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From Bookseller to E-Powerhouse

Author: Astound Careers

Year 2000 was when USB flash drive first hit the stores, Microsoft released Windows 2000, and the first draft of Human Genome was announced. But, most importantly, year 2000 was when Astound Commerce, ecommerce pioneer, had emerged. This is the story of our company.

It’s a story of how dreaming big, when it goes hand-in-hand with continuous learning, good teamwork, and commitment to each other and to clients, can entail great success.

A boutique local business back in 2000, Astound Commerce has since evolved into a multinational ecommerce agency, launched more than 2000 sites, and worked with over 1000 clients worldwide. Like with any compelling story, it’s always intriguing to learn how it all started.

San Francisco, US, early 1990s, Ilya Vynogradsky, Igor Gorin and Roman Martynenko met and became friends while in college. It was then that their entrepreneurial idea had emerged. Student textbooks were expensive at the time, and they came up with a solution – build a website to connect students and book distributors. Little did they know, this solution would be the foundation for the company Astound is today.

Later, in 2000, the three friends ventured to bring their idea into life, registered their company, and opened their first office with a team of five in San Francisco. When the dot-com bubble burst, lots of businesses shut down. The clients of those businesses needed digital solutions, so the team captured the opportunity and moved from selling books to developing ecommerce websites for multiple new clients, establishing our company as an ecommerce pioneer.

The team set out to actively build relationships with new clients, so they often worked after hours. Ilya recollected how in 2002 for uBid company, they had to finish the project in less than two months, with a team of four developers, including him. That year, in fact, the small team managed to deliver over 20 ecommerce websites to various US direct marketers within three months.

In 2006, the development team no longer consisted of four people, with the opening of the first Delivery office in Kyiv, Ukraine. Due to the time difference, Ilya had to interview candidates and train new team members at night. That’s when one of the core values of Astound – shared success – had been born. Sharing knowledge and experience with the colleagues proved essential to the success of the company, and, therefore, to the success of our clients.

Over time, it turned out that word of mouth worked best when it came to acquiring new clients. By nurturing a solid relationship, and delivering the promised solution in time, the team built trust with a customer. If an employee of that customer switched companies, they recommended our services to their new management. Demandware (Salesforce Commerce Cloud at the time) and Intershop platforms were another source of new clients. And so, gradually our company picked up steam, expanded, and opened new Delivery offices.

Some of our colleagues witnessed the early days of those offices, and like to reminisce about those times. Cozy rooms, a small and friendly team willing to lend a hand with any issue you come across – the family-like atmosphere propelled the willingness to work and commit to projects. Moreover, they agree that not much has changed – teammates are still their main source of inspiration.

Our company has undergone two major crises. In 2008, due to the financial crisis, a number of clients went bankrupt. Luckily, there was still demand for ecommerce solutions, so new clients were signed. And, in 2014, the company was forced to close two Delivery offices in the Eastern Ukraine. But the team saw it as an opportunity to expand geographically, and opened two new engineering centers in Varna and Kosice.

Twenty years ago Astound was just a bookselling solution. Look at how far we’ve come. With more than twenty offices around the globe, and over 1200 team members, Astound has evolved into a digital powerhouse, now delivering ecommerce solutions and strategic, design and online marketing services to clients all over the world.

With Astound Way Solution Framework, we are now flexible enough to execute any idea, and deliver projects with various levels of complexity.

Now, in the current volatile economic climate, like with the previous crises, we are planning to seek out opportunities. Already, through surveying global consumers, we have found out that during quarantine shopping habits have shifted towards increased online spendings. Hopefully, these habits will take root and create new favorable conditions for ecommerce. We are also seeing some new industry verticals taking interest in ecommerce. So there are actually lots of opportunities waiting ahead. And where there are plenty of opportunities, there are plenty of new stories to be written.

Entering a new decade, our company is now turning a page of a new story. With commitment to each other, desire to improve and share knowledge, by being passionate about our work, we are not afraid to keep dreaming big and face new challenges. We are ready to head out into our astounding future!

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Astound Careers
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