“We didn’t receive any salaries for months and the situation was nearly out of control.


Irina Yukhimchuk, Director of International Relations

The INPSoftware team attracted attention at CeBIT 2013, wearing traditional embroidered Ukrainian shirts.

Swiss import promotion programme INP-Software

Starting from scratch
INP-Software, a Ukrainian software company, hit rock bottom during the financial crisis. With entrepreneurial leadership, highly qualified employees and team spirit, they expanded their team from just four to their current workforce of 30 employees. INP-Software is now successfully accessing new markets with the help of the Swiss Import Promotion Programme (SIPPO).
Text Sibylle Zumstein

n 2009, the professional future of Irina Yukhimchuk was looking bleak. Her team, consisting of highly educated professional developers, testers and managers, had been successfully developing projects such as E-Mail clients, messaging systems, chats and online training systems. But due to the global economic crisis, 30 IT specialists, herself included, were laid off with immediate effect. The IT department she represen-

ted, an affiliate of a Czech-Israeli-US owned company specialising in business process management, ceased operating in Ukraine. “When our department asked me and Natalya Katyukha, our CEO, to start searching for foreign clients who were looking to set up their IT departments in Ukraine, we didn’t hesitate, despite the crisis,” says Irina Yukhimchuk, now Director of International Relations. Natalya and Irina made a proposal to their

Fotos: Courtesy of SIPPO/INP-Software

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loyal business partners, Petr Belik who is now their Chief Technology Officer, and Sergey Rudnitsky who is now the Chief Financial Officer, that they organize a private business unit. With no previous sales experience and a non-existent client base, the team of four set to work. “We didn’t receive any salaries for months and the situation was nearly out of control,” Irina remembers, shuddering. However, they didn’t give up and continued working relentlessly, as the main task was to preserve a close-knit team of professionals. They spent six months searching for and selecting potential clients, and soon succeeded by establishing a partnership with a large US marketing company. A short while later, INP-Software LLC was founded in Zhitomir, a city numbering 300,000 inhabitants located 120 km west of Kiev. Now employing 30 IT specialists, their continuous search for new clients has paid off: since entering the programme, INP-Software has greatly enlarged its potential client base and established promising new contacts in a number of European and American markets. The company provides a broad spectrum of services: software and web development, web design as well as testing for sectors such as marketing, telecommunications and retail. In 2012, Irina and her team visited CeBIT, the world’s largest computer expo in Hanover, Germany.

That’s when they first met Christian Bernet, a representative of Switzerland Global Enterprise’s SIPPO programme, who was evaluating promising IT companies from their partner country Ukraine. “We were looking to expand our client base and were very keen on exhibiting at CeBIT the following year, after having been there as visitors. We signed up for the SIPPO programme immediately,” Irina continues. After a thorough review, INP-Software was accepted on the programme. A great deal of preparation followed: drawing up lists of potential clients, analysing their competitors, booking meetings, printing leaflets, renewing their website, promoting their services via social media to encourage clients, visitors, other exhibitors, partners and investors to visit them at their very first stand at CeBIT 2013, and preparing branded gifts for stand visitors and loyal partners. “SIPPO supported us in promoting our expertise, providing sector information and matchmaking services,” Irina continues. Once on site, the team chose to wear traditional embroidered Ukrainian shirts, which made them stand out from the crowd – clearly a winning tactic as the bright clothes, coupled with the rest of their formal clothing, attracted a lot of attention. But the team was well aware that participating in their first trade show might not result in immediate contracts. “We used the platform to show our professionalism, learn about new trends, speak to potential clients and partners, and hear about the needs of potential customers,” Irina adds. And in that respect, the participation was definitely successful. The team is motivated and keen to participate again, the programme being both a challenge and an opportunity to develop. In addition to their more than seven years of experience, their high-quality service and their ability to adapt to their customers’ needs, the team spirit of INP-Software is palpable – something Irina is convinced will help them gain access to new partners in Europe – and perhaps even in Switzerland.
More Information: www.s-ge.com/switzerland/import

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