“Today Everything Is Available, and in the 2000s Technologies Were Scarce,” Vladislavs Hveckovics from SoftGamings About Business in IT and iGaming
Vladislavs Hveckovics had been working in the bank sector for 12 years, and then was holding executive positions in different IT companies. The ability to manage and analyze business skillfully led him and his partners to the establishment of the company that develops online gambling software – SoftGamings – 11 years ago.
Vladislavs told us in the interview what path he had to take and what challenges he faced.
Vladislavs Hveckovics – co-founder and CIOat SoftGamings.
“Technologies were scarce in the early 2000s”
Before my acquaintance with the iGaming field, I worked in the bank sector. In the 1999-2000s, I managed the online banking project for the Latvian Rietumu Banka. At that time, it was one of the first projects of its kind.
It was 20 years ago when there were hardly any technologies that people use everywhere now and are time-proven. The open-source movement was just starting and banks were afraid to use a non-standard stack of technologies. Absolutely everything including even Internet channels had a low-reliability level.
Correspondingly, we faced loads of problems every day. Our provider of IT solutions had just launched his product then and many things did not function well, or simply were not available. Nevertheless, we were some of the first in the region to realize the online banking project, greatly focused on the comfort of customers and the shift to self-servicing allowing customers to choose and make a query for a certain bank product.
“The IT market was young and we managed to occupy a niche quickly”
Later I co-founded and then headed ESOFTinformation technology firm. We founded it together with two former specialists of Rietumu Bankaand it was my first experience in launching a startup.
In a matter of days, we prepared a business plan and found investors, after which we found employees quite quickly and started working. At that time, the IT market was very young and we managed to occupy a decent niche quickly. Our customers were big and well-known Latvian companies.
“Investors could not help us – they did not have experience”
Unlike American-style venture projects, we dealt with all problems and business solutions on our own. Investors could not help us, as they did not have much experience in information technologies, although they were quite successful people that managed to build a serious business from scratch.
In the end, we merged with another company. Such decisions are not rare in business. At that moment, partners and I decided that it would be the best option, as a big investor was ready to pay more by standards of that time, and our thoughts regarding the further development of the company started to differ greatly.
“At that time, the idea of a live casino was new and we entered the market”
Later my partners and I got interested in the idea of the live casino. At that time, it was rather fresh, and partners were investing in iGaming projects for a long time then. So, we decided it was interesting to offer this product in the CIS market. This is how SoftGamingswas born, where I have already spent 11 years.
Today IT solutions are in demand in all fields, but at that time, we were thinking about the promotion of live casino products rather than building a platform. And after we started to develop successfully and acquired more customers, new ideas on business development emerged. In the end, we grew into a fully-fledged platform, where customers can solve almost all their tasks related to iGaming.
“You are always walking on the edge of the cliff in startups”
We also faced challenges. They were very different, but looking back, I can say with confidence that they were still quite typical for companies at different life cycles.
The problem of startups is that you always lack resources and money. You are walking on the edge of the cliff, and at any moment your business can die, you have to save on everything and endure on what Americans call sweat equity.
“When a company is growing, the management has to fly blind”
Nevertheless, startups do not need strong management and many of procedures, as you know the whole situation, control and correct everything on your own. With the growth, the company inevitably rearranges – management moves to a higher level of abstraction and you have to fly blind. In this case, everything comes down to correct metrics and the right people. Namely, for this reason, general management often does not require a profound knowledge of the industry, although it helps of course.
Typical IT problems of fast-growing projects are different: you have to find a balance between the readiness of systems to serious growth and adequacyof investments, and this is sometimes difficult.
However, difficulties connected with growth are the most pleasant ones; I do not get tired of them. Vice versa, they are some of the most interesting moments in the work. As new difficulties appear regularly, even in 11 years of work at the company, I am always learning something new and this makes my work extremely interesting.
“We have Napoleon’s plans”
Talking about the future, we have truly Napoleon’s plans. We are planning to improve current projects and want to develop several new strategically important directions.
We want to enter new local markets in Sweden, the US. We are developing our own sportsbook solution, making updates on the platform and the bonus system. We are gradually increasing the number of development teams that independently create online casinos based on our platform. Many of them have achieved great success and show significant growth. The fact that customers can fully change the frontend on their own is our serious advantage.
On June 7, Vladislavs Hveckovics will make a presentation at Russian Gaming Week exhibition-forum explaining how to build a turnkey online casino.