How has Softswiss grown to reach the stage it is at now? How have you adapted your approach to the business as it evolved?
Softswiss has grown in several stages. I would say we have gone through three stages since we were founded. In the first stage, we were just a small company of people focused on different areas of development. At that time, we were essentially an IT company. Softswiss started with just three people, including myself. It was a long road securing our first orders, and fighting for clients from Germany and other European countries; as we got up and running. I was mostly dealing with European clients in the beginning.
Eventually, we became a company of between 30 to 35 people and an idea was born to grow our own product. When studying the field of investment, it was our understanding that there was a significant gap between good software IT solutions for the gambling industry and the ones that were actually in use on the market. So we decided to create a platform for casino operations, one that could be supplied as a B2B product for our prospective customers on the market.
This heralded the start of the second stage of Softswiss’ history, which was a tough time at the start because we had an extremely limited understanding of the market back then. However, we were strong enough concerning our IT skills, using our background to create properly structured software. This became our trademark, so to speak, creating high-quality software that is stable and smooth with no downtime. This was also the time when we felt we were moving to become a definable business. As a start-up we did not receive any investment, so everything began off our own backs. This stage ended in about 2016 and we began to grow from a position of relevant establishment. Stage two was also a time when I was constantly looking for a unique selling point – one was our stable software solution of course – but a second was our crypto-friendly solution established in 2013. Here we began our attempts to add Bitcoin among other features that would help people use Bitcoin for play. However, a solution should always include safety features for the operator. We created a classic online solution for Bitcoin, which was extremely helpful for our reputation and our growth as a business.
The third stage, spanning 2016 to now, is a time when we got a lot of attention on the market. It has still been as successful and exciting as stage two, an era when we have taken a lot of good decisions to move in the right direction. We have invested a lot into the company, the team and new applications able to replicate third-party applications, among other things.
With what mission and objectives was the company established? How do you think the company is viewed now compared to when it was founded?
When the first partners joined me in creating Softswiss, the key element to the basis of this partnership was based on a shared mindset. I always said to my partners that my mindset was the mindset of the business. For me, I must work with people who share this mindset, and who have the same values and philosophy. If you are one type of person in life, drinking alcohol, rude and lazy, and then you come to work and you are a totally different person; it doesn’t work like that here. Therefore, the people we employ, although often young and inexperienced, share the same core values for work I and my partners have. The people we employ are oriented toward creating something new and aim to produce the best solutions possible for our clients. Our mission is of course to create a top-quality platform, but our competitors can do this too. Our focus is to provide much better service than can be found on the market at large. If you have great service a client will work with you, regardless of a few issues that could occur on the platform. We are transparent with our clients, we show them the problem, the means to fix the problem and when the problem will be fixed. It is about the client seeing us as a friend: this is what is most important.
We apply this transparent philosophy internally too. If I do not like something I am open with my team, explaining my views in a clear, open way. I expect the same from the team, too: if someone doesn’t agree with something their opinion should be heard. I would much rather this than my team sitting in silence; this is not a good working environment. Everyone who wants to express an opinion should be able to.
What is your approach to finding talent? How do your recruitment strategies differ from the iGaming industry more widely?
Up until we had around 100 people at Softswiss, I was interviewing each applicant myself. You always have this feeling when you are interviewing someone as to whether they are the right fit or not. Of course, it is important to ask an interviewee technical questions relevant to the role, but it is still important to ask personal questions; what is their family life like? Where are they from? What are their goals? These simple questions can help you understand if the applicant is your type of person or not. The young people we hire are also required to be very smart and fast thinking. The workplace culture we wanted is one with a lot of ideas and energy. Most of the people we hire are still with us, having come straight from university. Most now hold top positions at Softswiss and some are even in management roles.
Why is creating a culture around the people who work for you so important? Some corporate cultures do not place as much value on individuals.
People are the core of any business in my view. Getting clients and establishing the correct processes is important too – without clients you cannot do business. But if you don’t have a core team that shares your values and the values of the company, it can be highly detrimental to unity as the business grows. Right now, we have around 1,300 people at Softswiss, so I can’t deliver these core values by myself. This is when you need your managers, the people who share your mindset. They can share these values with the wider team. That isn’t to say they need to think exactly like you, but having the same ethics and sharing the same ethos is what is important.
For example, this is a serious and tough time in the world; this is even closer to home here as we are a company with a presence in Belarus. Many people at Softswiss share in the pain felt by Ukraine and the wider Belarusian people who are occupied by Russia. We as a business can’t take one side or another; there is staunch support for Ukraine but we are in a Russian-occupied country; there is only so much we can do. We must learn to work with people who share different values in Belarus, as some support the Russian invasion. We must learn to accept differences while moving towards our common goals as a company. This is all done flexibly. We would much rather be flexible than implement hard processes and regimented working standards.
What must you consider when promoting your business to prospective partners? How does brand promotion differ for clients over employees?
It works in the sense that our clients know we have a dedicated team. Our clients work with different employees here at Softswiss on different tasks. Not only does this build personal rapport between us and our clients, it also helps to provide great feedback on our services. Our service has become renowned following this process and it is now what we are known for. This is our reputation and this is the brand as well. What you cultivate is something much more than the product itself; it is a working culture you create.
How do you plan to develop further as a company in the next 12 to 24 months? How will Softswiss move into the next stage of its development?
Now you could say we are moving into stage four. There are new challenges at the company; we opened several offices abroad, which has begun a completely new process. This is the continuation of a new experience for us. First, it was the pandemic, then a falsified election in Belarus; a lot of sad things started to happen in the country. People were being relocated out of Belarus and now we have a war in Ukraine. All around, things are quite complicated. It is a new challenge now and from a business perspective we need to stay strong; not just maintaining our current levels but pushing further and moving forward.
We have new offices, in Poland and Georgia, and relocated staff in Cyprus, Portugal and Lithuania. At the start of the year, we also opened a new office in Estonia. This is a new challenge for us and we are trying to find the best tools to manage things in our own way. Recently, we onboarded a new HR Director too, a very experienced Director from Ukraine who is already having a significant impact. So, we’re incredibly happy about that.