Balkans.Com Interview with Levente Szélyes, Owner & CEO Codespring
Balkans.com – a business-only website in English, Serbian and Greek, providing comprehensive coverage of the Balkans region, in-depth analysis of industries and business opportunities, interviews with business leaders and special reports, has published an interview with Codespring’s Owner and CEO, Levente Szélyes. Find out what advice does an investor active in the Romanain IT&C industry, software development sector has to offer to young entrepreneurs, what markets keep his business in motion and how does his technical team manage to gain to the trust of his clients. We bring special thanks to Vesna Maksimović, the author of the interview and to the publisher for the interest expressed towards the leader profile of Codespring.
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Balkans.com: As we read, your story of young people who gave up their jobs for a dream company, we cannot but ask you what were the main obstacles you had to overcome to succeed?
Levente Szélyes: Indeed, the choice I have made was quite a challenge, but I prefer to be a pathfinder and pursue on my own. This is one of the reasons I founded my own software development company, Codespring. At a large-scale company, like Siemens AG, where I gained professional experience, business engines are already tuned and delivery models follow a constant flow: the focus is to strengthen the company’s connection to customers and constantly uplift the customer experience with outstanding services and improved product development. As a software engineer my main concern was technical innovation and performance. As a result, giving up my job and taking up the entrepreneur mindset has meant a total switch. I had to build up business networks and create a brand and a service portfolio instead of a software code – a step that required skills I haven’t learned from school. In order to enter the market I needed resources and customers, as well. As you may know, Cluj-Napoca, the city where Codespring has its headquarters, is the second largest academic centre in Romania, producing yearly 600 graduates in IT&C. I just had to find the properly qualified team and turn it into the ace in my pocket so that we overcome local competitors and gain our first international customers. Further on it was a matter of hard work and witty marketing strategy that led us where we are now: a fast growing business from Transylvania, Romania acting on the global market.
Balkans.com: What would you say to young people wanting to create a company in the Balkan territory?
Levente Szélyes: Honestly, I have never regretted the choice I have made. Based on my experience, I cannot but recommend all self-made-men to follow their inner drives. Whoever has a vision, has to make it happen. This is true especially in the Balkan territory. You need to put all your efforts into a start-up and come to terms with legal procedures and local institutional behaviour. What’s more, the market in the Balkans is not as saturated as the business environment from the USA, for instance. I am in no doubt whatsoever that a sparkling idea is all that it takes, and then make sure you have the guts to take the challenge.
Balkans.com: The competition is great in you field, how you manage to gain to the trust of you clients?
Levente Szélyes: Not surprisingly, an increasing trend is to be felt on both the international and local software development market. Nevertheless, our key performance indicators are quality and value. This is how we have acquired our first customers and this is how we keep on sealing strategic partnerships with companies from Europe and the USA. In addition, our mobile development expertise in Android and iPhone platforms proved to be a technical asset on high demand. In short, we provide added value through business process know-how and technical expertise in a set of more than fifteen industry branches. Linking this to the concept earlier mentioned results in providing the highest quality at the right value. By doing this, we constantly focus on the customer’s needs and assist them on their way to achieve business excellence. Definitely, their success is our success, too, to such an extent that references are our major revenue growth drivers.
Balkans.com: Software Development is still an unknown field for many small businesses in the Balkan territory. How do you reach these clients?
Levente Szélyes: IT industry and telecommunications are globally the most promising industries in terms of growth and sustainability. Software development service buyers, indeed, utilize third party information to support their purchase decisions. Therefore, it was important for Codespring, as a Romanian software development and outsourcing service provider, to optimize the process of targeting: we started to create and implement digital media strategies and establish a social network infrastructure. Surely, performing software development projects in an outsourcing regime has turned into a global phenomenon and a way of leveraging industry competitors by speed or technical innovation. Having this in mind, I need to emphasize that we not only provide software development and consultancy for specialized software companies and departments, but also to small businesses who are looking for a software solution to better fulfil their specific market needs. In this case, with special regard for the Balkan territory, we can be as flexible and as agile as required in specific technologies.
Balkans.com: What companies do you attract the most?
Levente Szélyes: That’s an interesting question. As a Romanian software company we develop custom solutions and add-ons covering the entire life cycle of a complex software development project. Therefore, our core customers are specialized software houses and departments from Europe, US and Romania. Our large customers appreciate our efforts to provide exquisite service level and quite often, it happens that we are their unit for special projects. This type of companies have already tasted the benefits of outsourced software development teams, have a wide knowledge on how to engage in such collaborations and have miscellaneous control keys. For technical teams these type of customers are “dream customers”. The race against time, budget and technical optimality is huge. Happily we are out for such customers and we appreciate when we hit #1 on their list.
Balkans.com: What are your main goals for the coming years?
Levente Szélyes: We follow the idea of turning Cluj-Napoca into a location of choice for software development services, with focus on Codespring, as an IT lab for excellent code and outstanding services. Therefore, we strengthen the existing team and look for new talents in specialized technologies, with main emphasis in mobile platforms (iPhone, Windows Mobile, Android, Blackberry). This is at the forefront of our technical strategy map, as it is a question of time for industrial applications to go mobile. As a goal, we are targeting a wider market share on providing specialized software development processes, including large scale mobile application solutions. On the side, we will emphasize offering software consultancy, complementary services for software development and undertake research work for new product development.
Balkans.com: Which countries in the Balkans offer the best business environment for investors?
Levente Szélyes: There are a set of aspects to be considered when investing in the Balkans: language, political stability, fiscal issues, GDP evolution, labour pool, human development index, cultural compatibility. If we take a look at the numbers, Romania seizes a great deal of the IT&C contracts 589 $ mln in 2009 and there is an estimate of euro 831 million for 2010. If I were to choose between the countries in the region for the next five years, – and I actually am doing that (!) – I would sill point to Romania. Common features for this regions are: elite education systems, cultural variety, highly developed service industry and international access. Romania has the strong advantage of a good cultural mix, has the size to capture and digest new investments and soon all the “hardware” will be prepared to produce more “software”.
Balkans.com: Our readers are investors already present or about to launch a business in the region. What advice do you have for them?
Levente Szélyes: I invite those investors who are already present in the region, particularly in Romania, to share their business experiences and offer personal feedback about their real feeling with regard to investments done here. It is important to double check what international ranking institutions say about the region by taking the time to learn more about each country and their way of doing business and of understanding work. Exchanging experiences about the Balkans business climate, with special regard to software development and outsourcing services would contribute to reach performance from the beginning. For those who are about to launch a business in the region I would strongly recommend to not only consult studies revealing region specific assets, but to choose a guide through the thickets of business habits, legal practices and Balkan regions’ lifestyle. If one understands the way things work around here, many claim it is rewarding to build a business in this perimeter. Just, feel free to ask for more information any time.