In five years, BlackBelt grew from a small business with a few employees into a software-developing corporation of 170. The story began in 2013, when András Czifra, Gábor Privitzky, and András Wolf decided to establish a company.“Our goal was to create an IT business with a distinguishing knowledge-base”, says András Czifra, as he recalls their idea at the time.
This became BlackBelt. The core activity of the company is finding, selecting and allocating IT engineers – even entire teams – with outstanding knowledge to client projects. They started with on-site software development (at the client’s premises) and built up their nearshore development centre (in their own office), while they also created their own business IT platform: JUDO.
“The best deserve the best” was their philosophy in building their business. In this spirit, they hire only the most highly qualified IT specialists, who then work on the IT projects of the clients. “Our job interviews are also serious technical tests, which is the only way we can meet our own requirements. Our partners are now used to this, we cannot offer them any less”, says Gábor Privitzky. “This professional perfectionism has been the basis for the trust of our clients, right from the beginning. Our experts often work in the office of the client, as part of their team, so it soon becomes obvious how competent they are”, he adds.
This close, trust-based and professional business policy has made both growth and the constant acquisition of new Hungarian and foreign clients possible. Nowadays, many clients hire BlackBelt to build up and manage their entire IT project teams. “No matter where our colleagues work – at the client’s offices or in ours, the nearshore centre –, our partners think of us as foreign players in sports teams: they hire us to score goals in the finals and to win the hardest matches. There is no room for excuses in this field”, explains András Wolf, the sales head of the company. He thinks this is the greatest challenge: to find and get the best professionals. The great professional reputation of the company makes the recruitment process much easier: BlackBelt offers a wide range of Hungarian and international projects and ensures changeover between them as well.
While they only had six employees in the first year, this year they already have 170. This expansion is reflected by the growth in turnover as well: revenues have increased from HUF 40 million to HUF 1.85 billion in four years, and all this happened without any external investor. They outgrew their office multiple times and they are currently planning to expand their 1,000 m2 headquarters in Budapest. BlackBelt is one of the most dynamically developing companies in the Hungarian IT sector.
“We wanted to make our own product. We wanted it to have its own business value to our clients, in addition to our high-quality IT services. JUDO was developed in this spirit”, said András Czifra. As the manager sees it, the demand for software is expanding at an amazing rate, and clients are setting increasingly tighter deadlines. Keeping this pace is getting increasingly difficult for both the training and the market. There is a shortage of competent professionals. “JUDO is the outcome of the recognition that performance can be multiplied if the IT knowledge and experience available in the company and constantly expanding is pooled in a software-developing robot. This means that we store routine tasks and the best codes as templates, which then can be retrieved from JUDO just by pushing a button. Hence the platform prepares the routine programme parts, and our highly trained IT specialists add the more complex, specific developments.” It is a great experience for clients when they can try the software prototype made for their specific needs in merely a few days.
By today, JUDO has become the keystone of the custom software development business unit of BlackBelt and could also be the key to international markets. The company has already performed developments with this platform for many of its partners: amongst other clients, they have ExxonMobil, but the programme has already demonstrated its benefits in the fields of telecommunication, logistics, and healthcare. “We are convinced that the JUDO philosophy means the future of software development. This means that our programming work comes after the robot, the algorithm, or the architecture are not able to solve a task. This leaves us more power to concentrate on important project parts, the ones that give our partners the greatest competitive advantage on their markets”, said András Wolf, whom the ICT Association of Hungary has elected the head of its corporate section.
BlackBelt has specific client management: when a partner contacts them, they do not only review the issue at hand, but they work as a good architect. They do not ask the client to draw the desired house, but they first try to understand the person, how they live, how they spend their days, and see their future. Hence, for them, software development means that they first want to understand the company’s operations and approach, while they only discuss specific needs in the next phase.
This year, BlackBelt’s goal is – in addition to strengthening the current portfolio – international expansion: they are constantly working on the relevant strategy.