“We constantly study and test technologies, meet with clients and explore the endless world of technologies”, that’s how we started our conversation with the three entrepreneurs from Zetta Systems.
What does Zetta do? What has kept you afloat in a sea of uncertainties?
We design, deliver, implement and support complex IT solutions, which combine software and hardware components.
Recently we had a case with a client planning to increase its workforce from 5 to 300 within two years. Only detailed IT development planning will allow it to grow that fast. Normally, IT managers are on the organization’s board of directors or at least they are quite familiar with the company’s development strategy. This is crucial for overall planning, since the IT development, if not professionally set in terms of time and resources, can turn into a growth bottleneck.
Unlike some others we go deep – we study the organization, its whole IT and business development plans. We put a lot of efforts to understand its operations since IT is crucial for achieving its objectives. We make an analysis of the clients’ systems and infrastructure, business needs, strategy and seek to solve their problems without being locked to specific software and hardware vendors.
Once we have analysed the needs, we identify the necessary resources, set the timeframe and estimate the budget necessary to foot the bill. We elaborate a business continuity plan and estimate the risks. Then we hand all these to the clients and they can choose any vendor or solution fitting the specifications.
How did it start? How did you raise funds to launch the business?
The beginning was an idea we discussed for hours on the phone. We remember it, because the telecom operator often cut off our calls. We decided that if we can bring business to others, then the three of us as a team can create a successful business.
For six months we had over 200 meetings with potential clients. We had a lot to offer, share, discuss and finetune.
As for financing, we used our own resources. For the time being we are not looking for investors. We have some innovative ideas, though, and plan to work on them. At present, we are applying for Horizon 2020 funding via the SME Instrument.
Why do organisations need Zetta? What is your approach with clients?
A business needs a competent IT partner which can provide quality support and act like a trusted advisor. Recently we had a meeting with a CEO of a company, now a client, who had made enquiries at three companies before us. We sat and discussed his needs, problems, plans, systems and processes for hours. We hadn’t discussed money and SLAs at all when an hour later he called and asked us to send him a contract to sign. He was nicely surprised at the way we work because others before had spent 15 minutes with him and sent him a standard one-page offer.
The benefits from a company like Zetta are easy to see. First, it is less costly to have external IT support. Second, you rely on proven expertise.
Most of the companies we work with use clouds and not private only, but also public ones – Amazon AWS, Google, Microsoft Azure. Almost every other company is looking for more complex systems and adequate support services. Our added value is namely the competence in the complex systems, not the mainstream stuff.
Our goal is to offer complete solutions, not single products. For instance, we have a client, co-owned by а large international corporation, whose IT policy foresees using the same systems and software at all its locations around the world. Therefore, our client considered purchasing an expensive solution from a leading vendor for virtualisation, while their needs could be met with a free solution from a peer. We are partners of both the vendors and would have benefited from selling the expensive solution, but knowing the specifics, we decided that the cheaper one will do. We had tough talks with the foreign shareholder’s IT department and eventually they accepted our suggestion.
We guarantee predictability, lower costs for IT and minimise the risks while reckoning with budgets, strategies and future growth.
What are your plans for growth?
We have set our eyes on working for foreign clients. Germany and the UK, for instance, are short of IT staff and this deficiency is getting worse with time, not least of all because of the industry dynamics.
The IT sector is so multi-faceted that it is impossible for one person to be an expert in all areas of system administration and integration. However, IT requirements are the same worldwide – all big vendors in the industry (i.e. IBM, CISCO, Microsoft, VMWare) have standard tests and if you have a certificate, you have proven knowledge and expertise to operate in the sector, no matter whether you are from Bulgaria, the USA or India.
There are many excellent IT guys in Bulgaria, proof of that is the fact that HP moved one of their global services centres from Germany to Sofia. Our key advantage is that as a Bulgarian company our prices are lower, while the quality is the same.
In our industry a task can be done remotely and you don’t need to be physically present to do the services. Nevertheless, in some cases clients require their support companies to have registered offices in their country, and for this reason we are planning to open our first foreign office in the UK next year.
How do you get on as a team?
All three of us cannot imagine working for someone else. We are now a whole. If, in a hypothetical situation, one of us was invited to work for a large company for big money, none of us would accept it. We would invite them to work with Zetta instead. One of the benefits of having your own company is that you shape the team. You select each link of the chain.
When we recruit, only 30% of the evaluation is based on technical competences. The rest is about mind-set. We employ people eager to learn and develop, people who have dreams and stamina to make them come true.
We are building a team of experts in many directions so that we will be able to perform various projects. We invest in our staff – we help them gain the necessary knowledge and habits and put them into practice.