Joomag: 1 day of the IT company in Armenia
Nowadays a lot of attention is paid to the IT industry and its achievements, as well as the success of particular startups in mass media. It’s a fact that at this moment Armenia rightfully holds the position of one of the leaders in the field of information technologies among post-Soviet countries. Moreover, due to its dynamic development the IT industry represents a rather significant segment of the national economy.
However, the average citizen of the country vaguely realizes the activities of IT companies and the IT boom itself. Recently we had published the article «Top 10 Armenian startups according to Armenian Global Community», which surely couldn’t include all successful IT companies of Armenia. Meantime, we will try to open the veil of secrecy and illustrate the IT industry, using the example of one of them. We have been able to visit Joomag company and interview Tigran Badalyan, Regional Director of Central and Eastern Europe, about the IT-industry in general, as well as the company’s path and future plans.
– First of all, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to visit you and your time. Perhaps, a lot of questions will be addressed to you today. When the company with such an interesting name was founded?
– Thank you for your visit. I will be happy to answer all questions on behalf of Joomag, company. Our company was founded in 2009, which can be definitely considered as a boom period for the blogs. At that time, there was a sharp need for some kind of instrument, which would help to express yourself to all those who have content. The blog as a platform of sharing an information, in our opinion, is structurally not a quite functional and automated solution. At that moment, various publishing houses began to turn into digital format. Thus, this idea has pushed us to create a digital platform, which would offer a comprehensive and innovative approach
– What is the difference in your approach?
– Our platform has been continuously developing for 8 years. Now we offer a complex approach for marketing, publishing houses, corporate communication – all in one solution for all these spheres.
– What is the origin of company’s name?
– In fact, everything is simple enough. «Mag» is an abbreviation of the English word “magazine”, double «o», as some people believe, is inherent to successful companies. So, the letter «j» perfectly complements by sound. The choice of the name of our company was influenced by the fact that at the time of the company’s foundation we were focused precisely on printed magazines and transferring them to digital format.
– What Joomag is offering to its client now?
– Our mission is to provide tools for both business and individuals, which will allow to grow, develop and improve the visualization of content, so-called «smart solutions». Joomag’s product is used by all those who need to bring content containing portfolio, photos, books, brochures, magazines etc. Please note that there are 4 stages creation, distribution, monetization and tracking in this process. So, for example, our clients are such magazines as VOGUE, Harper’s Bazaar, Men’s Health and many others. All-in-one solution from Joomag includes also the creation of both own applications as an option for the development of the client’s business or the opportunity to become a part of our application. Let me give you one more example – Levi’s, which is also a client of Joomag. All catalogs and instructions of merchandising for Levi’s employees around the world are collected in a single application created by us.
– When did you join the company?
– I became a part Joomag’s team 3 years ago with experience in various fields and startups. I knew about the company from the very beginning, but at that time I worked in other industry.
– And, where Joomag company was founded?
– My answer can now sound tritely and even cause sort of skepticism, but in America. It is known that the United States is much more fertile ground for the start-ups foundation. However, in our case, the main reason was that digital publishing industry itself originated and developed there. It is also important that 50% of our customers are also from the US, and the rest – from all over the world. If I give an overview of Joomag users’ statistics, as an example, it will show that there is none of them probably only in the Sahara Desert.
– When did the company appear in Armenia?
– In 2013, our office was opened in Yerevan, where the work of research and development departments, product, design, customer service and administrative teams is concentrated. The company’s head office is in San Jose (Silicon Valley). However, development and extension of the company do not stop. In 2015, we opened two more offices in Munich and Moscow, which provide sales and customer support in native language of the region.
– Please tell us a bit about the founders of the company.
– The founders are 4 friends Ruben Vardanyan, Gurgen Ghukasyan, Vahram Darbinian and David Aslanian. Each of them has its own expert area, so Ruben is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) & Founder, Gurgen is VP of Engineering and Product & Co-Founder, Vahram is Chief Technology Officer (CTO) & Co-Founder and David is Chief Customer Officer (CCO) & Co-Founder.
– How would you describe the corporate culture of Joomag?
– I will bring myself as an example, and then I will illustrate the company through the people who work here. Despite the fact that I joined the company recently, nevertheless, like everyone in the office, I treat it as my offspring and the team – as my family. We create here a product, an atmosphere, a company, where people can feel like at home. It’s important, because we spend most of our time at work. In addition, we expect 8 hours of productive from each person here, which is measured by the result instead of minutes and hours. Surely, sometimes you have to stay overtime and even work on weekends, but no matter how strange it sounds, nobody does it here because of the need or because of extra days off, they just understand that the company appreciates it. In general, our approach can be described as exclusively professional.
