Founder Tips. Evgeny Ryzhkov, General Director of Program Verification Systems and developer of PVS-Studio

    On "Megamind" again "Founder's Tips . " Recently, we talked with Eugene, one of the creators of the PVS-Studio code analyzer and the general director of Program Verification Systems LLC.

    Eugene is 30 years old and since 2008, with his colleague Andrei Karpov (@ andrey2008), they are developing, promoting and selling the PVS-Studio static code analyzer . This is a product for programmers that detects errors in the source code of C and C ++ programs at the stage of writing code, before testing.

    Today, 10 people work in Program Verification Systems, the company’s office is located in Tula. Last year, the company sold more than 40 annual licenses for PVS-Studio, more than half of the customers renew their licenses for next year - an indicator that the creators are proud of.

    The articles, blogs, and books we read inevitably influence how we perceive the world around us. Reading articles on “computer” business once upon a time in my teens, I imagined the world as described there. Unfortunately, only years later I realized that not all of these articles relate to the reality in which I live. I live in a provincial Russian city. And although 80% of my clients are in the US and Europe, articles about life and business in Silicon Valley have little to do with my reality. But then, many years ago, I did not understand this.

    Perhaps this text will catch the eye of a young man who is only dreaming of his IT business. I hope that I can slightly lower him to the ground, so that in his life there will be less disappointment and misunderstanding. Which I sometimes skip so far.

    Business is not a sprint, not long-distance running, but a marathon (maybe not one)

    We are all extremely interested in reading articles about young guys who have just launched their project, and after a couple of months or a maximum of a year they are bought by Amazon, Google, Apple. Yes, and for a bunch of millions.

    Inspired by such articles, we begin our project. Having gathered all our strengths, we give all our best, we launch it and freeze in awe. Indeed, according to our internal feelings, Microsoft or Facebook, if not now, then no later than in a month should write to us. And to offer a bunch of shares and cash for the fact that our company (of three to five people) will join them. But Microsoft does not write or write everything. Doesn't write a year, two, three ...

    Guys, three years is the minimum how long a company must live in order for its product to form at least a little. Only after five years can it be argued that the company's customers are really willing to pay regularly. And after only ten years, many companies can boast that they have found a niche and learned how to make money by releasing more than one unsuccessful version for emission. You have to be prepared for this.

    About business partners

    There are different opinions about whether business partners are needed or whether everything should be done alone. There are tons of success examples where there are several founders. There are no fewer examples where one founder and all is well too. I do not know how to. I know how it is with me. Since we have agreed that business is a marathon, that is, at least 5 years, we cannot ignore the fact that people are changing. The mood is changing, the life situation is changing, everything is changing. This is a project for six months, you can hope that everything will remain as it is. And if the project lasts at least five years, then someday you will get tired. Someday you will have depression. Someday you will want to quit. And it is precisely at such moments that you need a partner. He will be able to replace you for several months, he will be able to support both personally and in terms of business. Wife is good but you cannot hang a business on your wife for a couple of months while you are sad. And you can partner.

    For this reason, I am not saying that “an ideal founding team should cover all competencies,” as is customary in books. Yes, it’s great when someone is a techie, someone is an entrepreneur, someone, for example, is a designer.

    But in our Russian reality, if you can find a business partner who understands you and can support sadness in minutes (and months) - this will already be a big plus compared to the absence of partners in general. This text is a good reason to thank my business partner Andrei Karpov (Andrey2008). Without him, there would have been nothing. Andrey, thanks!

    You must be prepared to sacrifice something: personal life, money, time. Sometimes all together. Ideally - it will pay off

    Business is never easy. Like magic, he takes away strength. He demands something in return. I don’t know of cases when people managed to start a business effortlessly, without straining, without sacrificing anything. Surely there are such cases. And certainly a lot of articles have been written about it. I just have not seen this in my life.

    In most cases, a business requires a lot of time. It's about starting. Of course then, when you become successful, you will spend 300 days a year on vacation. And only occasionally check by phone notifications of regular sales. Occasionally, because you have turned off the automatic sales notification because there are too many of them. But until you have matured, a lot of time will be spent trying to figure out how to do business, what customers need, how to communicate with colleagues. Almost everyone is sacrificing time. At least at first.

    Many sacrifice their personal lives. In this regard, young people, students are still easier. If there is no family, then you should not think about how to feed her and how much time she needs to devote. But these are obvious platitudes.
    Often you need to sacrifice money. All those years that are necessary for a business to at least reach self-sufficiency, you must “feed” it.

    Imagine that you are a 4-6 year student who has been working as a programmer for several years. And since programmers are now more expensive than ever, in a few years he has accumulated a good car that he can buy without a loan. Are you on the site of this student ready to abandon the car? Ready to spend all this money on “your project”, which is likely to fail 99%? If so, you can try the game called "your business."

    About investors

    I am convinced that you need to earn your starting capital. If only because now you can still have time to run into the last car, while serious financial resources are not required to start the IT business. In 10-20 years this will not be so.

    But there is a more serious reason to earn your starting capital. This reason is that there is simply nowhere to get it from except how to earn it. If you are lucky with wealthy relatives or friends, then I envy you. However, for most people this is not available.

    And then a crazy thought arises - and I’ll go to investors! After all, there are so many articles on the Internet about investors that give a little under the idea.

    Do not waste your and other people's time. Nobody will give you money. After all, if you have not invested anything in the project, then why should someone invest in your project? Only when you invest something (and serious), you can try to look for someone else. But you shouldn’t really hope for it, it’s better to earn your starting capital on your own.
    Count (with a margin!) How much money you need to start. 100,000? 500,000? Or even 1,000,000? Earn money! Firstly, it’s wiser to spend them and find out the price of money. Secondly, you will feel more confident. Thirdly, nobody will give them to you anyway. So when you are at least 40 years old and several successful businesses behind, then you will have the right to say: "My time is very expensive, so I can not spend it on the first steps, let someone else invest." In the meantime - too early.

    But how to make this money? After all, I need to "cut" my project !? Here the math is simple. The working week lasts 40 hours. In a week - 168 hours. So at first we worked 40 hours “for uncle” at our main job. Then 40 hours is already possible "on yourself." He will also stay awake.

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