The story behind a Ukrainian product company Jooble – the world’s leading online job portal
Ukrainian company Jooble doesn’t sell the skills of Ukrainian developers. It creates an IT product that defeated Western companies with investments worth millions in the competition. At the same time, Jooble was and remains a Ukrainian company, with registration and offices in Ukraine.
The company has already created more than 400 jobs and continues to expand its staff to help people around the globe find jobs more effectively.
AIN.UA tells the most detailed story of Jooble – from the moment of its inception in the dormitory of the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute to the present day.
Two programmer friends
Roman and Evgeniy met in Kherson, at the physical and technical lyceum, where they studied together from grades 9 to 11. For three years they shared one desk, participated in mathematics, computer science and physics olympiads, and then entered the same faculty of the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute – computer science and computer engineering. And, of course, they shared a room in the dormitory.
“We both already knew how to code well enough, and the first year at the institute was such a disappointment for us! Because we realized that there was nothing new to learn there,” recalls Prokofiev.
Therefore, we both got a job during the first year at the institute: Roman has got a job at a very young product company Terrasoft, where he became the fifth employee, and Zhenya – at the nascent Ukrainian outsourcing, Innovative marketing company.
“At that time, there were very few product companies in Ukraine. And I got the opportunity to see first-hand how the code that programmers write turns into money,” Roman recalls.
He worked for a year at Terrasoft, after which he decided to create a product himself.
A Million Dollar Student
Prokofiev saw an opportunity in the pharmaceutical industry: large pharmaceutical companies, employing hundreds of medical sales representatives throughout Ukraine, still kept their records in Excel. Prokofiev decided to offer a software solution – the so-called geographical management system.
At that time, no one made such solutions in Ukraine, and the price of Western products started from half a million dollars. Roman offered an alternative at 5-10 times cheaper – from $ 20,000 to $ 100,000, depending on the configuration. He registered his own development company and named it TeamSoft.
The first six months, Roman worked alone. He rented a two-room apartment on Garmatnaya and opened an office in it.
“It was a building of old dilapidated housing stock. There I wrote the code from 8 AM to 12 AM. Often I stayed at night and slept on the couch – the main thing was to visit the dormitory 3-4 times, take a shower, because the shower did not work in that apartment,” Roman recalls.
The first customer of TeamSoft was Novo Nordisk, the world’s largest insulin manufacturer, the second was the Darnitsa pharmaceutical plant, and that was the beginning of an upward trend.
“I put on a jacket and went to negotiate with the CEOs of large companies. I was heavier back then than I am now, I looked solid in a suit and managed to make an impression of a serious contractor. At the same time, I was a second-year student,” Prokofiev recalls.
This did not prevent Roman from building a strong local leader: 60% of all medical representatives in Ukraine used his software product. The company went beyond Ukraine. It kicked off its operations in Russia, Kazakhstan as well as other CIS countries.
However, Prokofiev did not leave the institute.
“My parents did not have a higher education, so they had a pipe dream for their children to have that education. Therefore, I stayed full-time, I passed every exam, received a diploma, handed it to my parents and said: “Your dream has come true.” That was the last time I held the diploma in my hands,” Roman said.
Closer to business
In the meantime, Zhenya became a very skilled low-level programmer, however, he realized that he was far from where the money was. In order to communicate more with businesses and understand their needs, he quit Innovative Marketing and went on to introduce electronic document management. Later, he began selling a CRM-system by Microsoft.
“It was very difficult for him to quit programming and engage in sales, but he did it for the sake of development because he wanted to work for himself,” recalls Roman.
One day, two friends, as usual, had lunch at Zdorovenki Buly on Khreshchatyk, and Sobakarev shared with Roman a business idea – to make a news aggregator. He took a moment to think about it. Roman agreed, but with a twist.
“I was not and I am not a consumer of news now. I don’t understand why people read the news at all,” says Prokofiev. – At that moment I was just looking for an employee in my team and realized that I was spending some unrealistic amount of time doing that. The services that were available at that time did not help: the filters were terrible, a lot of duplicates, the search was disgusting, there was no relevance. Therefore, I suggested to Zhenya to create a job search engine instead of a news search engine. He thought about it and agreed.”