– How do you assess the market in terms of competitors?
– When we first have started our path, there were many companies in the market, providing services in this segment of the IT industry. However, our single integrated solution has always distinguished us from the very beginning till nowadays. Moreover, the platform combines all the needs of business in a digital format. We also provide the opportunity to integrate with third-party tools, which in any case allows to remain a Joomag client. As for the competition, I would like to note that it can exist in separate segments, but not in the full range of services and spheres that we cover.
– How is the situation on the Armenian market?
– In the Armenian market, Joomag stands apart, since we create our product and cover a certain segment in the IT industry. Many people also complain that most of IT companies in Armenia work for outsourcing. I do not see something wrong or surprising, because it allows you to work, earn significant income and master new technologies. However, it is very important to conduct market research before creating and launching your product in any market including the Armenian one. The initial costs should be exactly directed to research, and only afterwards to development. Working with your own product is a huge responsibility, because it needs constant monitoring and development, but also is much more pleasant. In Armenia, you can bring a lot in the field of information technology, and it’s not always exactly new products. But, nevertheless, responsibility isn’t less, because after a successful development should follow a successful implementation. As for me, I can mention a lot of successful IT companies, both national and international, which achieved notable success in various segments of Armenian IT industry, and brought both innovations or completely new products, for example, PicsArt, Monitis, Volo and many others.
– According to the estimations of Union of Information Technology Enterprises, almost 15,000 thousand people work in IT industry, but there is still a labor shortage. What do you think is the reason for it?
– IT industry is developing very fast all over the world, and Armenia is not an exception. I really think that there is currently a labor shortage, but there are clearly several reasons. One of them is a common phenomenon for the country – brain drain. However, the main problem here is that not always moving is justified and necessary. At first glance, high salary offered abroad is almost always directly proportional to the high level of life and high expenses. You must be ready for all moral as well as material difficulties, because everything has its pros and cons. Nevertheless, I’m not trying to dissuade anyone, but I urge you to analyze and weigh the final decision, according to your own priorities. The next reason is staff development and training, which also affects the shortage. In Armenia, ideology and attitude to investment in employees are not fully developed, so that your team can become more and more professional. The development and training of staff is the key to the growth and extension of any company, increasing its revenue and success. But it just needs investments. Many companies in Armenia still have a practice to increase salary without improving professional skills and personal growth of the staff, which undoubtedly has a negative impact on both the labor market in general and on employee personally.
– We started talking about staff training, which is definitely important for any company. And how do you assess the sphere of education itself from the point of future staff for the IT industry?
– In fact, I usually do not speak on a subject in which I am not an expert. But I think I cannot avoid answering the question. By the way, after a meeting with the Minister of Transport, Communication and Information Technologies on the topic of education, as well as innovations, I was asked more than once questions about problems in the field of education and their solution. I’m unlikely able to offer tangible solutions until I get into this topic so thoroughly to conduct a detailed analysis and identify problems. However, the only thing that I think is really important in education is the constant search for new approaches and their implementation. Perhaps the experience of any country in the field of IT education is worthy of consideration, adaptation and implementation in Armenia. But these issues should definitely be dealt with professionals who are able to propose an appropriate solution.
– What’s new in Joomag?
– Very soon we will begin a series of free trainings, a special course from our company that will allow anyone who wants to learn new things and get an opportunity to join our team. The course can be attended by people with basic knowledge, but with the «spirit» of Joomag, which means to have zeal, desire to learn, logic and out-box thinking. Very often, during a job interview, this is the decisive factor in the choice of a candidate – the attitude of a person to his own work, his goals and vision.
Joomag is a fast-growing company that is represented by several offices in different countries. The office in Yerevan is presented by 60 employees, working in different departments. The company operates a Joomag Lab, so-called technological laboratory, which continuously works on research, analysis and the possibility of implementing new technologies and product development.
Atmosphere of the company is felt in everything from the office design and facilities to the attitude of employees to their own business. The office of Joomag in Yerevan can be called advanced not only in terms of style and design, which, incidentally, embodies the company’s innovative activity in many aspects, but with regard to the comfort for the work of employees. And, as you know, comfort and a highly developed corporate culture are the key to the success of any company.
Absolutely, it is real luck to be a part of Joomag!
Author Kadriya Julianna