An Open Letter

WHO’S ARTEM? AND WHAT IS DEVTRIBE?

Artem Mashkov

9/20/2017

Over the past few months, everyone has been asking me “What is DEVTRIBE?”

It was hard to put it in to words. DEVTRIBE has been evolving  daily.

You can see our sales deck and read the “about” section of our site or linkedin profile but that’s just the surface. I wrote this so that you can see our soul.

Origin story time…

Some people collect kicks, others prefer baseball cards. Me? I’m a collector of people. I’m always kind to people because I know that my kindness will be repaid.

Well, it doesn’t always play out that way. Some see kindness as a weakness while others are just not grateful. I see kindness as capital that I invest into relationships.

For example, if I am kind to 100 people, 80 of them might not appreciate or remember it. The 20 people who do appreciate it will pay me back tenfold. So I just made my investment back with a net gain of 100%.

On top of that, I’ve gathered valuable information about the people who don’t appreciate what I did for them. I never throw good capital after bad so I will thank these people for the lesson and then steer clear of them.

Stay with me—this is still about DEVTRIBE.

How did I get into business?

When I was 18 years old, I didn’t get into any of the colleges I applied to despite graduating from Stuyvesant High School. This was my own fault—I was a huge slacker in high school.

I quickly realized I couldn’t just sit on my ass while all my high school buddies went off to become investment bankers, engineers, doctors, and lawyers. So I did the most stereotypical thing a kid from South Brooklyn could do—I went to work at a cell phone store.

Fortunately for me, I was pretty good at the job. I was promoted to a sales role because the owners wanted to scout a new location and decided to let me watch the store for a few hours a day. After coming back and checking the register to find significantly more money, I got my promotion 😊.

Eventually my boss told me to think over the long term. Instead of making sure the customer is happy today, I adjusted and started to think about what would make them happy enough to come back in 2 years (the sales cycle for cellphones at that time). In other words, my tactics switched from transactional sales to relationship-based selling.

Meanwhile, I kept collecting people and networking. I’d go to my friends’ grandparents’ houses to set up their phones. I’d sit for hours entering contacts from their address books into their phones. All this paid off when they started bragging to their friends about how helpful I was. The grapevine lit up and I had customers coming from all 5 boroughs to visit our store.

In no time at all, I became the manager of my location and my two bosses decided to let me buy the business from them.

Who supported me along the way?

After hearing about the sale, and seeing how well I was doing at the cell phone store, my mother decided to lend me her life savings so I could purchase the business.

Let’s put this in perspective. She lent a former slacker, who barely graduated from school, working in a cell phone store, who should have been a lawyer, her life savings. It wasn’t much—but it was enough for me to get 50% of the business and the other store employee put in the rest.

Now that the business was truly mine, I was able to make the changes I wanted. Implementing new strategies and programs helped us achieve enough success that I was able to repay my mother in 7 months with interest. At the same time, I finished up my Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship degree at Baruch Zicklin.

I’ll speed it up and get to the meaty part.

One thing led to another…

One of the partners of the original cell phone store that I bought came to me and offered to get a Verizon store together in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The rent was triple what I was paying and I was intimidated. I brought a childhood friend onboard to help us split the risk.

The good news was that we struck gold in Williamsburg. The neighborhood exploded with investments and people. This was all during the recession, but Williamsburg was almost recession proof.

We took advantage of the downturn in the economy to press our strength and expand. Landlords panicked and we were able to secure favorable commercial leases. Plenty of people were out of work so we were able to secure high-quality employees.

The economic weakness of the country became our strength. Every single grateful employee was engraved with our customer-first attitude. We did everything we could to make sure our customers would remember us in 2 years.

Collecting talent always pays off

Fast forward to 2017. We currently have 12 Paging Zone Verizon Wireless locations. Along the way we used our cash flow and capital to invest in other industries.

There is no pattern in our investments except that we always invest in exceptional people. Ideas don’t matter nearly as much as the team behind them.

This is how we ended up with two sports bars in Manhattan (Proper West and Manhattan Proper), a vegan creperie in Williamsburg (Little Choc Apothecary), and an auto leasing company in South Brooklyn (New Auto Group).

I think I am ready to actually get to DEVTRIBE now.

So, what is DEVTRIBE?

Remember how I said that I’ve always liked to ‘collect’ people? Well, after doing so well with Paging Zone and my other investments (which all happened because of connections and relationship-building), I started looking for ways to capitalize on my network.

After looking into my rolodex, I realized that I had a deep bench of tech, sales, project management, account management, and customer service talent. Naturally, I thought to myself, “How can I combine all these strengths into one company?”

At first, my partners and I were only going to provide tech solutions. But I understood right away that for us to be successful we would need more than just good tech.

So I started to look at my collection of people to make sure that I had all the right pieces for DEVTRIBE success. Here is what I had:

  • A team of 45 highly qualified software developers that I’ve used for internal tech projects. They have worked on multiple projects for Fortune 500 companies.
  • A marketing and branding expert who I’d read about in Bloomberg only to have a childhood friend introduce us a week later.
  • A decorated creative director who is a former gamer and fellow comic book nerd (introduced to me by the marketing expert).
  • A copywriting and personal branding expert who was also at Stuyvesant. He’s written for world-class publications and brands that people would die for a chance to work with.
  • A business analyst who has been in multiple industries. His most recent position is inside one of the top mobile tech manufacturers. I also went to highschool with him.
  • A sales director from Wall Street who I had to have on my team when I saw him on the news diving to save a woman’s life in the Hudson.

Then there’s me. Someone who’s good at solving problems and getting talented people in the same room.

This is my A-team. These people are all incredibly talented, and can probably do their own things very successfully. But they all see and understand the vision behind DEVTRIBE.

What DEVTRIBE is up to before launch

We managed to get a few early clients who were very excited about what we were able to offer at our price point. At first, we were just going to offer tech and IT solutions.

But after just a few kickoff calls and conversations, I realized that the people who would be our best clients wanted more than just tech. They kept asking us for services that we had reserved for internal use.

Well, I’m a big fan of giving clients what they want. That’s why we decided to offer the entire TRIBE to our clients.

Tech? We can do just about anything you’d need.

Marketing and branding? We’ll rock your campaigns.

Creative? UI/UX? We’ll show you what your customers want to see.

Copy and personal branding? We’ll take you places and put you in front of your leads.

Sales and Capital Fundraising? We’ve got you covered.

Shit hitting the fan? We can clean it!

Some of you will ask if we are a consulting company. Not at all. We are an execution company.

We don’t just give you solutions—we implement them. To date, we have turned down more business than we accepted. We only work with clients who we truly believe in.

Join the Tribe

If any of this sounds interesting to you, shoot me an email (artem@devtribe.com). I’d love to chat. I’d love to hear your thoughts, your suggestions, and your criticisms. We’re in this for the long haul, so I want to make a company that offers a service everyone can get behind.

Corny Finish

It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a TRIBE to raise your business.

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