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Interview with Viktor Chekh, CEO - Sombra

Viktor Chekh Interview on

Viktor Chekh  linkedin

CEO, Sombra
Give us a quick overview of Sombra. When and how did you begin this journey and what were your motives to be successful in app development?

I tied my life with software development ever since I was a college student.. I majored in Computer Science, and my first work also was connected to software development. Later on, I figured out that actual coding was not something I am interested in; I was rather passionate about the business side of the development process.

That is how Sombra started in 2013. Now, Sombra is a company that works in the US, UK, and European markets. We provide our services of full-cycle development and dedicated teams to the USA, Canada, Australia, and Europe. Our team consists of 120 people, and we continually grow.

What is your role in the management and development of Sombra?

I am the CEO of the company, so my responsibilities cover a lot of things. My work is tightly related to the strategic development of the company. Earlier, I was responsible for the administrative side of the company. But with the time, I moved my focus to sales processes.

Tell us about your biggest achievement in the industry

From 2013 we grew significantly. We are very proud of our employees and their growth, which helps us to evolve too. During six years we were selected as the Best Upwork Agency in the Lviv region, become certified Scrum masters.

Sombra was honored to be among the Top Development Companies on one of the popular review platforms for IT service providers and took the 4th place at the rate of IT employers in Ukraine.

How do you schedule the development phases of the apps to promise the timeline to your clients?

Briefly, after we agree on project specifications and scope, our project manager divides a project into milestones. Every milestone consists of sprints. When finishing a sprint, we track progress. Therefore, even in the middle of the milestone, we can see whether we will meet the deadline or not.

How do you help your clients in choosing the right yet profitable platform for app development?

The selection of the right development platform depends on the needs the client wants to meet. If we are talking about startups and MVP development, time to market is the crucial point. In that case, we suggest technologies that ensure quick development.

If it’s an established project and we know there is enough time for development, we suggest technologies that better suit project type and project requirements. We understand that such projects don’t set a goal to test a hypothesis or win the first-mover advantage. Therefore, we choose a tech stack that takes more time but ensures a better outcome in the long run.

Which would you suggest for a successful and profitable business progression, Native or hybrid apps? How do you define the factors that influenced you to make this choice?

I think there is no right answer to this question. Everything depends on the project’s goals. Firstly, we, together with the client, decide on which platform we want to target. If there is only one targeted platform (IOS/Android), then definitely better go with native technologies. In the case, if there are option for several platforms, cross-platform is the better option.

Also, if we are speaking about mobile MVP development, we suggest sticking to hybrid technologies because of their accessibility in terms of price and development time. We always can move the app from hybrid to native, if the MVP worked out.    

How do you scheme your pricing model? How do you fix your budget?

We use pricing models familiar for the development industry. There are Fixed Price, Time & Material, and Milestone model. The fixed price model has a predefined scope of work and budget. Often, this model is used for clients with a limited budget.

In Time & Material pricing, we charge money by the amount of work completed. Hence when a client decides to enrich functionality, the budget will increase.

The milestone model involves payments when we achieve a predefined milestone. The whole project is divided into milestones, and the client makes payments based on time spent on every piece of work.

Usually, we prefer Time & Material over the Fixed Price model because of the risk of not fitting into the predetermined budget. With Time & Material we can deliver the greatest value.

How helpful are the mobile apps developed by your team, for enhancing your client's business?

We work hard to deliver the most significant value for the customer’s business. Based on the client’s reviews, I can say our mobile solution helped their business to grow. A lot of clients report sales growth and healthier ROI.

What according to you are the best practices to maintain client satisfaction?

Our core value is customer satisfaction. We do our best to make our clients happy. They are at the core of our business, and our goal is to help develop their business to its full potential.

We always work on building relations with clients. We try to understand their business and deliver the best outcome. To attain customer satisfaction, we maintain strong communication, always provide valuable feedback and answer questions and concerns immediately and effectively.

How do you update your business system to be in pace with the technological advancements?

In Sombra, we pay great attention to raising the level of our technical expertise. Our developers continuously work on their technical skills, take professional courses, and learn new technologies. We move to the latest tools: frameworks, libraries; integrate modern methodologies, experiment with existing practices.

Also, on a monthly basis, we hold tech meetings, where we discuss security checklists (OWASP TOP 10, SANS TOP 25 Vulnerabilities) and DevOps practices (Continuous delivery patterns and anti-patterns, Feature Toggles, Canary Releases, Rolling Updates, etc.). This helps us to be up-to-date and implement technological advancements in our operations.

What are your thoughts about AR, VR and Internet of Things (IoT)?

These are definitely niches which will provide a great deal of value to potential users. AR/ VR has just passed their hype peak and soon will reach their plateau of productivity if talking about Gartner’s Hype Cycle. This means that more and more people start understanding now areas where these technologies are obsolete and where they could bring tremendous value or even disrupt whole industries.

Regarding IoT - though this technology has been available for years now, now it’s more approachable by software engineers than ever before. Integrating software applications with hardware devices took months of work for skilled engineers 10 years ago thus costing a lot for businesses. Now it’s incredibly easy to integrate your application with a lot of devices and program custom logic in a matter of several weeks even for a mid-level engineers, so such proof-of-concepts cost way less to bigger businesses, meaning they could experiment more and discover very powerful usages of IoT bringing a lot of value and gaining competitive advantage.

What do you think will be the future of mobile technology?

Though it’s now reached the point of table stakes in terms of features like screen size, performance, battery life, I guess next would be the integration of more and more sensors and hardware in the phones and uncovering hidden potential from apps utilizing these sensors.

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