"When the plane is nothing more but a taxi" — Egor Podvorny
The Clicks agency was founded in Omsk more than a year ago. During this time, it has transformed from a small performance marketing company into a full-fledged digital agency operating in two cities — Omsk and Moscow. In this interview Egor Podvorny, the head of The Clicks, told us about the principles of team management and remote working before it became mainstream, the "personal hell" of agency employees and charity.
Egor, why did you choose performance as your activity?

At work, there was a plenty of different experiments related to my projects and traffic was always in demand. One way or another, I started to deal with it. Performance is not bound to a city, and I realized that it could be a separate product. Back then, I independently dealt with traffic arbitrage and built arbitration teams in Omsk for several years.

Tell us about launching an agency as part of KB-12 — how did that happen and why in Omsk?

I met the CEO of KB-12 Alexandr Panov during one of our joint projects. After that, we began to cooperate in terms of consulting and subcontracting for the group's agencies, and at some point, he suggested that I founded a separate division of performance marketing. Then I showed little interest in this, because I was not bored with arbitration yet. So when I got completely tired of it, I came to Alexandr and said: "If the offer still holds, I'm in".

After that there was the moment when I was given carte blanche — I thought that it would be very tough to develop a performance direction in Moscow from scratch, since I had already recruited an arbitration team in Moscow and Omsk and I knew the difference. Moreover, it does not matter from what point in the world a traffic person physically works. Then the thought came to mind — to open an agency in Omsk. I lived there, spoke at conferences, worked — showed some kind of activity and knew the market well.

The agency has just celebrated its 1st anniversary, but your specialization has expanded greatly. What is The Clicks today?

Now The Clicks is a digital agency with three key areas: performance marketing + SMM + moderation / customer support. We work in 2 offices — our employees (about 20 people) work both in Omsk and in Moscow. We manage projects for our clients and provide services for other KB-12 companies.

One of our basic principles is consistency, we work according to the guides with clearly defined processes. This is the utmost aspect of scaling, because the more you expand the chaos, the bigger it gets.

What are the cons and pros of working in 2 cities — Omsk and Moscow?

Speaking about the company, it was exciting to build remote processes of close cooperation. Although for now we have only accounting and sales in Moscow, there was a period when the production specialists were separated in different time zones — it was a challenge.

However, as practice has shown, with the proper standardization of processes, by means of task tracking and a number of other "remote control" tools — everything works out well. Hence, when everyone suddenly faced the pandemic, nothing changed for us at all — we already had all the processes elaborated.

Gradually, everything got back on track: we have business trips for some key meetings, and, in fact, the problem of remote offices was wiped away, and the employees began to consider themselves as one big team.

Speaking about my personal history, then yes, I am kind of always one foot out the door. I work 2/1, 3/3 between cities. I' have become a preferred airline customer in half a year. But at the moment it does not bother me — you get used to it and perceive a plane as an hour taxi. Well, I already got to know most of the security guards at the airport by sight.

Tell us about The Clicks, do you have any traditions there?

Just like KB-12, we promote the communication on equal ground between employees at any position. I do not want to say the cliché like "we are family", but it is true, we are very close. I am always aware of what is happening to anyone, the guys spend free time together. We are all good friends.

For example, we have a tradition at the Omsk office — we have lunch on Fridays together. Sometimes I bring sweets to the office, and those on a diet throw virtual stones at me :)
The Clicks team
What are the principles for recruiting people to your team?

To start with, these are personal characteristics and qualities, because it is no secret to anyone, and the guys who came to The Cliks in both Omsk and Moscow say that more was required of them than the skills they came with initially. Everyone grows, learns and develops.

Soft skills come first, not professional skills, because in most cases, if a person has some basic skills – we can teach him the rest. We hire like-minded people. It happened involuntarily, but the term "The Clicks man" appeared in our team - it is difficult to describe it, but everyone has a portrait of it in his mind.

Professional skills are in the second place, of course. We hire people with good basic skills and an irrepressible desire to develop, a proactive attitude, because we have a super dynamic industry.

