Yaroslav Azhnyuk: The first was idea then - team and decision to make a business
Yaroslav is only 25, but he have already created few companies and lived in different parts of the world. You can read about his last project PetCube in Forbes, BBC and even CNN. In 2013 PetCube was recognized as the most perspective Ukrainian startup according to the Ain.ua publication. All this happened cause the great idea managed to get $250 000 via Kikstarter, moreover $100 000 were collected in the first week. Yaroslav have been scout for about 8 years in Andriy Pervozvany troop and says that he’s happy that once apon a time he have started his “Great Game”.
First of all lets talk about your chilhood. You’ve been born in Kyiv, tell us a little bit about your youth. Where did you study? What hobbies did you have? Did you have desire for invention at that time?
The second great memories from childhood is Lego. I think it's a great game that stimulates imagination and develops in children the desire to create, to do it in right way - first to do something via example, the instructions, and then create your own.
And the third - a Macintosh, which parents bought after working in the U.S. for an academic exchange program. It was the 1994-1995 in Kiev, I've seen computers IBM, but Mac was quite different - at that time, much more beautiful, with great potential for text formatting, drawing and animation. The only problem - in Ukraine was impossible to get games on the Mac, cause there were only few hundreds for all country. Because of this, I learned how to draw, type and dreamed that one day I’ll know how to make games.
In fact, later, there was a lack of games for PC in Ukrainian and it became the first huge business dream - to create a studio that would make English games in Ukrainian. That's the impetus to get an education in IT technologies. Studio I didn’t established a studio and I still think we need it, but the reality of the game industry have changed for now.
In adolescence you became a scout in Plast - National scout organization of Ukraine. How did it happened?
Plast was well known in our family, we have relatives who were in Plast in Lviv and maintained relationships with Plast community during World War II. I just heard something about Plast and thought it’s like Hekelberri Finn adventure that could be a reality - living in the woods, cook, build a house - what could be more exciting for a guy in 11 years? Having found Plast center in Kyiv I realized - this are cool people who are doing great things. I was active in Plast when I was 16-18 years old. Then I decided that to achieve Plast goals and ideals I will be more useful if I focus on problems outside the organization.
What did you get from being in Plast, was it useful for you?
I got completely everything for what I was going to scouts - the romance of adventure and travel, physical hardening and friends. But also I got much more.
I was told that Plast educate leaders, but it was hard to realize what what did they mean. Only now I can completely estimate it.
I took as usual the principles of Christian morality on which the Plast works, because I was always surrounded by people who shared them. But more working with people from the "outside world " - the more you understand the importance of some fundamental values and moral rod.
Plast has also given the ability to build working groups, mutual understanding between different people. I think Plast - very tolerant organization and the principles of tolerance, democracy and understanding - they are essential for any healthy society.
You're quite young when you made first steps in business. As a student you were a director of the company «Social Media». How did you manage to realize yourself?
I was interested in everything new: read all the new books, went to an exhibition of paintings, searching for new music. All information was found over the internet and I had to go every time thrue dozen of sites that have written about it. I just learned to be programmer and wanted to make website that would collect interesting for me news in one site. It was to be analogue to digg.com, but for Ukrainian culture. In the summer of 2007 I took lots of books on PHP and MySQL and learned how to make websites.
In two months I did what I wanted - a site called LAMP. Then I met with people who were interested in the latest possibilities of Internet and organized a conference Blogcamp in Kyiv. Six months later I was invited to join the team Blogcamp 2008, undertake the development of the site. Our partner was one of the best Kiev web-development studio , but when I saw how they work, I thought - if this is the best studio, I can do better.
I met with an acquaintance who ran another studio, and for two hours he told me all basic things on how to start a business. The next day I went to the appropriate state agency and submitted an application for registration of an individual entrepreneur. That's all.
The first orders were from friends/acquaintances. Then recommendations. I went to conferences, acted, took part in various community projects. Thus appeared more friends, later some of them became clients.
So eventually we shifted to online marketing. This time I had readKotler's book and understand what a marketing is (I studied at the Faculty of Applied Mathematics). For each client, tried to understand why do he needs a site, what should be there, to make it the most useful. We tried to follow the example of the coolest things you can find online and do not worse.
Not so long time ago, you were one of authors of this unique invention as «Petcube». A device that helps to entertain the pets in the absence of the owner of the house. Why pets?
The first was idea then - team and decision to make a business. I sincerely believe that it’s more fruitful than a group of people who decides to quickly create a new Facebook and starts their work from searching for ideas.
The idea belongs to Sasha, our technical director. That video has almost two years, where he talks about how it came to his mind.
Yaroslav Azhnyuk was born January 17, 1989, in Kiev. In 2000 joined Plast and in October 14, 2001 made a Plast oath. Was in Andriy Pervozvany troop in patrol "Bars". Was active in scoutinng till 2008.
Founded the first company - "Social Media" in 2008, and in September 2012 the company "Petsube", in which is still engaged. Between the traveling lives in Kiev and San Francisco.