Hello everyone! Here is another issue of the column 'Interview with …', experimental for me, in which I talk to application developers, IT specialists and just interesting people. The idea of this material has been in my head for a long time, but now and then it was carried over to 'later'. It's time to fix this oversight.
For the English version of the interview click here
Today we will talk with Pavel Pravdin, an entrepreneur and developer who has had a hand in projects such as Mailburn (email client), Adamantify (a platform for developers to protect users from virus software using devices based on Android Wear), Welltory (healthy lifestyle tracker) and startup communities Coffeelab.vc. A correspondence meeting with my current interlocutor took place on Twitter. Grigory Bakunov aka Bobuk shared his favorite songs of the year according to Spotify, in my commentary on his tweet I complained that I could not find a way to pay for a premium subscription, for which Pavel suggested getting a virtual EntroPay card (details here).
During the conversation, we will try to find out how 'big data' can help us lead a more correct and healthier lifestyle, whether it is worth thinking about changing the country of residence and how to keep up with everything.
Author's style saved
– Pavel, good day! Thank you for agreeing to participate in this interview, given the busy schedule and different time zones. First of all, let's talk about your activities. How did you come to create startups?
Сначала прошёл по карьерной лестнице от инженера до руководителя R&D центра в зарубежной компании. Then I had the opportunity to become an intrapreneur – this is the kind of person who launches a new product and company at the request of a large corporation. In my case, it was an order from the 'power engineers' 'Group E4' to launch a payment and billing system for housing services in Siberia. Then I gained experience in quickly launching a complex financial system in a retrograde market and realized that I had to do my own business.
The first business was a startup similar to Delivery Club, only a couple of years earlier in Siberia. It was a website where you could order delivery from different restaurant menus. By the way, they managed to sell it and make a small exit, the first startup experience was successful.
– Often, young specialists have those who are considered to be ideological inspirers, standards, whatever. Were there such characters at the beginning of your career?
– My ideological inspirers were not media characters, but quite specific colleagues-mentors. Their level of professionalism showed me how cool you can be in your business.
I started my professional career in my first year in 2001, got a job as a test engineer at the South Korean company Darim, where my first head was Roman Chukhno. He gave me key engineering skills and introduced me to the essence of software development, taught me to understand the small details and always be a professional, no matter what the cost.
The managerial skills were given to me by the director of the Canadian company Siberlogic Andrey Pletenev. There I learned to work with enterprise clients like the US Army or Lockheed Martin and Western-style people management where everything revolves around the result.
– Is it you who is the generator of ideas for new projects, or is there a team work?
– I am a supporter of the opinion 'the idea is worthless'. Too many ideas come to me, and the main question is not 'what to do?', But 'what to choose from all the variety of options, and most importantly, how to complete it to the end'. I do not understand at all when someone is seriously discussing a 'brilliant idea' and its meaning.
Only implementation can be ingenious, and this is exactly what the team does. This is the most important thing – how you do it, not how you think it up.
– Is there a division of projects into 'favorite' and 'ordinary'? Which one do you consider to be the main one at the moment?
– The last couple of years I have one project – Welltory. Everything else is completely rolled up and removed from life. If you strive to do something big, then there can be no other pet projects or side projects.
Before that, I have chosen a multi-project strategy more than once and would not recommend others to do several things at once. If you are the last one in the chain of responsibility for the project and there is no one behind you, then do only one project – the one for which you are responsible. If this is not completely your responsibility, you can do a few, however, the chances of success are rather reduced, defocusing is always harmful.
– Honestly, I wanted to tell our readers about Welltory in a separate article, but the service turned out to be very difficult for a simple review. How would you tell an inexperienced user about it?
– For this we just made a video.
Seriously, the Welltory product is one of those innovations that first appear as a technology, and then become overgrown with use cases, and such that the developer did not even know about.
The most important thing we offer is to try to measure your body for stress, energy and readiness for stress. This works very well in the beginning, and then people will learn that you can monitor your body using measurements, understand what it tells you, receive contextual recommendations for your state, find the cause and fix the problem that prevents you from being in better shape. The 'quantified self' approach to caring and learning about one's body through data is quite popular among nerds. At Welltory we make tools that will bring the idea of 'quantified self' to the masses.
– As I understand it, Welltory is for those who care about their health and who would like to bring their lives back to normal. Will the service be useful for categories of users working in an irregular mode?
– You understand everything correctly, the service especially helps intellectual workers, those whose concentration and brain activity are expensive. If you have an irregular schedule, then Welltory will definitely help, because we do not give general advice like 'go to bed before midnight', we tell you how your body feels and what will help it recover faster regardless of the time of day.
We also help athletes who need to control their recovery from exertion, and people who are faced with various mental disorders, such as burnout or increased anxiety. In America, doctors prescribe Welltory to their patients.
