Helastel creates smart software to take your business to the next level using cutting-edge technology.

We recently caught up with the founder of Helastel, Iouri Prokhorov, to talk about tech talent, how the South West can continue to be a digital leader, and using software solutions to mitigate the impacts of a skills gap.

“We are a software company that helps organisations grow fast,” explains Iouri, “We do this by helping them with technology. Some organisations might want to launch a product into the market, some organisations might need to optimise their systems. So what we do is work with those organisations to help solve their challenges through tech.”

Iouri set up Helastel whilst he was in his second year at the University of Bristol. 18 years later and the organisation has grown to 80, still headquartered in Bristol but with international factions spanning across the globe.

He tells us, “Our entire motto as an organisation is to help our customers find their idea, implement it, and get that idea to drive value.”

Watch the full interview here

"What we've done is create a no code piece of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that essentially enables anyone who can use Excel to build applications, very sophisticated applications."

— Iouri Prokhorov, Founder of Helastel

Setting up shop in the South West

With such an impressive repertoire, is Helastel planning on staying put in its home? Iouri insists the company has no plans to relocate: “It makes sense to exist in an ecosphere that helps grow technology business, and also from where you can recruit and raise funding much easier than anywhere else in the country.” 

Bristol has changed exponentially over the course of Helastel’s lifetime, and at the benefit of the business. Iouri says, “The ecosystem of tech startups is growing very rapidly, partly because of the investment that’s coming into the region. Plus a big part of this is the incubators and accelerators that exist for startups here.

“Bristol, either by accident or somehow, incubated some really big companies. And these companies are developing into really large scale companies, which drive the overall ecosystem.”

Access to top tier talent was a compounding reason for Iouri to keep Helastel here. The excitement around tech in the region is driving people from London to Bristol and creating a large talent pool to recruit from. On top of this, the quality of life in Bristol is very high and attractive to those who rank work-life balance as a key requirement; a priority commonly associated with the tech and digital sector. 

The acceleration of high tech innovation and investment here in the South West, amalgamated with the city’s charm, is making “Bristol the Silicon Valley of Britain for tech companies,” says Iouri.

Addressing the skills gap

Iouri emphasises that the tech sector’s skills gap should be thought about in more ways than just a lack of software engineers. He explains, “Tech skills are not just about engineering skills, it’s about everything that goes around the technical space.”

Whilst he acknowledges that of course we are short of developers, we are also short of the adjacent skills around “marketing, sales and knowing how to run good companies.” Iouri continues, “A part of addressing these skills is bringing leadership into the region that knows how to either train those skills up, or where to get and stimulate the development of those skills.

“Really, that means creating a good environment for CEOs and investors alike.”

Iouri also highlights the importance of nurturing exceptional tech companies who can take on the task of training the next generation, as it’s almost impossible to emulate the experience of being a software engineer at university. 

He says, “The only way is to create more good quality companies that can develop those capabilities in the South West.”

An innovative software solution

In the meantime, we’re still left with a serious skills shortage. Iouri illustrates the extent of the problem for us: “If you read pretty much any report around technical skill availability, the estimates range from something like 2% to 5% of total available engineering workforce in the world. So for every 100 engineers that you need today, across the world, only five are available.

“Imagine running a factory where instead of 100 people, you have five. That’s kind of a problem.”

The reality of this means as a society we could be evolving 20 times as fast, if we had enough skilled tech talent. Helastel is trying to mitigate the impacts of this. Iouri explains, “our idea is that we can develop a piece of technology that will enable people without technical knowledge to be able to develop software, and enterprise-grade software.

“The need for software engineers is going to continue going on for the next 20, 30, 40 years. Somehow we have to get by in the next few decades with a shortage. What we’ve done is create a no code piece of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that essentially enables anyone who can use Excel to build applications, very sophisticated applications.

“Our vision, ultimately, is to make sure that 80% of everything that a software engineer normally would do, we can do using low code AI that a general everyday business user can create for themselves. And then the remainder, the really hard problems, which are where things get really juicy and really interesting, are left to the software engineer communities.”