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Exclusive interview with Tor, CEO and Founder Novytec.

Антон Федулов

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I’m Norwegian. Studied Art Direction at Oslo ACT, Worked in the industry since the mid 90s and founded several companies. One valued at 3 bn UAH, only to crash and burn during the dotcom bubble in 2000. Spent 2 years running a successful Metaverse (virtual world) business - working with companies such as Sun Microsystems, featured in WIRED magazine.

Passionate about design, art, architecture, photography, gastronomy and technology.

Value simplicity and solution where empathy conquers complexity - that’s just a fancy way of saying ‘User Friendly’.

Why have you decided to start a new project and launch it in Kiev?

I came to Ukraine 6 years ago as co-founder and Project Owner on a Social Media monitoring/analysis start-up and was supposed to be in L’viv 4 months, but ended up spending 2 years there. When the project was rolling on its own, we’d established a new team in Kyiv - I liked Kyiv and decided to stay.

Have you thought about any other countries?

Yes, why not. Things change and IT-outsourcing in Ukraine is not nearly as attractive as it used to be. It’s a global industry. You can live and work from anywhere in the world.

Co-location has it’s advantages of course - short lines of communication and team dynamics.

Interesting places to be are Palo Alto of course, and recently Berlin here in Europe. A lot of interesting stuff is happening in Kyiv, but mostly it’s run from the outside, which is a pity. Ukraine has many talented people, there’s a lot of innovation happening, but I wish there was more true invention also.

Asia is interesting, especially China, but the culture is very different.

I like Ukraine very much, because despite the differences our peoples have much in common. I consider myself a creative problem-solver, and as an outsider I see so much potential here - where there’s a problem, there’s a need for improvement.

Aren’t you afraid of the corruption and bureaucracy in Ukraine?

Not so much, there’s nothing to take. My clients and the legal part of my business is outside Ukraine, and assets are intellectual or digital - not material.

I want to provide jobs, to honest, smart and hard working people - not sponsor some bureaucrats datcha or Porsche Cayenne.

In worst case, I can pack up and leave within hours and set up shop somewhere else.

What can you say about the standard of living here in Ukraine?

Ukraine has everything, but it depends to what you compare and for whom. Ukraine is a developed country with huge potential, unfortunately plagued by the ghosts of USSR.

However, EU or US isn’t necessarily the paradise many people here are led to believe.

IT-people in Ukraine are extremely privileged, with very favourable taxes and high salaries compared to cost of living.

In Ukraine, a good developer or other motivated business professional can buy an apartment and have no debts within a couple of years. In Norway, people often pay near half their income in taxes, then spend 20-30 years on down-payment of student- and house loans.

Photo by Tor Photo by Tor

How long have you been living here in Kiev?

About 4 years, before that almost 2 years in L’viv.

What are your plans for 2017?

Continued focus on- and growing core business: I’m handling a handful of good, regular clients.

Next up is focus on cutting-edge end-user marketing, content and delivery. Very exciting now with emerging technologies such as VR, AR and IoT - especially VR, that’s where all the big players are (Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple), the technology is finally maturing - it’ll be the next big thing in the coming decade!!!

With 20 years of experience in the field and a proven track record already 10 years ago, I’m optimistic.

Photo by Tor Photo by Tor

What do you think about IT-infrastructure of Kiev? Do you see how to improve it? - What is your opinion about technical infrastructure in Kiev like mobile internet, ethernet, working space availability etc?

It’s great, Kyiv has everything: Wifi is everywhere, internet connection is delivered almost instantly. There’s no lack of office space and there are coworking hubs on every corner.

What are Norwegians looking for in Ukraine? What do they usually order from you?

They want: Good + cheap + fast code.

I deliver: Reasonable + fast when needed + always good.

Some choose to do it on their own, they usually end up with only one or none of the above.

Photo by Tor Photo by Tor

What do you think about the price of IT talent in Ukraine? Is it worth the money or complete overpayment?

Price/value is long past saturated and the industry here is about to eliminate itself, at least in its current form. The market is still there, but only because some clients only see cost/hour - not cost/value. For the more informed clients, the wiggle room is smaller and you really need to know what you’re doing.

With the recent oil-crisis, there’s also a flourishing start-up scene in Norway right now, many competing with IT outsourcing.

As a consequence of of the oil-crisis the US-NOK currency has dropped, and as the IT-industry here is mostly tied to USD, the prices have gone up by 50-70% the last 3 years alone.

I’ve had several cases lately where clients chose to do the job locally.

It’s not like the industry here is going to die, but I think we’ll see more polarizing:

  1. The good: Smaller specialists, really good and offer something unique.
  2. The bad: Big, efficient, faceless code-factories - consolidating and becoming even bigger.
  3. The ugly: Cheap, low quality sweatshops catering to the more cost-conscious clients.

Did you watch the TV series “Vikings”? What do you think about it? How do people react to Vikings in Norway? Were you named after God Tor?

Yes of course I watch Vikings - it's mandatory ;)

I think it's pretty good, not historically correct, but hey - it's entertainment. There are mixed reactions in Norway - there are the history-nerds whining that it's not 100% correct, but most think it's just good entertainment. And yes - I'm named after the norse mythology guy...



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