Pavel Obod: “Ruby on Rails” as a Start-Up Technology

IT Cluster IT Cluster

A leader, a volunteer, a climber, a programmer, a traveler, an expert in outsourcing – all these words can be said about Pavel Obod, the CEO of Sloboda Studio, the organizer of Outsource People conference and the founder of ITBursa IT-school.

We talked with him upon concluding a meeting of volunteers of Kharkiv IT Cluster Kids2IT project, aimed at popularization of IT-industry among schoolchildren.

Pavel initiated this project and then collected a team of 25 volunteers. Read more about the project, business and the best British start-ups in the interview.

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How did you launch your business (what is your success story)?

 I worked as a programmer in a Ukrainian-Slovak Company, at that time I wanted to live and to work abroad. Under the aegis of AIESEC program of youth study placement, I went to Jordan for six months. There I first became acquainted with Ruby  programming language and Ruby on Rails framework. At the end of the study placement, I began to consider freelancing, registered with the employment agency and found my first clients.

When I returned to Ukraine, I continued freelancing, taking more and more orders. I really liked the process of negotiations and cooperation with people largely due to my volunteer’s experience. It became clear that I could share objectives with other people, spending more time on searching new customers.

As a result, I found a smart student at my Department and offered him coopetition. I created a Company and developed a web-site, one thing led to another… and this year we will celebrate the sixth anniversary of Sloboda Studio!

 What is the structure of business processes in your Company?

We changed a lot in 2015. Now we have institutional and management structure and detailed budgeting for the year, for which we have calculated the expected growth, development strategy and tactics. We have introduced electronic document management.

We have improved the approach to working with the staff: we have prescribed standards and duties for each position – this system will help to be result-oriented.

 What are the basic IT-technologies used by the Company?

The basic technology is Ruby on Rails, we are going to preserve it over the next two years. Nevertheless,  we understand that the trend on the front end, real-time web-technologies will continue to grow, so we are planning to expand and train employees in our Node.JS courses. 

 What are the main business sectors of Company operation?

“Rails” is an excellent tool for start-ups, it allows quickly create an application prototype, run it, and then, if the project becomes a large-scale one, easily switch to another technology. Twitter and Airbnb were launched at the same way.

Among our projects, I would like to mention  – it is a London start-up that analyzes twitter and provides the latest stock quotes. The project is in top 50 of UK start-ups, it was awarded by Google and Microsoft.

 It is a success for us. Within a year the client expanded the Company from one person up to 12 employees, and currently has hired five more non-technical professionals. The client was so satisfied by work with Kharkiv employees that he has visited our City already five times.

How do you see your Company in 5 years?

– We should first of all perform an ambitious plan for the year – double the number of employees and turnover. We also consider an opportunity of shifting away from pure outsourcing to product-outsourcing field that is provision of clients with elements of the finished services. Perhaps we will launch creation of own products.

What do you think of Kharkiv as an IT-location?

Kharkiv is the best IT-location both for a start-up and outsourcing companies for trivial reasons. There are many technical universities here, therefore there is a large concentration of IT specialists. There is only lack of entrepreneurial spirit and healthy adventurism. In the presence of the above things, Kharkiv will be able to steadily assert itself at the world IT-arena.

Why did you decide to become one of the six founders of Kharkiv IT Cluster?

Communication and cooperation with colleagues as well as the ability to change the environment for the better is important for me. I wanted to do something more for my City.

I love it and I plan to spend my life here. Teaming up with smart people, I will be able to achieve significant results. It can already be seen by the results of the first projects of Kharkiv IT Cluster, for example, Kids2IT.

 You have become a driver of Kids2IT project, tell us about this initiative, you are happy with the result?

– I’m happy that we even beat the initial targets. I was glad that the volunteers joined us, caught fire and got involved into the project. They demonstrated labor of love.

Whether we have managed to inspire schoolchildren to become It-specialist is a difficult question.

 This is a long-term process, as for the result, we will see it later. It is good that we approached the problem systematically, except for inspiration we also taught schoolchildren and teachers of Informatics at special joint courses on Programming. It is the thing that clusters have never made before in other cities. We need to increase the scale – then the project will become cooler.