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'You Must Be Globally Competitive'

Students of the HSE campus in Perm met with Andrey Khusid, HSE graduate in Management and master’s graduate in Public and Municipal Administration, and founder of several successful IT projects. He spoke about how to build a career, where ideas come from, and what personal qualities lead to success.

Andrey Khusid is CEO at RealtimeBoard, a service for visual teamwork on ideas and projects. He is the founder of Vitamin Group, a digital studio and one of the TOP 100 mobile developers in 2015. Andrey has over 10 years’ experience in design, advertising and the digital industry

RealtimeBoard today is one of the world’s most popular services for team communication in the creative industries. The company has offices in Perm and California, and RealtimeBoard clients include such globally renowned companies as SapientNitro, Recource, Autodesk, eBay, Accenture, and Cisco.

This ambitious team started working on the project in 2011, and was quickly acknowledged by the audience and won several prestigious startup awards. In November 2015, RealtimeBoard was one of the TOP 3 of the day and TOP 30 of the month at Product Hunt, a popular resource. The number of users, which include designers, marketing specialists, programmers, and UX’ers from all over the world, exceeded 700,000 in December, and this is all without a marketing budget.

The meeting took place in an informal friendly atmosphere. The students asked questions, and Andrey shared his experience, gave advice and told stories from his life. Below is a summary of his presentation.

Where do ideas come from?

There are five prerequisites needed to develop ideas and project.

First – product. A team already has a view of the product they want to create. These are usually popularly used products. For example, Instagram automated our habit of storing photos. It is not an invention that alters human nature.

Second – consumers. It’s necessary to clearly segment the consumers and understand their needs.

Third – copyright. You are creating some things that you believe should exist but don’t exist yet.

Fourth – problem. If you feel the lack of or a need for something, this is a problem that has to be solved. And a product can be created to solve it.

Fifth – pattern. You apply a technology or a product from one sphere to another. For example, there is a pattern ‘rent an apartment in one click anywhere globally’. And this idea is applied in other projects, such as ‘find an investor in your region in one click’.

How to choose your market segment?

In Russia, I would start a project for consumers, which means creating a product for a certain segment or a certain client, or to solve a certain problem by meeting a need.

A project should be developed from the very beginning with an understanding of how to scale and distribute it in future. For example, once we developed a mobile app for a Perm supermarket chain ‘7ya’, and now we are developing a similar project for Kazakhstan, but more complicated and with more options. We understand that this app can also work in other areas, such as banking and insurance. We focus on retail, but are considering related areas at the same time

I like to compare the choice of segment with choosing a poker table. When you enter a poker club, you shouldn’t choose the wrong table for your game. For example, the game has just started at one table, and they are finishing the game at another, and the pot will soon be shared. You assess the situation and the competitors, and on the basis of this analysis you choose the right table. Choosing the right segment in the market is the same: you assess the markets, the competitors, the pot, and so on.

Where to find an investor?

There are several well-known methods which I’m sure you’re already aware of. You can come to a client and suggest a project that will give them a unique competitive advantage. Make a prototype, and show that it has market traction, such as high user conversion.

Be down to earth, make prototypes, keep the traction, and then you’ll find investors, or they’ll find you. Now, investors are looking for those who are oriented on the global market, but are located in Russia.

How to build a successful career?

It doesn’t matter where you are located. Don’t stick to one place. Today you are in Perm, and tomorrow you are in San Francisco. Why limit yourself to the competencies needed only in Perm?

Knowledge of English gives you an opportunity to work in another country. This is not a professional competency. This just means that you are either able to find a job in a global company, or not.

You have to monitor what’s going on in the world. It’s necessary to strategically build your career in order to be globally competitive. When you are taking part in a regional or national championship, you are not in the global agenda. You have to look for an opportunity to participate in the world championships right from the very beginning. And such an opportunity exists

How to survive in a crisis?

The main trend that is helping a company today is fast learning, when both the staff and the company itself are ready to change.

We can’t think about the impossible, we should always look for a way. A company has a goal, and you have to work out how to reach it: from the left, from the right, from above on a helicopter, or digging from below. Otherwise, you’ll be degrading, or you’ll be eaten by the competitors, or you’ll be going around in circles.

The staff should have openness in their DNA. They shouldn’t think in a limited framework. There are no frames, but there are goals that the company pursues. The staff should understand this goal and they should have a pool of tasks that help them move to this goal. Otherwise, it won’t work. You can’t grow three crops if you have bad soil.

How do you see yourself in ten years?

It’s important for me to have clear business and personal goals. And it’s cool when personal goals are in line with the company’s goals.

My first goal is a strong family with a couple of kids. The second one is financial independence, which means that I won’t be thinking about money in my everyday life. I’m moving towards this goal.

I believe that in ten years I’ll still be doing my favourite job. It will probably be this company or another one. Or even employment, which I can hardly imagine, but I admit it may happen sometime. But this will be participation in a project I’m interested in. This should mean creating something that moves forward either the world, or a certain cohort of people.