Redwek founded in 2005, is a software development agency trusted by over 170 businesses worldwide. In this interview Founder and CEO, Konstantin Klyagin shares his insights on current trends and technologies within software development.
Please share the story behind Redwerk: How did it all start, and how has it evolved so far?
I’ve been into tech for as long as I can remember myself. At 8, I was already head over heels for coding. Fast-forward to 15, I wrote my first BBS program called Tornado. BBS stands for bulletin board system, and this technology allows exchanging text messages, files, and even playing text-based games via a terminal. All you need is to hook up a computer, telephone, and modem to each other.
During pre-internet times, BBS software was quite popular; Tornado alone had a couple of thousands of users. It was the so-called predecessor of social networks, except that the communication was asynchronous and board visitors had no media-rich profiles.
Another program I developed out of passion is Centericq. It is an early instant messenger for Linux, supporting ICQ, Yahoo!, MSN, and several other protocols. I wrote it when I was 17, and this is also when I got my first job offer as a programmer, which marks the official start of my tech career.
While working at different IT services agencies here in Ukraine and abroad, I noted things they did well and things I would do differently if I had my own business. Being a techie myself, I dreamed of creating a workspace that would make developers’ lives easier. At the same time, I wanted to build a team that would be a pleasure to work with for foreign customers and partners.
In 2005, when I was still working for Nokia, I was approached by a potential client, and I knew that it was my opportunity to break out of the daily routine and become an entrepreneur. I believe you should jump into it even if you feel like you’re not yet ready. After all, you’ll never find a perfect time for launching a business; there’s always something unexpected happening. We delivered our first project with a team of three, and the rest is history.
Over the years, Redwerk has evolved to a great extent. In 2015, we spun off our testing department to create a separate company. It is called QAwerk, and it specializes exclusively in software testing.
Recently we’ve expanded our services to Web3 development. For the past few years, we’ve been working on a decentralized messenger with token economics. We’re going to exhibit it this November at Web Summit, so if you’d like to learn more and meet in person, we’d be glad to see you there.
As a Ukraine-based company, we were forced to master a new skill – deliver services through the war and promptly react to the way the war unfolds. We’ve launched several info campaigns to seek support from the global business community, and we’re super grateful to our loyal partners and new clients who believe in us and continue doing business with us.
If you’re looking for an IT vendor, a SaaS solution, or a gift, please consider one from Ukraine. This is the best way to help Ukrainians survive through these times. In our turn, we as a company strive to provide as many job opportunities as possible.
What services do you offer and who is your main target market?
Redwerk is a software solutions provider with over 17 years of experience across e-government, e-commerce, e-learning, media & entertainment, and sustainable tech industries. We specialize in building SaaS products from the ground up, supporting our clients all the way from ideation to launch.
We take much of the burden off our clients’ shoulders by providing a fully managed service. For example, they don’t have to worry about searching for another IT services vendor should they need BA and DevOps expertise or help with designs. They don’t need to spend time on tracking developers’ progress and preventing bottlenecks – Redwerk project managers will take care of that. Our delivery team is full-stack, and we’re quite flexible in scaling or reducing our project teams.
Redwerk’s customer portfolio is pretty diverse. We’ve worked with market giants like Universal Music Group, yet we’re also loved by startups like Evolv for helping them keep the quality bar high from the very beginning.
Many of the products we contribute to receive prestigious awards or get acquired by industry leaders. For example, we helped Change & Innovation Agency develop Current, a public service delivery SaaS adopted by ten state and county human services agencies across the USA. Soon after, the company was acquired by Vimo, the number one provider of SaaS solutions for public healthcare in the States.
Another case in point is Recruit Media. We helped them develop a patent-pending recruitment SaaS, which eventually led to the acquisition by HireQuest, America’s leading staffing franchisor. This is a perfect example of how you can become part of something bigger if you stay committed to each project.
QAwerk also has a success story to boast about. When we first tested Unfold, it was just a beta of a story-making app for Android with crashes and other bugs. With QAwerk’s help, Unfold grew into an award-winning brand-level creator platform in about two years. And it hasn’t stopped there. Now Unfold is part of Squarespace, has a billion user base, and continues to innovate.
Besides product development and testing, we offer help with conducting a due diligence audit. We perform an in-depth code review and can optionally provide security and penetration testing to warn our clients of dangerous exploits and explain how those can be fixed.
The nature of our business allows us to deliver services worldwide. Most of our clients come from North America and Western Europe; however, we’ve also delivered projects to companies in Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Africa.
Are there any unique challenges that you face when dealing with international clients?
Each new project is a totally different story with its unique challenges. While the tech stack and certain functionality may be the same, the people are not. It takes time to understand our client’s work style and adapt so that we work as one cohesive team.
In terms of cultural and mentality differences, we can’t single out a certain country. While some clients are more chatty and would rather overcommunicate, others may be more reserved, and this doesn’t depend on their location. We respect our clients’ time, tooling, and communication preferences and adjust our workflows accordingly.
Which trends or technologies within software development do you find particularly interesting these days?
Lately, there has been a lot of hype around the metaverse, DAOs, and other decentralized solutions. I see a huge potential in these technologies, even though sometimes it may seem like they’re unreasonably oversold.
The metaverse can go way beyond creating custom avatars to express one’s identity, selling virtual real estate, creating NFTs, or play-to-earn opportunities. It has numerous use cases in corporate settings, and I’m not talking about using avatars for video conferencing. The metaverse could be used to improve onboarding and skill acquisition: it’s like your knowledge base in Confluence transformed into a fun, visually pleasing, and highly interactive space.
I’m also thrilled about DAOs because I’m against the idea of large corporations deciding how to manage customer data. It is customers who should be able to determine first whether they are willing to share their data and receive some dividends for it or whether they’d rather keep things private.
At the same time, establishing a DAO comes with an array of unique challenges. For example, your voting mechanisms should be abuse-resilient so that one person can’t concentrate power in their hands. Another issue is that you need to come up with an incentive to keep users engaged and a mechanism to filter trivial proposals from valuable ones. Leave alone bugs in smart contracts and uncertainty about future legal frameworks.
As an IT services agency, we’ve never followed tech trends blindly. We wait for technologies to get mature enough to raise interest among entrepreneurs. There’s no point in mastering a technology if there’s no demand. With people becoming more aware of how different apps hoard their data, there’s a dire need for encrypted and privacy-friendly solutions, and that’s what we’ve been working on for a couple of years.
Where can we learn more about you or get in touch?
I’m pretty active on social media, so you can find me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube. When not working, I love traveling, meeting new people, and discovering new cultures.
I’ve always been curious about what it’s like to run a tech agency in a different country. So whenever I visit a new location, I try to meet with tech entrepreneurs like me and record a casual two-way interview with them about their business and daily challenges. I have already published four of them, but more are coming soon, so make sure to check the IT Traveler playlist on the Redwerk YouTube channel.
I’d be happy to connect with you regardless of whether you have a business proposal or have some travel-related questions.