14 years of excellence: Q&A with COAX founders

14 years of excellence: Q&A with COAX founders

Fourteen years back, COAX was nothing but a tight-knit trio with diverse backgrounds and big dreams. Fast-forward to today, and we've morphed into a software development company with 70+ people, offices in the USA and UK, and vast expertise in delivering IT solutions for retail, e-commerce, travel, finance, and other domains. 

Now, we're here to spill the beans on our journey – a wild ride that's equipped us to turn bold visions into profitable businesses. We chatted with COAX founders – Serge Khmelovskyi, Peter Stroyich, and Ivan Verkalets – about how it all started, their inspiration, and the challenges they faced along the way.

Photo of COAX fouders
Peter (left), Ivan (middle), Serge (right)

Our story: Challenges, mission, and continuous growth

In 2010, three colleagues decided to create a digital agency in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine. But actually, it all began way earlier.

Serge and Peter have shared a bond since school, but life took them on different paths post-graduation. Serge dove into web design, while Peter pursued a career in law, working within the Economic Court of Ivano-Frankivsk. Their paths crossed with Ivan's in the vibrant IT sector, where Ivan was making his mark as a software engineer.

Together, they founded COAX, initially a digital agency offering white-label software. The trio rolled up their sleeves to handle all the workload themselves. As demand grew, they expanded their team, bringing on board talented developers, UI/UX designers, and other experts to keep pace with evolving projects. Of course, the brand name came years later – and with it, the mission crystalized, too.

“Our desire for change is what drove us to start COAX.”

Q: Is there any meaning behind the name COAX?

A: COAX is an abbreviation of coding experience. That’s what we’re good at. ”

Q: What was your inspiration for starting the company, and what was your initial vision?

A: “Our inspiration was to create a company where we could work and develop ourselves while bringing together like-minded individuals. We gathered the best and worst experiences working as freelancers and employees in private and public organizations.Our desire for change is what drove us to start COAX.”

Q: Can you share any memorable challenges you faced during the company's early years and how you overcame them?

A: “Cash flow and payments are typically problematic for any company in its initial stages, however big or small. We recall the case when we had a "bad month" and paid out all the company's savings in the accounts.

During our early years, we learned how to work with clients and analyzed their business methods. We encountered lots of concepts and ideas that were novel and vague until we understood our clients’ mental models. From British small talk to Japanese meeting traditions, we learned to adapt to different cultural norms and gradually assimilated them into our work culture.”

“Our mission is to help our clients grow. Grow user base, grow revenue, growbrand recognition, and ultimately grow their market influence.”

Q: How has the company’s mission evolved over the past 14 years?

A: “We can say that it has been shaping all these 14 years. The truth is, we didn't have a specific mission for a long time, but we still enjoyed collaborating with clients and delivering value.

Today, we see our mission clearly. Our mission is to help our customers grow. Grow user base, grow revenue, growbrand recognition, and ultimately grow their market influence.”

Q: Were any decisions made at the beginning that contributed to the company's success?

A: “We have always developed the company cautiously by making informed decisions.The fact that COAX has three founders allows us to make these decisions with greater balance and effectiveness. To be frank, we did not make any radical decisions that impacted the company or were too risky. Every day, we make strategic decisions that help us improve bit by bit. We have been doing this continuously for the past 14 years.”

“The fact that COAX has three founders allows us to make decisions with greater balance and effectiveness.”

Q: Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently during the company's formative years?

A: “To be less modest.We have always been humble about our successes and achievements.And this often played against us because we wanted to prove everything with real deeds.”

Q: Can you describe a moment when you felt like giving up? What motivated you to keep going?

A: “We have always realized that giving up is not a solution to any problem but rather the easiest way out. Challenges forced us to constantly look for options to break the deadlock and find a win-win solution for everyone. And as practice shows, there is always a solution. You just need to look carefully.”

“Challenges forced us to constantly look for options to break the deadlock and find a win-win solution for everyone. ”

Q: How did the war affect the company's life? 

A: “Asymmetrically – we have moved to an office twice as large as the previous one. We started planning and preparing for the earliest possible resumption of client visits to our head office.

War is definitely a challenge in the context of managing teams, company performance, and just working with people within COAX. However, it has also brought us closer together, strengthening our determination and fostering a spirit of resilience. We adapted and found new ways to thrive.”

Joint photo of the team

Growth and leadership: How we move forward

Q: What is the most rewarding part of running a company?

A: “When clients give positive feedback about the team and the product, it fuels our motivation and validates the hard work and dedication everyone puts in. Seeing tangible results from our efforts is incredibly satisfying, not just in terms of product success but also in how it positively impacts our clients' operations and goals. 

On the other hand, it's great to receive positive feedback from colleagues. It's about building relationships, trust, and a reputation for excellence that truly makes a difference in our lives.”

Q: How do your personal development as founders and the company’s growth reflect each other?

A: “Our strengths lie in our diverse experiences and skills, working in synergy so we can constantly grow and develop in areas crucial to the company. We even wrote this message together while sitting in our shared office! Collaboration is our second nature.”

Q: What’s your most important lesson about leadership and entrepreneurship?

A: “From day one, we have been building the principle of leading by example. Leadership is not about leading the charge but creating an environment where every team member feels empowered to take initiative.

COAX has always been a self-founded company. To expand a company, you don't need money — you need dedication and persistent, daily, systematic work.”

“Collaboration is our second nature.”

Q: Looking ahead, what excites you most when you think about the future of COAX?

A: “We’re excited about the opportunities in front of us. We have a strategic vision and are constantly working on tactics to expand the company's geographic reach. This expansion isn't just about physical presence but about amplifying our impact and tapping into new markets.

We're also looking forward to launching our own product in the travel sector, which we’ve worked on for the past year. 

And, of course, we keep investing in our team, fostering a culture of continuous learning and growth, ensuring that as the company expands, every member grows with it.”

“Leadership is not about leading the charge but creating an environment where every team member feels empowered to take initiative.”

Quick facts about COAX:

  • 2017 – delivered the first AI project
  • 2018 – opened an office in Chicago, US
  • 2019 – opened a second development center in Lviv, Ukraine
  • 2020 – got the AWS Solution Architect certification
  • 2021 – got ISO Certifications 9001 & 27001
  • 2022 – became a Webflow Professional Partner
  • 2022 – joined the IT Ukraine Association
  • 2024 – delivered 240+ projects and still counting

Our vision

We're crafting a tomorrow where every team member is empowered with the tools to unlock their fullest potential and ignite transformative change. Imagine a workspace filled with care, built on trust and crystal-clear transparency. That’s COAX! 

Our vision? To nurture innovations and result-driven strategies, while fostering values that elevate our customers and leave a lasting mark on the world.

Joint photo of the team
Subscribe for our newsletters
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong
Arrow icon

Featured news