SAINT JOHN – Zwebra Web Studio Inc., a well-known Ukrainian digital agency, received an e-mail in 2016 from the province’s economic development corporation Opportunities NB inviting them to set up a Canadian office in New Brunswick.
The province’s timing was good because Zwebra’s owners wanted to expand the company’s North American client base and knew they had to be on the ground here to do that. In 2017, Maksym Bezorudko (co-founder and CEO) moved to Canada and set up an office in Saint John overlooking the city’s waterfront.
“Founded in 2009, Zwebra specializes in custom web design, application development and digital marketing. Today, the company has four people working in offices in Saint John and Moncton and more than 20 specialists working in the office back in Ukraine.”
One year passed and Maksym Bezorudko wants to share Zwebra’s first-year experience and results:
The first thing we did right was joining the Greater Saint John Chamber of Commerce and starting to attend their business mixers. It gave us the opportunity to network with local entrepreneurs and get some work. It’s definitely the go-to-place for all new businesses.
People in New Brunswick are very open. You can reach out to almost any business owner, schedule a short meeting over a cup of coffee, even if you have never met the person before. You can learn about their business and discuss almost everything, including potential partnerships.
However, we secured our first large Canadian clients by placing Google ads and SEO. One of them is Blackline Safety Corp., a major supplier of live-monitoring and wireless gas detection solutions to companies around the world. The company from Calgary used the services of our programmers to finish its application on Angular2 framework.
We helped them develop a product that won several awards at trade shows related to gas and oil industries in U.S. and Canada., and we are proud to make our small contribution to their success.
Zwebra also knows the importance of bringing new people to Saint John. With this mind, we helped The Saint John Newcomers Centre redesign its website to make it mobile-friendly and easier to navigate. A renewed website was a part of their rebranding strategy.
Another useful thing we created for all locals was the first taxi mobile application in Saint John that is available for IOS and Android phones. It was our client’s project and they wanted to provide such services in a modern and convenient way.
Our team was also lucky enough to work with the marketing team of Atlantic CAA. We helped to implement a new design and upgrade the functionality of several modules on their website.
And one of our major projects here is web platform Liftoff Capital, which helps startups from Atlantic Canada find investment. It took us nine months to finalize idea of our client and deliver the completed product.
We are confident this dating website for entrepreneurs and investors will be a game-changer in the life of many businesses here in New Brunswick and far away from the borders of our province.
These were some of the projects done for the last year. All other works are available in our portfolio.
Our advice to entrepreneurs who are just starting.
It’s very important to understand how business works here. Making connections and building relationships are keys to success. You need to be patient because it can take a long time to make deals and secure new clients in Atlantic Canada.
In Europe, for example, you get the deal done in a just few days after your initial conversation. Doing business in Canada is definitely not about quick results, but if you do everything in the right way, with small steps you’ll gradually move forward.
Your reputation, portfolio, references from clients matters. If you start working with somebody and you really bring value your partnership could last for years.
Other factors that helped Zwebra grow and you should follow it too:
- Do things better than others in your niche, constantly improve your product, focus on your clients and take care of them.
- Pay attention to “business packaging”! Your company should look professional. That includes you, your colleagues and employees, your office and your business. Your website, social media pages, the logo are important too.
- Your business should have its face! Some companies are not only recognized by its logo, but also by their founder or other representatives
- Be active in social networks: LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram. It is good for personal branding and must have for each business.
- Network with influencers and successful entrepreneurs.
Zwebra has only been here in the community for a short time, but we’ve become very involved in local activities. Our company sponsored a Junior Achievement event, worked with various non-profit organizations and helped people who are planning to start their own businesses.
Our plans for the future are to scale up the business, expand our team in New Brunswick and continue doing things to make our community better.