Here is the exclusive interview of Arseniy Seroka – Co-Founder/CEO, Serokell only on ITFirms. In this exclusive interview, he shared his views on upcoming technology trends for 2020 and many other topics.
Let’s check his success story and thoughts.
1. Tell us in brief about your company and the leadership.
Serokell is a software development firm that delivers scalable, fault-resistant custom solutions for start-ups, medium-sized businesses, and enterprises. Serokell has a research laboratory, run together with the Russian university ITMO. There the team conducts studies in the domains of machine learning and artificial intelligence, mathematical modeling, and big data. This science-driven approach allows Serokell to meet our clients’ business requirements and apply advanced technologies to solve business-related issues.
A team of 50+ full stack developers can develop various types of software like ultra-large-scale systems, distributed systems, blockchain platforms, and data-intensive applications. Our areas of focus are Blockchain, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and IoT.
I think that our way of achieving exemplary results is how we build our team. Our engineers don’t just have practical experience in software development but conduct scientific research and participate in conferences around the world. When you work shoulder to shoulder with the best of the best in the field, it creates an amazing atmosphere of innovation and continuous mutual learning. I am sure in the quality of our custom software because it has been created by people that amaze me with their skills and knowledge every day.
2. How would you describe your growth trajectory in 2018-2019? Any particular achievement? Any disappointment?
In 2018, we were focusing on improving and stabilizing our business processes. Due to some high-profile projects that we finalized in 2018, our services became highly sought-after. Scaling our business processes became of utmost importance. The challenge was to grow but keep the top-notch quality of services and remain a leading software development agency in the field. The reorganization was successful. It allowed us to not only to improve business management but also to diversify our projects and expand our area of expertise in 2019. The team size has more than doubled, the budget of the projects, their complexity, and the number of enterprise-size projects we are able to handle simultaneously have also increased.
Talking of disappointments, there is one thing that comes to mind. In 2018, we worked on Disciplina and Cardano SL. They both used a proof-of-stake algorithm realization of which was quite an endeavor. We attended conferences and events, and a lot of people were interested in these cryptocurrency platforms. While gaining such recognition was great, it also made people associate our name with, first and foremost, blockchain. We do work on such projects and have a team of blockchain developers who are truly amazing. However, we do far more than just that. I wouldn’t want us to be considered as just a blockchain developer. It does not fully reflect what we can and want to do as a company.
3. Please describe the operational structure of your company- from the moment a client walks in, to the product deployment.
At Serokell, we follow the principle “Customer first”. We do our best to ensure that all of the Customer needs are heard and fulfilled. Lots of companies have a dedicated person who leads the customer through every stage of cooperation. However, what makes us different is that in addition to technical specialists, each project is supervised by one of the top managers from the business department.
These guys have worked in international enterprises and managed projects with huge budgets. Involving them into each project, we provide more than perfectly working software – we make sure that your business benefits to the max from our solution. Depending on what the client strives to achieve, we study their business processes and help to optimize the costs on development, create software that attracts investors and aids to find reliable partners, or seamlessly integrate our software into the corporate infrastructure. Our customer-oriented approach ensures that every piece of information that we get from you, your every wish will be incorporated into the product.
4. What engagement models do you offer? How should a client choose?
We are full-stack developers and provide a turnkey solution to our client’s problems. We start by investigating the client’s business: conducting audits of their systems, clarifying inner processes and identifying the needs. Then our team offers architecture specific to the client’s case. In our work, the latest technologies are always subordinated to particular business goals.
At the negotiation stage, we take our time assessing the final price of the project. However, what I think differs from many other vendors is that due to our methods and tools and the fact that we do not attract third-party teams to the development, the price is final. It will not significantly change until the end of the project. This allows the client to plan their budget and not face any unpleasant surprises at the later stages of the project.
Serokell is the place where clients can solve all their issues and be sure that the latest technologies and most optimal solutions are being used.
