On the difficulties of business immigration in Hong Kong.
On the difficulties of business immigration in Hong Kong.
A tax-free economic zone is, rather, a formal territory for doing business. Dozens of Russian companies are registered in the offshore Chinese zone. At the same time, very few Russians emigrate and really develop their business in Hong Kong.
Consumers in other countries do not wait for Russian business immigrants with open arms. Most often it’s easy to start a business there, but it’s hard to stay afloat. “The secret of the firm” talked with entrepreneurs who managed to find their niche in the far abroad.
“It’s especially hard to work with Koreans,” complains Russian Anton Saraikin, who lives in Hong Kong. “They have a favorite cocktail – a” bomb “: a pile of Korean vodka is dropped into a glass of beer.” Even Russians do not drink so much, Saraikin is sure. And no matter how much partners they drink in the evening, at eight in the morning they go to the negotiations in suits.
Saraikin in East Asia has three businesses, all of them connected with Russia: Russian-Chinese magazine Asia Business, online Chinese language courses ChineseOnline.ru and business tours for Russians – Innovative Trips.
The idea of moving to Asia with Saraykin arose long ago. “I followed the development of the region and knew that everything interesting will happen there in the coming decades,” he explains. But the student of Novosibirsk journalism did not know any Asian language. Therefore, he worked as a journalist for five years in a Moscow editorial office of Vedomosti, two years as a PR man at Wimm-Bill-Dann (WBD), and only in 2008 went for his dream. Investor for its implementation Saraikin found in advance, working in WBD.
“By that time, I already knew a little Chinese, but still could not hope for a career as a top manager, so I had to start my own business,” the entrepreneur smiles. He decided to start in Hong Kong with a media business – this industry was the most understandable for a journalist. The company’s registration took Saraykin a week and cost $ 2 thousand. The businessman issued two issues of the magazine when the crisis broke out. The investor refused to finance the project, but Saraykin managed to find a new one in a couple of months. It was the Russian investment banker Sergey Meng, living in Hong Kong. The magazine’s release resumed: Saraikin was engaged in a project from Russia, Maine in Hong Kong.
In early 2011, Saraikin returned to Hong Kong, and Meng departed from the operational management. But he invested in other projects of Saraykin – now they own three businesses on a parity basis.
In the magazine, businessmen invested $ 50 thousand. It pays off due to advertising, but profits do not bring, says Saraikin: “For us it is primarily communication with potential customers of other projects.” The magazine is published every three months in a circulation of 5,000 copies (part of the magazine is in Russian, part is in Chinese or English), is distributed free of charge to business events and flights from Astana to other cities in Asia.
Online Chinese language courses started in the autumn of 2010. The launch cost $ 25 thousand. Investments should pay off before the end of this year, predicts the businessman. Ten Chinese teach at the courses, and Saraykin selected them out of 3,500 job seekers. “Almost all speak Russian, this is our competitive advantage,” he boasts. The courses are now constantly used by 30-50 people. The main competitors are Saraykin – Eteacherchinese.com, Echineselearning.com. They do not advertise the number of clients, Echineselearning.com called this figure only in 2008-2009 – then the service had more than 100 users. Actively untwist his service Saraykin going in the fall – on contextual advertising and promotion in social networks, he thinks to spend several thousand dollars.
The last business of Saraykin Innovative Trips is a new direction for Russia. The entrepreneur organizes excursions to the best companies of Asia for Russian companies – to learn from experience. A week trip for ten people costs $ 30-100 thousand. Saraykin does not say how much money Innovative Trips brings, but notes that this is the “lion’s share” of the turnover of all three of his companies (he made $ 370,000 in 2011).
The most difficult thing in organizing tours is to negotiate excursions with Asian companies. Here without personal connections anywhere. The partners plan to actively develop Innovative Trips, which means that there will be a lot more to drink to Saraykin.
When Andrey Filev left for Silicon Valley in early 2007, he was 23 years old and he dreamed of creating a service that will be used by millions of people around the world.
