Recently, I got to talk to Muslim Zholdozbayev, co-founder of software and data engineering company Petrel AI. Leading engineering company in Kazakhstan. He shared his perspectives on a new business approach for outsource and tech companies. Here is what he shared:

1. New approach for outsource services
As technology is constantly evolving so is the client relationship approach. In our company Petrel AI, we no longer call our clients – clients. We treat them as partners which is a long term business approach. As an outsource service provider we no longer send hourly quotas and basic commercial documents. We send them minimum 3 options in working together.

One – classic outsource software solution + technical consultation for reasonable cost.

Two – just covering the developers` salary on a project + % of ownership of a product or startup after evaluating the startup. This approach is created for startups who are in need of complex and quality software solutions but have limited amounts of budget.

Three – Developing end software solutions on our expense for significant % ownership of a product. This approach is a joint venture.

Example – Petrel AI


2. What to be excited about in the tech industry?
Software engineering is no longer a trend is a necessity starting from creating a shoe to creating a medicine and rockets. I am excited more about solving real business cases, which are more valuable in a complex world rather than creating abstract solutions, which are not applicable to market or business needs. And in all of these, software development or data analysis is a tool, one of many. Day to day excitement is to find a case which requires out of the box thinking, the box of cliche solutions.

3. What’s the connection between Kazakhstan and SEA?
Funny fact about people in Kazakhstan is that we are born to be entrepreneurs since our country’s resources are not owned by private sector in most cases. Same in Singapore, almost no natural resources so Singaporeans are born to become entrepreneurs, hence the creativity and diversity. The business approach is relatively the same with SEA entrepreneurs with the main goal being useful for society and business. We are grateful to work with some leading players in SEA in the telecom and fintech industry and see more opportunities to create tools that businesses can use to solve problems.

4. Best piece of business advice ever received?
Once I met the director of Toyota Financial Services, he told me about one Japanese philosophy used in Toyota Motors. It is called Genchi Genbutsu (現地現物) literally translates “real location, real thing” and it is a key principle of the ​Toyota Production System​. The principle is referred to as “go and see.” It suggests that in order to truly understand a situation one needs to observe what is happening at the site where work actually takes place. You should not make decisions sitting behind your desk, you should “go and see”.

The same is for software development. To connect a whole application you develop or even small features you decide to implement you need to be in context of the business you are doing it for, so to make a decision or to understand the need you must go downstairs and visit the site and make a decision there.

5. What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
We are secretly afraid and concerned about creating AI robots and machines because there is a conspiracy theory that robots will take over the planet and destroy humans like in a movie with Will Smith or Keanu Reeves. In reality, engineers are not creating AI to replace humans but to create an ability in them to self learn. Learning is something like “meaning of life” for AI and once AI will know everything about humanity and our world, it will just leave our planet to continue its learning process. Say hi to Elon Musk. All that fear about AI is just humans’ ambitions extrapolated to an innocent artificial mind.

6. In your own words what is Petrel AI?

Company which looks for better solutions for business cases, using software development, AI tools, but not getting stuck on it. Our company is more about to make technologies work on business, rather than the opposite. And this brings us to flexibility that we have in our relationship with partners.

7. Competition in this industry and how to stay competitive
First you compete with the devil within yourself and if you win the battle you will get to compete with great players in the industry.

Consistency and flexibility is what keeps us being competitive to the best players. Consistency and concentration on your goal, on your development and on your aspiration. And it’s something internal, what stays with you. Flexibility in actions, approach, your day to day work, technologies you use, project management methodologies you implement. Flexibility is external, it’s what people around see in you and what makes you unique. Consistency and flexibility, paradoxically but these things are tightly connected. All of this is something like Bruce Lee’s water philosophy. Be water, my friend.

8. Industry insights worth sharing
It will be more of a developed experience. For me its simple “ask stupid questions”. A lot of great entrepreneurs and top managers afraid to ask stupid questions to their developers, clients, lawyers etc for the sake of not looking stupid. It is a waste of time in business, especially in the tech industry. Ask questions, get clear and simple answers, get the ball rolling.

9. Future of the industry and how to stay relevant in this industry

This industry is a future itself. And the future of this is holistic and postmodernist. To stay relevant you need to take your place now in this complexity, bring your value into the whole industry and world, forget about momentary profit – play the long run game.

10. How did you come up with the idea of Petrel AI?
Don’t want to pressure you too much with philosophy, the co-founder/ CTO Askhat Myrzabayev hit me up in 2016 and asked to be part of software projects he has been offered to do. And from there we got the ball rolling, now we have more than 60 best software engineers working in Petrel AI.

If you have any questions you can contact Muslim via WA + 7 701 925 01 93.


Muslim (CEO), Askhat (CTO), Abdushukur (CFO), Aslan (MP)

About the Author

This article was written by Numi Musalieva, one of the business authors of The Asian Entrepreneur. She writes on a variety of topics ranging from personal development to business strategies. See more of her work.

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