Igor Tomych: “We are techies. This is our distinctive feature and advantage”
If you are an active Kharkiv developer, surely you have attended Kharkiv Mobile Devs conference just for once. You might use a popular local application named “Marshrutki”. These initiatives are the result of work of one of Kharkiv IT Cluster participants, CEO of Itomych Studio, Igor Tomych. Read the interview in Kharkiv IT Celebrities category!
– How did you become the owner of your own Studio?
I got into programming as far back as ’98, and in 2004 I broke into IT outsourcing. Upon acquisition of the first iphone in 2009, and then mac book pro, I realized that ios development is a Game Changer, that in the near future, the share of mobile platforms on the market would exceed the share of desktops, despite the fact that at that time websites and corporate development found markets… I saw that mobile development would quickly change the situation and users would increasingly use mobile applications.
In the company where I worked at that point in time, I initiated the creation of a mobile development department. Initially they supported me, but after a while they decided that it was not necessary, thereupon, since 2012, I decided to inherit the helm independently. By that time I had already became involved with the first business contacts and found first customers. Then I invited several developers to join the team, as the result the Company was established.
– How long has Itomych Studio been existing as a separate structure?
Since 2012 it has been existing as good as four years. It stands to mention that in 2013 the Company acquired a corporate structure, we got our own premise. We have become a team, developing projects under the same roof. Today the studio team consists of 20 people.
– Are you focused on IT outsourcing or own IT products development?
95% of our activity is outsourcing, but we have our own small projects, in particular, local ones. For example, “Marshrutki” application, which indicates realtime bus traffic of the city, but unfortunately, we cannot allocate enough time for the further development and improvement of this project. Nevertheless, the service keeps working and many users are interested in it.
Also we have “364” project. It is a funny calendar that shows every day in a comic manner, for example, “English Day”. The application is quite popular. Initially, the calendar was released by Arriba advertising agency with the aid of our friends in 2013. Currently the number of its downloads per month reaches 2 mln. Together with Max Burtsev, co-owner of Arriba Media Group advertising agency we have developed its version in the English language for the foreign market. We try to develop own products, but do not always have enough time and knowledge of market specifics, while outsource work exists in the form of a service model. Own products require more resources and expertise on a competitive market.
– Do you work only with iOS?
Our native specialization, most comfortable for us, is dealing with such mobile platforms as iOS, Android and Windows Phone. In addition, we have great web-development, we design Unifyle, designated for managing cloud storage. There are also php experts in our team.
– Could you tell us a little about your business structure?
We are techies. This is our distinctive feature and advantage. Despite the fact that today it is not my direct responsibility, I still like programming. We also do not have managers in the classic meaning of this term, since we are focused on the objectives in terms of result. We have project coordinators, but they ate also technical people who understand whether it is possible to implement customers’ wishes into practice or not. We strive to be at the forefront of innovation and capabilities of mobile platforms. Our business structure is quite flat. I like Henry Ford’s approach, namely “superflat structure.” Our structure has four major directions-department: iOS, Android, web development and QA. We have created Quality Assurance, as the key to a successful product is its quality, but we do not have a layer of managers. We have people who partially assume managerial functions such as resource planning, staff loading, however it is only me, who is fully engaged into sales and management issues.
– What do you think of Kharkiv as an IT-location?
I believe that Kharkiv has potential and space for development. We shall pay more attention to community development. For some time I worked in California, visited various meetups that took place there. I concluded that we could do the same. On this basis, in 2012, together with Vlad Tsepelev and Pics.io created a community of Kharkiv developers for mobile platforms entitled Kharkiv Mobile Devs, around which it has grown a really serious community. Currently we hold meetings in the format of mini-conferences presented by developers for developers. The mission of our meetings is to raise the overall technology layer, hold lectures for each other and speak about implementation of particular technologies.
– In 2012 you said that the community had not been developed yet, and that there was lack of communication. What has changed over a period of three years?
If the community used to gather 20-30 people, now it gathers about 50-100 people – this is not a problem, interesting speakers perform their reports on relevant issues. Everything flows, everything changes, but, unfortunately, not as fast as we would like to. However, we can see such new events as Kharkiv JS conference. This is a fee-paying conference, succeeded to gather over 600 participants and create a platform for communication. Fabrika.space is trying to create a community hub. However, we still need another 20-30 years to reach the level of the United States in organization of such events, since such large companies as Apple and Google develop their own communities, while our companies are often aimed at banal advertising and headhunting. Google does not require anything as well as doesn’t spam dozens of letters after your visiting its meetup.
– What about education? We know that you deal with teaching. Have you already grown a new generation of specialists?
When my holding a course, I always stress that I cannot teach, but I can show how to learn. Everyone has to cope with self-education to achieve his goals. I can say that among my graduates there are people, who started programming from the ground and now work as iOS developers. We gave first lessons in 2012. Thenceforward, we have organized a lot: eight offline and four online courses.
– A little about results. What have you reached with the studio over the past few years?
In 2015, we took part in a very big project. There is a tabloid in the US. Its web version has over 30 million users every month. We upgraded their ios-version for ipad and iphone as well as developed apple watch application. In 2014 we had four major projects for European retail market in the field of mobile loyalty, namely client discount system. One of the projects was associated with restaurant business – a network of restaurants, eateries and express cafes. The customer launched a loyalty system for his clients, so we developed applications for ios and android. As concerns earlier projects, in 2013, we released one of the best video apps by apple version, which was subsequently bought by vimeo. It was an interesting experience since the guys brought a product they would like to launch in a few months in such poor condition that it simply failed to perform basic functions. We did a good job with the team and made the product ready for its timely launching in November 2013.
– What do you expect from the year of 2016?
– It is difficult to say. There are certain plans to try ourselves in game development, Apple TV platform is also very interesting for us. I understand that in the next 3-4 years there will be focused more resources and users than on all other game platforms. This is the market, that will conquer by the cheapness of applications and easier development of the first application.
– Why did you decide to join Kharkiv IT Cluster? Do you like its projects or do you have own ideas concerning some projects?
Firstly, one of the key directions of Kharkiv iT Cluster activity is the development of Kharkiv IT community and training of IT-specialists. I like teaching people. I have some experience I can share, using initiatives provided by Kharkiv iT Cluster.
Secondly, I understand that when cooperating, one will always have more opportunities. It is great, when there are people ready to support and share experience. Currently my team develops a pilot version of loyalty system application for the employees of cluster participating companies for Kharkiv IT Cluster.
Thirdly, it is promotion at local and international level, since Cluster is an organization promoting Kharkiv IT-industry and expertise of cluster participating companies.