and during cold calls we had to say a name. A letter A, and catchy - so ARTJOKER was born and quickly caught on.
What is the company today?
Today the company employs more than 100 people, we are engaged in software product development, their promotion, as well as technological consulting. One of the distinctive features of the company today is its own products for the ecommerce and fintech markets. Our clients are companies that make money online and are constantly developing their technical platforms.
Today the geography of our clients is 50/50 Ukrainian and Western business. We cannot be called an outsourcing company, because we have been working on the Ukrainian market for a long time and have an impressive portfolio of Ukrainian clients.
Today everyone is looking for American clients and working "for the West. Do you regret not concentrating purely on outsourcing?
As I said above, this is how it has historically worked for us. Probably if I had gone to outsource from the beginning and clearly understood "how to", but I do not regret, because working with the Ukrainian market has hardened us and made us more flexible. It's a good school, thanks to which we get 99% of successful projects for the West.
And how do web development and online marketing get along in one company?
Yes, that's our thing today. Very often clients, after launching a project, start thinking about how to promote it and how to make friends with developers and marketers. We offer not only the full development cycle from the first meeting, but also classic online marketing - SEO, contextual advertising, lead generation, etc.
This way we can take more responsibility and give added value to clients.
Since 2006, haven't you had enough of this market yet?
During this time within the walls of the company were born many projects that do not allow you to get bored.
We realized that we wanted to move into products. We have accumulated excellent technological and marketing baggage, which allows us to launch any kind of projects. Since then, we started working with some projects as a technology partner. This means that the company gets equity in the project, for which it provides effective building of the product, as well as marketing.
In essence, we take on the creation of a team first internally, and then this team turns into a company. Today we have a number of successful cases, companies that we have built on the basis of ARTJOKER and they have grown into full-fledged businesses. How can you get bored here!
And how do you motivate your company's top management?
The average lifespan of department heads in the company today is 8-9 years. Considering that we have a young company, we can say our whole conscious life. These are guys who came to different positions and over time, thanks to their attitude to business, became TOPs.
Today we have businesses within the company; in fact, each department or service is a separate business. Therefore, each manager understands not only his product, but also marketing, finance, HR and everything else. So there is synergy and this is the drive factor for the team.
Why does ARTJOKER constantly hold events - conferences, big brain days, design battles?
Yes, this is our contribution to the market and an opportunity to expand networking. At different times we have held a large number of events - from conferences for 600-700 people like MMP, to chamber design battles. These are different events for different audiences - not only clients, but also market professionals.
For us, hosting events is an opportunity to be in shape all the time. When you have to perform, you have to have cases, you have to be engaged in innovation. We also have a lot of internal events that we do within the company - different clubs, when specialists share their experience with their colleagues and learn. This adds cool dynamics to the whole company. We try to do at least 3-4 events a year.
What plans does the company have for the next few years?
We have two key vectors - the development of niche products (Icomers and fintechs), as well as moving westward. We are experimenting with different partnership models and trying to go further than just providing services. Today we need partners who see value in the company's products and are willing to promote them in their markets.
Also, we plan to further develop IT in Kharkiv. In particular, to take an active part in the work of Kharkiv IT cluster, to support its initiatives.
For example, not so long ago we have launched a Chat-bot for applicants. So any pupil can learn more about the university, specialties, requirements for admission, etc. in a familiar environment, using messenger. This is our social mission and contribution to the development of IT in Kharkov.
Tell us about the Double Portion Business School. Why do you need this project?
This is a project of two fanatic entrepreneurs: mine and my friend Vadim Bortnik, the CEO of Freshline. We actively performed at various business events and at some point we realized that the demand for business education was extremely high. It was 2015, the summer, and it seemed like an interesting challenge for us to do a summer school for entrepreneurs. Everyone could take part and try to launch their own project in 6 weeks.
We instantly assembled a group of 20 people and began work. Frankly speaking, I didn't think it would be that difficult. After all, it's one thing to be a speaker for an hour or two, and another thing to prepare and conduct a six-week course of 25 sessions of 3 hours each. Without training, methodologists, organizers, etc.
In any case, we were very pleased with the result. The winner of the course - Lena Poole, opened an online school and earned real money right during the course. How cool is that! I do not know when we will go back to education again, but it is definitely a great experience.
What about Work-Life balance?
I love sports - it's my stress pill. I try to run 3-4 times a week for 40 minutes. This allows me to stay fit, and also this time can be spent with the additional benefit of listening to a podcast while running, or an audio book.
Recently I conquered Elbrus (5642 m). For me it was a real step out of my comfort zone and overcoming myself. I fell in love with mountains and now I want to conquer a new peak once a year.
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