Evgeniy Prima
CEO expla

Graduated in Marketing from KNEU, with 11 years of experience in performance marketing. Genya assists teams in building strategies for their businesses to maximize effectiveness.


Cpamatica becomes expla: interview with Evgeniy Prima, CEO of the company

In December 2023, after almost nine years of history, the international performance marketing agency Cpamatica began a new chapter. It transformed into the brand expla – engineering marketing company. From a small agency, over 9 years, it grew into a powerful company competing in global markets. They separated from the Genesis holding, transformed into a new brand, and are ready to strengthen their team. Their story in an interview with AIN.UA, will share the first employee and CEO Evgeniy Prima.

How did you get into marketing, where did you start your career?

In 2008, I enrolled in the marketing faculty at the Kyiv National Economic University. After graduation, I was interested in building a career in this field and advancing. In particular, I was interested in online marketing because of the opportunity I got: to use not just my creativity, but also analytics and my math background. I was quite successful in my studies at a physics and mathematics lyceum, so this industry was quite interesting to me.

Yevhen Pryma

Back 10-12 years ago, there was not a lot of information on this topic, but I wanted my work to bring direct and tangible results. I wanted to spend 40 hours a week not just shuffling papers, but doing something that made a real contribution and that could be measured.

I began my career in 2013 at Genesis company as an Ads Operations Manager. It was a trainee position since I didn’t have relevant experience at that time. I worked on traffic monetization using the CPA (cost per action) model, and my main responsibility was to increase its effectiveness – to monetize the audience of websites more by displaying advertisements to them.

About a year and a half later, I decided to give it a try as a part-time performance marketer. I was motivated by the fact that I covered both monetization and traffic acquisition at the same time.

This allowed me to see the results of my work even more clearly and in specific numbers. When you notice progress and success in what you do, it motivates you to improve your results. To do more, better, more efficiently. And it was the work of a performance marketer that provided me with all the opportunities to do so.

In January 2015, you founded Cpamatica. How would you describe the performance marketing industry at that time? What were the main challenges, tasks, and competitors?

Every year, the market changes, becoming increasingly competitive. And it’s incomparable to what it was eight years ago: tests cost less, hiring great professionals was easier, the market was less saturated and competitive. But there was significantly less information about performance marketing back then: there were only a few specialized forums. Thematic Telegram chats were not even a dream.

In marketing, any test is not just money spent but experience gained. It’s necessary to try everything out and experiment, to determine the path that suits your company best. This applies not only to marketing approaches directly but also to hiring and other aspects of the business.

Of course, there was much less publicly available information about this field before, but it did exist. So we read thematic forums and attended conferences. The first events were in Berlin and New York in 2015.

Yevhen Pryma

The main challenges have not changed: hiring and retaining specialists.

The successful Ukrainian companies working in the field of performance marketing could be counted on one hand. Moreover, back then, a performance marketer could get away with having a slightly smaller skill set. Nowadays, during the hiring process, we have significantly higher expectations from candidates than we did seven or even five years ago.

The main challenges then and now remain the same: hiring and retaining specialists. We were picky about the candidates, because in the first few years of the company’s operation, its backbone was being formed, and this picky approach has not changed to this day. Just like now, we were competing with leading Ukrainian product companies for personnel.

What are the main milestones in the history of the company’s development on this path from one employee to 120+?

An important step in the history of our development is the creation of the first project – the Traffic Kitchen. It focuses on organic Google Search and works with SEO. After that, we started working on Comparison Websites, which is about creating websites that compare products in a certain area. For example, one of our niches is foreign language learning services. On the site, we tell users about the features of each product, reviews, pricing policy, etc. Thus, the sites drive traffic to the services and give users the opportunity to learn more about each product before subscribing or registering. The comparison website business has become the largest in our company, and we started it in 2017 with Traffic Kitchen.

Back then, we had 20 employees, in 2019 we crossed the 50 mark, and last year we celebrated an important and pleasant figure – 100 employees.

Another new chapter in the company’s history was the separation from the Genesis holding in 2021. It was a responsible, somewhat difficult, but important and necessary step.

Recent years have been full of global crises and wars. How did the company go through the pandemic: what was happening in the market, with the business, what challenges did you face within the company?

I wouldn’t say that 2020 was a special year in terms of challenges. Of course, it was very unusual, unexpected, but in the context of business, the year was quite ordinary. Since we work in the field of performance marketing, the effectiveness of our work can be clearly measured. Therefore, even if some companies had a decrease of new users at the time, we definitely did not feel it in the areas we work in. Companies can easily track and analyze the effectiveness of our work, and if they continue to cooperate, it means that it is beneficial for them.

It is also important to note that we work on international markets in different areas and verticals, which adds to our resilience and diversification opportunities. That is why we went through the pandemic confidently and steadily – in 2020, we grew by 20% compared to the record-breaking 2019.

