"Absolute freedom of action, I like it" – Tanya Chepko
Two years ago, Tanya Chepko joined the corporate group as head of video production department. During this time, she created a strong and effective team and realized her dream – launched casting-service "hey! producer" on the base of "KB-12" startup accelerator. In the interview Tanya shared her experience in managing employees, told us about "unclassical" structure of the group of companies, startup launch anв "freedom" of "KB-12" senior managers.
Tell us why you chose video production?

It seems, it chose me. It happened by chance. 9 years ago I worked in Hungry Boys (Possible Group) agency, when it just appeared at the market. They didn't have a video production department so I started to produce videos. After 2-3 projects I got how it works, quite quickly improved myself and totally went with video production. In the filming industry people are the most important component. I like working with insanely talented and crazy professionals, they make this world interesting. Each task in the video production is unique, and producer is the key person, since it is up to him or her to choose a team for a project and resolve all the difficulties if they arise, though they definitely will :)

The production itself for me now is a passed and not very interesting stage. Even though each scenario is unique, the project implementation processes is a streamlined mechanism, so I wanted to do more. At the moment, I've formed an experienced team at KB-12, with them we make about a hundred completely different videos a year.
How you came to "KB-12"?

Nikita Ershov, 12.digital agency managing partner and my friend, told me that he really wants to discuss something. At the meeting together with the CEO of the corporate group Sasha Panov they told me that they want to develop a separate video direction and are looking for it's chief.

At that moment I was already actively thinking about starting a hey casting service "hey! producer" and "KB-12" has its own startup accelerator. So we discussed that I'd be interested in leading video production only if I'll be making a new business at the same time. And with this thought we ended the meeting. In two months, the guys contacted me and said that they still want me to join their company.

I changed the job because in "KB-12" I was given the opportunity to realize my long-standing idea and dream - a startup. Our company is built in a non-classical way, I have not seen in any advertising agency in Russia such a business structure.

Can you tell more about this structure?

There are separate groups inside the company which have managers. In fact, these are separate businesses, and each manager builds it the way they want, works with clients they considers useful, deals with areas that are of their interest. Most groups are full-service, a few have a specialization, for example, BTL, digital, SMM. Some of them, like my group, work not only with external customers, but also with internal ones, with the groups themselves and their customers.

A huge advantage of such isolated teams is the exchange of capacities and resources. If one of the groups gets an order for a type of work they don't do, the brief transfers to another group. So the entire turnover is maintained within the company.

Each manager has an absolute freedom of choice – he or she sets the team goals and business, depending on desire and ambition. It's really cool.

Also at the beginning, the corporate group can help financially, if necessary, it can involve customers and sale of your product / service.

What's your criteria for your team members? Which qualities should have your employee?

For me the most important criteria is self-organization and a sense of responsibility. A professional employee should be able to set global tasks for himself and divide them into subtasks, understand deadlines and monitor the realization quality. A team member is an independent unit. As a leader, I guide, train, help and support. Now in our team we have two producers - Nastya Shirshova and Lana Lee. Both grew from beginners to strong professionals, I can trust them completely with any projects and I'm very proud with them.

It is not easy to work with producers who have long been on the market because they have already formed their vision, habits and are not ready to change. Therefore, when they come to a new team under the guidance of a strong producer (it's me I'm talking about), chemistry can not occur. And I'm quite strict about work processes and quality. So I think you need to grow your team yourself – if you raise professionals from scratch, they are comfortable with you and your way of thinking and are ready to grow together.

Together with producer Lana Lee
And which qualities should a manager have?

He or she must have innovative thinking, taste, understanding of what the brand needs, which problems and tasks need to be solved. It's important not just make a creative advertising wining at festivals (although awards are always nice and welcome), but think about client's business tasks, help them promote and sell a product. Not to create advertising for the sake of advertising, just to make money, for me this is meaningless (this model can bring happiness to some people, but not me). And, of course, it's cool when a leader can think with the client deeply and along the way of solving problems to change the world, make society better and do good ❤️.

