Igor Nikolaev, CEO of MBycycle: “New challenges lie ahead.”
The Belarusian company MBycycle became a member of the Astana Hub technopark in early April this year. CEO of the company Igor Nikolaev - about the path of his project, the difficulties and pleasant aspects of life in Kazakhstan.
- Igor, tell us about yourself: where are you from, how did your path in the IT field begin?
- I am from the Russian city of Irkutsk. At the age of 13 he moved to Belarus, where he graduated from high school and university with a degree in Applied Mathematics. In 2004, he got a job at IBA Group as a junior developer. After 6 years, he went into freelance, where he was engaged in the development of mobile applications. From 2011 to 2015, I worked on the startup Short Tracker, a project to automate tracking from basketball courts in real time. In 2016, the startup attracted large investments, and in the same year, my team and I decided to start our own business - an independent outsourcing company. Thus began the history of Mbicycle.
- What does Mbicycle do?
- Initially, we were a small mobile development studio for iOS and Android platforms. The name was born from the image of some kind of superbike, where the whole team pedals and, thanks to joint efforts, goes forward. Over time, we decided to expand our range of work and started doing java, dotend, frontend development, added a Q&A, project management department. By 2018, we were a full-fledged full-cycle software and application development company. Most of our clients are companies from Europe, America, Australia and Israel. We take on absolutely any area: FinTech, Health Care, Entertainment, E-commerce, sport and others.
- Tell us about your team.
- Our team now has about 120 people. Today, due to political events, we are all in different countries: Poland, Georgia, Kazakhstan. 15 people moved to Almaty with me, and one local developer is already working in the team. From May 1, three more Kazakhstanis will join us.
- Why did you choose Kazakhstan for relocation?
- We, like other Belarusian companies, were attracted to Kazakhstan by a number of local advantages. This is the absence of problems in terms of logistics due to the fact that we are located in the common zone of the EurAsEC, there are also regular direct flights from Nur-Sultan to Minsk. It is easy for us to work here, since Kazakhstan is a friendly state towards Belarus, which has not imposed any sanctions. The third is high-quality profile resources: educational institutions, competent specialists, infrastructure. Well, the decisive factor was the possibility of residency in the Astana Hub technopark. We believe that we will be able to expand our services and services for Kazakhstani companies that we want to meet in the technopark. I see what an active life is in full swing in Astana Hub. Almost daily I receive announcements of various programs and events by mail. For start-ups, chic conditions have been created, and this even suggests the creation of another technological project.
- What difficulties did you face at first?
- Of course, there were some difficulties at the very beginning. We did not know where to go to register an LLP, obtain an IIN, open a bank account. As is often the case, there are many pitfalls in such procedures. The other day I read the news that Astana Hub and the AIFC have launched an expat center where you can get all the necessary services in one place, and it's great! In addition, a huge plus is that most procedures can be done online, and this is an indicator of the level of digitalization.
- How did you hear about Astana Hub?
- I learned about Astana Hub while still in Belarus, in one of the private clubs of IT business owners. Last year, the owners of the club held a presentation for us together with the leadership of the Hub, where we learned about tax preferences, opportunities to receive PR support, and go through various programs. So there was an interest to become a part of this community.
- Does the company have any significant achievements during its work in Kazakhstan?
- It is too early to talk about the results of work in Kazakhstan, since we have been in Astana Hub for less than a month. However, we are confident that here we will grow and scale to at least 50 people.
- What are the risks of relocation for an IT company? How to avoid them?
- There are always risks and there is no way to avoid them. Moving to another country is always stressful and unforeseen circumstances, new people and unfamiliar processes. The main thing is to be patient.
- Name three pluses of life in Kazakhstan besides working moments?
- I won’t surprise anyone if I put the hospitality and cordiality of the people of Kazakhstan in the first place. Wherever we were: in public institutions, state bodies, - we met only polite and correct behavior. The second is the infrastructure of the city (so far I have only been in Almaty, and everything is very cool here). The third is the level of digitalization, which I have already mentioned above.
- MBycycle plans for 2022?
- The main goal for this year for us is to restructure and reorganize our company in order to get on a level track and continue to fulfill our obligations to customers. One of the most important tasks on the way to this goal was relocation, and we have already successfully coped with it. Ahead is the search for new customers, the expansion of human potential and new challenges :)
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