Please review my application for an Exceptional Talent (Founder of a 9 years old niche ERP system)

Hello everyone!

I’ve gained a lot of knowledge from this forum and finally feel ready to submit my own application. I would really appreciate your help with the documents and some questions.

My profile:

  • I have a financial background and have switched between several domains (stocks, IT, commodity trading).
  • Launched several small startups between 2012 and 2014.
  • Eventually, I founded a company in Ukraine in 2015, and created a B2B SaaS ERP system for commodity traders.
  • I bootstrapped it from a one-person team to having customers around the world, competing with the big players.
  • Before this product, there was no market at all in the CIS region (everyone was using Excel). Now we are a top player in the CIS market (though still behind Excel :slightly_smiling_face:).
  • I have managed both technical (design, coding) and business aspects (sales, business development). I have always wanted to relocate to the UK because many of my clients are based there, a lot of commodity trading activity happens there, and I want my company to become global.

LORs:

  1. One of the first angel investors in our company and also a client. He is the CEO of his trading company and a regular participant in panel discussions and conferences.
  2. The CEO of a commodity trading company from Ukraine, whom I hosted on my podcast twice. I know him for 7 years
  3. The CEO of a major commodity trading company from Morocco, who has been our client for 5 years.

MC1

  1. In the first piece, I tried to tell a story to demonstrate the entire journey from the company’s establishment to its commercial success:
  • 2015 - Scans of company establishment documents, signed by me
  • 2018 - Photos of me winning the Agri Startup Competition prize, organized by the former Minister of Agriculture of Ukraine
  • 2021 - An article in the large media showcasing a major customer adopting our solution.
  • 2023 - A review of the product and its progress over time in a major international media outlet, featuring an interview with me.
  1. Screenshots and a recap of three of my publications (2021-2022) in the biggest CIS agri media about my product, technology, innovations, etc. Additionally, I provide the same for my two publications for Forbes Kazakhstan. I ensured my name is clearly stated in all instances.
  2. Photos and a recap of eight episodes where I hosted a podcast with other opinion leaders and CEOs of different commodity trading companies. This podcast was launched in cooperation with major media. I was invited by this media to be the author and the host of this podcast.
  3. Data about our clients traction from Cloudflare, showcasing product growth and usage metrics.

OC1

  1. My interview with the leading agri media, where I discuss innovations in the agri sector and give advice on creating digital products. There is a large picture of me at the beginning, and the entire interview was shot in our office.
  2. Screenshots of commercial contracts with clients I signed, a screenshot of the product review on FinancesOnline.com, and screenshots of our clients’ testimonials.
  3. A screenshot of the ‘Innovative Agri Startups Map of Ukraine’ featuring my company logo, along with screenshots of five of my interviews on different YouTube channels (20k-250k subscribers) about innovations and digital products, and several photos of me from various conferences (I rarely speak at conferences, so I decided to include a few in OC1 as supporting evidence).

OC3

  1. Screenshots of my contributions to our private GitHub repository for 2024 and 2023 (900 and 700 contributions respectively), history of the latest pull requests, and a screenshot of the details of one of them from GitHub, showing my name and lines of code.
  2. Screenshots of several product design screens I created, along with screenshots of my codebase contributions referencing these screens.
  3. The YouTube educational course about grain trading I shot for my team and industry in general. Some examples of processes implemented in Notion (task management migrated from Jira and team time tracker with BI visualization). Our sales pipeline in Notion and marketing strategy mind map, that I created.

Questions

MC

  1. In MC1, I appeal to “led the growth of a product-led digital technology company.” Is it acceptable to show the entire growth journey, considering it spans more than the last five years (2015 - company establishment, 2018 prize won)? I understand that evidence is required only for the last five years, but I have been running this company for nearly nine years, and think it’s important to demonstrate this progress.
  2. In MC2 I have some articles originally in English, but some were in Ukrainian. When I was making a screenshot from the media website I translated the content via Chrome page translator, is it OK?
  3. Do I have sufficient evidence for MC, in general?

OC1

  1. Do I have sufficient evidence for OC1?

OC3

  1. Can I be a tech and biz applicant for OC3 at the same time? Tech Nation says they will decide by themselves, but what impact is better to show in my case? Will I confuse them by having evidence of both?
  2. Do I have sufficient evidence for OC3?

Would appreciate any other thoughts and feedback on my application.

Thanks in advance!
Have a productive week!

I just realized I might have a problem with my Letters of Recommendation (LORs). All my recommenders are not digital leaders; however, they are leaders in their respective field (commodity trading).

