Vadim Khadakou is the founder of Bitsens, a creative digital agency, which is based in Vilnius, Lithuania. He graduated from European Humanities University in Vilnius in 2010, and his major was Mass Communication and Journalism.
Vadim had a chance to get involved in idea generation management while working in COMMX after finishing education. His next stop was a creative digital agency, SISTER. There he obtained strong expertise in digital development and advanced UI/UX design experience. Soon he changed the position to an Art Director in a Toys/Games company called Dream Makers. His area of responsibilities encompassed preparing creative visions and concepts for the future toys lines, developing and managing additional external resources as well as working on multiple projects at once.
Bitsens was founded in 2012. By this time, Vadim had already worked with companies such as UEFA, Nestle, DDB, Brightbox, Wargaming, Toronto University, Vilnius University on various web, mobile, interface, and brand projects. Vadim and his team also created applications like a hyper-casual game One Half, augmented reality game The Floor is Lava, entertaining AR masks on Facebook and Instagram, and many others.
In an exclusive interview with AsiaTechDaily, Vadim Khadakou says:
Setting up your own business means the beginning of a long and hard journey. You need to work hard and invest all your efforts into it before the money falls out of the sky. But if you possess exceptional intellectual abilities, analytical skills and can bear a long-distance hard work, then you’ll definitely make it.
Read on to know more about Vadim and his journey.
Please tell me about your background, and what are you working on currently?
Vadim Khadakou: I’m a Managing partner at Bitsens | Creative Digital Agency. Before it was founded eight years ago, I worked as an Art and Creative director in Video Production and Toys/Games companies. There I was able to obtain a strong experience in art direction, creative development, and team management useful for setting up a personal business.
This year our agency is about to launch three new digital products: 2 lifestyle mobile applications and one web analytical tool for marketing research. At the moment, our team is working on preparing two mobile apps for the final release. We believe they are going to hit this year!
What motivated you to get started with your company?
Vadim Khadakou: I think my motivation has grown from the coincidence of various factors: money, ambitions, and a clear market understanding. I knew we could provide better services to people instead of those offered at that time.
How have you attracted users and grown your company from the start?
Vadim Khadakou: Taking your place in the market is not easy at all. You have to bring an impressive portfolio to make people trust you or to be a great salesman to perform well in our industry. We didn’t have any of these at the beginning, but we started working really hard on collecting works for our portfolio. I guess our main team’s power lies in the ability to work as long as it’s needed until the result is perfect and flawless. Looking back now, I understand that we were (and still are) extremely committed to our business: while some people were attending conferences around the world, we’ve been sitting in our office and working for 12 hours a day.
What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue? What strategy worked best?
Vadim Khadakou: We’ve grown up from a company offering a service development, but at the end of the day became a consulting agency.
Thus, we’ve got an opportunity to assign Bitsens’s developers to the partners’ projects when they’re not involved in the other ones. This brings an additional income to the agency and creates a cash flow stability in the company.
How much money (funding) have you raised in total so far? When was the recent funding round? (Additionally, any plan for the future?)
Vadim Khadakou: We’re raising money by creating our products, applying in-app purchases and ads. Fortunately or not, Bitsens has no private investments for now. However, recently we’ve joined the EU’s Horizon program 2020 and received funding to work on a cancer care CAPABLE project. Our area of responsibility there is interface development. The project will last four years, and we have great expectations from it since it’s going to bring a huge positive change to the cancer home patients’ lives.
What are some marketing tips to help maximize the success of a product launch?
Vadim Khadakou: Every product launch is special on its own. However, there are some repeating moments in any promotion which are needed to be taken into account. First, by knowing how to use them in your work and second, by automating the process, you’ll be more efficient and successful in your product launch.
- ASO. Make every single symbol in title, subtitle, description, and keywords work for you and your application;
- Free marketing channels. Yes, they exist, and they’re easily accessible (Product Hunt, Review Hunt Town, friends, influencers, online media, etc.);
- Your audience. Stay in touch with them and be nice to get the necessary insights;
- Reviews on the App Store and Google Play. Even ask your granny to write one, because each review matters and pushes your product higher in search results.
What is a good product launch checklist?
Vadim Khadakou: I’d say a good product launch checklist necessarily includes the following steps:
- preparing a final and tested version of your product;
- preparing ASO (icon, screenshots, promo graphics);
- preparing marketing and explanation videos;
- taking care of copywriting texts;
- ensuring you have set up a straight communication channel for users to reach you out.
What’s the hardest thing about product launches?
Vadim Khadakou: There are two things I’d outline. First, it’s important to define the necessary product’s functionality, so you wouldn’t waste half a year working on things that only you are needed in. Second, communication with users. Users are the source of information for the future functionality and successful release of a product. To make both things work out well, you should invest a great amount of time into it.
What are the most common mistakes founders make when they start a company? (or What should all first-time startup founders know before they start their business?)
Vadim Khadakou: Setting up your own business means the beginning of a long and hard journey. You need to work hard and invest all your efforts into it before the money falls out of the sky. But if you possess exceptional intellectual abilities, analytical skills and can bear a long-distance hard work, then you’ll definitely make it.
What do most startups get wrong about marketing?
Vadim Khadakou: Marketing is surely a powerful tool which helps to boost your business. But I’ll agree here that some people might misunderstand it. From my point of view, the common mistake beginners make is implementing several tools they’re not really familiar with in their work. Usually, the result is the opposite to the one which is expected. It’s always better for newcomers to ask experts for help to understand marketing tools’ potential and turn them work for personal business.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? And What advice do you have for someone who is interested in doing similar things like yours or in a similar direction?
Vadim Khadakou: The valuable advice I received once was related to the creative dilemma I had. I wanted to shut everything down, do away with business, and get involved in something else. Raising a startup is not an exciting job: you have to go through numerous negotiation rounds before signing a contract, fire people, and experience many other unpleasant moments during the day. Once I shared my doubts with a respectful man, I know. He asked me whether I’d be the first one in the field after I’d leave my startup behind. I said no because I knew it’s impossible to be number one in any creative direction of the 21st century. So, he replied that it makes no sense to start in the place where you wouldn’t be the first one.
What’s more, he praised me by adding that I was doing great in my business and should proceed with it. It was a cheer-up and motivating advice for me, which worked out really well. So, here is my advice which hopefully someone finds useful: some doubts, especially the ones I described above, slow down the work process if not kill it at all. Avoid believing in them.
What are the one or two things that you would do differently if you could go back to 10 years ago?
Vadim Khadakou: I do not regret any of the things I did in my past since they brought me to the place where I’m now. However, I wish I could make some of my decisions quicker instead of anticipating for too long. It could be too late.
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