Maksym Bezorudk (above), Executive Director at Zwebra Web Studio Inc., took the time to sit down with us for a coffee and a chat about his move to Saint John, and why he thinks Zwebra entered the market at an opportune time in New Brunswick.
Our focus for this issue of Brick Park is Newcomers…why did you choose Saint John?
We received an email from Opportunities New Brunswick while we were still living and working in Ukraine, that proposed we open a 2nd office in New Brunswick. I won’t lie, at first I thought it was a scam. But, within a few months, we’d met with them and attended some helpful information sessions. We had experience working with clients across the globe, but in order to be successful in this market, we wanted to establish an office in North America. We got to choose between Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John. Saint John has been so friendly and welcoming. We also loved that so many professional services (our lawyers, our accountants) were available in Saint John… we even moved in to the same building as them. That made our transition a lot easier. We are looking forward to growing our team here.
Did the talent pool here play a role in your decision to add a Saint John location?
It’s funny, we were actually attracted to Saint John because a lot of businesses we wanted to work with were also located in Saint John. So, I guess yes, we wanted to work with the talented workers who are employed by Saint John businesses.
Let’s talk about your important principles – “no outsourcing, no black hat tactics, no cutting corners, we build relationships first, and do business second…your goals are our goals too” – do you think that aligns well with Saint John’s values?
Yes. We think our values align well with Saint John/Canada’s values and what their businesses are looking for from web services. We were working with clients in Ukraine from their inceptions – for five or six years. We’ve grown with our clients. We needed to reach new markets, and Saint John/Canada were on our list. We invest a lot in planning and in setting strategic goals. We use 5 or 6 specialists on a project. We’re sophisticated and can offer a higher level of service – not all businesses are looking for that/can afford that – but we’ve found some great matches here, whose values align with our own.
What has been one of the best lessons (can be a positive or less-than-positive experience) you’ve learned about opening an office in Saint John?
It was a challenge to start at the beginning again, when we opened a second office here. The way we did business in Europe, is different from how people does business in Canada. We learned we couldn’t use the same plans and tactics – we’ve had to adapt. I’d say learning to adapt has been a great lesson. Also, I’ve learned to take the time to develop relationships – relationships establish trust for business people in Canada, and you need trust to work with people here. Newcomers need to establish relationships, give good advice, and get out there and meet people – which is great, when business people are open to meeting with them. But you also have to take some responsibility and put yourself out there.
I attended business mixers hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, I went to coffee with people Enterprise Saint John suggested I meet with, I did ‘cold’ Facebook messages. I met some great people and developed some great relationships and partnerships. Once I met people like Greg Hemmings, it allowed me to tap into those networks, which people really value here [having a shared connection].
What would you say to other companies looking to establish a presence in Canada – to make them choose Saint John above another spot? What sets this city/location apart?
The cost of doing business in Saint John is a lot lower than many other Canadian cities. If people want to set up or expand to Canada, they need to consider the cost of doing business. Also, the people here are very friendly.
What social platform do you think has the most potential for businesses right now?
Instagram. We’ve seen a huge growth in its popularity in Europe and we see that happening in North America now. People like how simple it is. We’re working in digital marketing at an opportune time, as its popularity begins to grow in New Brunswick.