We continue our series of interviews with CEOs, founders, and team members of successful startup projects, sharing exclusive insights, growth hacks, and advice for young entrepreneurs and startups.
We spoke to Lesia Mandzevych from Perfectial about the do’s and don’ts of developing a startup, creating a perfect marketing strategy, and how their own company grew from a startup to a development company with offices in Boston and London.
Watch the full interview at the end of the article.
I: Hi, Lesia. For those who don’t know what Perfectial is can you please tell us a few words about your company and how Perfectial and Pixetic [edit.note: a design agency within Perfectial] help young businesses develop?
Lesia Mandzevych: Perfectial is a full cycle software development company that helps established companies and startups bring their ideas into life. What we do is empower ideas with technology. So if a startup has an idea, if they want to develop a software product, but either don’t have enough technological capacity or enough knowledge, we help them develop a POC, then a MVP, and then a complete product.
I: To be able to offer such service you must have quite a team.
LM: Well, Perfectial was founded in 2010 which means we’ve been around for 8 years already and we have gathered a team of about 250 specialists. So these are our in-house specialists: developers, business analysts, UX designers etc.
We also have an in-house design agency Pixetic and we are working heavily on design projects and UX projects, because design experience is one of the core differentiators of any technological product. We work in teams, together with our customers, to help them build their product and make a change.
“If you are not communicating with your customer… well, that means something is likely to go wrong.”
I: And where are you based?
LM: We are based in Lviv [Ukraine], but we also have development offices in Kyiv, which is the capital of Ukraine, and Ivano-Frankivsk. We have representative offices in the U.S. and the U.K. because that is where most of our customers are – in Boston, MA and in London.
Having these offices helps us build better communication with our clients. You can have superior knowledge on technologies like .Net, Java, or whatever, but if you are not communicating with your customer… well, that means something is likely to go wrong.
I: In these 8 years how many projects have you worked on?
LM: Well we have worked with more than 100 clients, but we are always focused on long-term partnerships. When we started as a company, we worked heavily with startups because we ourselves were a startup. But now, through the years of our cooperation, these startups have turned into big enterprise-level companies. And we keep supporting them technology- and business-wise.
I: Having supported so many startups on their way to success, do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs, businesses, and startups?
LM: Over the years we have kind of compiled certain rules and advice for people who come to us for help.
The first thing for a start-up, because it’s a new business which is based on an idea, is to have this idea developed fast, otherwise the time will kill your project.
If you don’t want that to happen, go find people and partners who will help you out with your project. This could even be another startup that works with a technology that you need. Find a vendor who will be experienced enough to understand what kind of product you are building and is able to build it easily and fast, make it user-friendly and have a proper product market fit. Do everything for your product to find its customers.
That is why we are not only doing software development, we have a team of UX experts, business analysts, product managers, who are all helping our customers and our partners build their businesses properly.
“The first thing for a start-up, because it’s a new business which is based on an idea, is to have this idea developed fast, otherwise the time will kill your project.”
I: With over 200 people on your staff do you use any special team management techniques?
LM: We use the techniques that are now used everywhere – we do Agile, we do Scrum, we try to keep the connection between our team and our customers as flexible as possible, so that we are very adaptable to change.
We work heavily on our employee development, their career development. Every once in a while we have our performance evaluation, so we see how a certain person works and we give people advice on what their qualification level is and what new skills they could learn to improve further. It could be soft skills like communication, so that the communication with our customers is as smooth as possible.
This is what we are striving for. We know that no business is perfect, even though our name is Perfectial. But we try to improve the customer’s business and our business as much as we can, mutual improvement.
I: A lot of people come to conferences like these [edit. note: IT Arena Lviv 2018] to either look for investment, new clients, or even potential employees. What is your goal here?
LM: As a software development company, which is growing rapidly, we are here to open ourselves up to a broader public, to tell people more about what we do and who we are looking for.
We try to present ourselves as a good company and that means showing people that we have successful projects and talented people on the team. On the third day of the conference, we’re holding a meet-up on the topic of blockchain, which is one of the technologies we work with, and out CTO will be speaking there. So we are trying to showcase our expertise as well.
And yes, we are trying to meet new people and engage with them so that they may be interested to work with our company. We want potential employees to know that we try to manage projects in a way that there isn’t a massive overload, as we really respect the work-life balance.
Networking is the most important thing. It’s crucial for startup founders and CEOs because, as I’ve said previously, there are so many ways for startups to develop and grow besides just hiring a vendor and developing it heavily. You need to understand what you are doing in order to find the perfect product market fit. And there are lots of people, investors, accelerators, incubators who are willing to help and are willing to build this whole community for you. And that is what we are all interested in – making life easier.
“There are lots of people, investors, accelerators, incubators, who are willing to help and are willing to build this whole community for you.”
I: In terms of marketing what would you say is more important – PPC, SEO, cold outreach? What does your company prefer when they are looking for clients?
LM: In my opinion the most successful marketing campaign combines all of these. You can’t be spending all of your budget on Google Ads, you also need to try and work on your organic reach.
Building your site in a way that will make it easy to find the necessary info is also important. Work on your testimonials. There are lots of platforms like Clutch where customers can write you a review. People who are actively looking for technological vendors will go there because they know that this is a trusted platform, and seeing your score might be a key factor in their decision making process.
You also have to do social media. Your client has to be able to find your company and the other – human – side of it. When you hire a company, you understand that there is a certain developer and business analyst working there, but on Facebook you can see their faces and it’s very important for marketing to have brand faces. This way potential clients see that there are real people working there and that improves the level of trust.
So yeah, a good campaign is the one that combines all of these. There are a lot of tools you can use to reach your target audience. Think about PR, publishing your articles in professional media, business media, different ratings like IAOP, GSA UK etc.
For all the vacancies and projects from Perfectial, visit perfectial.com.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.