And the third thing. The "Clicks man" must have a backbone that defines his personality. This provides a solid foundation that prevents skipping from side to side.

We have such a joke that everyone who comes to The Clicks goes through his own personal hell to some extent.

Sounds threatening. What is "the personal hell" like?

This is what we call a certain level that is much higher than the skills and competencies of a person at the moment, and at the same time it must be achieved very quickly. And there is still a cliff at the back, and you may fall off.

This happens to everyone: some face it at the beginning, some later — when a new task comes up. It's tough to everyone, but they keep up. It is not that type of a question like "sell 25 projects" or "make 35 campaigns". Such a period can be divided into 2 types: for example, a person comes for a creative position, a designer, in Omsk and faces a new approach, then he needs to work according to guides, guidelines. To make it not just beautiful, but in compliance with a certain methodology. We create a high-quality product and our job corresponds to the requirements — this already becomes a challenge, because we need to learn to pay attention to something that seemed insignificant before.

And if someone comes to a position of a project manager, this is also a challenge, because he is unlikely to manage processes of this scale before.

There is an example: Yury Volkov, who came to us to head the moderation department when the quarantine began. Yury has not yet been to the office, he has not seen anyone live and came to the urgent direction, there was a huge amount of work during the pandemic. For 3 months, while we were working from home, Yury independently built a department and adjusted its inner processes. In fact, no one could fully help him in this. The Theta Group (The "12" agency) from Moscow helped in part, but it was still a challenge for him. And he did it.

Judging from your own words, do you tend to trust a lot to your employees right away?

Yes, because a few years ago I heard the phrase: "You cannot give responsibility without opportunities and opportunities without responsibility." These two things always go hand in hand. If you give responsibility without opportunities, the person has no tools, and otherwise he does not care for the result.

This does not mean that we leave him alone, we help as much as we can, at first we lead the way, but at some point we let him go. And that is what helps us grow at a rapid pace.

KB-12 has an extraordinary structure, a teal organization. That is, in fact, as a leader in a group of companies you can completely choose the vector of development / clients in your agency and so on.

What I see at KB-12 is that managers are fully free to build their processes. The result-oriented approach is what you might call it. This is cool, good challenge, new opportunities. In agencies, it happens that cool guys work, being held like a vice: by bureaucracy and their leader.

In this regard, KB-12 is a great opportunity to work free and prove yourself.

Was there any task / project that you faced for the first time at KB-12?

This is rather the way I work — I always choose to solve tasks that seems to be not clear. If there is an unclear task — text Egor, he will come up with something. Of course, it happens at KB-12 as well, maybe even on a larger scale. I love it, because if I realize how to do something, then I have to train, build processes and delegate the task. It makes sense and gives development. And if no one understands how to solve the issue, then yes, it's right for me.

As far as it goes, the role of the leader is to solve the tasks no one knows how to deal with. The Clicks agency itself was a challenge. We sat with Alexandr Panov in a meeting room at the Moscow office and decided that we would launch an agency. In fact, at that moment The Clicks appeared — and, to tell the truth, I was there to deal with it alone. And we also planned to take client projects in 3 months. I did not know how and what to do or either where to go — where was no one. Then came Christina Kudryavtseva, the production director, and the problem became our common :)

It was very difficult to find guys in Omsk, then they had to be trained and the processes had to be set up.

You brought a very good story to The Clicks - charity. Tell me why are you doing this and what are you doing together with the team?

I have been doing it for 3 years. There are many reasons. In short, this is my social position and an important part of any personality.

One should understand that you can help with resources, not even with money. The campaign that we launched the "Embracing the Sky" campaign, to help the Omsk fund which, we talked about on vc.ru, is exactly about this. I proposed this to our team and saw a positive response, that it was also important for them.

We began to use our resources, knowledge in performance and creativity to increase fundraising, it turned out efficiently, and now our agency will constantly accompany the "Embracing the Sky".

It's not that hard — nothing like a client project with a thousand concepts rendering, so any agency that keeps up with 24/7 tasks can certainly find resources to help.

What is KB-12 for you?

Team, synergy, result.