– From the outside, it is quite difficult to correlate the measurement by means of a flash and a camera and the received data on stress, energy and functional state of the body. It `s Magic?
– This is a very well-studied science – heart rate variability (HRV). The most promising digital biomarker for the near future. For example, in the PubMed library you will find 23 thousand articles on HRV, and the number of studies has been growing rapidly since the 70s of the last century. Science is well studied and applied in sports, medicine and space. A specially trained physiologist deals with interpretation, and we have automated it.
The method of photoplethysmography, which is used in all smartwatches, bracelets, pulse oximeters and many other places, helps to measure the heart rate. The principle of its operation is simple – a fragment of the skin is translucent and a video is filmed, where, by changing the color of the frame, it is possible to register the heart rate and extract the intervals from the RR, which are needed to analyze the heart rate variability.
You can read on our blog how we managed to develop an algorithm for extracting RR intervals from a regular iPhone camera with the same accuracy as a professional chest heart rate sensor. We are proud of this, no one in the world could achieve such accuracy.
– Not bad! Well, now the concept of 'quantified self' is becoming clearer, I have often come across this term.
Welltory, again, is much more complicated than it seems at first glance. I advise you to try those who seriously want to take on their health. An interesting service with a serious approach and useful content. But be prepared for the fact that you will have to understand, read, watch and dig into the application a lot. If you are a supporter of a healthy lifestyle or have an understanding of the need to switch to it, then you will like it and you will learn a lot about yourself and your 'system'.
Cost – free, IAP
Requirements – iOS 9+, age limit 12+
Cost – free, IAP
Requirements – Android 4.3+, age limit 3+
Let's move on to more personal questions. On Twitter, at regular intervals, you share your observations and facts you noticed while traveling. How often do you manage to visit different countries?
– With the launch of Welltory and the birth of my daughter, the number of trips decreased, in 2017 I traveled only 5 times. On the other hand, trips are different, the last one began in early December 2017 and is still not over, traveled across Asia, worked in the United States for 3 months, now in Thailand.
– Can you call yourself a cosmopolitan? Or is there an attachment to a particular country?
– The role of the state in human life is declining, and I am sure that geographical boundaries are becoming more and more conventional. I feel good in Russia, my home is there. If things are forced, then moving to another country does not seem to be something impossible, for example, living in the Valley for several years is very useful for business.
– Many users imagine startup founders as extremely busy people with the most planned schedule and a minimum of free time. Is it so? Do you manage to get distracted by hobbies?
– We at Welltory promote the idea that you need to manage not time, but your own energy, i.e. strength and motivation to do. Therefore, I try to fill my schedule with different activities every day. This is a family, regular sports, socializing with friends. Really free time a week is about 4-5 hours, and I spend it on self-education, films, or just doing nothing, which also helps to recover well.
Very rarely I work at a computer for more than 8 hours and I think that as soon as the energy of decision-making is over and my head has stopped cooking, I need to switch from work to sports, recreation or household chores.
– I propose to discuss more general, but relevant topics. I am interested in your opinion about cryptocurrency: do you think this is a bubble or a revolution in the economy?
– Neither one nor the other? The size of the bubble is determined by people's faith, and if the speed of events does not coincide with expectations, then faith falls. The revolution will be slow, novice crypto investors were not ready for this.
I don't trade crypto at all and prefer the stock market of tech companies. It is better to invest in something that has good expertise and you can assess the market situation and react in time.
– Do you mine? ?
– The last time I dabbled with bitcoin was in 2013, then it did not seem promising to me, so I deleted the software and keys from the wallet.
– Can you call yourself a geek gadget? What devices do you use most often?
– By the nature of my work at Welltory, I test everything more or less decent from the fitness and health gadgets market, it will be too long a list.
My personal list would be like this:
- Surface Book 2
- Nexus 6P
- Samsung Gear Sport watch, very strong device
- BT headphones Yesku
- Netatmo Weather Station
- Withings blood pressure monitor
- Test iPhone 5c
– Do you share the growing dislike for cutouts / 'monobrows' in device displays?
– No, I don’t share, I don’t see a problem and will buy Huawei P20 as soon as it is on sale.
-What do you think about the Telegram blocking story? Will the ban itself and the accompanying events greatly affect the Russian Internet community?
– Educationally, yes, it will, two million people will leave the radars. A fight between bypass and blocking tools will begin, and the bypass will probably become illegal.
– What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurial developers?
– When making a new product, be sure to invest in training in product analytics and hypothesis testing, for example, https://simulator.gopractice.ru/. The faster you make mistakes and learn, the higher your startup survival rate.
Once again I want to thank Pavel for agreeing to this web interview. It is always interesting to communicate with people whom you would hardly have encountered in ordinary life, and if you did, it is not a fact that they would have found time for such conversations. On the other hand, you can always find common themes, especially when there are similar interests.
You can address your questions to Pavel in the comments, he will definitely answer. Thank you all for your attention!