Here's our end-of-year interview summarizing 2022
Did the Keymakr team perform well throughout the year?
Is this a genuine question? The team is the company’s heart, and when the heart works, everything else works too. We choose employees with “tweezers," so everything we have accomplished this year and all the years beforehand can be credited to our fantastic team. So my mark is "Great", not "Okay". "Okay" would not be enough.
Which 2022 accomplishments are you most proud of?
It's not just about 2022. Even with all the difficulties, we did not only retain our team members, but we also grew. Founded in 2015, the company has had its ups, downs, and plateaus like any other company. Keymakr was booming before Covid-19. In 2020, we exceeded our targets after starting from scratch. Unfortunately, Covid dragged us back a few steps. This was a turning point for us.
The first option was to give up and close the business. The second was to fight to survive and ensure that we came through the other side unharmed. This is what I consider the company's most significant success. Finally, I chose to keep our valued employees despite the lack of clients. With or without projects, I wanted to keep the company's heart beating.
We believed in our mission and people, so the team came before the financial loss. Despite the circumstances, we strived to keep the wheels turning.
Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine happened and continue affecting us. We've restructured the whole company and learned from the pandemic to work as a team, even if we had to work remotely.
Keylabs, our SaaS platform, has adapted to always perform at its best, and while 2/3 of our teams work remotely, we're continuously finding new ways to improve and remain a strong, close-knit team. Everyone, from management to administration and marketing, understands their responsibility and importance in the overall operations.
What are your personal goals for 2023? And goals for the team?
The team today has grown three-fold since it opened, enabling the company to reach new heights. I predict we will be twice as big next year. The team and I believe in our work.
Is it not daunting to challenge yourself during such hard times?
The company has several "airbags." Several of our locations have offices. The system is ready, and we can manage the team remotely. We have a powerful generator and Starlink, ensuring we are always ready to handle a total blackout for an extended period. Our servers are in various locations.
We have expanded our annotating staff to include European countries, including Bulgaria, where we are actively recruiting right now and are ready to operate at our usual capacity to keep our clients satisfied.
We are 100% prepared for all emergencies and ready for a quick response. Emergencies are when my real work begins. At such moments, I just have to connect, support, and guide my team. Panic is never conducive to solving a problem.
Understanding the limited timeframe to make a decision is essential. The next step is to calmly determine where, how, and why the decision will be made and then make it.
One of our competitors called us on the very first day of the war and offered his assistance. It indicates our success if a competitor calls and offers help. By the way, the best driver for any company is its competitors.
Let's picture Keymakr 10 years from now. What will it be like?
I envision Keymakr being listed on a stock exchange.
Let's talk about Keylabs, the new "kid." 2022 was Keylabs' first year on its own. So how did Keylabs spin off as an independent company?
Keylabs has been in operation since the beginning. In 2017, we began developing Keylabs and honing it for our own use. The other platforms we examined had many shortcomings and did not meet our requirements. In 2019, we realized that in the near future (what is now), we will be able to offer services to our customers or even competitors who wish to use our tool. To put this on a separate track, we had been seeking an investor. Unfortunately, due to Covid, the project was put on hold.
As we continue developing the platform, Keylabs has evolved from an internal tool to a 100% independent company, parallel with Keymakr. We have developed a roadmap that details where and how we intend to build it. Our biggest competitor has already evaluated and tested our platform and considers us to be the best in the field of video annotation. We are great, and our R&D is even better. And yes, we probably see something different behind the scenes.
What inspires you? Outside of work, what do you like to do?
I love to drive fast. Drifts, competitions, my sports car, and a motorcycle. Everything about driving is a matter of worldview. So when I ride a slalom track at 4 am, I plan my ride and feel where I need to speed up or slow down. It's something that gets me going.
Can you name three of Arie Zilberman's good habits?
Always positive, always with a smile, and maintaining a positive attitude toward everything that happens.
Accept you are not the smartest.
Make sure you pick the right people for the right positions and give them the opportunity to prove themselves. Then, become a reliable "background support" for your team.
There is nothing that cannot be achieved. However, you will achieve more if your goal is further away and harder to reach.
Rather than pulling, push the team to achieve its goals.
Believe in what you are doing. That everything is possible.
What's your wish for the new year? What would you raise your first glass to?
I hope the new year will be as good as the last one. You can see you have achieved a great deal when you look back. As long as we keep working together with the same objectives, we'll go far.