It's also important for a manager to be emotionally mature, non-conflict. For me personally outspokenness is a big deal. For example, I can directly tell my team and a person which part is good and which is bad, so only strong people who have the same type of thinking stay with me. Thus, we do not waste time finding an approach, formulating a phrase and not offending a person. That's cool!

A leader should be as open as possible with the team so that everyone could come approach them with any question or say, for example, "I am not happy with this or that, let's decide what we can do," and you will discuss further, solve problem or split apart.


Да, мы сняли VR-фильм «Эффект Кеслера». Как я уже упоминала, в нашей группе компаний есть стартап-акселератор и, помимо моего hey! producer, в него входит Impulse Machine. В прошлом году ребята запустили сеть кинотеатров в виртуальной реальности в России, и мы впервые занимались VR-съемками. Такой тип контента создается совершенно по-другому, с помощью технологии motion capture: на лицо и тело устанавливаются метки, и ты считываешь мимику и движения тел актеров, затем в программе собираешь и анимируешь персонажей. В отличие от видеороликов, в виртуальной реальности зритель попадает в прямом смысле внутрь истории и может влиять на сюжет.
Backstage of making the "Kessler effect" VR movie
Tell us about "hey! producer" launching and what made the business founders support your idea??

Initially, I came up with the idea of creating a startup, we launched a test version of the project and drived traffic. It turned out to be efficient and found its target audience. Six months ago we launched hey! producer - a new casting service for finding actors in the filming industry.

Starting a startup is the most powerful and momentous stage in my life. I had to jump into the unknown and start to learn everything at once: programming, promotion, pixels, analytics, financial models, unit economics, and much more. If in advertising you choose a direction and move forward, pumping your skills, in a startup you must start to understand everything at once. It's extremely stressful, it makes you stronger or breaks you. In my case, I hope, it was the first option. Well, at least, it's interesting.

I'm also very grateful for the huge support of the founder of the "KB-12" corporate group, Sasha Panov. He is an incredible person who generates so many ideas, thinks quickly to understand different types of business, attract any resources, find experienced people to learn from them. He is an infinite source of energy, perhaps powered by atomic energy.

Of course, key of any project is a team. We reach for help of advertising agencies and start-ups within the group, and also attract employees from other countries and cities of Russia.

At the moment, about 700 castings have already passed through our service, in the nearest future we plan to enter the American market.

If a manager has an idea of developing an innovative product for the market, then he can implement it within the company. There is an important condition - the project must be technologically advanced and connected lay in a sphere which you understand.

"Hey! producer" app interface
What motivates you to do stuff?

Desire to create quality products, do good and beautiful deeds. And recently I realized I am often driven by boredom. That's a thing that makes me do something, I don't like when nothing is happening. I think that you can always make some money, but there are more important things in life - people that surround you, drive and energy of this world.

Self-fulfillment is important for me - I am that type of person. It's classic Maslow's pyramid: when your basic demands are covered - where to eat and sleep, you realize that you have no right just to sit on your ass - go and change the world, inspire people! Recently somebody asked me the question: how to help our country where lots of people are poor and suffer? Come on, help yourself for starters! If you have hands, legs and head than do something, nobody helped me - I just went for it and found collaborations.

Human has no limits, he can push the boundaries constantly! Key point is to find proper people.

Tell more about "KB-12" corporate culture.

I am obsessed with my team and their mentality. We have ideal chemistry; spirit of union and we communicate as equals. And most importantly - we are thrilled by what we do. I get inspiration from other teams, groups too as they are totally different people and you can boost your skills in totally different areas.

We have the best parties on the market - clients, partners and friends join us each time. It's always super cozy, cool and fun - people can communicate, truly relax and remember how great was the party for a long time.

Personally, I am thrilled with independence as a leader. You can have full freedom and I like it. Yes, this freedom comes with great responsibility, but I am really self-disciplined person anyway.

Can you explain in three words what "KB-12" means for you?

Unstoppable moving and exclamation point instead of the third word!