— Andrei, tell us first about yourself and how you got involved in Scentbird?
— A pretty popular question: how after Aerospace University, did I start pouring perfume samples. The story is simple. I lived in Samara, where I graduated from University with a degree in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science.
In my third year, I started working in IT companies. I worked in Magenta Development, where I dealt with logistics services for taxis in England, collectors in Russia, and trucks in the United States. I was developing, and I really liked it, but I wanted something more.
I've always been lucky, surrounded by smart, talented people, and I was looking for those with whom it would be possible to grow. My first boss introduced me to Habr, the second introduced me to open source and Linux, and I wanted to keep going.
Therefore, when I graduated from University in 2011, I began working in Moscow at Luxoft two weeks later. While there, we dealt with a giant bank named UBS. Again, I was with a good team and project managers.
But, when you work in a big company, you realize that you can be as cool as you want, do cool things, and still, somewhere five levels above you sits another "Director of something", who decides how the product will look in the end. As a result, there is no feeling that you benefit people.
We did corporate-level projects for the bank's employees, so, there was never a goal to make a successful commercial product. This created certain questions; I wanted something different, I wanted to work on a faster team.
I had already become interested in Agile technologies when I was living in Samara. I met the guys from Scrumtrek, they invited me to join their team, said there were two big contracts, and I needed to decide if I was ready or not. I said, "Yes", and I have never regretted it.
When I left Luxoft and joined Scrumtrek, it felt like I got to "Star Wars", like supersonic speed was turned on and I could only see the flashing lights around me. The team was small, all decisions were made very quickly. But, what I liked most was the opportunity to make mistakes that were helping you learn, to understand what was wrong.
We were engaged in consulting, implementation, audits… At one point, I was naturally beginning to get questions like, "If you teach people how to develop software, why don't you do it yourself, start your own startup?" Quite a reasonable question. I began to study what was happening in this arena, incidentally got to the hackathon, the organizer of which turned out to be my future co-founder, Sergey Gusev.
Two months later, he wrote me a letter: "We are looking for a technical founder for our recommendations-based startup that will sell perfumes online. We need a mathematician-programmer who will be able to do both— write the algorithm and support the development."
These were huge options to weigh: on the one hand — a stable job in Moscow, a good salary, the opportunity to become a Junior partner, on the other — an unknown startup in the States about perfume. I chose the latter. I didn't look back.
That was more than five years ago, and since that point, all have been moving forward.