Hello! Who are you and what are you working on?
Hi there! My name’s Stefan Chekanov, and I’m the CEO and co-founder of Brosix Instant Messenger (IM). I’m a tech aficionado who turned his passion for secure communication into a successful business. I’m very excited to have the chance to share my experience with all of you!
At Brosix we have a simple mission, to bring secure and efficient communication to teams around the globe. We believe that through our private and fully administrable IM networks teams can achieve higher levels of productivity and efficiency, while keeping peace of mind that their data will remain secure.
We are growing our client base constantly, which I take as the best assessment of the strength of our products. Currently we have over a thousand customers in 60 countries around the world. Each customer has hundreds of individual users who are often spread across several countries, making a truly global user community.
What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?
My career started in the IT field back in the 90s. At the time I was working on many cutting-edge projects with multinational teams, and I noticed how inefficient, not to mention insecure, much of the communication was. Collaboration at the time involved emails, sending separate files and using a public, consumer-oriented Instant Messaging applications.
In the end, you should be in business because you want to help people, so always keep that at the center of your work.
After some years in this field I began to imagine a different solution, one where teams could use their own highly secure all-in-one private instant messenger network to communicate and collaborate. There were options of course to install your own on-site servers, but they required highly qualified personnel to set things up and keep them running properly. I had in mind something that the average business could make use of, without additional expertise and a lot of resources.
We thought, in short, that it should be much easier for team managers to set up their own private Instant Messaging networks. That way they could focus on their business and not dealing with all the complex technical issues like setting up servers, configuring firewalls, setting security rules, etc. That’s why since the very first versions of Brosix we’ve focused on the customers’ ease of use where we set up the secure network and host the servers, and leave the administration to the customer. This was the beginning of the idea for Brosix.
Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?
I founded the company with my brother in 2006 in our hometown of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. We took the inspiration for our unique company name from this family connection: “Bros” for brothers and “ix” from my son’s favorite cartoon, Asterix. This shows that from the very beginning Brosix has been a company that values connections like family and community.
In the beginning we were a relatively bootstrap organization, and relied on our own skills, resources and experience to get everything up and running. We started with a limited set of instant messaging features in our product and did everything ourselves: from programming and design, to marketing and sales. This gave us a good base to start from, but over the years Brosix has grown in popularity, and customer needs have changed.
As interest in Brosix grew we began to add features and functionality to our product and grew our team. Over the years we’ve always sought to develop a product that we would want to use ourselves. After all, the best test for a product is whether you yourself, and those you trust most, want to use it!
We’ve always looked to the communication needs we had in our day-to-day work, as well as the needs of our colleagues and friends, as guidance. Having these needs in mind, we aim to deliver a quality product to meet these needs. This process is what makes Brosix the unique product that it is today.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today Brosix serves customers around the world. It connects teams from all continents and makes them feel like they are in one office sitting next door to each other. This feeling of connectivity is what drives us in our work. We also regularly receive feedback on how Brosix helps teams work better. This is what motivates us to continue to think about future developments.
Brosix is already a global company providing a global service. Our own team is spread among several locations around the globe, and our customers are spread across all continents. We are looking to expand Brosix’s reach, accessing even more customers in different locations in the future. In the increasingly global economy, every business needs secure and efficient team communication, and we hope to meet that need for more and more customers.
Over the years, Brosix has grown into a service with many features and conveniences for our customers. We plan to improve integration options, so customers are able to integrate Brosix with their systems in a convenient way. We are also constantly considering improving the service in different parts, like general user experience, adding tweaks here and there.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
One of the biggest mistakes is to try to solve all of the customer’s problems. When you communicate with customers you can begin to see new needs and new options to satisfy them, which is a big temptation to change your services. However, it’s important to stay focused on your original business idea. Of course you should develop it with time, but stay focused to the unique thing that you are offering.
Another mistake is to underprice your service or product with the hope to win more customers. There is a lot of research on this topic, but generally, you should know the price of the product you sell and not hesitate to ask for it. Lower prices don’t always mean more business, and could set you up for future difficulties.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We are a truly digital company, creating a digital product and selling it online. Therefore, we rely heavily on the Internet and all the services it offers for our advertising, sales and hosted servers. Below are a few of our go-to tools:
- For online advertising we use Google and AdWords
- For online payment processors we rely on www.Stripe.com and www.2Checkout.com www.PayPal.com
- For our dedicated servers we use www.Server4you.com and www.Softlayer.com
These are the tools that we find the most useful for our day-to-day work at Brosix.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I am open minded and collect information, experience, motivation and influence from many sources, so it’s difficult for me to choose one. I can’t name any book or resource in particular, but I do look at other successful businesses that are in different business sectors for good lessons. I also look to colleagues who I know and respect to gain inspiration from their success. And, of course, I try to avoid mistakes that I see others do.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
In the end, you should be in business because you want to help people, so always keep that at the center of your work. Focus on what people need in order to solve a real problem that they have. Don’t get lost in trendy business strategies, hot entrepreneurship trends, etc. Focus on people’s needs and try to meet it in the best possible way. When this is at the core of your work, business opportunities will come.
Once you have a clear idea of the need you want to address, narrow your efforts to one particular solution. Don’t try to solve all problems and deliver all solutions. Too many businesses, particularly startups, either try to answer all customer needs at once, or are quick to change their focus. Do one thing, but do it better than the rest.
Where can we go to learn more?
We’re always looking for ways to engage our community and bring them useful and entertaining content to help them make the most of their team communication. Please head over to our website to see our blog and check out our products, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates!
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