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If you studied at AAU between 2011 and 2014, you may of been used to seeing a pretty vintage blue bike outside of the Lazarska campus and its owner, Katherine Dedukh, somewhere nearby. Estonian by birth, Katherine moved to Prague to study journalism at AAU. She’s used her studies to worked with Prague Radio, Russia Today and Estonia’s Public Broadcast, and she got her Master of Global Marketing at York University in the UK. Today, she can be found in Lisbon where she is the CEO and co-founder of Techreach, a digital marketing, and software development agency.
How does it feel to a female in the tech world? Particularly a CEO and co-founder of your own tech company?
Within the IT industry, I am almost always surrounded by men and it feels good when they get impressed about me knowing what is MongoDB or React native. There are not many females who create tech companies but there should be more, I think. I do have a great male co-founder who is extremely supportive and I have to thank him for it. It is a tough business and men in it know what it takes to succeed. I feel like I have earned respect in the tech community dominated by men by creating something by myself and surrounding myself with men who do not define me by gender but rather for what kind of an entrepreneur I am. It feels like I have my own life and my performance in my own hands regardless of anyone and anything, including gender.
Can you tell us about your company and why the world needs it?
Techreach is an agency that matches companies with developers, digital marketers and content writers, anything tech-related, really. We are not a typical web agency with ridiculous prices and we are not a dirty cheap platform that provides template-based services. We strive to fix common problems related to freelance and outsourcing and change the way people work and get recruited. We believe that the 9 to 6 schedule is outdated and freelancing is the future. Both people and businesses alike need a more personalized approach in providing and receiving services. We match companies with a perfect fit within 24 hours and make sure that everybody gets what they signed up for.
We help exceptional freelancers with 5–15 years of experience get projects with a fair price and minimum risks for both the customer and the freelancer. We have a database of 100+ trusted developers with a wide variety of stack and also talented designers PR specialists, and marketers that can help communicate your brand. With our unique business model, everybody wins. Companies save money on taxes, social insurance, HR, and so on and the contractors get fair pay, while we get our commission.
Apart from outsourcing freelancers and remote workers, we also do HR & recruiting in the tech industry, and we also set up IT offshoring offices in Portugal.
Do you have any advice for other women or young professionals starting out in this industry?
For women in the industry: there is no discrimination. Stop seeing a problem where there is no problem. Most probably, you were not hired because you simply need more experience.
For the rest: Be realistic and patient. Stop fantasizing about traveling the world while working on the beach. Some manage that but some take years to achieve it. I have met many young professionals who have barely any experience, want remote flexible jobs without being able to discipline themselves or deliver on time. Focus first on your skills and discipline and then fit it into your dreams.
You’ve been with news agencies like Prague Radio, Russia Today and Estonia’s Public Broadcast. What did you like or not like about the media industry compared to the industry you’re now in?
I absolutely love writing, transcribing, being on camera and controlling the production process. I have an analytical mind and I just love to gather information, build arguments and connect the dots. I love the process and the type of people working it this industry. They are usually very fun, intelligent and open-minded.
What I do not like about news or entertainment is that it is always a little bit bias depending on who are the shareholders of the media company. Basically, broadcasters choose what top 10 news or shows you will see out of millions this week. They have a lot more power over your mind than you think.
IT industry is very honest and straight forward. The program either works or it doesn't
As a broadcaster, do you have any funny moments or stories from behind the camera?
Hmm…let me think. In the end, I specialized in TV production and worked 2 years as a TV producer of an English channel here in Lisbon. We had funny moments every day, you need to see them rather than hear
What did AAU teach you beyond the classroom?
Diversity and open-mindedness. It prepared me well for real life and gave me amazing memories to reminisce about. It is the best university experience I've had so far and I've also studied in one of the top universities in England.
Can you recall any memories of your first day at AAU?
Oh yes. This one is a funny story, in fact. I wanted to make a good impression on my professors, so I had put on a neat light blue shirt. On the way, I moved it and somehow it ripped apart right where my pierced belly is. So, I had to purchase some AAU Polo T-shirts from last year to look less like Britney Spears in her famous schoolgirl video. AAU professors and students thought I was from student council or probably an AAU fanatic. Let's say it this way, I did not make the best impression and I certainly did not look cool.
Did you have a favorite professor?
I have many: Deanna Derosa, Professor Shelton, Nicholas Dungey.
What has been the most pivotal learning experiences you’ve had so far?
Life and people you surround yourself with is the best learning experience for me.
Knowing what you know now, what you advise yourself about your career path or professional development when you were just graduating?
I would just say that there is always time for everything. Nothing is perfect right away. Be patient. If you had all your dreams come true right way, life would not be fun. Nothing is a waste of time but rather a process of gathering experience and knowledge. You need to work at a job you hate to know what you want you don't want, what you want to do and do it.
Most importantly, I would advise myself that I should not confuse success with happiness. Working at big companies might not make you happy, stability might not bring you peace. Do not listen to people who think your idea is crazy. Follow your own guts. The only thing that stands in the way of your success is that you have to have the courage to try.
If you have an afternoon with no wifi, where can you be found?
Teaching yoga in the park, having a glass of wine with a friend, painting at home or reading a book.
How do Prague and Lisbon compare?
They have similarities. They are both popular tourist destinations, have a great vibe, and a hipster community The architecture and the weather are much brighter and sunnier in Lisbon, and the people are more friendly. Lisbon is becoming a tech hub with a lot of international start-ups, so there is a lot going on. However, Prague will always stay in my heart as one of the favorite places that once made me happy.
Do you still get around Lisbon on a classy bike?
Unfortunately, I don't. This famous blue bike was stolen in Tallinn, Estonia, near my house. It traveled with me everywhere I moved except for Lisbon, because of the hills. It is almost impossible to bike here. Very sad… I still keep the pictures of my vintage bike in a folder on my laptop.
Publication date: January 31, 2019