Tell us about yourself?
My name is Leonid (Leo) Khoroshko. I was born in Lithuania, but I actually have Ukranian origins.
I spent last 10 years in IT industry working as a Sales Executive for large American Software companies.
I also have the experience of starting and growing my own company, which I later sold 4.5 years after it had been launched.
This was a completely different and unique experience for me that changed my view of many things and opened many opportunities.
As long as I remember, from a very young age I was always curious about things around me, constantly asking questions and wondering why?
When everyone is doing the things one way, why can’t I do it another way, my own way? Why can’t I work and live the way I always wanted. Why does work have to be so boring?
Why do we sometimes feel that we don’t have much choice? Why should we follow patterns of large and successful companies and why can’t we make it our own unique way?
Who said that if we are doing things differently, they are wrong? I’ve always wanted to have more freedom and better work-life balance.
That’s how we started Lerio.io, aiming to help people who want to have more freedom and work remotely, get less stress and enjoy their life.
The main idea behind Lerio was to create place where employees and employers could find each other and to simplify the process of remote employment.
By adding technologies to our idea, we made it all even more simple.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
I think that all the success stories we see on social media and news about companies, who raised hundreds of millions in funds within first year becoming Unicorns (the magic word), are changing focus for a lot of entrepreneurs.
They strive to raise as much as they can before they get enough traction and customers.
Forgetting that their small company can actually be profitable, unlike all those unicorns with tons of money. It became a race of image and publicity, rather than race of values.
If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?
Keep your head down, work hard, focus on the most important, which is taking care of your customers.
Don’t look at competitors and do things your own way.
After all, it is your idea, your business and it is unique whatever others would say. You can copy business model but you will never copy the same team.
What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?
I think that every single entrepreneur stands out in a certain way. I don’t really understand questions like “how your company/product is different from others”.
It’s done by completely different people, with a different mindset and approach. That’s how it becomes unique.
If somebody asks you, what makes you different from others, what would you say? We are all different and unique.
What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?
The best habits which I really appreciate are very simple. Never give up, never look over your shoulder what others do, and keep working hard. Yes, they sound cliché but they really work.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
I’ve always wanted to work remotely. That’s how I built my previous company where we never had an office.
All of us were based in different countries, but it didn’t stop us from being a successful company which was acquired back in 2019 when remote work was not that acceptable.
I thought that it would be great to give same opportunity to other people. Why not help both professionals and businesses to benefit from remote working and provide them with a platform where customers could find, employ, and manage their remote teams.
Same would work the other way, if you would like to work remotely and be officially employed in your country, you could use a platform where all of that could be possible.
To summarize, the main influence was my previous experience in building a business completely remotely and my passion to simplify things.
Where do you see your business in five years?
Eventually we see ourselves as a tool for individuals and businesses known and used worldwide.
The tool allowing to work with no borders and limits.
We also want to be known as a green company, helping to reduce pollution on earth.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?
I can’t give challenges from the top of my head right now. I think I am more of a practical person than a theoretic.
I have a vision and a goal, and that’s basically it. I am sure that during our journey we will face some challenges, but that’s part of the game and that’s what makes it so exciting and interesting.
Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?
I think it’s being a guy from a very small city (15,000 people) with no connections in business or rich parents, no wealthy friends or real-life examples among people I knew, who was able to come to another country, start a new career, then his own business and then sell it.
It wasn’t something I always knew I will achieve, but I guess during my journey I was very curious of what is going on around me and very interested in trying something that has never been done before in my life.
But of course, the biggest success of my life is my family: a beautiful wife, two wonderful kids and a somewhat crazy cat 😊
How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?
Yes, at this stage we are using our own resources. I came from sales and business development environment and I use my own experience.
I think in the beginning it works pretty much the same for every start-up before raising millions and getting large marketing budgets.
You find first customers, and if they are happy, they will recommend you to others, plus you do old-school sales approach e.g., emailing, calling, writing posts and do whatever it takes.
Also, we have our own online platform where customers can register and engage with us, ask any questions and get help.
What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?
Another cliché but believe me it works. Simply don’t give up and keep moving forward, making adjustments and improvement while you move.
Even if others tell you, that you are not different enough, not experienced enough or even meaner things sometimes, just don’t listen and keep moving forward.
This is your unique business and unique you, so never allow anyone doubt it.
And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?
Personally, I am very happy and blessed to be where I am at this moment. I have my family behind me, I do what I love, and I am free.
Businesswise I really hope that we will be able to keep adding more value for people we work with, and be a company known for caring for its employees and for a healthy internal environment.