We discussed the concept right on the spot. And after 6 months, in October 2006, we introduced Jooble to the world.
Like Google, but for jobs
The first version of Jooble was written in a dormitory. The students didn’t do any market analysis – they simply came up with the idea and started implementing it. Only after a year and a half did they learn that such a product had already existed in the USA for a long time – and because of it, Jooble has not yet entered the American market.
The name was changed right on the last day before the big launch. Initially, they wanted to name the search engine Joogle – like Google, only taking the first letter from the word Job. Then one of their female friends proposed to delve deeper into the topic and call the service Jooble.
“We immediately rushed to check the domain, and it turned out that Jooble was available. This is how we got the name. The concept was ours, but the final touches were done by our friends,” Roman explained.
They didn’t bother with the business model too – pay per clicks from direct employers. At that time popular job sites had a fixed rate for vacancy placements. “We thought this was unfair to the employer. Because it is not clear what you will receive for these conditional 200 hryvnias: your vacancy could be viewed by 10 candidates or 10,000. Therefore, we decided that our placement will be free – only the click on the vacancy is paid,” recalls Prokofiev.
According to him, subsequently, IT companies grew very fond of this model. “They didn’t have the concept of “implementing a budget” – they had the task of finding a person and spend as little money as possible. And we helped them to achieve that,” says Roman.
The story of the white rabbit
“How did the rabbit come about? This question is asked so often that we would have to come up with some kind of corporate legend,” laughs Prokofiev. But the real story is pretty trite.
One day, Zhenya returned to the hostel at 5 in the morning and brought with him a plush toy – a white rabbit. Roman was surprised:
“Sobakarev is a stern man, and to see him holding a rabbit is like seeing me in a ballet tutu. He said, “I was at a birthday party and I liked this rabbit so much! Let’s make a logo with it!”
Prokofiev sent his partner to sleep it off. In the morning Yevgeniy not only did not forget about the idea, but he zealously defended it. Many IT companies have an animal on the logo: a penguin for Linux, a fox for Mozilla, a spider for Doctor Web, a bat for The Bat. “We thought that such an image is easier to remember than the name – associative memory works easier. Therefore, it was decided that the rabbit should be incorporated into the logo,” says Prokofiev.
We gave the task of developing our logo to a freelancer. Job search is not a fun topic, so it was expected that the options would be concise and austere. The logo was supposed to be such so that it could be easily printed on any product. But the artist saw the Jooble rabbit in his own way.
“When we received the first three versions of the logo, I probably never laughed like that again in my life. Those were some kind of freaky cartoon-type rabbits with carrots…
We wrote to the designer, “Dude, are you out of your mind? Have you seen the terms of reference at all?” After those comments he changed his game – he immediately sent us a new logo – and right to the point. That is the logo we use today. We didn’t even experiment with colors – the designer sent it in blue, and so we left it. And we have never changed it since,” says Roman.
Traffic from metro
The students decided to attract the first users from their turf – they decided to spread printed advertisements on campuses.
They ordered stickers, and when Prokofiev came to pick them up, an employee of a printing company said that his daughter found work on Jooble.
“I remember that day like it was yesterday. Back then I thought to myself, “Wow, there’s even no advertisements yet and we already have feedback,” he recalls.
Stickers were distributed on campuses, and they also bought advertising in the metro – we had to pay about $5,000 for an A4 banner. “We initially did everything honestly. Advertising was bought directly through the Metro administration or advertising agencies. We did no harm to Metro’s properties,” says Prokofiev.
Prior to advertising, Jooble had about 200 organic visitors a day. After advertisements were posted, this figure soared to about 3,000 visitors per day.
However, this figure did not grow for the next 1.5-2 years. Hard times were waiting for Jooble and its founders.
The death valley
Jooble reached zero balance between its expenses and income six months into its existence, but when it reached the breakeven point, it stuck on it. About two years the company did not earn anything – all the money was consumed.
