Telerik's Vassil Terziev Shares Business Experience on the Road from Bulgaria to Palo Alto
Novinite has interviewed Vassil Terziev - co-founder and CEO of Telerik AD and current Chief Innovation Officer of Progress Software.
Since the launch of the company, he has been responsible for overseeing its strategic direction and enabling its rapid growth as a global provider of enterprise-class software and services. Vassil Terziev was instrumental in growing the sales, support and business development units of Telerik.
In October 2014 US company Progress Software acquired Bulgaria's leading software company for USD 262.5 M, thus contracting one of the most lucrative deals in the history of Bulgarian business.
How has Telerik managed to become a player on the international markets? What challenges did it have to overcome in the process, especially as a company based in Bulgaria?
At Telerik and now at Progress, we see challenges as opportunities. To respond to the rapidly changing tech world, we have established an innovation-driven culture that permeates the entire organization.
For example, employees use our own products in their everyday work. It is their responsibility to play with them with the eyes of our users and suggest new features that increase productivity, cut costs and simplify the entire application development lifecycle. At the same time, we closely listen to our 1.4 million strong developer community and what it has to say about our existing products and ideas for future innovations to build the tools they need. This sparks our creativity and inspires us to develop powerful solutions that enable our customers to create compelling app experiences.
In the early years of Telerik, we successfully positioned the company as the leading vendor in the .Net space. As we witnessed the rapid growth of the mobile market and the new challenges developers face to build fully functional apps that work across the myriad devices available today, we saw a new opportunity. Shifting our focus to the mobile market, in 2014 we launched Telerik® Platform, our mobile application development platform, named European ICT innovation of the year in 2014. A true testament of our innovative approach and leading positioning in the global market are the thousands of apps built with Telerik Platform and the “Visionary” position in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Mobile App Dev Platforms.
Another key example of a challenge that we’ve turned into a great opportunity, not only for Telerik but for the Bulgarian society at large, is Telerik Academy. Driven by the universal hunger for IT professionals, we started this educational initiative, entirely sponsored by us. In a matter of just two years, Telerik Academy grew so much that it started training people of all ages and produced talent for the entire IT industry.
The opening of our office in Palo Alto is another great example. With some of the best product strategists, sales and marketing experts in the world are based in the Valley, we knew that sooner or later we needed to set foot there, too. Looking at challenges as opportunities has helped us grow and reach the scale we have today.
How would you describe the IT potential in Bulgaria? Do you think that the connection between businesses and higher education should be improved?
It’s hardly news these days to say Bulgaria has great potential in software development. Telerik is just one of the success examples. With our support of Telerik Academy and the start-up community, we hope to see this potential grow exponentially in the coming years.
Higher education, provided in the universities, is of great importance and the foundation knowledge it provides in myriad disciplines is indispensable. We should now work to break the siloes between business organizations and universities, and replace them with constant dialogues, in which, hand-in-hand, we’ll work together to identify the needs of the IT industry and train professionals to respond to them.
In addition, the businesses should be proactive and invest in the development of the people they need. This is what we did with Telerik Academy, and we’re happy to see other companies following suite.
What will the future of Telerik Academy be?
Telerik Academy is one Telerik initiative that Progress loves and would like to see grow. So, we will continue to provide quality training for software engineers, students and kids with its four sub-initiatives. The sixth season of Telerik Software Academy, a 14-month comprehensive program in software engineering, started in January with another batch of 700 new students onsite. In addition, this year’s three other sub-initiatives for high-school students and kids, ages 10-13, enrolled nearly 900 children and teenagers in our trainings. Through these initiatives, we’ll continue to teach and inspire youngsters to learn to code and join the IT industry when they grow up.
Telerik was acquired by Progress Software last year in what was probably the most lucrative deal of the decade. Why did you agree to be acquired and how will that change work processes in the company? Why didn't you continue on your own on the global market, after achieving so many positive results?
The Telerik acquisition by Progress was yet another important chapter in our growth story. As part of a larger, public company, with offices in all across the globe, we now have the capacity to locally serve our customers. Joining forces with Progress, we introduce a unique product offering that includes a comprehensive cloud and on-premise platform that enables developers to rapidly create beautiful applications driven by data for any device or cloud. Thus, we can now capture an even bigger market opportunity, expand our growth and continue innovating and redefining modern application development.
Since we completed the acquisition in December 2014, it’s been an exciting journey for both companies to get to know each other’s processes, best practices, culture and know-how, and we’re happy to see teams distributed across the word working seamlessly as one organization.
What do you hope to achieve with Telerik in the near future?
In the global market, we are best known for our development tools and services that enable the entire developer community to create one-of-a-kind app experiences for their customers. Now that we are part of Progress, our customers will have the opportunity to combine products from both portfolios and create a powerful developer experience with significantly less complexity of managing back-end services. Our goal continues to be to become the preferred destination for developers anywhere in the world.
There have been talks on creating a sort of a Silicon Valley in Bulgaria, where programmers can retreat in a more relaxed rural environment. What are your thoughts on that? Would you and your company join such a project and move out of the capital?
Currently we see a positive trend in the tech industry and the entrepreneurial ecosystem growing out of Sofia and engaging local people in other towns. Indicative of that are the start-up initiatives and the events organized outside the capital city as well as the large audiences they attract. One of the beautiful aspects of the software development industry is that it can be done from anywhere. Our presence in Bulgaria will continue to be driven out of Sofia.
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