Igor Kostin

The first time I was introduced to computer programming I realized that I could create my own world inside of the computer. And that just got me.

Igor Kostin

Photo credit: Ade Angga Bhargawa

Growing up in an industry and mining town in Siberia is tough. So you learn to be tough and what some people might find hard is sometimes just normal to me.

I always wanted to do something different and perhaps everyone wants to be unique. But as hard as you might imagine that it might be to grow up in the coldest part of the world, the hardest part was to find your own path outside of the town’s dominating industry.

“The first time I was introduced to computer programming I realized that I could create my own world inside of the computer. And that just got me.”

I fell in love with computer programming even before I went to university. I entered and won contests on city level, regional level and finally on national level. And once I started at the university, I already knew that this was what I loved doing.

The company

Later I moved to Canada, and it was there where I started AirGMS, which has grown into a successful business that allows me to manage my work while traveling. Our developers are spread over the world and I believe that everyone should have the freedom and flexibility to work from wherever they are. With today’s technology we can manage the project easily regardless of where we are. The biggest challenge is only the timezones.

“It actually was eyes opening to me on how many people are actually depending on my schedule.”

Starting my business wasn’t a straight line though. Me and my partner wanted to replicate a successful on-demand cleaning service from the US, and apply it to the Canadian market. So we first started clean-clean.ca. But we struggled to adapt to the somewhat more traditional market behaviour of wanting to make bookings over phone, rather than automated application bookings.

The growth was terrible and after 6 months of hacking the market we found that our main source of revenue came from AirBnB hosts. And that was our first pivot: we turned the company into a very specialized AirBnB cleaning company. A month later we dived into AirBnB management and quickly built a new brand called bnbcare.ca.

Eventually we grew to be the biggest management company for AirBnB hosts in Vancouver, BC. What allowed us grow so fast? Automation, of course. We take the most time consuming task of our business and automate it. And at that point we had already started to get more demand for features from our client hosts.

“Our aim was to get 200 leads before any software was even built.”

I didn’t allow myself to trust the need until it had been validated. So we made a one night sprint and quickly built a landing page with all features announced. Our aim was to get 200 leads before any software was even built. I remember that day, we hit the goal and that is how we came to be AirGMS.

The process

Automated processes, trust and flexibility has allowed me to travel with my family while still managing my business. And I always try to find a coworking space where I go. It’s important for me to separate my family and work time. So I like going to a place where I can be productive.

Kumpul is quite an unusual coworking space. You can feel the Indonesian culture inside and the building itself is unique: the coffee culture and the art adds to the atmosphere. And I like that I could work literally 500 meters from the beach together with likeminded people.

“For me, I found Kumpul to be a perfect place to hit my state of flow when I needed to, and same time be reminded of a real life by the coworking space’s host, Sutami (or ‘S’ as we call her), with new activity organized every week.”

We’ve been on the road for almost six months now, and although this is the longest period of time that we’ve been away from home, we’re already thinking of where to go next. My son is not of school age yet, so we’re pretty flexible. This morning I was watching Youtube and suddenly this advertisement came up with Iceland, and I thought “wow, that’s something different, it’s beautiful. Maybe that’s my next destination.”