The Jooble team shared the same floor with TeamSoft – Prokofiev would visit his wife to say hello for a few minutes and find out how things were, and then he would come back to make money. Zhenya – on the contrary – put all his time and energy into Jooble.
“It was a difficult two years, especially for Zhenya. He had a real “Death Valley”: he worked at Jooble full time for a salary of UAH 3,000, of which he rented a room for UAH 1,500 and lived off the remaining amount. At the same time, he could go outsourcing at any time and get $500-600 easily,” Roman recalls.
During that time Prokofiev invested in Jooble about $ 50,000 of his own funds earned in TeamSoft. Nevertheless, from the very beginning, the partners indicated that they own the Jooble “50 / 50”. “We agreed that when the company begins to make a profit, Zhenya will return my investment. And that is how it was,” says Prokofiev.
A real company on 25 square meters
It was 2008 when Zhenya and Roman finally hacked the Internet – as it turned out, Google was in charge of everything on the Internet.
“The moment of growth happened when we realized that the largest source of audience on the Internet is Google. We realized that we need to be able to rank in search engines. That when a user wants to find work, the first place he/she goes to check is Google. And if you’re not on Google, you don’t exist,” recalls Prokofiev.
The partners began to look for ways to get into Google and gain a foothold there. When their experiments were successful, Jooble began to grow rapidly – each year the amount of traffic to the site increased 4 times.
At that time the company already employed 12 people – 3 developers, 5 sales managers, accounting and support (two people from the first team still work in the company).
Jooble moved to a separate from TeamSoft office – on Shutova Street, 9, between the Beresteyskaya and the Shuliavskaya metro stations. The team rented a 25 square meters of space inside a renovated building of an abandoned factory, in which they managed to fit 12 desktops and a kitchenette.
“We used to enter it one by one, like crabs, moving to our respective desks. The view from the window – scattered scrap metal. It was great,” Roman smiles, “On the upside, we ordered the blinds with our signature rabbit painted on it. We felt very proud. Once you enter you immediately realized that you entered a real company, not some shady office.”
Kick in the pants
Having barely survived the lack of growth, Jooble faced yet another crisis – the very global economic collapse of 2008-2009. Ukrainian companies began to massively cut costs – primarily staff costs. Nobody hired new people (except crisis managers, but these vacancies were not enough to keep Jooble afloat).
“The market dried out literally in just two months, and our entire model collapsed,” Roman recalls. “We realized that we had only two options: either we are closing everything now, we are firing everyone and leaving one person who will support the server remotely, or we are trying to explore other markets.”
We chose the second option – when you are standing on the edge of the abyss, you don’t really worry about risks. And already in January, they realized that they were right. The product, tested in Ukraine, proved to be excellent in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus (they decided to start with tapping into the Russian-speaking market first).
One of the largest job sites in Russia, HeadHunter, began working with Jooble back in 2012. “At that time there were not many aggregators on the market, so we connected to everyone who was at least somewhat noticeable in traffic. At that time, Jooble was one of the top 5 traffic aggregators in the Russian Federation,” says Maxim Grozov, Head of Digital Marketing at hh.ru.
According to him, today Jooble has more than 20% of the total traffic of job aggregators for hh.ru. “At the same time, the aggregator is within high-efficiency margin in terms of the cost of desired actions, when compared with other partners,” Grozov emphasized.
Overcoming difficulties rallied the Jooble team.
“I remember the guys decided to tap into the English-speaking market before the end of 2009 at all costs. And then, the day is December 31, New Year’s Eve, eight o’clock on the clock, but no one goes home. Everyone is waiting for the English version to be uploaded. We waited until it came through, then drank a glass of champagne and only then everyone ran to their homes,” Roman recalls.
The next market was Poland. For Jooble, it was very exciting, because firstly, no one knew Polish, and secondly, it was necessary to significantly rework the support platform in order for diacritical signs to work. Nevertheless, the launch in Poland was the most successful in the history of Jooble – the site literally “fired off”.
