Vasiliy Ivanov is the founder and CEO of KeepSolid, a company that creates security and productivity tools for more than 21 million customers worldwide. Ivanov also contributes to such top business and tech websites as Forbes, Hackernoon, Toolbox, among others.
KeepSolid was founded by Ivanov in 2013. Some of the most popular products developed by KeepSolid include VPN Unlimited, KeepSolid DNS Firewall, KeepSolid SmartDNS, KeepSolid Goals. The company currently employs 100 people across its two offices in the US and Ukraine. Below is the interview with Ivanov for CEOWorld Magazine, offering us insight into his entrepreneurial mindset
How do you envision the mission of your company? What problems are you trying to solve?
We strive to create efficient modern solutions for the security and productivity of our corporate and individual customers. We develop our products relying upon the philosophy of human productivity, allowing us to provide high-quality tools for our customers, as well as create a great work environment for our employees.
Some of our products are aimed at helping people maintain their privacy (VPN Unlimited and KeepSolid SmartDNS), as there are currently issues with censorship and limiting access of Internet users to some data online.
There are also increasingly more online scammers trying to take advantage of Internet users. To protect users from accessing malicious websites, we offer a DNS Firewall.
We also create business products, such as KeepSolid Goals, so that we can increase employee productivity. Thanks to this, companies can increase the efficiency of their employees whose salaries they pay. At the same time, by using our product, employee workload doesn’t have to increase too much.
What makes you different from your competitors?
There are a few things that make our products stand out in comparison to our competitors.
At VPN Unlimited, we have a point of difference in terms of our technological experience. Our proprietary VPN protocol, KeepSolid Wise, as well as other developments, allow us to provide customers with service in some regions where many of our competitors do not have a presence.
At KeepSolid Goals, according to testimonials from our users, we have made a unique UX, convenient for a full cycle of planning and controlling important company goals.
How did pandemic influence the success of your company?
Our target audience has changed quite a bit during the pandemic. For example, for obvious reasons, there are currently significantly fewer people buying VPN Unlimited while traveling. But this issue was fully compensated for by the influx of other users – for example, those who want to access certain content from home or who want to maintain privacy from their provider.
In your opinion, which specific personality traits every leader of the company should try to develop, and which traits they should try to eliminate?
I think that the ability to communicate properly and understand people is key for a leader. This personality trait is followed closely by the ability to control the outcomes. If possible, you should implement such control in a soft way, but where that is not possible, you need to be able to be tough.
In my experience, I can say that one of the most harmful qualities of a manager is the desire to be overly helpful. It is important to be able to lead and motivate your employees, but it becomes detrimental when a leader spends too much time with inefficient employees waiting for them to become efficient.
Can you explain what kind of culture you have in your company?
I strive to maintain a culture of creativity. In this culture, we have a few administrative restrictions and a lot of freedom for each employee. The overall objective is reaching the planned goals on time. We try to only keep those who fit this culture in the company. The focus of our company is directed at users, at solving their problems. We prefer active people with many interests. An important value for us is responsibility. Team achievements are more important for us than personal ones.
How do you motivate your team to be more productive?
I try to keep people focused on the end result we want to achieve. People who like to create are involved in the expected result, so they themselves want to achieve it. It is important to set a goal and to communicate it.
Can you provide an example of a crisis in your company and how you overcame it?
We had a huge setback in 2018, when we made many simultaneous mistakes and lost a lot of money. Something was constantly breaking, something wasn’t working, and we could be fixing it for weeks.
Soon, I decided to make the processes in the company more systemic, i.e. when all processes are accurately described, each position has instructions. In such a way, it is easier for a new employee to start working because they can study everything by reading the documents, and existing employees always know where to find information and how to work with it.
Any advice you can give to new leaders?
Look for productive, efficient people. It will be easier for you to work with them and you will achieve more.
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