Maxim Bakhmatov, managing partner of the innovative technology park UNIT.City, on the importance of creating in your own country, always keep up the pulse of what is happening in business and the world economy, and that it is necessary to lead correctly, trust intuition and learn from the classics.
A businessman of a new generation, who is inclined solely to create a new and his own, is ideological, inspired and inspiring, innovatively oriented, sane and patriotic. At the same time Maxim always remembers about business and goals. This is the type of manager who values people for their work and creativity, but that does not mean that he turns a blind eye to negligence or failure. It was a conversation that made you think about the established and habitual things, about what you need to do is necessarily a quality product, and regardless of whether it is a person or a commodity – it must be unique.
LDaily: Maxim, what is UNIT.City?
M. Bakhmatov: UNIT. City is a multi-layered complex project, an interesting modern and creative space that provides a place for education, right neighbors, and also, the right community. And this, believe me, is very important, because in the office center it will not work, but in such a project as UNIT.City it turns out, and that’s why we call it an innovative center. By the way, in evidence — we have almost no vacant positions. We sell the park area six months before commissioning (smiles) and this is despite the fact that, in general, the market after the commissioning of the facility vacancy offices is approximately 60 %.
LDaily: Implementing such a project is a huge risk, and you, as an experienced businessman, understand this. Have you conducted research on the demand for such a project?
M. Bakhmatov: Personally, I had an internal confidence that the Ukrainian market would take it well, and the Ukrainian economy, and the IT sector. And it happened. I know very well what Ukraine lacks; these are innovative technologies, so we did not doubt launching an innovative park. I also know this segment well because I ran a German company, whose office was in Frankfurt, and which was engaged in IT development, that is, I knew for sure that the innovative park in Kiev would be in demand. In Europe, office centers stopped building in the 80s, then, of course, they began to build techno centers, which we did not have. In the early 90’s technoparks had been already built, but innovation centers began to build in the 2010s. And we successfully missed the stage of technology centers, did not build business centers, and immediately entered the market of innovations.
LDaily: UNIT.City is one in Ukraine. Are not you afraid that there will be competitors who will start building the same?
M. Bakhmatov: We are waiting for them with pleasure (smiles). Competition is the driving force of the market, strong competitors will make us move even more dynamically.
It is also necessary to understand the complexity of such a project, it is a hectare of areas in which about $ 30 million is invested, and our investor just buried his money until a certain point in time, because we are at an early stage of development and we still have tremendous work to do. And if at least one braver person appears who wants to do something similar in the same volumes, it will be just fine.
For today we are in Kiev, Lviv, there are 4 hectares, and we will be in Kharkov.
LDaily: Why do you need UNIT.City, what inspires you most in this project?
M. Bakhmatov: First, you cannot do it any other way. It’s just a human design — you cannot do it any other way. You know, I give an example of a hunting dog. She goes hunting, runs after ducks and not only, but she cannot otherwise. And my story is the same. I do not want to live in a different way.
LDaily: Then why here in unstable Ukraine, and, for example, not in Germany, where, probably, it is easier to build?
M. Bakhmatov: So it only seems at first glance. You can go abroad only if you do not want to do anything at all. In fact, there you do not need anyone with your connections and money, except with very big money. But if you want to create something cool, this should be done with those with whom you were in kindergarten, who have the same thinking as you, who appreciate and understand you.
LDaily: Some other level of intimacy…
M. Bakhmatov: This is the closeness of everything. And only in this way can you be successful. If I were building something in some other country, I would do it so that it is a Ukrainian company that invests abroad. I had 3 times the opportunity to go to different countries. Up to the point that I could easily get myself a residence permit in Germany, since I was the owner of a German company and paid taxes for 8 years. And I did not, because I realized – I’m not interested.
LDaily: And your native Ukraine, except that it’s your homeland, what else attracts you?
M. Bakhmatov: Besides, everything is bad here, whatever a person does, they will carry it on their hands. And that’s fine. And it’s still not done enough. For example, I travel with lectures to the regions, and I’m asked about the formula for success, and I honestly answer that “there will be no formula for success in Ukraine.” If a person is incapable, the formula for success will not help, but if you do your job qualitatively, success will find you. By the way, in Europe people do not really try to do their job qualitatively. That’s the truth, really.
LDaily: But Ukrainians will emigrate there massively…
M. Bakhmatov: Because they think it’s better there. Do not confuse tourism with emigration. In Europe you can travel, admire the fact that everything is beautiful and clean, but we must understand that it was not we who did it, but generations of Austrians or Germans died to get it all. We come just to enjoy. You will never be allowed to see anything in Vienna. And to come to everything ready – not my approach, because it does not lead anywhere. I prefer to build and create in my country.
LDaily: How do you work with the team, how do you motivate?
M. Bakhmatov: My teams are not very big, up to 10 people, so I have enough experience and competence to evaluate everyone, motivate them financially or immaterially.
LDaily: Are you afraid of subordinates?
M. Bakhmatov: No, I’m not afraid of being a leader, I’m afraid to fail. For example, absolutely any employee can complain or tell about what is bothering him. At the same time, I have a democratically authoritarian style, although I often and quite calmly sit at the same table with everyone. But I always remember the goals and, if necessary, I can get to work two days in a row.
