Andre Zayarni is co-founder of MoBerries.com – an upcoming startup in Berlin. The CTO talks to berlinograd.com about his journey to Germany, his first career steps and why he prefers working in the Berlin’s startup scene rather than for an industrial corporation. With Andre Zayarni we would also like to introduce our new genre of Entrepreneurs.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in the Soviet Union, in the Ukrainian part of it. In a relatively small town called Winniza. I’ve visited it a few weeks ago, not much has changed.
What is the strongest memory you have of your hometown?
The Gorki Park. In my childhood, it was the place where all the attractions for kids took place. Later on, as a teenager I was in the music scene, playing the e-guitar. It was the place where all the concerts and festivals were held.
When did you arrive in Germany?
In the summer of 1995 and it was really hot, just like this one. We arrived in a lovely, cute small city in the south of Germany called Freiburg. I came with my mom and my older brother, Oleg. And I stayed there until I finished high school, got my Abitur and then moved to Karlsruhe to study computer science.
When did you arrive in Berlin?
It was early 2007, right after my graduation. I was looking for my first full-time job and came across a software developer position at StudiVZ. Hardly anyone has heard of it, but in our days, it was the startup in Germany. We were competing with Facebook and the platform that had even more users than Facebook in Germany but … we lost. However it was a fantastic experience and almost everything I know about high-end web technologies, I learned during my time at StudiVZ.
What are you passionate about?
I like to create things but unfortunately, I have two left hands. So, I prefer to build digital products at work and in my spare time as well. My last project was a chatbot which helps people to find a new job. It suddenly grew to one million users worldwide and right now we try to handle the growth. You can try it via www.jobbot.me. My other passion is traveling. I try to go on a trip at least once a month.
You are the co-founder of MoBerries – an upcoming Berlin startup. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
About two years ago, I was working on an incubator helping to build different web projects and mobile apps. Two guys in the next room were working on a digital HR project aimed to create a new kind of job matching service asked me to review their brand-new online platform called MoBerries.com. It was built by an outsourcing agency and it was a disaster. They already had some customers waiting for release, so we’ve decided to throw the alpha product into the trash and I jumped in as tech and product lead to build a new one from scratch. And it was a pretty challenging journey, I mean it is, still. As a tech co-founder, you actually do less tech than ever before in your career, the most part is about business strategy, product vision and managing people.
What is it like to work in the Berliner startup scene?
It has changed drastically over the last 10 years. The city has become even more international because of the high number of startups founded in the German capital during the last years. I remember the first Zalando office, which had just a few rooms and a friend of mine refused an offer to become their CTO because he didn’t want to “sell shoes,” (Andre laughs.) Nowadays it is a huge company building their own campus near Ostbahnhof. People from all over the world are coming to Berlin to work in the tech scene, small startups and giants like N26 or Delivery Hero, ResearchGate, EyeEm, SoundCloud, just to name some of them. Does actually anybody remember Amen? (He laughs again.)
Our company is, by the way, a perfect example of a Berlin startup, we have quite multicultural team with only a few native Germans, the rest are from a migrant background. Seven out of 10 people in my team speak Russian, it wasn’t my goal but it just happened. People from other countries are more open to working in smaller companies and startups, most Germans disappear after graduation into big corporations. I too have explored that path but decided early enough that it’s not for me. To see the growth of your own product is always exciting and even failures, on the other hand, help you to gain more experience and move forward.
What is typical about Berlin? What do you love (or hate) about Berlin?
Berlin is the place to be, except the winter time, that I bet you know. I just miss the ocean and the mountains… Typical about Berlin, in my opinion, is rapid change. The city is changing very quickly and its people are changing with it. There are so many different events to suit all possible tastes. It’s impossible to keep up with all the things happening around but have to choose your niche, your role.
What is your favorite event or place in Berlin?
The best thing about Berlin is, you can discover new places over and over again. Even after more than ten years of living here, I find new amazing places every time I leave my hood. There are a lot of secret places and new places popup everywhere. Especially I love places around water, like Fischer Insel, Paul Lincke Ufer, Stralau Insel and also the Baltic Sea, which to me should belong in Berlin, and Hamburg as well. Berlin is just how you feel inside.
What is your contribution to make Berlin a little bit more beautiful?
In order to contribute to the beauty of the city, you just have to be a part of it, enjoy your life and help people around you, so that they can also enjoy their life. At the moment, I’m trying to help people to find the right job, later it can be something else. In parallel I have some Facebook groups and try to connect people by shared interests and hobbies like doing sports together, watching movies together and drinking beers together. No matter what you do, do not just consume but create, invent, organize and do not stop to generate. Try out new ideas. That’s my mantra.
Andre Zayarni is a co-founder of the startup MoBerries.com. To find out more about MoBerries visit their website www.moberries.com and follow them on Facebook. You can get in touch with Andre Zaryani on LinkedIn.
With Andre Zayarni we would also like to introduce our new genre of Entrepreneurs. To meet other great entrepreneurs from Berlin visit Berlinograd.com.