5. What do you as a leader prioritizes – vertical expansion of your business or the horizontal expansion of your expertise and services? How do you balance both?
Rather than choosing just one thing, we prefer to solve everyday challenges from the perspective of harmonious business growth. In 2019, we found new partners and began working on new, more challenging projects across different industries. In order to be able to easily transition between the industries without compromising on quality, we have always tried to attract developers with different skill sets and experience. Serokell has experts in basically every field of computer science. We invest in creating an atmosphere where we can learn from one another. A designated department is responsible for knowledge exchange inside the company. It organizes training courses and masterclasses and creates a knowledge base that is accessible to everyone from Serokell. Following this strategy, we have managed to professionally develop projects across various industries.
Thus, we are growing in both vertical and horizontal directions without losing balance. We understand growth as a natural part of business’s lifecycle and enhance it in the best possible way.
6. What is your outlook for 2020?
Our strategy for this year is to expand our expertise across specific domains. We already have a strong presence in blockchain and distributed systems development, cloud computing, and machine learning. This year, we are opening a security audit department. It will allow us to assess current security performance of existing enterprise systems, prevent threats, and boost the level of security for our clients.
Companies come to us because they know us as security control experts. The clients are ready to trust us with vulnerability scanning that prevents financial, operational, and other types of risks. However, up to 2020 we did not have a designated service for that. This year, we are finally ready to launch it.
Another goal for this year is opening new offices to become more accessible for our clients. We understand that travelling to Europe is not always possible for business owners due to lack of time. Right now we have a couple of strategic locations in ming, however, we would like not to disclose too many details yet.
7. Any particular technology or industry you would be targeting? How do you plan to prepare your workforce for the upcoming technology upgrade?
Right now we see Fintech as the most promising industry for us. We already have developed a bunch of projects in this area. However, Fintech includes a huge variety of different fields like digital banking, transaction processing and infrastructure, digital lendings, scoring systems, credit and insurance, telecoms, robot-advising systems, blockchain and even new ones that continue to appear. This challenging field requires expertise in the development of high load, distributed, fault-tolerant architectures and protocols, implementation of AI and ML, data science methodologies, biometric analysis, IoT and lots of other technologies. Serokell’s team members are proficient in these types of software development and keep themselves updated through self-education and centralized training that we organize.
8. With technologies like React and Node that can be used for both web applications and mobile apps, how do you envision the development methodology to be in the future?
As a matter of fact, neither React nor Node are optimal solutions for our clients’ business needs. We build large-scale projects and distributed systems based on the practical application of computer science and mathematics. Security, scalability, and fault tolerance are of foremost importance, and we deliver that using functional programming tools. Haskell with its libraries and frameworks is the main instrument, but we also apply Nix and NixOS to our servers, TypeScript, and PureScript to frontend, Agda to verification tests, Elixir, Python and others. This is how we produce efficient and protected digital systems. In the future, we will continue to stick to the functional methodology just because it suits best what we are trying to achieve for our clients.
9. Other than technical expertise, what traits you believe are essential for any app development firm to succeed in this rapidly evolving industry?
Business-oriented thinking is highly important. As a software engineer, you should understand that fancy technologies are just instruments to achieve business success. What matters is the value they bring to the customer. Understanding the pains and desires of the client and speaking the same language as them is highly important. And, of course, honesty and trust. We would never take a project that we do not believe in.
10. How do you assess the role of research agencies like ITFirms in bridging the gap between clients and service providers?
Being a rather niche company, we find new clients mostly thanks to word of mouth. A pool of clients who know us and appreciate our work recommend Serokell to their partners. However, to grow further, find more interesting and challenging projects, being present in online rankings is very useful. ITFirms is unique of its kind because it provides clients with the results of independent research – they know everything about outsourcing software development companies. We are honoured to be present on ITFirms because it confirms the reputation of trustworthy companies and provides an unbiased look at their achievements. I would recommend to everybody who is looking for a vendor to check out ITFirms first.