"IT" Vitebsk

    The Belarusian programmer is a meme and a legend.


    We will not be very mistaken if we say that about 10% of European and Russian software is written by Belarusians. There are automation systems for banks and industrial enterprises, and software for ordinary users (like the Viber messenger), and legendary games (like World of Tanks). We are also part of this phenomenon (our BeSmart.net project is “written” in the Belarusian Vitebsk), and we will briefly tell you where we have so many “techies” from and what they are doing here.


    There are four state universities in Vitebsk, two of them are technical. At Vitebsk State University. P.M. MasherovaThere is a department of applied mathematics. She graduates from good software engineers, immigrants from there we jokingly call "primates" (among our employees they are also). There is also the Vitebsk State Technological University or the “ technolozhka ”. There is also a department of applied mathematics in it, but there is an additional education, and the main specialty of technologists from the “technolocation” is design. All the designers in our team are from there.

    Two other universities are formally far from technology - this is the Vitebsk State Academy of Veterinary Medicine and the Vitebsk State Medical University. However, from there, strangely enough, programmers come out. We have a graduate from Medical University at BeSmart.net, and he is one of the best programmers in our team. He graduated from a university, completed a practice in the village, realized that medicine was not his hypostasis, and retrained.

    Also in Vitebsk there is a branch of the Belarusian State University and several branches of private foreign universities, for example, from Lithuania. But special attention deserves the Polotsk State University100 km from Vitebsk, young people from Vitebsk go to study there, and graduates come back to work. There is a strong school in Polotsk: PSU teachers are already recruiting teams for commercial projects from third-year students and are making custom-made software for them for the USA and Israel.

    Each year Masherov University graduates from about 50 “techies”, Polotsk University - 200 “techies”, and if you count all the graduates of local universities who can create software, you get about 300 people. Of these, two-thirds go to work in their specialty - system administrators, sellers, and managers. And of those who go to work in their specialty, half leave. In any case, every year in Vitebsk, a hundred new IT specialists with higher education are added, not counting the hardware specialists graduated from colleges. For a city with a population of 372 thousand people - this is a lot, but in fact, we did not meet unemployed programmers.



    In Moscow, no one already remembers ADSL technology, and in Vitebsk 90% of Internet users are connected using this technology, via telephone wires (while 3G, as it seems to us, works faster than in Moscow). This fact predetermined the geography of the "IT" Vitebsk. A few years ago there were only a few places where the fiber was connected, IT companies settled there and traditionally they continue to rent offices here now. The largest such places of power are the Omega Trade and Office Center and the Golden Calf Cultural and Business Center .

    Our office is located in Omega. EPAM offices (the largest employer in the Belarusian IT market) and Isida-Informatika are located here.(manufacturer of control systems with head office in St. Petersburg). EPAM does it tricky: they invite trainees to themselves - capable students of 4-5 courses, and by the end of the training they are already being promoted to junior developers and remain. Working at EPAM is prestigious, and one of our friends went there from a small company for a lower salary, but more interesting projects. Nevertheless, the turnover is big even in EPAM - programmers sometimes come from there, including to us, to ask if employees are needed.

    Among the large companies in the Golden Calf, for example, the local office of Artezio. And there are several groups of programmers who make software for foreign companies. These are small groups of outsourcing programmers who assemble, move, disintegrate and assemble again. For example, a neighboring office in Omega was rented by a group of guys who obviously did something for the customer from a different time zone - they started work very early and also finished. After some time, they moved out and in their place the office of the Roshen Ukrainian candy factory unexpectedly opened, and we did not recognize the name of the company of our neighbors.



    A lot of Belarusians are scattered around the world, and everyone left friends and friends at the university who remained. So it turns out that a person from the USA, Europe or Israel calls a friend in Vitebsk and says: “We need to write software! Will you do it? ”He replies:“ I will! ”After that, a group of friends rents an apartment or a small office somewhere, connects to the Internet, and things went. The majority of programmers in Vitebsk work just like that, and we call it "partisanism."

    Among the "partisans" there are many branches of Western firms. The state has no questions for them, because what questions can there be for a company whose management is located somewhere in America? For example, a company makes games for smartphones and puts them on Google Play. In the “contacts” on the website, a business center is indicated in one of the American financial centers, but in fact we are dealing with Vitebsk developers. Probably, every programmer in Vitebsk has such "partisans" among his friends, or he himself once "partisan".



    In Vitebsk, there have been many heavy engineering and metalworking enterprises since the times of the USSR, but now the heavy machine is bending. For example, the Vizas plant operates 2-3 days a week, another Vistan machine tool plant was completely closed. But many state-owned enterprises of those times still work and write different automation programs for them - for example, warehouse management programs. This is done by state design bureaus in prehistoric programming languages. These are unique places: there are salaries at the level of 2-2.5 million rubles ($ 200-250) and posters “Work not for fear, but for conscience!” One of our employees worked in a design bureau called PCB ACS , and he high level professional.

    However, there are design bureaus owned by private individuals - for example,Design Bureau “Display” , which makes night vision devices and displays of radar systems for the military. By the way, we also lured a good employee from a subsidiary of this design bureau.

    The state is trying to rejuvenate the industry. Vitebsk has its own "Silicon Valley" - the Incubator of small business . His advertisement, decorated with a national ornament, hangs in the center of Vitebsk. The state provides areas for free for IT specialists and provides with orders - both state and not. As far as we know, if the orders are private, the contract is still signed not with the contractor, but with the incubator, that is, with the state, and IT specialists are subcontractors and receive money from the state. We were invited to become residents of the incubator, but we politely refused.



    There are no high-profile transactions related to IT in Belarus in general, and in Vitebsk in particular. Here they try not to rattle unnecessarily. A case in point is the story with Sipnet, which openly stated that it was engaged in IP-telephony, without having an agreement with Beltelecom, the only telecom operator that controls all incoming and outgoing traffic from Belarus and back. Sipnet was blocked, and many other companies that did not stick out continued to work. In particular, in Vitebsk there are several call centers that work for Russian customers, use IP-telephony and do not experience difficulties.

    What do you need to organize a call center? A rented apartment, a dozen employees and the Internet (lately it’s been better with him - the operators connect the whole streets). Such an impromptu office can exist legally. Such small firms may indicate something else as the main activity when registering with the tax inspectorate, since the legislation of Belarus allows entrepreneurs to engage in several types of business at once. Theoretically, all this can be done in Russia, but because of the difference in salaries in Belarus it is more profitable. Russian businessmen understand this, and cars with Russian license plates are often found in Vitebsk.

    It is beneficial for Russian companies to open offices in Vitebsk for several reasons at once. First, the city is located close to Russia, Latvia and Lithuania (where some Russian entrepreneurs moved their legal entities). From Moscow, the M1 highway can be reached in five hours - faster than in most Russian regions. Rental prices vary significantly, there are no traffic jams, and a lot of things can be done in a day. The city is convenient for traveling around the world: Vilnius is 270 km away, from where you can fly anywhere with a low-cost airline airline for $ 70-100.

    In general, Vitebsk is one of the largest Belarusian IT outsourcing centers. There is everything for comfortable work, both entrepreneurs and programmers. Although in appearance it is a quiet provincial city where nothing happens (except for the festival "Slavic Bazaar", of course), and working here is accepted without any noise.

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