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Building Success in Software Development: An Interview with Nikita Sviridenko

Written by:

Esther is a business strategist with over 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur, executive, educator, and management advisor.

Building Success in Software Development: An Interview with Nikita Sviridenko

Voypost, with the founder and CEO Nikita Sviridenko, is a trailblazing company at the forefront of crafting tailored solutions to propel business growth and innovation. In this interview, Nikita sheds light on the inception of Voypost, the formidable challenges surmounted during its early stages, and the company’s agile adaptation to the ever-evolving tech industry. Our conversation also delves into Voypost’s client-centric approaches, team-building strategies in remote work environments, the cultivation of a thriving company culture, and invaluable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs seeking effective technology and team scaling.

Connect with Voypost on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Clutch, and Facebook to stay updated on their innovative tech solutions and industry insights!

Background and Company Vision

SBS – Can you share your journey of founding Voypost and what motivated you to start a company in the field of software development and staff augmentation?

Nikita – The whole story started with my software developer role back in June 2011. I craved software development, technologies, and business operations, so it was my passion to help other companies build their dream digital products. But at the same time, I always dreamt about my own piece of entrepreneurial pie. 

Later on, my job took me across France, and I often used BlaBlaCar to travel. I regularly sent gifts home to my family in Ukraine, and it was always a hassle. The express delivery services were incredibly expensive, and the regular postal system was neither reliable nor swift. And let’s not even talk about the hacky options with random couriers — they were too risky, and I was not willing to take them.

One day, I needed to send some documents home to my family in Kyiv urgently. In a moment of desperation, I went to the airport. There, I found some people who were on their way to Kyiv, and they agreed to take my documents with them. This got me thinking, why isn’t there a BlaBlaCar but for parcels?

With this idea in mind, I packed up my life and moved to Berlin in the summer of 2017, determined to make this concept work. I took a full-time job to finance my project and spent every other waking moment working on Voypost, my brainchild. It was a startup for travelers who can travel and send parcels at the same time. I launched it in June 2018, but despite my enthusiasm and tireless work, investors didn’t bite. I soon realized that my initial market focus was too narrow and that there were already about 167 similar platforms out there; Grabr was among the most prominent.

This realization didn’t discourage me; instead, it fueled my journey. I learned a great deal about product development and startups, coming to understand that a startup is more than a business — it’s a slice of the market itself.

Finally, on August 26, 2019, I decided to pivot Voypost to an agency model. It was a significant shift from where I started, but it felt right. 

Now, with my own startup experience, I empathize deeply with my clients and resonate with their objectives. I understand their pains, goals, and dreams. That is what makes Voypost truly stand out.

Nikita Sviridenko

Challenges and Solutions

SBS – What were the biggest challenges you faced in the early stages of Voypost, and how did you overcome them?

Nikita – Being myself from Ukraine, I found myself in Germany, not just starting a business but also integrating into an entirely new culture. That was the first Voypost challenge. The shift in mentality, the subtleties of language, and the nuances of professional interactions in Berlin were different from what I was accustomed to. Berlin’s pulse was very fast, but from the first day, it resonated with me; it was more than just a change of scenery. It was a complete cultural immersion. 

In the beginning, Voypost was driven by maximalism. We aimed to scale quickly, but this ambition soon collided with reality, resulting in chaos when we hit our first growth to 30 team members. It was a lesson in the importance of strategic pacing and focusing on a sustainable scale.

Despite having 30 team members in almost the first two years, Voypost still felt like a one-man show, with every decision passing through my hands. I had to take on too many roles at the same time (development, sales, recruitment, project management, and even finance). This was not optimal and certainly not the path to swift progress. It simply bottlenecked our growth. Learning to delegate and trust in my team’s capabilities was a turning point that allowed us to expand our operations more fluidly. 

I also had to face the music with finances. Initially, I only thought about the company’s growth, but one day, it led to our profit margins being critically halved. There were even a few cases when the clients didn’t pay us. Finally, we shifted to proactive financial planning, which steadied our ship. Now I always prepare for the worst case scenario to stand the shaky times.

The last most tricky point was the HR processes. We were so focused on projects and growth that our team took a backseat. The responsibility overload on our talented team members led to an unexpected consequence — burnout. I had no prior experience in HR management, and a real breath for our HR operations was hiring the right talented HR manager. Together, we learned to balance workloads and promote a culture that values personal well-being alongside professional growth, which, in turn, became our strength. 

