Just a year ago, we celebrated 3 million connected units on Wialon, and now another milestone in the history of Gurtam has come: the company turned 20 years old.
On behalf of Aliaksei Shchurko, Gurtam CEO and Chief Architect, and the entire team, we would like to congratulate Wialon partners, hardware manufacturers, software developers, communication providers, and everyone who cooperates with us and uses Gurtam products in business.
Without your hard work, the success of Wialon, GPS-Trace and flespi would not be possible, so this anniversary is absolutely yours as well. It is the effort, experience, and expertise of our customers and partners that allow Gurtam to face the future with confidence, future that will be safer, more comfortable and more eco-friendly thanks to telematics and IoT.
How did the company manage to get to where it is today? We talked with Aliaksei Shchurko to find out what he considers the main achievements of Gurtam, and what plans he has for the company’s future.
How does it feel to pilot a huge ship of 300+ people every day?
It's much easier than piloting a small boat, where the captain takes everything on themselves, and which is much less protected from the waves of the ocean. I believe that we’ve already overcome the main difficulties, and from now everything will be simpler and easier.
Although, they usually say: a small ship has little problems, and a big ship has big problems. In our case, this means that as our business grows, we have to face and cope with issues and contradictions that small systems do not have. Well, and great inertia, of course – in order to make some changes, especially drastic ones, you have to make more efforts, and convince and motivate more people to work for these changes.
In general, it's great to stand on the bow of this liner and enjoy the sunrises and sunsets, because its inertia and size have their own special power.
We often talk about specific business results: the number of connected cars, employees and partners, market share… What does the day Gurtam turns 20 mean to you personally?
For me, this is just another day, and its significance is measured primarily by how I’ll live through it, what mark I will leave in mankind’s history and what I will do for the world on this day to make it a little better.
It somehow happened that I don’t celebrate holidays, and measure my achievements not by a timeframe, but by specific actions that I’ve performed, and in business – by products that I’ve launched. I am very happy about every successful step of a particular product, and it still inspires me to constantly create and launch something new.
Meeting with partners during the global high-tech show GITEX GLOBAL 2022
When the first business plans of Gurtam were discussed 20 years ago, did you feel that the company was going to have a long history? Were there intentions to build it the way it is now?
No one made any far-reaching plans back then. There was a time when, earning no more than five hundred dollars per month, I talked about buying myself a desert island in the ocean. We could not even dream that the company would employ over 100 people and that it would open offices in different countries. At the time, it seemed beyond belief.
We were developing our life and product in the moment, based on what and how we were doing. A long-term strategy began to take shape when it had become clear what the market and the company needed and what they didn’t.
We could not even dream that the company would employ over 100 people and that it would open offices in different countries.
Wialon at GITEX GLOBAL 2022
Gurtam started as a family business and has grown into an international company with several offices and hundreds of employees. Is there anything left of the “family” in the company?
Yes, there is. We have about 10% of our employees, probably the longest-serving ones, who joined the company without work experience and created their success story here. These people carry with them the memory of those past times and that previous understanding of Gurtam.
To some extent, that applies to me as well. I still believe that each individual in their position can contribute a lot to the company and change our world for the better. This is precisely the family sense of belonging, a feeling that you can influence what is happening.
Moreover, certainly, any top manager is always freely available, and each employee can speak out all the concerns to them in the office kitchen and suggest the development directions that he or she considers the most important. We’ve always had that kind of minimal subordination and management distancing approach, we have it now, and, I hope, we will preserve it in the future.
Any exhibition or conference is a great opportunity for business meetings with Wialon community members and attracting new partners
What Gurtam achievements are you most proud of?
I am proud of the powerful steps that allowed us to be where we are now. All the numbers had been against those steps, and only a few years later it became clear that it was precisely that powerful decision that caused today's success. The larger the company, the more difficult it is, of course, to take such steps, since they impact a greater number of people. And not only those who work for our company, but also those who have trusted us and are changing the world together with us: our customers.
I am proud that in 2011 at our conference in Logoysk, in the actively growing community of Wialon partners, when they were just climbing the mountain of success, I very persistently explained to them the advantages of development towards API solutions. And those partners who listened to me then and developed this direction are now in completely different competitive business conditions compared to others.
I am proud of our team, people who gave years of their life to the company, and their achievements. This is the result of our cooperation with them – their development as individuals and the development of our products and the company as a business.
And, of course, I am very proud of flespi, which turned out to be a high-tech product, where almost everything was created by the hands of our team, but at the same time, we are quite often ahead of world progress. This is especially apparent at tech conferences, when other respected people share technologies they are just mastering, and you note: in flespi, these technologies have long been part of the platform and are already delivering value to customers.
I am also proud of the amount of taxes we pay to the budget of the country where we work. For some reason, I still firmly believe that all these taxes give a boost to healthcare, medicine, education, retirement... I used to be very proud and happy for Belarus, but now I'm proud and happy for Lithuania.
Have there been situations in the history of Gurtam when everything seemed lost and that nothing would work out?
I don't remember anything like that. There is always a way out. Probably one of the toughest recent decisions is leaving the Russian satellite monitoring market, where our share has been the largest for 10 years, as well as, of course, closing the office in Minsk. And it's not just about money, it's about people. Both about those who worked for us and whom we could not relocate for some reason, and about our clients, whom we let down. These are extremely tough decisions. But I am still sure that they were right, and in the current situation, our company, alas, could not do otherwise.
What makes the company a leader in the global market?
I think that initially we skyrocketed due to the product’s tech effectiveness, low price, simplicity, and versatility. Then the focus gradually shifted towards the partner community, the popularity of Wialon in various markets, and, probably, this has been the main growth driver for 5-10 years. Therefore, the role of the partner community is now key to Wialon's growth.
At the same time, we have launched and are actively developing young technological products that are still very far from Wialon in terms of popularity, but that may catch up or even overtake it in the long run. And this is a very healthy system of developing the company as an integrated whole.
At the Wialon booth at GITEX GLOBAL 2022
What is your vision of the company’s future?
We are now going through a phase of extensive transformation. It began approximately in 2020, and its second round started in 2022 with the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. This is a restructuring of the entire company, sales markets, employee relocation and a major renewal of the team. I think that by the end of 2023 we will be able to complete this transformation at large, understand our new strengths and weaknesses and begin to actively work on them.
In the meantime, our short-term targets are not to lose all the best that we have during such a transformation, and to become stable. Interestingly, young products have already completed their transformation and are actively rushing forward, but Wialon, as a large ship, needs much more time for this. But undoubtedly, we will manage and become only better, stronger, more stable with these changes.
In 5 years, I set a big and ambitious goal for myself and our entire company – to provide our huge partner community with technological and highly competitive products. So that no competing product comes close in terms of its capabilities for their business.
Awarding the winners of Wialon Top Partners 2022
What would you wish to the company and Wialon community?
I’d like to wish the team to remain as cool as it has always been, and not be spoiled with age, as so often happens to old guys. By the way, that’s the same thing I wish for myself, because I am inseparable from the Gurtam team.
And I would like to wish active development to the partner community. Believe in Gurtam, but do not blow an opportunity yourself. It’s an absolute pleasure to communicate with partners who can share something with me, be it implementation experience, cool ideas or motivation from success stories.
I wish Gurtam to have as many partners as possible, from which the company could take the good and multiply it.
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