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Interview with the Chief Technology Officer at Flo

Apr 19, 2021
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The following interview by Gintautas Degutis with Roman Bugaev, Chief Technology Officer at Flo was published on Verslo Žinios. Read the full interview here.

How was the startup born?

The development of the first version of Flo began in April 2015 with a focus on attracting an English-speaking audience. The name refers to “Aunt Flo,” American slang for periods. Five months later, Flo was soft-launched on iOS with the goal of helping people get accurate cycle predictions. Since then, Flo has evolved into a holistic women’s health and well-being platform that provides curated cycle and ovulation tracking to users from puberty to menopause with proactive health monitoring functionality, personalized health insights from medical experts, and a private community for users to share their questions and concerns. At the core of Flo is the idea to help every girl and woman worldwide prioritise and improve their health and well-being.

Flo is currently the #1 health app for women worldwide. With over 170 million downloads, it topped the list of most downloaded apps worldwide in the App Store’s Health & Fitness category in 2020, according to App Annie and Sensor Tower. Flo has a consistent 4.8-star rating, with over four million ratings, according to AppFollow for iOS and Google Play, 2020. It’s also the app chosen by over 13% of women in the U.S. according to a Flo brand survey (Jan. 2020, 3,016 respondents, ages 18–44), it was named the Best Fertility App in 2020 by Healthline.  

You started an office in Vilnius, and now you are planning an expansion. Would you have done this if the situation in Belarus was not what it is now?

Regardless of the situation in Belarus, Flo aims to be a truly global company: We open hubs and recruit employees across Europe and the U.S. The company was expanding its global footprint and was hiring the best talent across the globe before any of the events in Minsk. Eventually, we saw Lithuania as a country with great engineering capability and potential. The current situation in Belarus has accelerated this process.

What are your plans in Vilnius? What kind of business activities are planned (sales? development? marketing…?) What kind of vacancies do you have?

We plan to continue seeking the best engineering talent in 2021. Generally, we’re aiming to double the engineering headcount, and the main locations for hiring are London, Vilnius, and Minsk. We have our first 20 people in Vilnius already and the recruitment plan for 2021is approximately 50 people — top talent and highly skilled professionals. Our hiring bar is high, with a median experience of 10 years for engineering roles. We are going to attract the top 10 percent of talent in the Lithuanian labor market. If the market allows us to hire more engineers, especially back end, data science, and mobile engineers, we will increase the number of positions. In addition to hiring engineers, we are also looking for candidates for positions in product management, operations, and finance.

We plan to develop an engineering ecosystem in the countries where we’re located, focusing on entrepreneurship. In Belarus, we are creating an extensive educational program in venture capital investments. In general, we plan to talk more about start-ups, which, in the end, will help us hire more specialists. Of course, in Lithuania, we plan to share our expertise, showcasing what we do in meetups and conferences, and organize our own meetups.

Is it hard to transfer business from Belarus to Lithuania? What needs to be done? What problems have you encountered?

There were several factors that influenced our decision to launch a hub in Lithuania. First, the country is located within the EU with a stable investment climate. It’s more cost-efficient than other EU countries, especially with the support that the local government provides to tech businesses. The absence of migration barriers for the relocation of employees from other Flo locations and the transparency and simplicity of migration processes also weighed heavily in the decision. Another benefit is the logistic proximity to Minsk, which is convenient for the relocation of teams.

While we were setting up business in Lithuania, we encountered a lot of support. In particular, Invest Lithuania not only actively helped us with setting up business processes, but they also provided consulting support for recruitment.

What do Belarusian companies think of Lithuania, do they see our country as a good place for business expansion? What are the bad sides and what are the good ones here?

Lithuania is one of the top countries for relocation among Belarusians for the same reasons Flo chose it: geographical proximity, talent pool, and ease of setting up business. We are finding challenging to recruit enough top-quality engineering talent and we are sure we will find plenty in Lithuania.

Flo is the world’s most popular and innovative mobile product to help women put themselves first. It’s a company that applies best industry practices and builds transparent processes. We work with the brightest minds in the tech industry and empower our employees with opportunities for continuous improvement through challenging goals, experimentation, learning, and radical candor at our core. We have ambitious and challenging objectives and believe in the power of granting our team the freedom to explore. We are committed to helping our employees discover and implement brand new solutions.

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