Interviews and Reviews

Custom Software Development for Startups and SMEs: Interview with Andrew Volchek, CEO at Arateg

Software Development

Andrew Volchek is a CEO and Co-Founder at Arateg, a custom software development center located in Eastern Europe. Andrew is a business leader and entrepreneur, whose mission at Arateg is to make people’s lives better and organizations’ work more efficient with the help of technologies. 

In the interview, Andrew will share how Arateg helps startups and SMEs resolve business challenges, launch successful products, and increase revenues.  

What is Arateg and what services do you provide?

Arateg is an award-winning IT service vendor recognized by 15+ trusted independent resources such as Clutch, GoodFirms, The Manifest, TechReviewer, AppFutura, WADLINE, etc. Clutch, the globally leading review and rating platform, named Arateg as one of the best B2B software engineering firms in Eastern Europe.

Founded in 2014 in Belarus, our company helps startups and SMEs maximize the value of their digital products, automate workflows, and grow business through providing software development and consulting services.

Which software solutions must companies use to grow their business during and after the COVID-19 pandemic?

It depends on their industry-specific needs. Millions of people worldwide are in partial or complete lockdowns due to the coronavirus quarantine, which means that they are doing everything via the Internet: shopping, making payments, ordering food, doing exercises, working, and playing games. 

A retail store can launch an online delivery via a mobile application or create an e-commerce website. Digitization is required for numerous fields, including financial organizations, restaurants, groceries, etc. Banks can offer personalized consultations via their websites and move the key services to mobile apps. And so on and so forth.

To help companies digitize and automate workflows, our team has prepared a detailed guide for business on how to make remote working efficient and boost productivity in the time of COVID-19.

How can startups and SMEs boost efficiency and solve business issues through your services?

There are many ways here. To name the top three: streamline business processes, optimize expenses, and ensure the personalized customer experience. 

For example, a CRM system helps organizations automate sales, segment the audience, improve lead management, and centralize all the data in one place. As a result, a company is able to improve lead generation, and launch better advertising campaigns.

An Artificial Intelligence-based chatbot can deliver 24/7 customer support, instantly provide users with the required information, answer their questions, and send tasks to the necessary departments. This small but valuable solution allows companies to significantly enhance client service and automate request processing.

We also help startups validate their ideas and attract investors using proof of concepts and minimum viable products (MVPs). We especially focus on the development speed and close collaboration with the customer in order to be on the same wavelength. 

Tell us more about the company’s speciality.

Arateg delivers mobile, web, and DevOps solutions mainly to startups and SMEs. We cooperate with almost all industries but insurtech, fintech, retail, information technology, logistics, and healthcare companies turn to us the most.

Our frontend developers use JavaScript, TypeScript, and React while backend engineers employ Python and Golang. Actually, Python is one of the best programming languages for startups as it allows them to reduce costs and time-to-market. Python also helps create innovative products associated with machine learning, natural language processing, data science and analytics.

Post-launch project support is one of our key services. It is very important to continuously monitor the system performance and instantly resolve possible arising issues. To ensure ease of infrastructure maintenance, we build a microservices architecture and use cloud computing.

User experience is critical for all businesses, how does Arateg meet the high-quality demands of today’s businesses? 

We combine value, experience, and intuitiveness. This helps us address customer tasks through developing digital products with great user-friendly interfaces. 

To create a UI and UX design, our specialists start with the research of the audience needs and writing user stories. If necessary, we help our clients to conduct a competitor analysis, draw empathy and impact maps. 

Our experts develop a dynamic prototype that shows how the future solution will look and behave. Thanks to this approach, we make cool modern designs that provide the seamless user experience, intuitive navigation, and consistency across all devices. We also keep pace with UI and UX design trends to be aware of new tools and techniques.

Tell us more about the measures you have already taken and are taking now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Arateg completely switched to remote work at the beginning of March until the end of coronavirus. We cancelled all business trips and postponed the participation in meetups and conferences. 

Now we hold all meetings, task discussions, and interviews using audio and video remote collaboration tools like Zoom and Google Hangouts. Our company takes care of client data safety by using VPN connections, secure user authorization, data encryption, etc. 

To manage multiple tasks, we employ time tracking and project management software such as Jira, Trello, and our own internal information system. With regular reports, accurate planning, and online meetings, we continue providing high-quality services as it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arateg is among the TOP custom software development firms based on previous performance, industry data and reliability, what really makes you the best among other software firms?

Arateg becomes a true partner who helps solve business challenges using technology. We dig into the needs of each client to get a clear understanding of what processes can be improved and what is the best way to make this. 

Our development approach is based on three pillars: Agile, Security, Transparency. 

First, to meet deadlines and provide great results, we hold everyday 15-minute meetings, tailor the team for each project, deliver new features every 2-4 weeks, and set up close cooperation with the client. Many of our engineers and project managers are certified as Scrum Masters. Arateg has a very solid Agile culture.

Second, we enable data security to protect customers from hacker attacks, data leaks, malware, viruses, etc. Our experts employ innovative technologies, test software for security vulnerabilities, and use end-to-end data encryption. We also provide the system compliance with security standards and regulations.

Third, all our clients have access to our internal information system AraIS (the name is made up of “Arateg” and “information system”) where they can view team records, monitor working activities, and view a project roadmap.

At the end of each iteration, we send them a demo to show the product or feature in action. Our customers are often involved in the development process for discussions and testing. 

You said that Arateg is located in Belarus. What makes this country so attractive for outsourcing software projects?

There are plenty of things that make Belarus an attractive destination. It offers competitive prices, especially in comparison with the United States and Western Europe.  While developers’ hourly rates in the USA can reach 150$, in Belarus they range between 25-50$. So ,customers can cut development costs by 30–60%.

Belarus provides extensive experience as customers can find teams with any field-specific skills and knowledge. The IT sector in our country is strongly supported by the High-Tech Park, which is often called an European Silicon Valley. Arateg is also a resident of HTP, which gives us various benefits for growing a business.

Multiple famous products were created in Belarus: World of Tanks, MAPS.ME, Viber, MSQRD, which was acquired by Facebook. Many Fortune 500 companies such as Siemens, Procter & Gamble, and Cisco are sending their software development projects to Belarus.

Would you like to share some of your client success stories with us?

Yes, with pleasure. Seeing how the products that we’ve developed allow our customers to achieve their goals and succeed is one of the best parts of our work. For example, our team created a CRM system for the programming school that helped the client raise sales conversion by 60% and ROMI—by 3 times.

Recently, our company has built an online healthcare marketplace for the leading pharmaceutical company in Russia that connects nearly 1,500 suppliers of medical goods with millions of consumers.

Another solution I’m proud of is a food pre-ordering service that consists of two mobile apps: the first one lets people buy food online, the second one allows restaurant owners to manage multiple orders. 

The key aspect is that users can order favorite dishes worldwide and pick them right at the airport, which is very convenient when being a few hours away from a certain city. You can see a lot more featured projects in our portfolio.

If there were one message that you could send to our readers, what would it be?

Today, the business environment is quite intense and uncertain. The coronavirus outbreak has shown us how important it is to automate manual and repetitive tasks, digitize workflows, boost online presence, and employ technologies to quickly adapt to the new market conditions.

Define your strong and weak sides, think what you can improve, find new ways to attract and engage customers. Now it is time to stop waiting and act.

Feel free to contact me personally via LinkedIn or email to discuss how custom software development and technology can help you work smarter, grow, and increase productivity.

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