Many successful Russian businessmen started their way into the “dashing nineties”. Often, they are skeptical about their way – supposedly at that time it was enough to just be at the right time in the right place and successfully participate in the privatization process. However, not always everything turned out so easy. A striking example of this is Ratmir Timashev.
Timashev began his career as an ordinary Soviet youth with ambitions. Even while studying at a school in Ufa, he made efforts to enter the prestigious Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. He solved problems from the popular scientific magazine “Quantum”, studied in the correspondence school at physical school. In the first year, Timashev failed at the entrance to MIPT and began studying at the Ufa Aviation Institute. But in his sophomore year in 1985, he was still able to transfer to Moscow’s physics department.
Timashev lived in a hostel and, like an ordinary student, had difficulty with money. At first he worked during a vacation in the Soviet student construction team, where he quickly became commander, but when the first cooperatives began to appear in the country, he immediately found the work in such a co-op more promising. The cooperative was also engaged in construction, but in passing there one could understand the basics of doing business.
Timashev graduated from the university in 1990. This was an extremely unfortunate time for many other graduates of Soviet universities. The country was changing rapidly, all life and career plans of young specialists were losing importance. In the 1980s it was possible to hope after the university to get a job in the research institute, join the party, get a service apartment, and build a leisurely scientific career. But in the 1990s, this was no longer the case, and many people were disoriented. Some of the young scientists still went to work in the scientific research institute and doomed themselves to hopeless poverty, and someone dropped their hands and agreed to grassroots posts in the new capitalist world. Graduates with prestigious diplomas massively occupied positions of sellers, couriers and drivers.
But some young people, including Timashev, managed to see new perspectives in the changing world. Timashev took advantage of the opportunity to leave to study in the United States. He studied chemical physics at Ohio State University in the city of Columbus, where he was appreciated for his physical training.
Simultaneously Timashev became interested in another new phenomenon for those times – computers. Experience in the cooperative has not been in vain: he helped with the help of friends who stayed in Russia to import computer components from the US. In 1996, Timashev learned about the emerging format of the online store and invited his friend from the physicist, Andrei Baronov, to develop such a store for trade in components. Timashev also noticed during his joint studies that Baronov is a “technical genius” and has great potential.
The store did not work very well – as Timashev himself admitted, he and Baronov were ahead of their time. In Russia, then, there were too few Internet users, and even fewer – those who were ready to trust the new format of purchases. But in the process of working on the store Barons studied just released in 1995, Windows NT. Timashev and Baronov found that writing and selling utilities for this operating system brings a lot more money than the import of components. Therefore, they refused to trade and decided to focus on developing utilities.
In 1997 Timashev and Barons registered the company Aelita Software, which was engaged in programming, in the USA. The development center of the company was based in Russia. Aelita quickly became a successful competitor to the American Quest Software. As a result, in 2004, Americans preferred to buy Aelita. The company was valued at $ 115 million. During the year, Timashev and the Barons worked at Quest Software, but then decided to move on. The partners realized that virtualization in the 2000s was as promising a trend as Windows in the 1990s. To work in this direction, they registered in Switzerland the company Veeam Software. In addition, business partners have opened the ABRT fund to support the same IT startups that they once were.
Now Veeam Software takes a confident position among the developers of software for virtualization. Its customers are 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies.
Timashev is a cosmopolitan. He has the dual citizenship of Russia and the United States, but he lives in Russia, then in the US, then in Switzerland (where the Barons also settled). He thinks globally – and at the same time manages to put his projects in a strict mathematical framework, predicting the development of the market and civilization as a whole for several years. Timashev admits that he was taught by mathematical physicists in mathematical thinking. Also he was helped by the spirit of competition and ambitiousness that prevailed in MFTI. Finally, in the university, Timashev was taught to be devoted to his work and to work tirelessly. He managed to take the best of the education that he received, and with confidence to adapt it to new realities.
Timashev does not draw a clear border not only between different states, but also between business and private life. His business partner – his former neighbor in the student hostel, his wife worked in Silicon Valley, his adult son tried himself in IT start-ups. Timashev is very willing to give interviews, likes to talk about his work and life, but does not aspire to the role of “pop star”, as some businessmen do. He is extremely frank and does not try to please society and flirt with him. Timashev comparatively compares little about the economy, social situation and other “high matters” – but he is well-oriented in the IT field and talks with journalists of profile publications not as a businessman, but as an IT person. Thanks to all this, it gives the impression of an intelligent and realistic professional.
Such a person wants to learn – and the ABRT Foundation does not only finance IT start-ups, but also conducts training courses for beginners. Timashev himself admitted that it was the lack of contacts with venture consultants that at one time prevented his online store from achieving the success that could be expected. Two young inexperienced businessmen found the right way, but could not properly understand the details. Startups advised by ABRT are relieved of this problem.
Perhaps the main feature of Timashev is the ability to quickly assess the environment, and the result of the assessment are not arguments, but deeds. Learning about the proliferation of computers, Timashev did not ponder – why they are needed and what the society will lead to, but immediately began to provide the Russians with the necessary equipment. Having learned that utilities are needed for Windows – he organized writing utilities. Learning about virtualization – began to develop the necessary software tools. Thinking about the existence of young and promising IT-businessmen – created ABRT.
Timashev, like many of his peers, had every chance to spend the 1990s in prostration and only by the 2000s, maybe to reach the level of an average specialist in one of the companies. Less fortunate representatives of this generation often say that their life troubles are the result of an unsuccessful start, an unfavorable historical situation. Allegedly in those days, one could either focus on survival, or engage in a business close to robbery. But the fate of Timashev proves that at the same time it was possible not only to secure personal welfare, but also to benefit society. After all, everyone agrees that the spread of computers and Internet technologies is useful?
The present social situation in Russia, although not ideal, is still much simpler and more stable than in the 1990s. But still there are young people who begin their journey with the thought “everything is too complicated” and “I can not succeed”. It is important for such people to look back at Timashev and other people who were able to achieve very much in a much more complicated start. By the way, Timashev notes that today Russian IT developers are still very much appreciated abroad. That is, the growth potential remains, and all channels are still open. At the same time, the “brain drain” is no longer coming, as the world is being globalized, the boundaries are being erased and a really valuable specialist is not becoming a “citizen of a new country who has forgotten about his homeland” but rather a “citizen of the world”.
At the same time Timashev believes that in the next ten years the status of science as the main engine of the economy will be finally restored in Russia. In this case, graduates of the Moscow physical and other leading Russian universities can begin their careers smoothly and confidently, and not through crisis planning.