The important thing was to communicate more actively with the team that our plans have not changed, we are working, we continue to scale and grow. We kept reiterating that the business component was stable, calm, and we could be confident in it. And that’s exactly what happened.

In general, any challenge or unstable situation requires managers to communicate more. Sometimes you need to postpone some tasks to just talk to people, tell them what is happening in the company, what our plans and next steps are.

In 2021, Cpamatica went “free floating”

What was the reason for quitting Genesis, and how have you been working these two years?

It was a logical, right step for us. We have matured.

Over the past two years, our team has grown from 70 employees to 120+, and now we are building our own development strategy. It includes both business development and the HR brand, the employer’s external brand. We have to take over some functions, and we have to learn something new again: to work with the legal part, finance, etc. But this is an investment in our own team, in our development.

What happened during the first days of russia’s full-scale invasion, and did you expect it? How did you manage to quickly get back to work, what happened in the market this year?

We partially prepared for this scenario: we contacted hotels in western Ukraine and carriers who could provide logistics. However, at 5:30 am on February 24, some agreements were breached, and we had to look for other options. Within 36 hours, we relocated all those who wanted to go to the west of the country. In Zakarpattia, we rented a whole hotel for the team and all the employees’ relatives. We did not set any restrictions on the number of people who could come with us. Some people evacuated on their own, some stayed in Kyiv, and a small part of the team was abroad. Over the course of several months, we reimbursed all these expenses because we realized that even in terms of personal finances, the war came as a surprise to people.

Yevhen Pryma

From a business perspective, 2022 was the most productive year for us.

There were no layoffs in our team. Moreover, we resumed hiring in early March. I remember when we posted the first vacancies, we received a lot of feedback from candidates, a huge boost in reposts and positive comments. At the time, our job openings presented an excellent opportunity for professionals seeking employment.

Our business is 100% focused on Western countries: Europe, South and North America. That is why the company’s financial performance was quite stable both at the beginning of the full-scale aggression and throughout 2022. From a financial point of view, this year was the most productive, and the team expanded by more than 20%. It also gave us the opportunity to donate more to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Both the company and employees who continued to receive income participated in donations.

How did you communicate with your foreign partners, did you have to explain the situation, negotiate a work suspension, etc.?

Our work is somewhat automated, so it did not stop. Even if you don’t log in to your Google account for two days or launch new creatives, or maintain internal CRMs, nothing critical will happen. So globally, our partners did not feel any sagging or problems. Most communication was carried out within the team to reassure people and help them. Also, from the first days of the full-scale invasion, we started compensating for therapist visits and we still continue to do so. It was important both 20 months ago and now.

External communications with partners were no longer about business, but about concern for people and the situation in the country. That is, we talked with them about human aspects, not business.

In 2022, expla opened an office in Warsaw. How many people work there now and what do they do?

There is a certain part of the team that temporarily plans to stay abroad. We had requests to unite people in the office, so we decided to open a work location in Warsaw for comfort and efficiency. We chose this city because of its financial and geographical accessibility. The company helps with relocation from other countries, as well as with the legal aspects of legalization, tax payments, etc.

Our idea worked out: most of the employees who had already been abroad decided to move to Warsaw, and now about 25 people work there. We don’t have any differentiation in workflows depending on the office: they perform the same tasks there as in the office in Kyiv.

Currently, we have a hybrid work format – you can work in one of the offices or remotely if you wish. That’s why everyone is quite compactly located in Ukraine or in Europe. Of course, after we win, we will offer our employees from the Warsaw office to return to Ukraine. Therefore, the office in Poland is a temporary measure for the comfort of employees, not a business necessity.

The company is actively involved in volunteering, supporting humanitarian initiatives and artillerymen. What are the company’s priority areas of assistance now?

For a long time, I personally and the company have been supporting social initiatives. Even before the great war, we regularly visited shelters, helped them, sorted garbage, and organized charity flea markets within the company.

We made our first donation to the armed forces five days before the start of the full-scale aggression. Now we continue this work, cooperate with volunteers, and help bring Ukraine’s victory closer.

Throughout 2022, we worked with various foundations, helped our employees and their friends with fundraising, etc. Our largest project is implemented in cooperation with the charity organization «Reactive post», which works directly with artillery units. Over the past year, we have helped them with more than 9 million UAH and plan to continue to do so as long as there is a need.

Yevhen Pryma

We have helped artillerymen for more than 9 million over the year and will continue to do so.

Every year, we set KPIs for our teams, and before the full-scale war started, we used to go on trips abroad to achieve those. We already had three trips, and the fourth one was planned on March 2022, but of course, now it is not only impossible, but also inappropriate and wrong. Therefore, we decided to use the funds planned for travel to support the army – together with Reactive post, we are developing a large-scale project that involves the creation of a mobile maintenance station for artillery and buying a headquarters vehicle for artillery divisions.

