Alexander Konovalov: You have to work a lot and with your head
Technological progress does not stand still, but develops at a breakneck pace. Some people are watching this, while others are directly involved in the development of technology. One of the latest is Alexander Konovalov, owner of several innovative companies: TIW.Swiss, YouGiver, DROTR, Ausweis.io and Vidby.
Alexander, hi. Tell us about one of your projects, Vidby.
Vidby is a company whose mission is to make video content accessible to the whole world while maintaining linguistic diversity.
Often people believe that when such products like Vidby are made, all translators will be fired. But this is not so, but just the opposite.
We will help to scale the market of translation services. Today, many people need localization of video and audio content, but they do not do it, because it is very long, expensive and difficult. Our task is precisely to make the translation of video and audio content accessible to everyone.
Do you think that humankind should still learn foreign languages?
Remember, 20 years ago, when automation began, people thought that such a profession as a broker or an accountant would disappear. And now the time has passed. But there are brokers and accountants, and there are ten times more of them. No one else even thinks that people will lose their jobs because of automation. And with speech technologies, everything is much more complicated than with the automation of the same bookkeeping, for example.
Our business is innovative. Unlike the traditional one, we are not trying to replace anyone, we are creating an additional market, we are not competing with anyone. On the contrary, we are increasing volumes, creating new jobs and opportunities, and a new economy.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your business?
The pandemic has positively affected us.
You know, earlier in Switzerland it was very difficult to negotiate about IT technology, because it was difficult for Swiss companies, who have been working for 50 and more years, to understand what it was like to have problems in business.
In my opinion, the pandemic has allowed quite a lot of people, including investment funds, old companies, to understand that every business can have problems.
What is the target audience of your company? What content gets translated the most?
Initially, we created a product primarily for bloggers. After all, bloggers make content in one language, but in order to increase the audience, it would be more profitable for them to sell their content in 5 or more languages.
However, now bloggers are not our main audience.
We often translate educational content. However, these are not online lessons, but course recordings, for example. Also news is in demand. We all know that news is a «perishable product», it lives for just a couple of days, so it needs to be translated quickly and efficiently.
As for cinema, we do not work with video content where you need to convey humor or emotions, this is still unattainable for technology. But in translating documentary films, we are the best in the market.
We also discovered a new niche for ourselves, which we did not even count on. These are internal training videos in international companies.
As a company leader, what personal qualities do you look for in people when recruiting?
This, of course, is not one quality, but a complex: good resistance to stress, a normal attitude to difficulties, a desire to learn and an ability to adapt.
Steve Jobs said that you need to work not hard, but with your head. I would most likely paraphrase his words: «You have to work hard and with your head».
I do not consider it necessary to force employees to work, they should burn with the desire to work. During the pandemic, many companies began to monitor how long their employees work. I don’t understand this, but you can evaluate the productivity of an employee. Why do you need to know how many hours they spend working?
However, there is one category of workers that I prefer not to work with…
No, lazy workers are generally a cool category of employee. A lot of progress is made by lazy people.
A terrible thing is motivated unskilled employees: when a person does not know how to do anything, but tries to do a lot of things. Of course, then you have to redo all the work for them. This brings additional difficulties.
Share a recommendation for people who want to find themselves.
«Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,» Confucius once said. This is my top recommendation: make your hobby a business. This will definitely bring you success, because you will do what you like.