2022 04 27
A business created by Kaunas residents, which offered removing the burden of IT management from the shoulders of companies

The founders of Toughlex in Kaunas say that in the face of uncertainty, it is most helpful to look at everything as another programming language that only needs to be learned.


Entrepreneurs providing outsourcing of programming services and implementation of non-standard solutions aim to remove the burden of IT project management from their clients’ companies and become technological partners. “I think what makes us stand out is that we build a close and long-term relationship with the customer based on trust. The technical part is only half of who we are, the rest is values,” CEO of Toughlex Donatas Lučiūnas says.


The business, founded by three friends while still at the university, grew slowly and steadily. Before starting their own business, the guys had already worked for various companies, so they were active participants in the market and could clearly see the opportunities and the huge potential of this industry.


“Perhaps it is to do with the youthful idealism, but we noticed that a values-based approach was a rarity, but we had plenty of it. We have decided that we will be as transparent as possible and strive to create as much value as possible for the customer, making it easy to work with us. These were our original principles, which have remained unchanged to this day,” Audrius Danielevičius, one of the founders, recalls.


The determination to act independently was also motivated by the size of the global IT market, and its rapid growth, which will only accelerate in the future. At the first opportunity, all three left their jobs and hired their first freelancer a few months later, and half a year later, they hired their first employee. According to the company’s founders, the accumulated technical knowledge and understanding of how the business model works from the inside, and what customers expect has helped them to grow.


As new challenges emerged, other skills needed to grow a business also evolved. In the face of uncertainty, it has always been helpful to look at everything as another programming language that has to be learned.


Speaking about the company’s growth, co-founder Žygimantas Butkus emphasizes consistency, “Throughout the company’s existence, we are growing by a few people a year. Or, it can be said that we grow with each new customer. Toughlex is not an overnight miracle, but the consistent success of the company shows that we are moving in the right direction.”


A job well done requires a good atmosphere

When asked what helps attract and retain talented professionals in the company, the Toughlex team first emphasizes the company’s internal culture and basic approach to both the customer and the employee, “The formula is simple: culture, a humane approach to employees, and adequate salaries. As the company continues to grow, implementing this formula becomes increasingly difficult. If we could achieve happiness through one clear process, things would be easier. We are constantly racking our brains to find a way to nurture an environment in which people would feel happy. We are convinced that positivity increases productivity: people will do a good job only if they find themselves in a good environment.”

According to Žygimantas, the growth of the company has been gaining momentum this year, so more and more attention must be paid to the strengthening of human resources. A personal communication network is used for this purpose, and partnerships with Kaunas universities are being tested.


A prescription for Kaunas as a center for future technology

When asked what, in his opinion, would help Kaunas to grow faster as a center for technology, Donatas Lučiūnas says that first of all, technological development requires a close connection with the target audience. A good way to stimulate innovation is to attract companies that use complex technologies – and therefore have expensive problems – to Kaunas. “It is very important that future talents are being trained in Kaunas. It is necessary to continue in that direction to an even greater extent. It is likely that this will also attract demand. I would also think about cultivating a certain niche, for example, robotics, which would fit perfectly with the industrial clusters of Kaunas FEZ. Maybe it is worth it for the city to invest in developing such a niche. These questions are up for discussion,” Donatas Lučiūnas considers.


Attractive to both the West and the East

Toughlex currently offers a wide range of services, from software development, and

maintenance to technical consulting and the outsourcing of dedicated IT teams. The main clients are Lithuanian companies, for example, they work with one of the pension funds and the mobile operator and its branch in Latvia. The company also has big clients abroad: Germany and Estonia. A document management system was developed in Holland. The company also worked with a competency register program in Scandinavia and collaborated with a team from the US to develop a database platform in the medical industry.

“Due to our high competence, professional culture and relatively good price, we are attractive to Europe. We feel a strong interest in us from Germany, Holland, and Norway but also America. People from California Silicon Valley seek us out. In the Middle East, the communication with a potential client from Kuwait revealed that although Indians are culturally closer to them, they prefer us due to our high level of competency,” Donatas Lučiūnas says.

In general, working with a foreign market, although it raises additional challenges – language, culture, time zone differences, difficulties in building trust – there is still a tendency for foreigners to value Lithuanian programmers more than they are valued in a Lithuanian market.

Another obvious trend observed by Kaunas entrepreneurs is that the number of companies providing programming services is decreasing as we move towards the West and if we move towards the East, it is increasing. It is likely that with the rising standard of living in Lithuania, this trend will become more pronounced throughout Lithuania and in Kaunas as well; we will have more product-based companies and fewer services.

“Technology is what is changing the world for the most part and the pace of that change is only accelerating. It’s simply an evolution, so we’re looking for new, additional directions where we can be useful and unique. On the other hand, our activities are guided by certain values that do not change. Toughlex is made up of two opposing parts: we are strong enough to stand by our principles and at the same time ready to adapt to the fast-moving world,” a business development specialist Marius Kazenauskas says.

Source: Photo: Toughlex.

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