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One Entrepreneur's Plan to Stop Russia's Brain Drain

Roman Lensky
Roman Lensky, CEO Argo Studio

More so than for gorgeous women, or important literature, and even her vast territories, to all the gamers in the world, Russia is famous for phenomenal IT developers and programmers. As illustration, by winning the recent world programming championship held in Thailand, a Russian team from Saint-Petersburg surpassed two of the most renowned university teams in the world: that of Shanghai Jiao Tong University and that of Harvard. Despite not even being ranked as the most prestigious, Russian universities have now proved themselves to be among the best when it comes to IT training.

Young, energetic and armed with freshly awarded diplomas, Russia's IT specialists are in a constant search of employment. Many have become treasured by Western companies too. And while the number of highly qualified programmers in Russia is constantly growing, their chances of employment slopes downward to zero. But despite these and more challenges to success and international recognition, not all of these talents dream of moving to a foreign country and starting a career overseas. Sometimes, if they are lucky, they find help within Russia, where their talents can be appreciated no less than anywhere else.

One such opportunity lies with an entrepreneur named Roman Lensky, CEO of mobile development enterprise Argo Studio. A young and ambitious executive from Yaroslavl, Roman is one of those enthusiasts who believes in the potential of his IT group. Having set aside a promising career as an attorney, Roman has been working with dedication on his dream – for his IT company to become internationally successful. He explains:

“Eight years ago I decided to do the unthinkable at the time. I left my law practice and invested all my money into a project I was extremely passionate about. At first it was just the two of us; my friend, programmer Alexander, and myself. Passionate as we were, we knew little to nothing about game development for app store, but the desire to create something that could be ranked and considered internationally was stronger than our fears. Eventually our team grew wider and we acquired knowledge and experience. And only now we are starting to see some results of our work. But these eight years weren’t exactly the easiest."

From Roman's game developers

Leaving the security of his life as a lawyer, Roman threw himself into the unknown of countless entrepreneurial projects, starting from car sales to construction projects, none of which left him feeling satisfied or happy. The only thing that kept him waking up in the morning was a dream to build a strong IT company. Not having any formal education in IT to rely on, yet spending most of his time dreaming of improving game development, Roman commenced his studies last year, as a man of 37.

“Why not?”, he asks, “If I want to control a project, I should be able to understand what my team is working on, so that I myself can offer guidance and insight”. A passionate lover of art and music, Roman finds his inspiration everywhere.

“I am currently learning to play piano and create sculptures with clay, but as the world is right now, my talents are very unlikely to be appreciated in an art museum. IT is the best way to use my talents and see where my imagination can take me. By creating a game that anyone can upload on their phone, I create a parallel reality where people can enjoy their time and forget about everyday problems”.

Yet the path isn’t easy and is paved with countless difficulties. Having given up on the idea of finding an investor for his project, he has fully committed himself to do everything possible for his business to grow. “I want my business to be on the same level of other important game developers from the States but I won’t have my team having to leave their country in search of employment.”

And now after years of struggle, it seems that his IT company “Argo Studio” has finally reached what he always dreamed of – an international success. Their last of four games called “Defend the Planet” has made it to the top list of games featured in AppStore. And the Washington Post reviewed the game as excellent. “That is the best reward", Roman tells us. "It wasn’t an easy road, but creating something that can benefit other people was absolutely worth it.”