Service at that time, Filev already had – Wrike, a program for project management. But there were almost no customers. The dream of Filev has not been fulfilled yet, but the first step is made: now with Wrike there are thousands of users, by the number of clients the program has become one of the world leaders in its segment.
The first business Filyov created at the age of 17, being a student of Mathematics Faculty of St. Petersburg State University: he developed software for corporate clients. Later I got a partner, Dmitry Nikulin, who lived in the US and had to work with American clients. By 2005, their Murano Software did not require daily monitoring, and Filev decided to take on Wrike, a service through which small companies plan cases and distribute tasks. Filev wanted to launch a global business, so moved to Silicon Valley.
To register the company in America, Filev and Nikulin – equal partners – spent $ 2 thousand. After this, Filev went to investors, but found no money. The competition already worked on the market, and investors were afraid to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in another company. “In the end, I decided that it was not money to look for, but to do business,” – recalls Filev. He made a more convenient interface, integrated the service with e-mail.
For six years, partners have spent several hundred thousand dollars (personal savings, profits of Murano and Wrike itself) on the development of the service. Finally, in June 2012, Filev agreed with TMT Investments, which acquired 5% of Wrike for $ 1 million. Global rivals Wrike “raised” more money: for example, Clarizen invested $ 50 million, calculated Filev. Nevertheless, Wrike customers are now about the same as Clarizen, he says. But by their number the company is inferior to the popular service of Basecamp.
Director of Strategy TMT Investments German Kaplun believes that Wrike is “one of the best programs for project management”: “They have many small, convenient solutions that users like, and we like that the company is growing rapidly.” Since the beginning of the year, the number of users has doubled – up to 2 thousand customers, says Filev. Most of them pay $ 50-200 per month. According to the calculations of the Federation Council, in June Wrike earned about $ 200 thousand.
Captains of the Balinese fleet.
“Every day one or two Indonesians drown in the sea, they are afraid of water, they swim badly, we take them out,” says Dmitry Zabula, owner of the Endless Summer surfing school, about the difficult everyday life of surfers in Bali.
Russians on the waves feel more confident – out of ten more or less large schools in Bali they own five. Three more – Europeans, one each – an Australian and a Chinese.
“Since 2000, I practically did not live in Russia, I traveled around the world in search of waves and winds,” says the 30-year-old entrepreneur. In the mid-2000s Zabula together with her friend Andrei Chernosvitov began using the help of travel agencies to carry surfer-lovers to the best beaches in the world. In 2008, the partners decided to settle in Bali (“there are good waves every day”). Initial investment in the surf school was $ 40 thousand, of which $ 10 thousand went to register a business, which took almost ten months. “Indonesia is a bureaucratic state,” complains Zabul. “The local people do not want to do anything themselves and try to make more money on foreigners: we have to draw up many documents, and we have to pay for each one.”
For four years Chernosvitov, Zabula and an investor friend, whose name is not mentioned by businessmen, invested another $ 210,000 in school. This money, in particular, was paid for a five-year lease of a room of 200 square meters. m and opened a cafe for 40 seats.
Now Endless Summer, according to Zabula, occupies the second place at the price level. Prices could be omitted if only Indonesian instructors are employed. The average salary in Bali is only $ 150 per month. But without Russian-speaking instructors you can not do it: still Endless Summer is oriented towards Russian clients. At the same time, the salary of instructors from Russia is three to four times higher.
“For the first three years our turnover has been steadily growing,” the businessman says. “And now it has fallen a little because of the competition.” In 2011, the school served 1.5 thousand customers, the turnover of the company was more than $ 200 thousand. Partners advertise Endless Summer through travel companies in Bali, in Runet (search engines, social networks) and through the same Moscow school of surfing (surfing on rivers and lakes) belonging to their friends. Chernosvitov, when he is in Russia, helps to organize her work.
His partner Dmitry Zabul does not go to his homeland (“there are no waves there”), but sometimes it seems to him that a tram is passing by outside the window: the glass is shaking, like at home in St. Petersburg. So on the island there are earthquakes. There will be no strong shocks and a tsunami, local residents are convinced: Bali is protected by the gods. But Zabula lives on the mountain. Just in case.