Executive InterviewsLatest

Meet Yuri Vedenin – The Founder of UXPressia

Today we have selected Yuri Vedenin to take his interview. He is the Founder of UXPressia.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

The pandemic has been tough on all of us. Now that we have shifted to remote work and have more calls and emails, we miss in-person meetings and face-to-face connections as you can’t just go to your colleague’s table to ask a question. But we are fine.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?

I started my career in the late 90s in Belarus as a freelance web developer. Things were different back then. I was doing everything from searching for clients and analyzing business requirements to designing, developing, deploying, and testing. But I didn’t know these terms at the time. I was doing all that.

Further down the road, I realized my interest in exploring business analysis deeper, so I made a career change and became an IT business analyst. From there, I moved up the career ladder to Lead BA and then Project Manager.

I thought that I knew everything there was to start my own company during that journey. And so I did, together with my friends. Spoiler alert: we didn’t know a thing, so we had to learn along the way.

Long story short, the first company was not doing so well. So I left and started a new one — a UX design agency. And almost at the same time, I founded my third company, an educational center focusing on user experience. These two companies created a holistic story called UXPressia, an online platform for customer journey mapping, impact mapping, and persona creation.

For as long as I can remember, products and services of poor quality were my hell and fixing them — my heaven. And if you look closely at any business, it’s just that — a collection of services, products, tools, and experiences. The better you make those, the better off your employees and customers are.

So, what we wanted to do was to influence what products and experiences businesses created. And one of the ways to do that is to provide them with tools that they can immediately adapt and keep on using. So, we needed to give them something that would shift their capabilities, mindset, and future. And the best way to accelerate this shift is to provide such tools for free.

That’s how my idea has transformed into UXPressia, a powerful yet easy-to-use customer journey mapping tool. It gives businesses the advantages of having a UX design agency on board for a fraction of a cost. More value at a lower cost is exactly what our clients want. It transforms into an overall better experience for businesses, making them ready to implement such tools and recommend them to others.

And today, we are working on expanding our product’s capabilities to enable our customers to do even more.

We discovered that the easier the tools are, the more users will stick with them and adopt them.  And that created a shift in their capabilities, outlook, and futures. And the fastest way to get to change is to do it for free. 

If you’re working as an agency, that’s one thing. It’s very expensive, very unique. If you’re doing training, it’s a little bit less, but it still takes a certain amount of time, and there’s a reasonable fee to it. But down here in the tool is high value plus low cost. So, my goal was to find a way to add more value while reducing costs because that’s what our clients wanted.

Thus, my idea has transformed into a company, and now we are working on expanding our product’s capabilities to enable our customers to do more.

How does your company innovate?

Here at UXPressia, we help build better experiences across various domains. We provide professional tools, offer free materials (templates, guides, whitepapers, etc.), organize events with in-house experts and guests to help our clients save time on routine tasks, and have more creative work and innovation resources. This way, by helping others to innovate, we innovate ourselves.

 We are also constantly working on getting to know our users better by talking to them and observing them. Our clients also allow us to look at the journey maps they build with our tools, which helps us better understand what they need and what new features can be useful.

Besides, our team performs regular market research and competitor analysis to help us gain a deeper understanding of the market landscape. This helps us inform our priorities and develop a strategic roadmap to continue bringing value to our customers. 

How does the Coronavirus pandemic affect your business, and how are you сoping?

The pandemic affected us in different ways. For sure, there were some losses. Those clients who were building projects for an offline life had their projects on hold.

But we gained new clients, too. Those who used to build journey maps offline now needed an online tool. Also, some understand that Covid has changed everything, so customer and employee experiences need revision. 

Pandemic or not, there is a growing demand for professional customer journey mapping tools. We offer educators and educators free educational access to pro features as part of the UXPressia for education program. And those who today use our product for free can one day become our paying customers.

We also moved our in-person workshops online and started having regular online events with experts and industry leaders. Just last year, we had around 50 events. And of course, we had to master remote — and international, to that matter — hiring.

Did you have to make difficult choices and the lessons learned?

Indeed, this transformational period came along with some tough decisions like shifting to a work-from-home model and moving to a smaller office from the one we had set up with so much love.

The coronavirus pandemic has also made us rethink our product and our service offering in general. Before the pandemic, we provided consulting services on customer journey mapping but decided to cut down on consulting projects and focus our resources and efforts on product development. We believe that this decision, although not easy, will turn out to be the right one in the long run. We are not also closely working on our mission and strategy to better serve our customers. 

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

First of all, a part of our team has always been working remotely, so we were partly ready. But when the pandemic started, we helped our employees move the equipment to help with their home office setup. We are also helping with relocation to other countries and assisting with documents.

We have regular one-on-one calls to discuss our daily activities to maintain effective communication. I’ve also introduced biweekly calls that started as AMA sessions but later transformed into another way to stay connected. And once a quarter, we host online town hall meetings.

As for the tools, we use a bunch of them — a company-wide Telegram chat, Slack for dev and support teams and daily calls, Zoom for video calls (where pets were always welcome for emotional support), and Google Meet for smaller teams. We assign tasks in Airtable, and our dev teams use GitLab. 

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

The competition is getting tougher. While digital whiteboards and specialized tools are our direct competitors, we now see more cases of design agencies dipping their toes into customer journey mapping and adding personas. Figma, for instance, has added customer journey mapping templates.

But we already have a name for delivering professional journey mapping tools. In addition, our support team works closely with our users to discover their needs and demands, which we further translate into new value-added functionality. We are trailblazers, and we often see how competitors are trying to copy what we have already done.

Your final thoughts

Navigating this new normal is not easy, but we have a great team that helps us get through. After all, a business is only as good as the people behind it, and we have a great business! We are proud of our product that helps other companies improve their services and products while delivering superior customer experiences. If you are interested in learning more about UXPressia, hit me on LinkedIn.

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