“It had a wow effect on us. We launched in the country without knowing the language, yet we still managed to offer value. It was very cool,” recalls Prokofiev.
After that, Jooble began to confidently advance through Europe.
Big story of Jooble
Thanks to successes outside Ukraine, it became clear how to scale this business. At the same time, scaling TeamSoft was much more difficult, since b2b has very long sales. Contracts – for hundreds of thousands of dollars each, but decisions on them could take from six months to two years.
Therefore, in 2009, Prokofiev left the TeamSoft business to operationally join his wife at Jooble.
“I saw that we could make a big story out of Jooble,” says Roman.
Today, Jooble is present in 71 countries (Western Europe, South America, Asia, and Eastern Europe). The geography of income is quite diversified – no country brings more than 7% of the total revenue.
Over the past year, the company, according to Roman, has doubled. Jooble has become the second most visited job search site in the world: more than 90 million visits over the past month, about 850 million over the past year.
The company does not disclose any financial indicators. “We understand how this can harm us, and we take advantage of the fact that we are a private company,” explains Prokofiev. However, according to him, all employees see how revenues are changing every week.
From partners to competitors
In the midst of the crisis – the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 – the partners decided to change the business model in Ukraine, and instead of payments per click, they began to sell the audience to employment sites.
“Since we had dozens of clients in one country and not tens of thousands, one manager could easily communicate with each of them: reach them, sell and make fairly large contracts,” explains Prokofiev.
Jooble collaborated with Work.ua and Robota.ua – Ukraine’s largest job sites to date. “We transferred all our vacancies to the general Jooble feed, and in return received an audience. At first, it was free, then Jooble began charging for part of the transitions, then the price of each transition continued to grow year on year. At the same time, the percentage of the new audience that we received gradually decreased,” recalls Artur Mikhno, CEO of Work.ua.
This went on for almost 10 years, but at some point, Work.ua noticed that they began to receive few new audiences, at the same time competition with other projects intensified and bids (the auction system at Jooble) grew even bigger.
“It was around 2016-17, Work.ua was a market leader and had the largest database of unique vacancies. We realized that by transferring all our unique content to a third-party site, we are actually growing ourselves a competitor in the search results, and paying for each transition has also fueled competition in Google Adwords. At that moment we decided that it was time to change this situation,” says Mikhno. Work.ua decided to suspend cooperation with both Jooble and other job aggregators.
At the same time, Indeed.com, the world’s largest aggregator, announced that it is becoming a job site and allows posting jobs directly. The competition was advancing. Jooble decided it was time to review its model.
Only vacancies, only hardcore
In early 2019, Jooble launched a product for employers in Ukraine: companies can post vacancies, paying only for views. According to Roman, Ukrainian employers really like that they can pay for the result, and not for the hope that they will get it. Today, the service is used by thousands of customers, predominantly large brands: Sushiya, Silpo, etc.
They are not in a hurry to scale the model to other markets. “We know a lot about scaling. Therefore, we must first run all the business processes here, and then proceed to tap into other markets,” says Prokofiev.
Also, having gone beyond the borders of their native country, Jooble removed the resume section, deciding to focus exclusively on vacancies. “We saw that the resume base thing does not work anywhere, not only in Ukraine. This was before the GDPR – now it cannot be done at all. But even then, there were too few resumes that could be used to aggregate contacts to even bother,” Roman explained.
At the time of its launch, Jooble was twice as capable as it is now – it could fetch you not only vacancies but resumes too. Since then, it has changed a lot – first of all, it has grown wiser thanks to big data and machine learning. Back then such terms did not exist – the search algorithms were quite simple – they selected results by keywords. Now they are learning from user behavior.
For example, a person enters a request for a driver – and they are shown 5,000 vacancies. But a taxi driver, a tractor driver and a driver for a diplomat are three different professions. Moreover, all of them match the above request. How can a search engine understand exactly what vacancies a user is looking for in each specific case?
