CEO of American Revel Systems: Talent is Lithuania’s greatest advantage

Chris Ciabarra
DELFI / Mindaugas Ažušilis

Having recently attracted 100 million US dollars (277,000,000 litas) in investments, the company announced its plans for establishment of it its IT division in Lithuania.

Initially Christopher Ciabarra, founder of the company and manager of the company’s IT operations, together with his partner Lisa created an app for ordering food that soon turned into a payment platform with the potential of conquering entire world.

They have received 100 million US dollars from the Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe risk capital fund and therefore promise rapid development throughout the world. Initially they have chosen to conquer smaller markets and following success there, they will try to enter Asia. The company plans to begin selling the system in the very near future not only in Lithuania, but also in Northern Ireland, England, Italy, France, and Germany.

This is not Mr Ciabarra’s first visit to Lithuania. The American unexpectedly admits that residents of Vilnius seem friendlier than Americans.

“Maybe this is just because I am a foreigner, but people are indeed friendlier here,” he smiles and shares his plans for Lithuania and elsewhere in the world.

Why did you choose Lithuania for your IT office? What were the reasons?

When we found our first programmer, he was a Lithuanian. That is why we were brought to Lithuania. One year ago I got in touch with Invest Lithuania and they helped us to grow and develop. We also collaborate with Russian programmers. Given the current situation in Russia, we are concerned about stability and therefore we were looking for somewhere, where we could have the entire IT team in one place.

What was your impression of Lithuanian programmers?

They are very smart and well-educated.

What are the advantages that you notice establishing a branch in Lithuania?

Talents. We needed a broader network of programmers.

When people speak about foreign investments in Lithuania, they also always indicate attractive salaries. If the salaries were the same as in the USA, would you have established the IT branch of Revel Systems in Lithuania?

No. I cannot deny that the difference in salary does make sense.

How many persons do you plan to employ in Lithuania?

So far we have six employees. We have just employed two more. By the end of the year we plan to have a team of 30 employees.

You have plans to increase your IT team in Lithuania. And do you have plans to sell the Revel Systems software to Lithuanian businesses?

Yes. In January, we will announce the contracts made.

The Lithuanian market is quite small. Why do you throw your sales resources in here?

Our IT specialists will be working here and that is why it is very good that they can see and use the product. In addition, it is easier to introduce a product to a small market than a large one.

For companies you offer a modern point of sale payment system where services are provided or for shops. What future do you see for such payments?

The mobile point of sale payment system will continue to thrive. Apple Pay will develop throughout the world and mobile payment systems will gather pace.

Can customers pay with bankcards and in cash?

We offer different ways: for instance, payment by mobile phone. We also work with the Lithuanian WoraPay. This means that we provide options for how to settle without cash or bankcards.

Have I got it right that currently you are mostly engaged in offering your payment system to cafes and restaurants?

Currently we are focused on the following three sectors: fast food networks and restaurants, shops and food product sales networks.

In the future we will start collaborating with fuel stations, cinemas and hotels.

Why have you chosen to begin with these sectors?

We started with restaurants and had a lot of success there. Later we received requests from points of sale as well and we started offering our services to them. And when food product networks showed interest, we began collaboration with them as well.

You work with Apple production, i. e., iPad tablet computers. Are you offering payment systems compatible with other operation systems?

We work with Android as well, but we give priority to iPad for several reasons. Safety is one of them. In addition, other platforms undergo frequent changes and updates. Systems change too fast while with Apple everything is more stable.

Nowadays the competition in the technology innovation sphere is very intense, especially in the USA. How did you manage to find your first customers and develop? Was it hard?

It was easy for us. We developed the system and customers themselves started applying to us. It really was very easy. We do have competitors, currently the USA has a combination of similar companies, but we do not intend to give up. We have plans to become a big company and go public on the stock exchange. In the USA, many companies are stuck only in the USA. We want to become a global company and become a payment platform for the whole world.

What are the greatest challenges facing you now?

We have received a 100 million US dollars investment and many tasks along with this sum – quite fast development and a need for new employees. This is one of our challenges now.

Another challenge – every new country that we enter has different rules and so each time we have big programming projects before we can even begin our work.

Where do you see the greatest potential?

In Lithuania (laughing).

But we are not a big market if compared to China of India.

You must also take into account how much people can pay. Of course, there are markets that are developing and finally we will start operating there as well.

By the way, we already operate in China on the basis of franchise. With respect to Asia and India, we do not have plans to enter these markets at this point in time. We want to work in smaller markets and beginning the middle of the next year we will start working in the East as well.

What are the key goals you want to achieve with the investment obtained?

Development throughout the world.

What do you think, if you continue to expand successfully, how many employees will your Lithuanian office have?

At least 100.

Invest Lithuania

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