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How Belarusians Build Business at Home and in the USA

April 3, 2018
    In interview for PRO Belarusbank magazine, Dmitry Pytko, Chief Operating & Financial Officer at SolbegSoft, is talking about IT business and sharing his impressions on the “Development of the Digital Economy” Law. Find the interview fragment below.

Interviewer: Dmitry Simonov

– In 2017, Mastercard represented a graphic of the digital economy development. On this graphic, we can see decelerating, problematic, perspective and leading countries. But there is no Belarus. What do you think about it? Which group of this graphic should Belarus occupy?

– We are perspective. We have good base for IT sphere: high quality of education, professional technical specialists. But our country has small area and small quantity of people. Nevertheless, we are taking significant part in worldwide IT outsource development.

– SolbegSoft was founded in 2008. When did your company join the HTP?

– In 2015.

(Belarus Hi-Tech Park was established in 2005 with the main goal to support IT industry. HTP provides special business environment for IT business with incentives unprecedented for European countries.- SolbegSoft note)

– Why did you join the HTP only after 7 years?

– Because in 2008 SolbegSoft was a company for one client. We had five employees working on a custom software development model. The company began to grow actively in 2014. Since that time, we had started to prepare the documents for joining the HTP. It was expected that we would be able to receive additional revenues and customers. We needed resources to grow.

– How will “Development of the Digital Economy” Law affect SolbegSoft?

How Belarusians Build Business at Home and in the USA

– The key moment is the duration of this document. The previous law would be ended in 2020, and to plan activities, we must understand how we will develop further. Now it was extended until 2049.

The second point is type of activities. In the original decree there was a strict gradation of activities. Previously, we could only deal with analysis, design and development of information systems. In addition, IT is involved in testing and maintenance. In the new decree, the restrictions were lifted.

The procedure of loan granting for employees was simplified. Previously, you could give only housing loan. The new decree allows the issuance of loans for any purpose. The order of accounting has become easier. Since March 28, we will have the right to process documents unilaterally. It will be comfortable for us and our customers. Because we have a lot of documents to sign, for example acceptance certificate and they have only invoices.

Developers of mobile applications received money from Google Play and AppStore. These aggregators hold a commission. We have always had the question of withholding tax on foreign income and in the new decree this moment is also regulated. We must understand that the decree sets general rules for the game, but law enforcement practices – elements of English law – must be brought into line with our laws.

– How much do companies spend on salary for IT specialists in the USA and in Belarus?

– In Silicon Valley, the average salary is $ 120 thousand per year. On the other hand, the cost of renting even a small apartment is $ 3-5 thousand per month. If we calculate all the costs and income of an average Software Engineer in Belarus, I think it is more comfortable to live here. Silicon Valley has an incomparable advantage that Belarus will never cope with – winter with +14.

– Western customers prefer outsourcing IT Belarusian companies because their services are cheaper. What is the key factor for your customers?

– It does not matter where you are: if you can solve the customer’s problem, you will be useful to them. We have personal connections and recommendations from our clients. Of course, there is a financial component. If the company-customer in the States spends approximately $ 120 thousand a year for one employee, then in Belarus it will take half as much. Although, if venture funds expect a 100-fold profit, they do not care, to pay $ 200 thousand or $ 2 million, if in the end they raise $ 100 million. Therefore, the money factor doesn’t always work.

The lack of specialists is more common, but the quality of our staff is high.

– How does different time zones and distance influence your work with US customers?

How Belarusians Build Business at Home and in the USA

-This is one of the main drawbacks, but we try to build the work in such a way that there will be no cutting at least four hours a day, so we work in one-time zone with the client. We start later and finish later. And if the eastern coast of the United States falls into our four-hour gap, then the western one doesn’t, unfortunately.

– Today in IT there are a lot of people who have finished three-month courses. Their salary expectations are lower than of experienced professionals. What do you think about this trend? Will it affect the level of salaries in IT sphere?

– Not soon. I hope that because IT sphere is developing, we will be able to make our contribution to the economy of our country and it will help to raise the level of salaries.

I suppose that children will choose professions that they really like, rather than go to study information technologies only because of the high salaries. Essentially, a good lawyer, doctor and economist should receive no less than a software developer. If a person does something through power, it won’t work for him/her and for industry, s/he won’t become a good specialist. You can do a lot of things using willpower, but you will never be on top. You will achieve success only when you do what you like.

Read the full interview in PRO Belarusbank #1/93, 2018

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