“When you have a large amount of data – you know what your users like, what vacancies they looked at before and on which they spent more time – each next time you provide your users with a more relevant result,” explains Prokofiev.
The second significant change is the number of sources that Jooble is indexing today. In 2006, it all started with about 20 job sites. Now Jooble is present in 71 countries – that is more than 200,000 sources, among which are not only job sites – but also vacancy sections of corporate blogs of PayPal, IBM, Google, and others.
“We find a very long tail, which is difficult for the user to find themselves – for this they would need to go to 100 different sites. But they can come to us and get a selection of all those vacancies,” says Roman.
According to Arthur Mikhno, such advanced aggregation technology is one of the main advantages of Jooble.
“In the United States, unlike Ukraine, most of the vacancies are not posted on job sites, but are published directly on corporate sites. Of course, in this case, a tool like Jooble can come in handy.
However, the advantages have a downside: the user does not have a single interface for interacting with employers – each vacancy may turn out to be a redirect to some other site. For some users this can be quite exhausting: without a single account, the ability to easily send a single created resume, see a single statistic for all actions, etc.
These are just the most global changes that Jooble’s product underwent – not counting the myriad of minor improvements. And the work is still in full swing today at Jooble’s office.
“A product is like repairing your apartment. It cannot be finished. I remember our friends asking us at the dormitory:
— What are you doing there?
— Well, we are making a website.
— How come? But you have already launched it, what else is there to do? Do something serious for a change.
Here we are, 12 years later, and we are still building the site,” Roman laughs.
For the sake of an example, Prokofiev puts mobile traffic: it became a revelation for Jooble that it accounts for about 70% of all visits. Accordingly, a need arises: how to respond to a vacancy through a mobile phone – few people have a resume on their phone. Or how to make the search results even more relevant, so that a seasoned programmer doesn’t get vacancies for juniors.
All this requires continuous changes in the software product. The development never ends.
Jooble doesn’t need investments
Jooble has only one external minority investor – Horizon Capital, the largest private equity fund in Ukraine, invested in the company back in 2014. In addition to Jooble the list of IT companies in Horizon’s investment portfolio includes Rozetka, Genesis, Ajax, and other companies from traditional industries.
As Ruslan Furtas, investment director at Horizon Capital, told AIN.UA, the fund watched Jooble for a while before investing. By that time, Jooble already had solid traction and fulfilling global ambitions: the company was in the top 5 vertical search players, and their technology was in demand both in already developed and in emerging world markets.
“The founders of Jooble had a simple and clear strategy for international expansion. We liked the cost and time for new localizations, unit economics and the payback period of such projects. This made Jooble stand out among the other companies that we were looking at back then,” says the investor.
At first, Jooble was not an obvious investment for the fund. At that time Horizon Capital had expertise in working with marketplaces and message boards, but not in online recruiting. However, according to Furtas, the fund is very pleased with the presence of Jooble in its portfolio. The global market for online recruiting services today is estimated at $ 8.5 billion and continues to grow by 15% due to the emergence of new channels. Moreover, the segment of job search engines is growing faster than any other.
400+ employees and the new Jooble office
Today Jooble employs 425 people: 225 in the office, 200 work remotely – from all over Ukraine.
“I don’t remember very well how the team grew. I remember exactly how we began to scale from the moment we went beyond Ukraine – every three years we made x3 in revenue. But this growth was not always accompanied by an expansion of staff,” Roman recalls.
The process of team growth can be clearly illustrated by the change of offices of Jooble, and there were quite a few of them.
From a 25 square meters room we moved to a larger room, but in the same building. “We then took 65 square meters. It was an open space, and there were already 25 people there,” says Prokofiev.
The next office was three times larger – 190 square meters, and yet Jooble “grew” out of it in just a year and a half, after which the company moved to Klovsky descent, where it stayed for another 5 years in a 600 square meters space.
These 5 years, from 2014 to 2017, the number of Jooble team members remained within 100 people. But over the past two years, the staff has sharply tripled and continues to grow. Everyone is already quite tired of plastic open spaces in typical business centers, so Roman and Zhenya decided to find a space and repair it to fit their needs from scratch.
