Alex Kozak moved to Kaliningrad by chance. Here he founded a company KODE (kode.ru), which has become one of the leading mobile development studios in Russia. About change of a residence, building a business, youth and punk rock, the businessman said in an interview with “Klops”.
“Quit the business and moved”
— Kaliningrad as a place to live I chose randomly. A friend called in here and said there good. Wanted a big change and moved quickly. Then I realized that it was the right decision. Kaliningrad — one of the centers of labor migration and one of the most attractive cities of Russia. We have a few people from Moscow. Metropolis not to everyone’s taste, it is the city’s “one business”. If you need to go somewhere besides work, you will have time to do only one task because of the large distance either going to sacrifice quality of goods or services. From my point of view, Kaliningrad is in the first place. If I were a programmer and wanted somewhere to move, I would have chosen Kaliningrad. Here the sea, cool climate, low prices, the price for one-bedroom apartments in the capital to buy a house.
— In the hometown you left a successful business. What was this company, in what field?
Outsourcing maintenance of computer equipment in the workplace. We were a sysadmin for those who have not had a full-time employee. Handed over the business to someone, he continued to work.
— Was this your first attempt to start a business?
— No. The first business we are in first year University founded — sold CDs and blank tapes. Then it was popular — the only carrier of information. Flash drives are not there, and the Internet was slow. Watched the movie “Pirates of Silicon valley” and going to disks with Windows.
At that time in University course work and practical work I brought to the Institute on the disks. Now this artifact can pupils scare. But if to speak about very first business deal — at school, in child I in the village with my grandmother all summer cleaned walnuts. Gathered a large bag and brought it from Ukraine in Penza. There he was able to sell, and the money bought a drum kit.
What was the turnover of the enterprise with CD-ROMs?
I’m not sure. But we are a few months after starting to earn more than parents in regular projects in state institutions. At the time of the first course I had enough money. We expanded, opened new outlets, invest the profit in them. In 2002, it turned out to make 20-30 thousand rubles per month. Then I have increased the stipend was 250 rubles.
“Ability to use search is now one of the main”
— How do you assess the level of training of specialists in universities today?
— Training program of the University provides a base on which to grow something. But in the field, which we use, is not taught practically nothing.
— What professionals who want to become programmers, developers?
Online now a lot of courses, articles. There are a different set from the “I don’t know” to the premium and free classes. Now the market is open — come in the search engine, writing a query, and you have the ocean of information. And the ability to competently use search is now one of the main.
When you hire professionals, pay attention to the presence of the diploma?
— The diploma for the most part it doesn’t matter, but the advantage is. The Institute provides database and trains the students to learn independently. The school gives education under pressure. But in College, if you don’t study, it does not pass anything. The diploma says that the person is able to bring a project to the end. But this does not mean that if a person has no “scabs”, that he is a bad specialist, but if he has a University education — that it is necessarily good. We have guys who work after school or first course came to us and work much better than some professionals with honors coming in for an interview.
— You are known as a company that argues with customers almost for each item of technical specification…
— In a dispute born truth. We argue, for example, on whether business mobile app. There are guys who want to write your own YouTube, for example. Or large business that wants to make your corporate messenger, although a lot of them on the market. We argue on the level of ideas, then at the implementation level, and find ways to accomplish tasks with the application. The most important thing to make the app useful for the user and simultaneously solves business problems.
— Now possible to do, for example, the second telegram? Or im app market already formed?
— Under certain limitless marketing investments you can. It’s not necessary to repeat already successful development. I am sure that in many niches at the moment, even there are no products that have become standard. The first thing that comes to mind is medicine. We used to go to the hospital. Telemedicine is developing. I think that in 5-10 years to see a doctor will only with some serious diseases. And the rest of the problems can be solved through the application.
“Soon we will not be able to quickly identify in an online conversation with a live person from the computer”
— How saturated the Russian market of apps?
— The Russian market is now one of the best. If you look at apps created in Europe and America, there is a quiet horror. There are developments from major companies — Google, Apple or start-UPS of Silicon valley. They look good. If you take business American Bank or airline and compare it with ours: heaven and earth. Somehow they have such a mentality. Here in America, outlets for 110 volts and we have 220, so they early began to introduce them. Then it seemed that 110 volts is fine, now they suffer, you suffer, but not undone. And the same with apps: they have digital products began to appear earlier and remained at the same level. And at us in Russia the market is very competitive, it is in the growth stage and companies competing level of service.
— Do foreign companies the services of the Russian developers of applications? Do you have clients from abroad?
— Yes, for them, we have cheap and quality. There are companies operating just to the West. In Russia there are many customers that provide us with work, but we have contracts from London, Eastern Europe, the Baltic States, Romania, Bulgaria. Now even harder — a lot of work, not enough people.
— What changes may soon occur in the market applications?
— Artificial intelligence is developing. Soon we will not be able to quickly identify in an online conversation with a live person from the computer. The neural network diagnosis will set faster than the doctor. AI will be integrated in all spheres of life ranging from cars that will drive themselves. Roughly speaking, on autopilot. Ideally, tell the machine: “Hey, take son to school, in the evening take karate, then bring to me, along the way, got to the store and take the order of food”. This order will also be accepted and collected automatically.
Long time you had long hair, then you have them cut? The change of Outlook?
— Always need to remember and realize his childhood dream. My childhood idol — Dexter Holland (the leader, vocalist and guitarist of the punk rock band The Offspring — approx. ed.). When I was about 13 years old the first time I heard songs by the group The Offspring, saw his old photos — Dexter had long hair, with braids. 20 years dreamed of, and then read the book of Richard Branson “screw It! Beris and do!”. Went and did.
When I was 30, I thought 40 hair will be less. And stopped to get a haircut from 31 to 34. ‘ve reached the stage of life. I really liked it. Even made dreadlocks. Two feet from me was the hair. But life consists of constant change of events, seasons, spring, autumn, summer. And people should also be constantly changing. It was a funny moment. It was the world Cup 2018, we traveled around the country to stadiums. One of the last matches of our national team lost to Croatia. I saw it in St. Petersburg. Think we have lost, need a haircut. We bought at a local store scissors, cut the hair and threw them in the river.
— You have mentioned it on drums. I played the rock?
— We with friends had a punk rock band “a Thousand devils”. Was against the system, wanted to change the world. Now is also replaceable, already on its own. Then, of course he’s not gone. I played the drums — it’s hard, but you do not know solfege.
For me, music is this feed. You can have one working drum, a barrel, and you can give a huge energy. It is also for all things related. And old laptop can be done. The main thing — desire to achieve a result, come what may. I believe that success is motivation, dedication and a little piece of talent, around 5%. Even if you can’t do anything and nothing comes out, you just have to make more effort.
More about working on your business, the development of the business and market trends in video lectures Alexei Kozak in a series of master classes “Pro Business”, launched in the framework of the project “Business battle”.
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