Market Trends

SBS – How do you stay abreast of the rapidly evolving tech industry, and how does Voypost adapt to changing market trends (AI specifically)?

Nikita – I’ve observed the rapid growth of AI-based no-code and low-code solutions, which have the potential to accelerate the development of MVPs. These tools can be invaluable for quickly conceptualizing and launching new ideas.

However, while AI-generated content offers speed, it often lacks uniqueness. For startups striving to stand out in the market, offering solutions that are not only different but significantly better is crucial. AI tools tend to create outputs based on existing market trends, which may not always align with the need for groundbreaking innovation. Additionally, we’ve noticed that the quality of AI-generated content can sometimes fall short, requiring extensive editing. This editing process, coupled with the need for ongoing maintenance, can sometimes outweigh the initial time savings.

In response to these trends, we have adopted a balanced approach. We integrate AI tools thoughtfully (Retool, Make, and Airtable), where they add real value. Part of our automation strategy includes the use of advanced language models like GPT-4, which enhance our capabilities in various aspects of project development and management.

Regarding the buzz around autonomous agents, my observation aligns with the broader industry sentiment. While they are gaining hype, I find that they’re not yet at a level where they can perform work efficiently and securely. I believe in the power of human creativity and expertise, especially in areas where nuanced understanding and complex problem-solving are required.

In sum, I navigate the AI landscape with a critical eye, adopting tools that enhance efficiency and creativity while maintaining the high-quality, human-centric approach that is vital for delivering unique and impactful tech solutions to our clients.

Client Engagement

SBS – What strategies do you employ at Voypost to understand and meet the unique needs of your diverse clientele?

Nikita – I believe that the key to successful client engagement lies in understanding the core problem clients are looking to solve. Our strategy is straightforward: We don’t rush to act. Instead, we embark on a process that begins with a consideration stage. And it doesn’t matter which service is that, we have attractive gifts for each of them.

For those, who are looking to build a digital product, our development process begins with a product discovery. We take time to research the market before diving into the design and development process, proactively nurture ideas, and advise best practices. It ensures a level of commitment that goes beyond the typical vendor-client relationship.

For clients looking to hire developers, we do both staff augmentation and recruitment. It comes with a promise: If a client is not satisfied with their developer, we provide a cost-free replacement. Moreover, we ensure that clients only pay after the candidate has successfully passed a trial period. Our fees are flexible, ranging from 10–20%, based on the client’s chosen conditions, so there’s always an option for each-size business.

When it comes to UX/UI design services, we diverge from the complex pre-sales processes seen elsewhere. We prefer to showcase our capabilities directly by providing a free UX design concept within 24 hours. This allows potential clients to quickly gauge if our visions align, ensuring that we can move forward with confidence and clarity.

Team Building and Management

SBS – What are your key considerations when building a team for a new project, especially in a remote or distributed work environment?

Nikita – One key practice is the regular 1-on-1 meetings. Each team leader runs such meetings with their team members. Personally, I conduct such meetings with each team member at Voypost. These sessions are not just about work; they’re about understanding individual needs, aspirations, and challenges. It’s a platform where open communication is encouraged and personal connection is valued.

Also, during the hiring process, we select only five out of 100 candidates, which allows us to hire the best from the market. We assess both soft and hard skills to hire the best team members. Moreover, a pinch of intuition is important — we simply trust our gut and see if our vibes align with a potential team member. A person should resonate with our values.

Voypost team

Company Culture

SBS – How do you foster a productive and innovative company culture at Voypost, and why do you believe it’s important?

Nikita – Vika, our HR manager, has brought a unique touch to our team with team activities like advent calendar fulfillment, autumn checklists, and small delightful goodies and presents. These rituals have become a staple at Voypost, adding an element of fun to our daily work life. Vika also initiated monthly cross-meetings between employees so they learn each other better. These virtual get-togethers are instrumental in keeping our team connected in a remote working environment. 

As for the values, they form the backbone of our culture. We split them into four groups:

Customer Orientation

  • Always be customer-focused
  • Put a common goal above your ego
  • Get involved like an owner

Team Culture

  • Treat your team as a family
  • Quality over quantity
  • Contribute to each other

Working process

  • Abandon overthinking
  • Build trust
  • Be a seagull principle

Ground principles

  • Catch opportunities and act fast
  • Don’t meet for the sake of “meeting”
  • Always start with “Let’s try it”

These values are not just words on a page; they are the lived experience of every team member at Voypost. They guide us in our decisions, shape our interactions, and drive our commitment to excellence.