“Zhenya and I clearly knew what we want. We want 6 meter high ceilings, and so that a distance to the metro station is maximum 5 minutes walking, and that the station should be no further than three from the interchange station. All real estate agents then told us: “We, of course, will try and look,” and began showing us high-rise business centers. And when you enter one you realize that you have already developed an allergy to Armstrong panels and chrome-plated elevators,” recalls Roman.
“Do It Yourself” office of Jooble
In October 2017, Jooble gathered employees for an office party during which the owners shared with employees their vision of the new office. It was clear at that point that a finished building that met all the requirements could not be found, so they had an idea – to take a dilapidated building and rebuild it into an office.
“I remember how our partner entered the request “Loft Kyiv” into Google Images, downloaded the first available image from OLX and inserted it into the presentation. When we finally found a suitable building, it turned out that the space was the same one as in our presentation!” says Prokofiev.
It was already planned to accommodate a furniture market in it, but partners came to the owners and convinced them to change their minds. The lease was signed for 5 years.
“Of course, we did the numbers, taking into account rent and renovations, and we believe that in 5 years we can easily pour gasoline all over here and set fire to everything. It will be the same as if all this time we rented a ready-made office in a business center of B, B+ grade. But we hope to stay here much longer,” said Roman.
The renovations were carried out in accordance with the requests of employees – the new space has everything that they requested on 57 pages of the Google document. Well, almost everything. They also asked for a pole and barbecue place, but for the first one the ceilings are too high, and for the second was a no go from firefighters.
Each employee has their own drawer unit and a large desk, there are rooms for sleeping, a basketball field, yoga rooms, 21 meeting rooms, and even an amphitheater. “Someone dropped a photo with a note saying “Look, what a cool amphitheater, let’s make one.” And we made one, we really did,” laughs Prokofiev.
They moved into the new 2,800 square meters office a year ago. In March, AIN.UA showed it in an exclusive report, and since then new work areas have appeared in it.
“We already want to look for another office, because, given our hiring plan, this one is already packed to its capacity,” Roman smiles.
Few people know, but since recently Jooble also has a small office in Uzhhorod – for only 16 people. This is a team that works with the Hungarian market on a new model from Ukraine – in test mode.
The company has no offices outside the country. “When we will launch full-fledged cost per click sales to direct employers abroad, then there will be a need to open regional offices because it is impossible to find the right number of people in Ukraine with such knowledge of languages and the necessary soft skills,” explains Prokofiev.
Today, Ukrainian Jooble is in the top 500 most visited sites in the world. It ranks second among the job search sites. The only competitor ahead of Jooble – Japanese giant of American origin Indeed.
“We do not set ourselves the goal of overtaking or surpassing anyone, because this does not go in line with the value we offer. Our value is to help people find work. We became No 2 bypassing everyone else because we were thinking about how to give value to our users,” says Prokofiev.
According to him, Jooble conducts a monthly analysis of competitors – these are only 12 companies that are indeed noticeable in the market. Among them, Jobrapido, Trovit, and others are predominantly of Japanese origin, with billions of capitalization. In European countries, Ukrainians present strong competition. But they were still poorly represented in the English-speaking markets, which Jooble intends to change.
“We had never focused on them until 2019. The competition scared us off,” Roman explains. “In 2019, this has changed, we see that our product works better than others even in highly competitive markets. Our users spend more time on our site than on the sites of our competitors, and the bounce rate is significantly lower. We have focused on wealthy Western markets, for example, the UK’s market, where the company has shown three-fold growth over the past six months.”
“The main bottleneck is in our heads. For a very long time we thought that our product could not compete in the English-speaking markets, but the results in the UK speak to the contrary. Therefore, this is now one of the great upside potentials for Jooble,” says Prokofiev.
“We choose Ukraine”
Having barely become a more or less large business, Ukrainian technology companies are beginning to insist that they are international, avoiding the narrative about their roots. This is easy to understand: some don’t want to lose their customers from Russia, where the market is very large and high-paying, some don’t want to lose dollars from the Valley – the American capitalists do not want to risk investing in a country in a state of permanent war with Russia and corrupt officials.
