Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Leo Goriev of Alty Inc.: Navigating Business Challenges

In this exclusive interview series, hosted by Jesse Samberg, we delve into the entrepreneurial journey of Leo Goriev, the CEO of Alty Inc. From starting a sushi delivery service to launching a fintech startup, Leo shares his experiences navigating challenges, seizing opportunities, and planning for the future. Join us as we explore the lessons learned, unforgettable moments with clients, and the strategies employed to tackle hurdles in the ever-evolving small business landscape.

Interviewee Name: Leo Goriev

Company: Alty Inc.

Intervirew Host: Jesse Samberg

The Interview

Let’s get started. First, we’d like to know more about how you started your business journey

Leo Goriev : My journey as an entrepreneur spans over 17 years. It all began with a restaurant venture where I wore multiple hats – from purchasing products to organizing photoshoots, creating dishes, designing websites, managing orders, and personally delivering them to clients. However, when the global crisis hit, I had to make the tough decision to sell the business and seek new opportunities.

In 2012, I joined Alty, starting as a managing partner. During that period, my daily tasks encompassed project management, and as the company evolved, my roles underwent transformations. Over the past five years, I’ve served as the CEO of Alty, but have recently delegated this role to a colleague to shift my focus from operations to business development.

Seeking to deepen my understanding of business flow and strategic planning, I pursued studies at Harvard Business School. Graduating in 2022, I launched my fintech startup, Card Blanch, aimed at consolidating payment, rewards, bonus cards, and crypto assets into a single card. Currently, we’re gearing up for the seed round, and I’m excited to continue gaining valuable experience and expertise in the fields of fintech and banking.

Reflecting on your business history, what stands out as the single greatest challenge you’ve successfully navigated, and how did you overcome it?

Leo Goriev : For each entrepreneur starting a business from scratch, especially after experiencing failure, is a challenge. Overcoming fears, doubts, and past disappointments is no easy feat, but once you do, nothing can hold you back.

I faced such a challenge when I lost everything with my first business venture—a sushi delivery service. Despite being young and inexperienced, I was filled with confidence and bravery. I think age took its toll. 🙂 I recall in 2008, the global crisis hit, plunging me into heavy debt and forcing me to sell my business. I just got married at that time and didn’t even have a possibility to go to the cinema with my wife.

During those tough times, I prioritized maintaining my reputation and relationships with partners while sacrificing my well-being. Despite the hardships, I faced my new reality with dignity. Eventually, this resilience and determination paved the way for a new opportunity when an old friend invited me to join Alty—a software business he had been developing for several years.

I firmly believe that failure is an integral part of success, and sometimes taking two steps back allows you to leap five steps forward.

Businesses often face ongoing challenges. What does your business consistently grapple with, and how do you tackle these challenges head-on?

Leo Goriev : I’ve observed that our business encounters significant challenges approximately every 6-7 years—be it a global crisis, the impact of COVID-19, or economic recession. Each instance necessitates adapting our business strategy. At Alty, we’ve learned to navigate these challenges by prioritizing adaptability in our operational model.

We recruit professionals with super-flexible skills and resilience who can maintain composure in any situation. Flexibility during turbulent times enables us to navigate smoothly through uncertainties. Additionally, we emphasize meticulous planning, focusing not only on goals but also on anticipating risks and opportunities. Effective planning is important, but considering all the risks is vital.

Can you share with us the most unforgettable story involving a customer or client? What made it memorable, and what lessons did you draw from the experience?

Leo Goriev : In 2018, we experienced two significant moments that reshaped our company’s trajectory. One of these pivotal moments involved the creation of the first mobile neobank in Ukraine – monobank. This innovative platform revolutionized the online banking landscape in this country and fundamentally transformed the customer experience. I vividly recall a heartwarming encounter while waiting in line at a hardware store. An elderly lady nearby declined assistance from the cashier, proudly stating, “I have a monobank, and it’s the best thing I ever had on my smartphone. It doesn’t require any assistance unlike me.” This moment was both surprising and adorable.

Subsequently, our work on monobank garnered several prestigious Red Dot Awards and served as a tremendous source of inspiration as we endeavored to enhance people’s digital experiences worldwide.

Looking ahead, what are your current plans for your business when you retire?

Leo Goriev : Looking ahead, my current plans for the business involve building a team capable of carrying the company forward for generations to come. And for me, whether we would provide consulting, design or any other services tomorrow or creating physical products doesn’t matter. I want to build a team that will be able to adapt to our rapidly changing world and navigate through, explore and exploit strategies fluently. While I anticipate retiring one day, my intention is to remain an active board member, providing guidance and watching my companies continue to flourish from a different vantage point.

In the meantime, my motivation stems from achieving intermediary successes. These milestones are crucial in business as they provide validation and indicate whether we are moving in the right direction towards our goals. As an entrepreneur, I understand the importance of self-motivation and identifying internal drivers. I maintain confidence in my abilities, knowing that I have a purpose to fulfill and deadlines to meet.

Navigating the small business landscape can be both challenging and rewarding. Can you share a bit about the specific hurdles you’ve encountered in areas like sales, marketing, and adapting to changing customer trends?

Leo Goriev : The main challenge in small businesses is limitations or, at times, the absence of resources. So you have to superpose many roles in one, such as, but not limited to, sales, marketing, production, etc. Also, in today’s abundance of lots of various services and products and, at the same time, informational noise, it is very challenging to get people’s attention to your offerings. It’s fair to say that selling something to someone has never been as difficult as it is now, necessitating not only creativity and visibility but also a deep understanding of the psychological triggers that nudge people toward making a purchase.

Businesses that commit to continuously studying the evolving psychological needs of their target audience and adeptly craft strategies that nudge consumers towards their offerings are the ones that can anticipate growth in the future.

Leaders Perception magazine would like to thank Leo Goriev and “Alty Inc.” for the time dedicated to completing this interview and sharing their valuable insights with our readers!

Interested in connecting with the host of this interview series? Feel free to reach out to Jesse Samberg on LinkedIn: Jesse Samberg’s LinkedIn Profile

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