Don’t fall for an idea before testing it.
Maksym Babych is a CEO of SpdLoad, a startup development company located in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The company helps startups to launch their products and build software applications. Maksym established SpdLoad in 2013. Today it has 20+ successful products in SaaS and Marketplace industry and several own products. SpdLoad was recognized as one of the top 20 web developers on Clutch.
Maksym has a master’s degree in economics. Now he is a serial entrepreneur and IT professional. As a startup adviser at Startup Chile – the largest business accelerator in South America, and Startplatz – the local Cologne startup incubator, helps early-stage startups with setting up and scaling configuration of business processes.
Where did the idea for SpdLoad come from?
Two years before launching SpdLoad I worked for investment company Otkrytie and understood that selling is what I do best. And right about that time I met my old friend, who had developed the local web applications with two programmers. Without further notice, I sent out emails offering website development. There were couple of clients who paid for our services and in a month I understood that it was a time to establish a company. In addition, my country witnessed a huge currency crisis back then. This fact highlighted once again the need in IT company. So, if to sum up, the idea came from set of circumstances, my sales skills and crisis in the country.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day begins with checking my email and answering all the night mails from the USA. I usually give feedbacks first and only then I have breakfast and do all the morning routine. Then, I go to the office, continue working with all the incoming correspondence and assign the objectives. Afterwards, I usually do the researches or read articles. In the afternoon I hold regular meetings with PM, marketing or other departments. Later, I have a couple of hours to continue the researches and test my hypothesis. And then comes evening, the craziest time. Calls, mails, after action reviews and many other stuff start at that time and don’t stop until late night. Sometimes I continue researching at night when nothing disturbs me. If asking me about the way I make my day productive, I would answer to sleep less and eat healthy.
How do you bring ideas to life?
First of all I test all the incoming request by myself. I am looking for the way it can be implemented, or try to implement it myself. Then, if I see that the idea is worthwhile, delegate it to my team members.
What’s one trend that excites you?
It would be definitely the Artificial Intelligence.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I think that it is my habit to work hard.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Study English. Unfortunately, I didn’t know English until I was 21.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Currently I spend a lot of time on marketing and there is a prevailing belief that it is useless and won’t work. But I tell everyone that it will work and I know it will work. Another issue here is hiring strategy. I have my own vision on hiring strategy that the CTO doesn’t agree with. Then again, many say that my strategy won’t work, but I know it will.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I think it will be researching. The hypothesis testing may be hard and tiresome at times. But I think it is important to be sure that what you are talking about makes sense. It is obvious that I am not testing everything myself, I delegate much. But still I think you need to do at least a little research or send out test mails before delegating it to people you pay.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I think that focusing is the key. You need to focus in terms of the company positioning instead of spreading yourself too thin. I have made a lot of mistakes by simultaneously doing outsourcing, developing products and launching an IT school. As a result, all of these was half done. Just over a year ago I decided to focus on outsourcing. I still tried to do a couple of products at that time, but quickly realized I need a strong focus. Thus, since February we only do outsourcing. That’s why, I would say that my strategy is focusing.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My first product was my biggest failure that made me more experienced after all. I worked on this product for a year. Essentially, I heard the product initial idea during the dialogue. I liked it so much that I latched onto it and started to work on it without a second thought. I was spending money, looking for people and investors without any testing. The more money I was spending, the more I started to realize that it doesn’t make sense. I had a sobering realization that I hadn’t tested any ideas and tried to compete with products developed by such companies as Google or Nvidia which had billions of dollars budget. After 6-7 months, when I had already used up all the investments and some self-invested budget, I decided to approach this issue more wisely. I entered a business accelerator and took advice from some experienced mentors. I also started looking for an alternative with this product and the field it could be implemented in. Finally, I found an industry where this solution might be efficient. So I made a specific marketing strategy for this industry and found a client, who totally recovered the costs for this product in 6 months.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I have one idea. I even started to implement it as a product named Incumato. Since I deal with startups, communicate with accelerators a lot and I myself worked in accelerator, I know that the main trouble is the initial product verification. Especially if we are talking about large accelerator with hundreds of requests. And the idea here is to digitize and automatize these requests. Thus, we can automatically evaluate the startup and find out if it is possible to implement or it makes no sense at all. The feedbacks take a lot of time too, so there is a need for an automatized solution. If you want to be a professional in the acceleration and incubation business, you should provide constructive and comprehensible feedbacks. That will make people want to come back to you. So the idea is to create a product that, on the one hand, gives high-quality feedbacks with examples and explanations of what idea lacks. On the other hand, it analyzes the potential of all the ideas. If we have, let’s say, a hundred of projects, we should intercompare them and get the ten best. That means that other ninety projects are left behind and they have their feedback. The 10 other projects are handed over business analytic. It saves a lot of time, eliminates a lot of routine work and lets the person work with the best projects. When I decided to implement this idea as a product, there were people ready to buy it. But now, as I mentioned above, I am focused on outsourcing. As soon as it starts to generate sufficient flow, I will be able to assign the team for this product.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I have a little son and recently I bought a small compact baby stroller for him. It is lightweight, handy and allows for easy storage. It was a great purchase.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I would say that it is Trello. This application is very convenient to use via mobile phone. I can instantly create a task board for myself or my team with all the newly arrived ideas that need testing. Trello allows to delegate task anytime. It is highly important to me, because I often do this at night via computer or mobile phone.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Russian satirical novels “The Twelve Chairs” and its sequel “The Little Golden Calf” written by Ilf and Petrov are mind-shifting. I highly recommend these two books. They describe the basics of entrepreneurship and the way every businessman should work. Believe me, these books can teach you how to sell anything.
What is your favorite quote?
I am located in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Here we have the War Memorial which says “Your name is unknown, your deed is immortal”. I like it very much and every time I see this quote, it touches me to the core.
- Researches are an essential part of the outsourcing business
- Focusing is a key
- Don’t fall for an idea before testing it
- Be ready to work hard and don’t forget to eat healthy food