First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Dima Venglinski: Regardless of the pandemic, we keep a positive mood at home and at work. Now, almost the entire company is working remotely. However, with a few other teammates and my dog, we are still going to the office to maintain the work inspiration and fuel the team spirit.
It’s a challenging time for each and everyone, forcing us to push our boundaries, rethink our values, set the right goals, and understand what we really need. We’re now doing all together to optimize the existing processes and accept changes that are ruthlessly moving to us.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Fireart Studio.
Dima Venglinski: I was working as a freelance UI/UX designer for several years. The number of orders from my clients was fast-increasing, so I decided to hire a few other designers to help me manage the project flow and deliver everything timely. A small team became a logical continuation of my attempts to scale design expertise, projects, and opportunities. It’s how Fireart Studio was founded, very naturally.
How does Fireart Studio innovate?
Dima Venglinski: I have the following to say about innovation:
Innovation in lead generation and a sales pipeline
Due to the travel restrictions during COVID-19, all in-person meetings with clients and offline lead generation channels, like roadshows, business events, and conferences, have become impossible. That’s why we focused on inbound lead generation processes.
Instead of visiting offline events, we started participating in online events, broadcasts, and webinars. Also, we incorporated some innovations in a sales pipeline. For example, we made a lead generation strategy more online-oriented and added new lead onboarding steps to the client communication strategy, such as introductory and discovery calls.
In general, the pandemic positively impacted our company’s internal processes. We consider it a boost to level up project management and make the business even more mobile. Like most of the teams, we were forced to switch to work from home and focus on improving online collaboration and communication.
Now, we are actively using online collaboration tools, like Slack, Notion, G Suite, Jira, and Miro. We find these tools very helpful in implementing the Scrum methodology, which we follow when developing software products. It helps us keep our processes on the wheels rolling like previously without damaging the clients’ projects.
Innovation in communication with clients
The current situation has also helped us set better customer relationships. We have initiated daily or weekly e-meetings with our clients to keep them informed about the project’s progress. Our sales team has added new follow-up emails to the client management strategy. After a month or two, we’ve started emailing clients, asking if they are satisfied with the project outcome and if their product works as expected.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Dima Venglinski: The lockdown has positively affected IT businesses since the entire world is actively moving towards an online presence and mobility. The IT industry is on the rise now, and the consequences are quite predictable. Due to health safety measures and social restrictions, the demand for mobile business applications, websites, and other digital products is continuously growing, creating a favorable environment for IT companies like ours.
However, there is also another side of the coin, of course. Amidst the coronavirus, it has become much more challenging to maintain a strong corporate culture when everyone is staying at home, and there is no opportunity for real-life meetings and offline team-building. However, our team tries to cope with it by organizing morning video-calls that are usually full of jokes and fun, celebrating birthdays and other events altogether in the online chat, and setting the overall friendly atmosphere on the projects.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Dima Venglinski: Yes, we made difficult choices, and they were mostly related to team management and structure. While working from home, we started tracking the team performance more carefully. It allowed us to estimate every employee’s productivity and forced us to make hard decisions toward some of them. As a result, the team was enriched by new, more motivated professionals who really wanted to work instead of those with zero or near-zero work effectiveness.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Dima Venglinski: The business owner’s life is all about stress and anxiety, whether there is a coronavirus recession or not. Dealing with it is not the option; you just need to accept these feelings and approach them as your intrinsic drives for constant growth, taking risks, and incorporating changes.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Dima Venglinski: We wouldn’t like to mention our competitor brand names directly. However, we can say that they are mostly much larger companies, according to the clients’ orders from Fireart. Although we’re not very big, our studio enters large companies’ competitor pool with large-scale projects.
To stay in the market game, we will do our possible to deliver higher-quality results, offer a broader suite of services, and drive more customer satisfaction. It sounds simple, but there is no other option, actually.
Your final thoughts?
Dima Venglinski: The world is experiencing drastic and irreversible changes that push everyone to switch to online mode. Even after the end of the coronavirus pandemic, the business will still be affected by these changes. Most businesses have started working fully remotely, while others are at least trying to find new customer acquisition channels online.
So, we recommend brands considering an online presence as the top business priority and start investing in it, as it is the necessary disruption for almost every company today.