The entire project cost about $150,000.

Not just a rebranding, but a full-fledged transformation: why Cpamatica is transforming into expla

In December 2023, Cpamatica ended its almost nine-year history and transformed into expla, an engineering marketing company. What will change after the transformation, what should partners, employees, and competitors expect from it?

This year we realized that we had outgrown what we had been associated with in recent years. This includes the affiliate network we started with. The company now consists of several large departments that continue to scale. Of course, the affiliate network is also growing, exceeding KPIs, but we already have several new departments, so the transformation into the new expla brand is a recognition for ourselves and the market that we have long been much more than just an affiliate network.

We are a fairly large player on the comparison website market. We also invest a lot in teams that work in the social media advertising market: working with TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram on international markets. Therefore, this transformation is a kind of confirmation for both the team and the market as a whole that expla is a company that works with a wide range of powerful areas. And the new brand will help us to properly reposition ourselves both externally and internally.

We started working on the new brand and transformation at the end of June and completed it in early December. I must admit that when we set the deadline for the end of 2023, I had some doubts about whether we would make it. After all, working for almost 9 years under one brand and transforming so quickly, inventing something new, working on naming and repositioning ourselves correctly was a challenge that the internal brand team and I AM IDEA partners worked on.

“One more step further in experience”: who is the ideal candidate for expla?

Despite external unfavorable factors, you are scaling up, working with new markets and directions, and expanding your team. Describe the ideal candidate with whom expla will have the best match and develop a productive relationship for both sides.

If we talk about the portrait of an ideal candidate, it is a specialist who has “one more step further” in previous experience. For example, they not only studied at university but also participated in competitions, international exchanges, went abroad to study, took part in university government or worked on additional projects, etc. This is the one more step – to do not only what is required of you, but also to take additional steps in self-development.

If it is a specialist with experience, then achievements at previous jobs may be an advantage. For example, a project that the candidate can brag about and tell what they did in it; what their role was and how they carried out their initiative that improved their performance.

We value people who strive to grow faster and better than they can achieve in rather bureaucratic corporations or companies where the career path from junior to senior can take up to 5 or 10 years.

These are the kind of “smartasses” who want to grow, see the results of their work today and earn money according to their efforts. And this is all that a specialist can get at expla. This is also reflected in the numbers: a bit more than 90% of the company’s current team leaders came to us as Junior or Middle managers, and we hired only a few that were team leaders before.

In addition, the qualities with which our company was founded are extremely important in potential candidates: a mathematical background, the desire and ability to work with analytics will be crucial factors in the selection process. The work of a performance marketer at expla is not only about creativity, because the decision-making system should be based on analytics and numbers, not emotions. This is the foundation without which you cannot build success in our company.

You put a lot of effort into the recruitment process. Is it difficult to get to work at expla?

Everything is possible if you really want it and put in the work. Our recruitment system is quite rigorous because our main advantage in the market is a strong team.

We don’t have a monopoly, like Google does among search engines. Therefore, we compete precisely because of our strong staff, and to continue in the same spirit, we are looking for equally strong candidates. We cannot in any way compromise on any hiring standards and “hire faster to grow faster”. This is a very fragile foundation: it may work in the moment, but in the medium term, such a “building” will fall down.

That’s why we’re looking for candidates longer than we could, but thanks to this, we are absolutely confident in every person who starts working at expla. We have a fairly high percentage of candidates passing the probationary period, because the main screening of candidates takes place at the interview, after completing a test task, or at the final interview. But I believe that if a person really wants to work for us, it is quite possible. You just need to prepare, invest your time and effort in the moment.

What advice can I give to potential candidates? Learn more about the company and the industry in general. A good preparation is already an advantage on the first stage 🙂

The secret of success is a strong team, flexibility, lack of unnecessary bureaucracy, and freedom in decision-making

For almost 9 years, you have studied your strengths well and know what makes you better than your competitors. So what is the strength of expla, its employees and management?

As I said, the main competitive advantage that allows us to be more efficient than other companies is a strong team. People who can and want to develop, grow, and earn with expla.

This also applies to changes in the business, which happen very often: we try to make important decisions not in quarters and months, but quickly, without unnecessary long approvals at all levels.

Yevhen Pryma

Among expla’s strengths, I would include flexibility and speed of decision-making.

For example, the decision to launch a new test in marketing is made by the person in charge of that area; they don’t have to coordinate it with anyone else. If an employee needs to revise his or her incentive scheme, it’s up to the direct supervisor to do so when he or she sees the need, without approval from above. Not to mention some basic needs, such as ordering new equipment: there is a separate manager who does not need to coordinate this issue with several subsequent levels. I believe that this speed and flexibility is another great opportunity for our team to be more efficient.

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