Why did you set up your company?
I am a serial entrepreneur and while developing group buying and beauty box subscription businesses I was always dealing with challenges in software development. So when I met my colleague Aismantas Bulanavicius who shared his vision of using technology and data to evolve tech matchmaking, code re-usability and the whole software outsourcing value chain I was completely hooked.
Did you have a ‘lightbulb moment’ (i.e. something which led to you starting your business, or which triggered a change in the way you did things)?
The first “ahaa” moment to go for entrepreneurship came while talking to experienced corporate portfolio managers in Cape Town, South Africa. They said work for yourself and you will be happier and earn more. So if experienced managers at the edge of their retirement were suggesting entrepreneurship I thought I should give it at least a try.
The second “ahaa” moment was when I realised that tech business development is my pathway of life. Being a versatile person and enjoying different work functions I was afraid not to have the expertise based on one specialisation. However, cross-functional experience and attitude is a great success factor in entrepreneurship. This realisation led me to be sure that business development and entrepreneurship is my pathway of life, and to stay strong when times got more difficult.
The third “ahaa” moment struck when we helped to build a decentralised platform that verifies the skills of people in displacement (i.e. refugees). Once again I realised how happy I am to be in tech/software development industry, because it truly helps to make the world a better place. Feeling part of it is an ingredient for a long-term internal satisfaction.
Were there any EU, national, regional or local business support services, programmes or funding initiatives that helped you set up or grow?
Yes, we are very grateful for all the municipal, state, university, corporate and, especially, EU support we received.
The most important is the EU support for exports businesses, which helps us and our waynord cluster to expand the team, execute different sales campaigns and test new markets, channels and approaches. It’s a fundamental driver.
We are very grateful for Kaunas municipality, which donated some funding to local innovative tech businesses, including us, and helped to survive the early stage times.
We participate in EU innovation knowledge exchange programs, won the Hyundai Brilliant Young Entrepreneur contest (15k prize), got assistance from Kaunas University of Technology Startup Space, MITA, LVPA and other state institutions.
How would you describe your progress so far? Are there any significant challenges you have had to overcome?
I think we’re doing good. We found the product-market fit. We found the lead generation channel. We generate revenues and reached the break-even (before heavier investments). There is a very exciting product development roadmap, which includes launching the products platform and most importantly Aciety token, which moves us to the blockchain industry.
I think the greatest challenge was to solve the chicken and egg dilemma of a marketplace. Platform businesses are more difficult to execute, because you need to attract both providers and clients. It needs double resources. We solved it by launching a lead exchange programme, where we started looking at our providers as a channel to generate leads (clients). This programme incentivises software companies to share their irrelevant leads in exchange of relevant leads back. So in this way we focused on working with one segment (the providers) and getting both the vendors and the potential clients. Feel free to join our programme. It’s free of charge and as a reward you get clients for your software business.
What do you see as the key trends/disruptors for 2018 relevant to entrepreneurs?
The blockchain technology. I think we have had a bubble of ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings). This was a gold rush for some early investors and movers. In most cases the move to the blockchain was based on a sole reason to get huge funding without significant obligations and to simply take advantage of the window of opportunity. Now we see a meltdown of this bubble with all the hype cooling down and the regulation kicking in. The time has come for serious businesses, which, first of all, look at blockchain as a technology and its potential applications to solve existing problems better. The technology itself has tremendous potential and the window of opportunity is still open in most of the industries. Yet, the market has learnt its lesson and will be judging ideas way more seriously.
We have spent much time analysing the blockchain technology and its applications in the software industry. We are very happy to be on the edge of launching our product marketplace, which will be based on smart contracts and the blockchain to make sure the product licences are distributed, according to the mutually agreed rules. Our vision is to decentralise this marketplace to make sure nobody gets the monopoly. The blockchain also enables many gains from process automatisation. The platform will enable product and code exchange, allowing providers to focus on their strength (product), resell it to the wider audience and actually resell the code itself to maximise the value per code line. It’s the first code exchange platform based on the blockchain. Ping us to get into the short list.
Rapid fire round
Which is better: partners or go it alone?
Partners. The party is always better with people.
Analysis or instinct?
Analstinct. The challenge of entrepreneurship is that you definitely need both. You need charisma to attract people and you need rationale to run the finances and the KPIs of the company.
Which is a better guarantee for success: persistence or integrity?
Persistence. Whether we like it or not we have some examples of bad boys reaching high levels of success. For me success is reached by smart, courageous, focused and persistent action.
Monopoly or chess?
Chess, because I believe monopolies cause more harm than good to the society
Which one do you say more: yes or no?
No, because it’s the cornerstone of managing priorities and scope. As a result it’s a key driver in ability to reach goals and build businesses in a limited resources environment.
War and Peace or The Great Investor?
“All Quiet on the Western Front”. Priceless life lessons.