Jooble has never sought to sever its bond with its homeland. Prokofiev repeatedly emphasized in his interviews and comments that the company will remain a resident of Ukraine and does not plan to leave it.
“We have never experienced any kind of discomfort when we told foreign clients that we were from Ukraine. We have a rather big business in Russia, and when the conflict started, not a single Russian partner went crazy because we were from Kyiv,” he says. “We have chosen Ukraine for ourselves. We are staying here.”
Entrepreneurs often complain that nothing is changing in the country. However, Prokofiev does not share this sentiment, “I remember what happened in 2004 when I started my first business. When you come to the tax office, and there’s a huge queue of people, everyone shouts and swears at each other, nobody knows anything… Then you have to spend 4 hours there only to understand what is happening and where you should go. Whereas now you come to the tax office, take your ticket to the electronic line, after 15 minutes you calmly submit all the documents. For me personally the progress is enormous in terms of the service that the state gives to business,” comments Roman.
Of course, there are problems that require immediate attention from the government. First of all, in his opinion, these are the so-called “masquerades” in IT, which so far have not been curbed by any legislative initiatives. Some are ready to fight, defending their rights, and some find it easier to buy their way out – and this is a truly abnormal situation,” Prokofiev believes.
“If we are here, then our task is to improve whatever surrounds us. Convert an abandoned factory building into a beautiful office, give people comfortable working conditions – same as they do it overseas. This is our contribution as a business to the country.
We like to be proud that the Ukrainian company Jooble can compete neck and neck with Western competitors who have investors with bottomless bags of money and access to graduates of the best universities in the world. That a team from Ukraine created a product that defeated them.
And we want to tell this story so that people understand that everything is possible.
Many entrepreneurs say, “If I were in the Valley, they would give me a million dollars…” If you cannot build a product, a million dollars will not help you. It can only streamline your success or delay your defeat.
You can succeed, no matter the country or circumstances.”
Two in a boat +400 people
Today, 12 years later, Zhenya and Roman are still working at Jooble full time. They, just like their employees, come to work every day, go to meetings, sweat over the product.
If you visit Jooble office, you can see how Roman is typing something intently on his laptop, sitting in the far corner of the open space, and in a meeting room at a meeting of one of their teams, Zhenya is sitting on the floor with a laptop and carefully listening to the report. It is impossible to immediately suspect these two executives in a large company.
The partners do not have any division of roles into CEO, CTO, etc. Conventionally, Roman is more involved in sales and marketing, and Zhenya is responsible for everything related to IT and the product itself. But when a problem arises requiring immediate intervention, both founders plunge into it together to find the most suitable solution.
Over the years, there have never been any conflicts between Prokofiev and Sobakarev. According to Roman, partly that is due to the fact that as far as Jooble is concerned they are equal partners with equal shares.
“Two founders is the most comfortable situation. Microsoft, Apple, Google – all these companies had two founders with originally equal shares. When you and your partner share the company 50 / 50, there are no other options left but to come to an agreement. Otherwise, you cannot move forward.
This allows you to avoid any conflicts, but only if the partners share the same goals and ambitions. If one wants to build a unicorn, and the second wants to earn enough money to afford an apartment and a car, that is going to be hard,” Roman explains.
He and Yevgeniy share, they have 100% goals match.
To early to retire
Selling the company and retiring with bags of money – the founders of Jooble do not have such plans. Yevgeniy and Roman stay in the company to grow it 10 times larger in the next three years. Not in terms of the audience, but in terms of its revenues.
“I’m talking about revenue not for the sake of revenue, but as an affirmation of value. The more you earn, the more value you give to your users and customers,” Roman explains.
We see that Jooble has the potential to grow 10-fold. And we have an entrepreneurial vigor to make it happen. We face new challenges every month. It drives us. It allows us to stay in the flow. And we are obsessed with what we do.”