Choosing between business and family was not an option for Aneta Antova-Pesheva
In my eyes, potential growth for the company can only stem from a constant flow of young, innovative people by increasing their involvement in the company without ignoring issues such as merit and gender equality.
Aneta Antova-Pesheva, Owner and CEO of Ultra/Unet Group
- Ultra and Unet are computing companies
- Amongst the leading IT software producers in FYROM
- Aneta is also a mother and an electronics engineer
After her university studies in electronics engineering and despite her parents’ disapproval, Aneta Antova-Pesheva decided to found her own business in 1988. Feeling that she needed a new challenge, she shared her first office with three former university colleagues in a one-bedroom apartment. She is proof that experience in the field can be as valuable as management training and that sometimes mistakes teach the best lessons.
WEgate: Tell us more about your company
Aneta Antova-Pesheva: I established my company 28 years ago, after my studies, when my country was still part of Yugoslavia. Today, the company is one of the leading IT software producers, system integrators and IBM representatives for FYROM. We work with the biggest financial institutions, telecommunication operators, insurance companies and hospitals, along with the ministry of finance, tax office, ministry of internal affairs, and many other big institutions and companies.
We are very proud that, 22 years ago, we were the first internet provider even before any of the telecom operators. We now have our own cloud system for hosting and renting cloud storage capacities, our own web-development department, and we are the first official registry for domains in FYROM. And we always follow the main trends.
When we started we were just four people but today the company has around 100 employees, most of whom are software and hardware engineers. Our employees are very young – some have just finished their university studies – but I think they enjoy being part of what has become a big IT story in our country, alongside more experienced colleagues.
In a way, our company is like an IT accelerator in FYROM. Many of the employees who decided at a certain point to pursue their own career in IT, separately from the company, have become very successful and respected individuals in FYROM's IT community and I could not be more proud of this. In my eyes, potential growth for the company can only stem from a constant flow of young, innovative people by increasing their involvement in the team without ignoring issues such as merit and gender equality.
What or who inspired you to set up your own business?
Looking back today, I can’t actually remember who or what inspired me to start a business. There weren’t many private companies at that time, since Yugoslavia was considered almost as a Communist state. But what I’m sure of is that I didn't like the socialistic ‘mainstream’. If you graduated from a good university and became an engineer, you were expected to work for one of the big state-owned companies or for local government institutions. It was a period in which educated people, including my parents, were telling us to lay low, and not to start a private business. But I persisted and disappointed everyone when I decided to oppose the mainstream.
I was looking for something different, something new and no, it wasn’t money! What I needed was a new challenge. My female instincts told me to take the risk, and I did. In 1988, I started my own company with a couple of colleagues from university, in a small one-bedroom flat where, ironically, my first office – as the general manager – was in the kitchen.
What challenges did you face when you decided to launch your company? Did you have any sort of support from organisations?
Even as an electronics engineer I realised the importance of finances from the very beginning. From day one, I employed a young economist to take care of the accounting and finances. However, when we received a catastrophic report from the tax authorities after our first inspection, we soon realised just how inexperienced he was.
It then became clear that I had to take matters into my own hands, so I hired an expert for six months to teach me how to handle business administration and finances. Since then, I’ve never had any problems in finding, checking or reviewing any documents, reports or financial comparison analyses, which are very important when running a company.
At that time, there were no institutions to teach you how to run a private company and, in addition, the laws that we inherited from Yugoslavia were not compatible with small private companies. Rather than any formal education in management, I discovered from day-to-day experiences what worked best for my company. Nowadays it’s much easier. There are many institutions which provide expert advice for various different management sectors, and there are many projects which are dedicated to helping upcoming entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship is still often considered a man's territory; what advice would you give young women who want to become an entrepreneur?
- Follow your instincts
- We women are better at finishing tasks consistently from beginning to end
- Isolate yourself from the people who don’t believe in you
- Never think that you have to choose between business and family: YOU CAN DO BOTH
- POWER = GO + SMILE :-)
What is your favourite part of your job?
My favourite part of my job is when I see our satisfied customers. Then I know my dream has come true.
My personal motto is: POWER = GO + SMILE J
My favourite quote comes from Africa: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together!”