Outsourcing and Staff Augmentation

SBS – In your opinion, what are the critical factors that businesses should consider when looking for outsourced IT services or staff augmentation?

Nikita – In my opinion, when businesses are on the lookout for such IT services, there are a few key things they should keep in mind:

  • Expertise and resources: Make sure the company has the right skills and resources for your needs
  • Proven track record: Look for a history of successful projects. We always try to update our website and social media with newly launched software case studies
  • Workflow standards: A reliable workflow ensures that any project will meet high standards. For example, we have fixed project standards, so it always has the highest quality
  • Client reviews: Check out what other clients have to say about their experience. At Voypost, we’re always asking clients to leave reviews on Clutch, Trustpilot, or even Google
  • Customer service: Good project management and customer service can make a big difference. That one you learn only when you start working together with your IT outsourcing vendor 🙂
  • Vibes match: This makes working together smoother

Product Development Insights

SBS – Could you share some insights on how Voypost approaches product development, especially for startups or smaller businesses?

Nikita – We design, develop, and maintain digital products for companies of any size. From research to scale and support — we deliver bug-free, on time, and within budget. 

As a former startupper, I know that the key to successful digital products is building an MVP first, so our clients have the opportunity to receive market feedback swiftly, validate their digital ideas, and adjust products to meet the real market demands. 

It all starts with a product discovery phase — we’re doing the research before design/development. I know that many companies have tight budgets so we prioritize features and estimate the project so we accomplish everything by deadline and fit the budget. 

Our development process is efficient because 80% of what our new clients want to develop, we have already done in over 50 other projects. These pre-built solutions allow us to work quickly without compromising on quality. And a must-have is that only battle-tested and verified developers are assigned to projects. We run the code on the client’s infrastructure and keep the source accessible at all times. Our QA credo is simple — clients should not settle for anything less than top-quality, bug-free work.

Future of IT Outsourcing

SBS – Where do you see the future of IT outsourcing and staff augmentation heading in the next 5-10 years?

Nikita –

  • Reduced staff headcount: Companies will likely lean towards smaller, more efficient teams
  • AI assistants replace junior roles: Expect to see junior positions being increasingly replaced by AI technology
  • Challenges for single-function specialists: Specialists focused on only one function might struggle as the demand shifts towards more versatile, multi-skill sets
  • Rise of creative individuals: Creative and multi-functional professionals will find more opportunities to build large, successful businesses independently
  • Outsourcing agencies’ shift: The agencies will utilize ready-made or pre-built solutions more often, shifting towards cross-functional specializations instead of single-direction services
  • Value-based pricing: There will be a shift towards pricing based on the value delivered rather than just the time or resources used
  • Market saturation with IT specialists: Finding the right talent quickly will remain a challenge, but it won’t always be addressed by hiring more recruiters, but rather through smarter approaches. AI assistants will replace at least 40% of recruiters’ routine

Success Metrics

SBS – How does Voypost measure success in its projects, and how do you ensure continuous improvement?

Nikita – It’s a blend of quantitative and qualitative feedback. A significant indicator of our success is the number of positive reviews we receive from clients. Particularly noteworthy is our achievement of 100% 5-star ratings on Clutch. We gather feedback from each client to understand our strengths and areas for improvement.

The quantitative KPIs are: 

  1. On-time delivery: Have we delivered the project within the estimated timeline? 
  2. Budget: Have we delivered the project within a given budget? 
  3. Number of iterations: How often are clients requesting the re-does? 

Advice for Entrepreneurs

SBS – What key piece of advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who are venturing into the tech industry?

Nikita – Based on the challenges I’ve had in my practice, I would give the following eight pieces advice: 

  1. Plan before scaling
  2. Be ready for the worst case
  3. Micromanage people, then gradually let them go (not vice versa)
  4. Fire fast if you feel it’s right
  5. People first: mind the well-being of your team members
  6. Hire with certainty: doubts lead to future problems
  7. Value your time: skip “bad” clients
  8. Focus on quality, not quantity, in delivering projects. True growth lies here

Voypost’s Future Plans

SBS – What are the future plans and goals for Voypost, and how do you envision its role in shaping the tech industry?

Nikita – Looking ahead, we are about to influence the tech industry by redefining product development methodologies and optimizing talent acquisition and recruitment through AI integration. Our future plans involve leveraging advanced AI technologies to streamline the process of finding the right people for the right projects, enhancing both efficiency and output quality. 


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Building Success in Software Development: An Interview with Nikita Sviridenko