LDaily: Tell us about the Radar Tech project. How did you come to him?
M. Bakhmatov: We had to do this when we developed the innovative part of VDNG. This was the only way to make VDNG associated with a non-standard approach to the development of innovation. So we came up with the project VDNG-TECh, for this we found a partner — Kyivstar, and began to develop this direction and it turned out that it worked very well. The start began with the development of the innovative part of VDNG, and then we did a rebranding, because we could not continue using VDNG because it was a state object. And we came up with another design project called Radar Tech, with which we were able to work independently and develop innovations, helping start-ups get better and stronger faster.
LDaily: At what stage of development is Radar Tech?
M. Bakhmatov: We cooperate with Mironovskiy Hliboprodukt (MHP). Moreover, the sphere of agro is simply a non-plowed field of opportunity. Most recently, we held events in Cherkassy and Vinnitsa, where MHP is present, and I want to say that the audience was very, very active.
In general, we first immerse ourselves in the project, study the problems of the corporation and then analyze their problems, which can be solved with the help of technology. Then, under these directions, we begin to look for startups and train them. Our training program is 3 months. This is 11 weeks, of which 4 weeks are lecture intensive, and 7 is independent work.
LDaily: And now the project has actively started to gain momentum, right?
M. Bakhmatov: Yes, we are working. Two large accelerating programs have already been held, each of which lasts 7 months: 1 month — preparation, then 2 months — a set of applications and a promotional campaign, then another 1 month of selection, and another 3 months — training. The first such project we implemented with the company Kyivstar, which was maximally open to innovation and technology, and the second, as I said, with MHP.
LDaily: How do you see UNIT.City in 10 years?
M. Bakhmatov: UNIT.City in 10 years – this will not be the only innovation center in our country, which created an ecosystem that allows us to create more and more.
LDaily: Are you the generation of our businessmen who are working to improve Ukraine’s image abroad?
M. Bakhmatov: Perhaps. People should understand that I did not use the natural resource, and I did not participate in privatization. Fabulously rich in Ukraine were natives of the 90’s. It was then that they got access to resources with big money.
LDaily: And now?
M. Bakhmatov: Now make a quality product, and everything will be fine.
LDaily: It’s rhetorical. Now few people give positive outlook for the primary housing market in Ukraine.
M. Bakhmatov: I’m talking about the whole market. I guarantee you that there are a lot of niches in this country that are untested, untilled, just give a normal service and a good product. Believe that a quality product for an adequate price will certainly be in demand.
LDaily: Do you think UNIT.City can be a good sign for foreign investors? How do you generally assess the investment climate in Ukraine?
M. Bakhmatov: The investment climate is frankly bad, but we must work. Investors who know what and how to do here, get what they want.
LDaily: Would you like to do something else in Ukraine?
M. Bakhmatov: Yes, I will have several interesting projects this year.
LDaily: Please tell us about the prospects for the development of the real estate market in Ukraine.
M. Bakhmatov: We must read the economy. There is, for example, a very interesting case for the development of malls in America. Facts: last year in the United States was closed 5000 mall. But there is one in Los Angeles, small, its area — 50,000 square meters, which showed growth of 10 times. When the research began, it turned out that the owners are very qualitative in their work, in the selection of those activities in stores and in the whole atmosphere. That’s why everything happens. Everything is falling around, but they are working. This suggests that
even with complete decay and chaos, you can always create an excellent product and do interesting things.
For example, I have already received a proposal to build a hotel and entertainment complex. And I know how to do it qualitatively and inexpensively.
LDaily: Who and by what criteria do you take in your team?
M. Bakhmatov: We are a huge developer start-up. In the startup, you are on the front line. We try to take on the to us. Of course, we conduct trainings, form a team. But in order to start learning, you must first do a rough job. Look, I guarantee that in the 50’s no one taught anything to McDonald’s. First, they fried potatoes, optimized production and logistics, grew, and after 5 years realized — the next level has come. They hired HR. That is, why we are already teaching our people, but so far we are not approaching it systematically.
LDaily: Do you expand the team every six months?
M. Bakhmatov: No, I do not. We have the key personnel. This is about 20 people. This is enough to guide.
LDaily: How do you rate applicants?
M. Bakhmatov: Intuitively. I never talk about anything to a resume. I know many with diplomas of Oxford and Cambridge, but I do not take them to work, because they are not team people who are result-oriented. Once I was engaged in the selection of personnel and conducted 2000 interviews, that is, I can evaluate a person immediately from the point of view of professional suitability. I need such high-quality personnel who will understand me. In general, I recommend to look for people 45-50(+). These are dynamic, promising, educated, disciplined individuals who achieve results. They may not be very creative, but that’s another story.
LDaily: Which of your projects for you personally are the most significant ones — UNIT.City, maybe Radar Tech?
M. Bakhmatov: See: Radar Tech is a help to entrepreneurs and innovators in our country. UNIT.City — the environment for the development of entrepreneurs and innovators, in other words it is just a physical object and Radar Tech is the content that allows this object to be created.
LDaily: Tell us about your hobby. What makes you happy?
M. Bakhmatov: I liked Freud’s expression about happiness: “happiness for a person is to love and to work.” Thanks God, I’m good at it.