As per the TN guidelines, they should be well-established as experts in the digital technology field, with detailed knowledge of my work over a period of 12 months.

As the founder of a tech company with a nine-year track record, I am a little confused. Who can know better about my contributions and have worked with me for over 12 months besides my coworkers (not at a C-level) and my clients?

So, the question is: should I ask my competitors for these letters? :smiling_face_with_tear:
Could you, please, advise on this?
Would also very appreciate a feedback on my application from @Francisca_Chiedu

Do you have any digital leaders you have worked with as customers or partners who can talk about the impact of your product on their business?

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Thanks for your response!

The vast majority of my customers are commodity trading houses because we develop a specialized ERP for them.

So, it could only be some partners who helped us along the way, but I wouldn’t say my product affected their business a lot; they are just partners. For instance, we have some digital technology partners (outsourcing firm) which helped us with architecture, some code and features. Will the CEO of such firm be an eligible recommender?

After facing this confusion, I am wondering if I am even eligible for a GT Visa since I am not making a product for digital companies. According to the guide, I have to be a founder of a product-led digital technology company, which I am. However, the LOR requirements seem tough to meet if you are a founder by yourself and making a product for non-digital companies. So, I am curious how the TN would treat such a case if my recommenders are not as digital as they expect.

Would appreciate your feedback @deepak @sojo @Shreeniwas_Iyer @han @Alex_P @badesemowo @zamana @techman @Yusuf_Adebanjo

I tried to rethink the approach for LORs and am considering other recommenders who are more related to the digital field. Please, share your feedback:

  1. CEO of a commodity trading platform who has publications. He knows my work while being our client as the founder of a commodity trading company. He also knows my work as a CEO of a commodity trading platform, which is our partner.

  2. CEO of a small IT outsourcing firm (1 year old), who helped my company develop several features. They have our case study on their website. However, he has a strong digital presence.

  3. CIO of a commodity trading company - our client, knows our successful implementation, has 13 years of experience working as a CIO and CTO. However, for the last 5 years, he has been working in a non-digital company.

You need to use established tech leaders. You can use your competitors, they will confirm that you are known in the sector and state your achievements.

You evidence that are older than five years are not relevant. 2015 and 2018 evidence do not meet the criteria. Besides winning an agric competition like an Hackathon is not a solid Evidence for exceptional talent.

OC1 an interview is not proof of innovation. What is innovative about the product? Aside a contract, can you show revenue generated.
Do you have patent to demonstrate innovation.

Your company being listed among innovative companies is not enough, what exactly is the innovation?

OC2 why is your GitHub only 2023-24?
What exactly is your impact, there are no clear metrics to show your impact. Just using screenshots of products doesn’t say anything.

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Thank you, Francisca, for your input, I will appreciate your feedback for some questions below.

I feel that it is easier for my employees to get this visa than for me :slightly_smiling_face:
Because I can be their legit recommender, and for me there is no one. If an individual has worked for three companies as an employee, they can simply ask their boss to write a letter of recommendation.

This guideline seems to be unfair for founders, cause it is so weird to expect me asking my competitors to write a LOR for a personal matter for me. Besides, how are my competitors supposed to know my work closely, since they are not my colleagues or investors.

In any case, I reshaped my evidence a little bit:

  • added annual revenue evidence alongside with contracts
  • added an news clipping about product innovation and my name
  • added 2021-2022 GitHub screenshots
  • described the design part and showed connection between screenshots and my impact

I would appreciate you advice on the following questions:

  1. Can I use LOR from my client (CEO of his company and established leader) as the fourth evidence for Mandatory Criteria?

  2. Are there any minimum requirements for revenue generated? TN considers hundred thousands/millions/hundred millions as satisfying criteria for Exceptional Talent? I have several bank accounts, should I provide screenshots from all of them, or one will be enough? (for instance, we have several legal entities registered in different jurisdictions)

  3. Can I used screenshots from news clippings, if I translated the context via built-in browser translator? Is there a requirement to use certified translator for clippings?

  4. For OC3 guideline says “sales pipeline built and delivered…processes developed and implemented”. If we use Notion as an internal ERP, and I have established it by myself - will they accept such screenshots of sales pipeline and some processes built in Notion with appropriate explanation?

Thank you!

You can use letter of recommendation from your clients if they are considered experts and know your work.
No specified requirements for revenue, if it is in millions it obviously shows good traction. You can just add a screenshot shot of on major account if the amount is substantial just to butress your revenue claims. Check the guide for translator requirement. You can use an ERP to show sales pipeline, also get someone else in the organisation to write a letter and confirm your claims.

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